The following article is a response to a Muslim that issued the following 12 arguments against the doctrine of the Trinity. Before responding, we would first like to define what the historic Christian position of the Trinity is.
[ Remark: Originally I came across this article without indication regarding its author and I responded to it as such. I have now found out, that the source is the book Jesus A Prophet of Islam by Muhammad `Ata ur-Rahim, and this argument is also made online under the title John Biddle's "Twelve Arguments Refuting The Deity of the Holy Spirit" by Mohd Elfie Nieshaem Juferi (MENJ). Therefore we list the following article also within the MENJ rebuttal section. ]
First, the Trinity entails believing in one and only one eternal, invisible, immaterial, omnipresent, omnipotent, and omniscient Creator. Second, the doctrine of the Trinity also entails believing that there are three eternally distinct yet inseparable Persons who do not act independently from the others, but in perfect unity. The three Persons of the Godhead do not function separately and apart from the other members. Rather, they always work in perfect harmony. Hence, historic Trinitarianism does not teach that the three distinct Persons seek out their own personal initiatives since to do so would destroy the perfect and inseparable unity of the Godhead.
Furthermore, by the term "Person" we mean that the three members of the Godhead are conscious agents who are aware of their own personal existence as well as the existence of the others. Because of this, the three Persons are able to have intimate communion and fellowship amongst themselves. By the use of the term "Person" we do not mean to imply that there are three material entities that occupy space or exist within time.
Finally, the historic Christian position on Jesus Christ is that he is one divine eternal Person having two distinct natures and wills. Jesus Christ is the God-man (theanthropos), perfect God and perfect man united in one Person.
With this just stated we now proceed to the 12 arguments:
This is faulty logic since it assumes several things. It first assumes that the term "God" has only one referent, namely the Father. Yet, this fails to take into consideration that the term "God" has different referents in different contexts. Cf. John 1:1, 20:28; Acts 5:3-4; Romans 9:5; Hebrews 1:8-9; 1 John 5:20; Titus 2:13; 2 Peter 1:1
Second, it assumes that only one Person shares the eternal Being of God, i.e. the Father. Hence, anytime Scripture distinguishes between the Father and the Son or the Holy Spirit it is therefore assumed that neither the Son nor the Spirit can be God since the Father alone is God. Yet, this begs the question since the Holy Bible testifies to the absolute Deity of all three Persons.
Third, it assumes that whenever Scripture distinguishes between the persons of the Godhead, this is interpreted to mean a distinction of Being as opposed to Person. Yet, the Scripture is not distinguishing between the nature or Being of the three Persons of the Godhead. Rather, it is distinguishing amongst the three Persons that coexist within the Being of the one true God.
This again assumes that Jehovah is only one Person so that whenever it speaks of Jehovah sending the Spirit, the Spirit therefore cannot be Jehovah. This again begs the question since it assumes that Jehovah is not a tri-personal Being.
The fact is that the name Jehovah or God can refer to the Father, the Son or the Holy Spirit. Here are some examples where the term Jehovah or God is used in reference to the Holy Spirit:
David equates the Spirit speaking with him as God speaking to him.
Lying to the Holy Spirit is the same as lying to God.
The Oxford Study Bible translates this passage in the following manner:
The Greek word "Lord" is Kurios. This was the term used by the translators of the Septuagint in translating the word Jehovah into the Greek language. Therefore, for Paul to call the Spirit Lord is equivalent to claiming that the Holy Spirit is Jehovah God!
Interestingly, the Jehovah Witnesses' official Bible translation, the New World Translation understands the Greek word Kurios to mean Jehovah:
Hence, even a non-Trinitarian cult realizes that to say that the Spirit is Lord means that the Spirit is actually Jehovah God!
In light of the preceding factors the passage clearly states that the Holy Spirit is the Lord/Jehovah. Yet, at the same time the Spirit is seen as a distinct Person from the Lord (i.e. "the Spirit of the Lord"). This passage therefore affirms both the deity of the Holy Spirit as well as the multi-personal nature of God.
Other passages where Jehovah is used in reference to more than one person includes:
Jehovah is said to bring fire down from another who is said to be Jehovah in heaven. Hence, we find two distinct Persons identified as the one true God Jehovah.
Jehovah speaking to Hosea claims that he will save the house of Judah by Jehovah their God, clearly distinguishing between two Persons as the one true God.
The God with whom Jacob struggled was actually the Angel of Jehovah. This passage is therefore identifying the Angel as Jehovah God.
Jehovah states that he is coming to dwell in Jerusalem and that the people will then know that it is Jehovah who sent him.
The Angel who is said to be Jehovah rebukes Satan by Jehovah. Again, we have two distinct Persons identified as the one true God Jehovah.
These passages should put to rest the notion that Jehovah is uni-personal as opposed to being multi-personal.
First, this again assumes that God is a singularity within unity, one Person and one Being.
Second, this assumes that in order for Trinitarianism to be true the three Persons must speak or act on their own initiative. This shows a gross misunderstanding of the Trinity since the three Persons do nothing independently, but in perfect unity and agreement. Hence, statements like the above only reinforce the belief that this one God exists as three Persons who work in perfect accord.
In fact, Jesus in John 5 makes precisely the same point:
This passage clearly shows that Christ and the Father are the one God since Christ does the works that God alone can do. It also demonstrates that the distinct Persons of the Godhead work in perfect unity and harmony, never independently.
Being told what to say or taught implies personal distinctions, that the Father and Son are distinct Persons. This is precisely what the Trinity teaches. Since they are distinct Persons they can communicate and have fellowship amongst themselves. This communication and fellowship is eternal since all three Persons have coexisted together from eternity as the One God. Cf. John 1:1-3; 8:23-24, 56-59; 17:5; Hebrews 9:14
Secondly, we must notice when this teaching between the Father and Son actually takes place:
Notice that in this passage Christ affirms both his Deity (the use of the Divine name of God "I AM") and the perfect unity between the members of the Godhead, i.e. "and that I do nothing on my own."
Jesus again points to his perfect Deity and Divine preexistence as well as the perfect unity of the Godhead.
Once again Jesus emphasizes both his Deity and the perfect inseparable unity that exists amongst the three members of the Godhead. These passages also refer to Christ's earthly ministry where he assumed the role of a servant. Therefore, Jesus is using terminology suitable in highlighting his role as the Father's servant who perfectly obeys his master's instructions.
Far from disproving our position, these passages serve to reinforce the historic Christian understanding of the Trinity.
This again assumes Unitarianism, namely that there is only one Person who is God.
Secondly, these passages demonstrate that the one who receives and the one who gives are DISTINCT PERSONS, which again is precisely what the doctrine of the Trinity teaches. The context of this specific passage demonstrates the distinction of Persons within the Godhead - Jesus, the Holy Spirit and the Father. Since Trinitarians do not believe that Jesus is the same PERSON as the Father or that the Father is the Holy Spirit we really do not see how this passage supposedly refutes our position.
This again demonstrates faulty logic. This argument actually establishes the Trinitarian view, namely that one who is sent cannot be THE SAME PERSON AS THE ONE WHO SENT HIM. Therefore, this is a straw man argument since it either misrepresents or misunderstands what the actual doctrine of the Trinity teaches.
Let us first quote the context of Acts 17:
The passage speaks of God's role as Creator and Sustainer, that God creates and provides for all mankind. Let us see if whether the God that made and sustains creation is uni-personal or tri-personal:
Jehovah is said to be the Creator and Sustainer of all things:
This is what the LORD says - your Redeemer, who formed you in the womb: I am the LORD, who has made all things, who ALONE stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by MYSELF, Isaiah 44:24
But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of this, they tore their clothes and rushed out into the crowd, shouting: "Men, why are you doing this? We too are only men, human like you. We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made heaven and earth and sea and everything in them. In the past, he let all nations go their own way. Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy." Acts 14:14-17
The Son is said to be the Creator and Sustainer of all things:
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For BY HIM all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; ALL THINGS WERE CREATED BY HIM AND FOR HIM. He is before all things, AND IN HIM ALL THINGS HOLD TOGETHER. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. Colossians 1:15-18
In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, AND THROUGH WHOM HE MADE THE UNIVERSE. The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, SUSTAINING ALL THINGS BY HIS POWERFUL WORD. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven... But about the Son he says... "In the beginning, O Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will roll them up like a robe; like a garment they will be changed. But you remain the same, and your years will never end." Hebrews 1:1-3, 8a, 10-12
Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself. For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything. Hebrews 3:3-4
Write this to the angel of the church people in Laodicea: Here are the words of the one whose name is Truth. What he says can be trusted. He is the one who began all that God made. Revelation 3:14 Worldwide English Translation NT only (WE)
The Holy Spirit is said to be the Creator and Sustainer of all things:
The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life. Job 33:4
When you send your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the earth. Psalm 104:30
The fortress will be abandoned, the noisy city deserted; citadel and watchtower will become a wasteland forever, the delight of donkeys, a pasture for flocks, till the Spirit is poured upon us from on high, and the desert becomes a fertile field, and the fertile field seems like a forest. Isaiah 32:14-15
Look in the scroll of the LORD and read: None of these will be missing, not one will lack her mate. For it is his mouth that has given the order, and his Spirit will gather them together. He allots their portions; his hand distributes them by measure. They will possess it forever and dwell there from generation to generation. Isaiah 34:16-17
And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you. Romans 8:11
God is said to be the Giver of gifts:
The Son is said to be the Giver of gifts:
"Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." John 15:4-5
But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. This is why it says: "When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men." (What does "he ascended" mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) It was HE who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Ephesians 4:7-13
And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ - to the glory and praise of God. Philippians 1:9-11
The Holy Spirit is said to be the Giver of Gifts:
All three Persons together are said to be the Giver of Gifts:
The Holy Bible also states that the Father and Son share all things in common, with the Holy Spirit apportioning the things of God to believers:
He then began to speak to them in parables: "A man planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a pit for the winepress and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and went away on a journey. At harvest time he sent a servant to the tenants to collect from them some of the fruit of the vineyard. But they seized him, beat him and sent him away empty-handed. Then he sent another servant to them; they struck this man on the head and treated him shamefully. He sent still another, and that one they killed. He sent many others; some of them they beat, others they killed. He had one left to send, a son, whom he loved. He sent him last of all, saying, 'They will respect my son.' But the tenants said to one another, 'THIS IS THE HEIR. Come, let's kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.' So they took him and killed him, and threw him out of the vineyard." Mark 12:1-8
Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; John 13:3
"But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you." John 16:13-15
"All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them." John 17:10
However, as it is written: "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him" but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man's spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 1 Corinthians 2:9-11
"... but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, WHOM HE APPOINTED HEIR OF ALL THINGS, and through whom he made the universe." Hebrews 1:2
Hopefully, this should sufficiently answer the allegation.
This commits the fallacy of false dilemma as well as the fallacy of equivocation. It assumes that God must be immobile in order to be immutable. God is immutable in relation to his nature and being, yet God is not immobile since God is able to manifest his presence locally without this nullifying his omnipresence.
Hence, the Holy Spirit changing places refer to a localized manifestation of God's presence through his Spirit. The Holy Bible clearly teaches that the Holy Spirit is present everywhere and can dwell and fill groups of individuals while also appearing at specific points at the same time. Cf. Psalm 139:7-12; John 14:16-17, 26; Acts 2:1-4; 1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19. If this is not omnipresence I don't know what is!
Second, this argument cuts both ways. The Quran teaches that Allah actually changes places and moves:
"He it is who created the heavens and the earth in six days; then He mounted the throne." S. 57:4 - M. M. Pickthall English Translation
Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah's Apostle (p.b.u.h) said, "Our Lord, the Blessed, the Superior, comes every night down on the nearest Heaven to us when the last third of the night remains, saying: "Is there anyone to invoke Me, so that I may respond to invocation? Is there anyone to ask Me, so that I may grant him his request? Is there anyone seeking My forgiveness, so that I may forgive him?" (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 2, Number 246)
The following hadith is taken from Al-Ahadith Al-Qudsiyyah - Divine Narratives translated by Dr. Abdul Khaliq Kazi & Dr. Alan B. Day, published by Dar Al Kitab Arabi - USA, 1995:
Jabir b. Abdullah narrated that the Prophet said: Whilst the people of Paradise were enjoying their blissful state, a light will appear above them. They will raise their heads and lo! The Lord has risen above them and would say: Peace be upon you, O people of Paradise! That would be in accordance with the Qur'anic verse "Peace! A word from the Merciful Lord" (Qur'an: 36:58). The Prophet said: Then Allah would look at them and the people will look at Him, and they will not be distracted by the joys of Paradise as long as they were looking at Him, until Allah became veiled from them. His Light and Blessing over them will remain in their dwellings. [Ibn Majah] (p. 191)
Therefore, using the above logic we are forced to conclude that Allah is not God since he moves from place to place.
Finally, seeing that omnipresence is used as proof for Deity this serves to establish the Deity of the Lord Jesus Christ since he is also omnipresent. Cf. Matthew 18:20; 28:20; John 14:21, 23; Ephesians 1:22-23; 4:7-10; Colossians 3:11
This again entails circular reasoning since it assumes what is yet to be proven, namely that God is uni-personal. The objector then proceeds to read this unproven assumption into the text. It is therefore not surprising that the objector ends up concluding that the Holy Spirit cannot be God since he is seen praying to the Father. This is a classic case of eisegesis, allowing one's presuppositions to determine the meaning of the text as opposed to allowing the text to determine one's belief.
In actuality, the Trinity teaches that the three Persons are distinct which allows for communion and dialogue amongst themselves.
Furthermore, this argument cuts both ways and ends up proving that Allah cannot be God. The Quran claims that Allah actually prays:
Allah and His angels pray for the Prophet (Arabic- yasalluuna alan-Nabiyy): O ye that believe pray for him (salluu 'alayhi), and salute him with all respect. Sura 33:56
Since a Being that is a singularity-within-unity cannot pray (since if he did who would he be addressing when praying?), many translations obscure the meaning of the Arabic by inserting the word "blessing" as opposed to saying "pray". Yet the term for blessing is derived from "baraka" which does not appear in the above citations.
In fact, Sura 33:56 is interpreted by the Muslim scholar Al-Najjary as:
Ibn 'Abbas says:
In fact, the very word salli is used elswhere in relation to Muhammad praying for others:
Perhaps the objector can explain this for us.
Again, this assumes that the Being of God only encompasses one Person as opposed to encompassing the three Persons. Furthermore, the Holy Bible uses the term God in different contexts to refer to different things and persons. See above for references. All this statement proves is that the Father and Son are distinct Persons not distinct Beings. Their Persons are distinct, yet their Being is the same.
Finally, this fails to take into consideration that Jesus is God as well as man. Therefore, Christ had and continues to have both a divine and human consciousness. In his divine consciousness, he is all-knowing and immutable. Cf. Luke 10:22; John 1:45-49; 2:23-25; 16:30-31; 21:17; 1 Corinthians 1:24, 30; 4:4-5; Colossians 2:2-3; Hebrews 1:10-12; 13:8; Revelation 2:23; Jeremiah 17:10
Yet, as man his knowledge was finite and mutable; Mark 13:32; Luke 2:40, 52
We have answered this already. See our response to # 4.
Correction. That the three Persons all have will demonstrates that they are PERSONS, not mere abstract forces. Therefore, this argument only proves that the Holy Spirit is a Person and not just a force since he is said to have a will.
Furthermore, the term "will" does not appear in Romans 8:26-27. Rather, we find the term used in 1 Corinthians 12:
This passage affirms that the Holy Spirit is God, the third Person of the Trinity. This is due to the fact that the Holy Spirit is able to empower and equip all Christian believers with the gifts of God. The only way for the Spirit to be able to do so is if he is all-powerful, all knowing and ever present. Furthermore, this passage also demonstrates the Holy Spirit's sovereignty since he gives gifts to whomever he is pleased to give it to. In other words, the Holy Spirit is free to do as he wills with any believer as the Spirit sees fit. Therefore, this proves that the Holy Spirit is the Sovereign Lord of all creation.
Finally, that Christ seeks to fulfill the Father's will and not his own affirms a) that the Father and Son are distinct Persons, b) that the Father and Son are not mere abstract forces but intelligent and conscious agents and c) that the Son is in perfect union with the Father and therefore seeks to fulfill the latter’s will.
This ends our rebuttal. We pray that the God and Father of our risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ grant all who read this paper the grace of his Holy Spirit to believe in him. Jesus is Lord forever!
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