Do Christians worship three Gods?

(James Donohoe) #1

Hi everyone,
We knocked on a door last night and an Islamic man in his early 20s invited us in where we were able to witness to young ladies age 19 and 18 and they received Christ. The Islamic and an older lady there did not pray with us but had several questions. My question: What is the best answer on the Three Gods that Moslems think we worship.

(Omar Rushlive Lozada Arellano) #2

Hello @James3. It’s encouraging to read from you that young ladies received Christ as you went to some place to share the gospel. The short answer I could give to your question is that Christians believe in only one God. There is one God in being, existing eternally in three persons. What’s amazing about the Trinity is that this shows a far better model than the Islamic Tawhid in terms of God’s self-subsistence. The self-subsistence of God means that He does not need anyone of us for Him to be complete. He is complete in Himself. The doctrine of the Trinity best exemplifies this because God in Himself is a relational God. They see Allah as al-Wadud, the loving one. If God is unitary or absolutely one as Tawhid would say, then who did God love and had a relationship with before creation? There was none, since He was alone during that point. That means He needed to make creatures for there for Him to love someone else and have a relationship with. This means that He needs someone else, which is contrary to the Allah that they recite in the Takbir (Allahu akbar). In the doctrine of the Trinity, we can see a God that does not need to create in order for Him to be love or to love. His nature is love in Himself. Eternally, the persons of the Trinity loved each other in perfect harmony.

I recommend for you to check on this topic, which may have some explanations that may be helpful in your explanation as you reach out to your Islamic neighbors. I pray for God to give you wisdom on how you would explain His truth best to them.

(SeanO) #3

@James3 Good question and good response by @omnarchy regarding God’s self-subsistence being better explained by the Trinity. While doing some digging on this topic, I may have found an approach that may lead in to the point about self-subsistence. So, let us say someone who is not an Islamic scholar or apologist, but laity - asks you - “Don’t Christians worship three Gods?” Here is a suggested response, but I am open to correction from those with more experience actually reaching out to Muslims - this is not something I have done much at all. So please let me know if this is helpful or no.

"Actually, Christians are monotheists. We believe there is only one God. Believing in multiple gods is called polytheism and Christians reject polytheism. The question is not “Is there one God?” We agree there is only one God. The question is “What is that one God like?” Christians believe that the inspired Scriptures written by God’s prophets clearly teach that there are three persons within the one God - Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Now, before you say that this does not make sense - does not surah 6:103 say " No human vision can encompass Him, whereas He encompasses all human vision, for He alone is Unfathomable , All-aware." God is one, yes, but could He not also be three persons? He is unfathomable - no human vision can encompass him. How can you say that He may not be three persons and yet one God? He is God. And the Bible, written by God’s prophets - clearly teaches that Jesus is God, the Father is God and the Spirit is God. What then are we to say - we must submit to the truth of what God’s Word teaches even if we do not understand it. He is unfathomable."

Here is a quote from an article I read explaining that many Muslim arguments against the Trinity assume Unitarianism - the idea that “God is one” is the same as “God is only one person”.

When challenged, Muslim apologists, like most anti-Trinitarians, have a difficult time defending Unitarianism. They are rarely challenged on it and hence have not had to explain why “God is one” must mean “God is one in being and in person.”

To help the Muslim understand this doctrine, you might explain that Trinitarianism is not the opposite of monotheism (an assumption they may be carrying into every word you speak). You might say, “The opposite of monotheism is polytheism, and we both know that is wrong. Where you and I disagree is not about whether there is only one true God, but whether that God is limited to one divine person, or, as the Bible reveals, three divine persons. Our conflict is between your assumption of Unitarianism and my acceptance of the divinely revealed fact that three divine persons have eternally existed in relationship with each other.” At this point, a few questions might be asked to make sure the Muslim understands that you are not promoting polytheism and that the real issue is whether the Scriptures reveal the existence of more than one divine person.

William Lane Craig’s response to Unitarianism:

“In other words, God is not a single, isolated person, as unitarian forms of theism like Islam hold; rather God is a plurality of persons, as the Christian doctrine of the Trinity affirms. On the unitarian view God is a person who does not give Himself away essentially in love for another; He is focused essentially only on Himself. Hence, He cannot be the most perfect being. But on the Christian view, God is a triad of persons in eternal, self-giving love relationships. Thus, since God is essentially loving, the doctrine of the Trinity is more plausible than any unitarian doctrine of God.”

(Warner Joseph Miller) #4

Hey there, @James3!!! Thanks so much for the question, man. And @SeanO & @omnarchy, great and full responses. Here’s my quick 2¢ (or pence, depending where you are in the world😉). Sadly the misunderstanding of the doctrine of the Trinity (or Triunity [TriUnity]) is a very common error of Muslims AND often misunderstood by sincere Christ followers. Sometimes despite even the best explanations, Muslims will refuse to accept ANY Christian explanations for things because it doesn’t fit into their preconceived ideas of what they think Christianity is. Many Muslims are taught Christianity either via Islamic sources, ie other Muslims or through errant interpretations or explanations of Christianity. As with almost every Muslim I’ve ever had a convo with regarding Jesus and Christianity, so often they assume a false understanding of the Trinity by stating that it is three (3) gods. Obviously, that is not the correct Christian definition of the Trinity doctrine. Christianity doesn’t teach there are three gods. It never has. The doctrine of the Trinity states that there is only ONE God who exists in THREE Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Trinitarianism is monotheistic. Consider this: it would be crazy to think that these VERY Jewish, monotheistic authors of the New Testament would come to adapt the doctrine of God to mean 3 gods. That’d be CRAZYTOWN! Instead it’s very clear that what caused this change in the concept of God is the incarnation of thr Christ: JESUS. Jesus of Nazareth had an incredible, world-changing impact on the disciples. They came to believe that Jesus was Himself divine, He was God, and yet He wasn’t the Father. They were forced to come to an understanding of God which involved multiple persons in the Godhead. And not just Jesus but then also the Spirit of Christ (the Holy Spirit) which took over His role when He ascended into heaven. So the doctrine of the Trinity is clearly rooted in the impact of the person of Jesus of Nazareth upon these early Jewish disciples.

Before I go any further, it should be made clear the the Trinity IS unique and there is NOTHING that anyone can point to that is a strict analogy or parallel to it. Using analogies in trying to make it clear is not something I do too often. Full disclosure, no person can FULLY explain the Trinity, though many have tried. Because of this, many Muslims suggest that the idea of the Trinity must be rejected as untenable. Thinking like that, however, makes man’s corrupted human reasoning the sole criteria for determining the truth of divine revelation. What I mean is that to reject something – particularly something about God – simply because you don’t understand it assumes that our finite minds can ever fully comprehend an infinite God. That in no way is a cop out, mind you. There are absolutely many things about God that ARE understandable – that we should seek to understand – that God desires us to understand. That’s partly why He wrapped Himself in human flesh and gave us Jesus: so that we could know God. (John 1:18, 14:9; Col. 1:15) However, the moment God becomes fully understandable to us is the moment God ceases to be God.

OK, so, with that said and in lieu of the time….here’s an analogy. :wink:

In the Trinity, there are three persons who are NOT three beings, but are ONE being. Could you see why that would be challenging to analogize with 100% accuracy? The closest analogy that I can remember has to do with pregnancy. A woman has a distinct personality and is one being. At the time of the conception of the baby, within the body of the woman and along with her DNA was the DNA/the distinct personage of the father of the child. However, the mother is STILL one being. Also within the mother’s body, another distinct DNA was present: the distinct DNA of the unborn yet very much alive baby. At one time, there exists 3 personages within ONE being. Again, NOT a perfect analogy because within the unborn baby and in the DNA of of the father, there is the POTENTIAL of personages as opposed to the fully realized Persons of the Trinity. Again…I prefer not to use analogies when trying to explain the Trinity – or, at least, use them, loosely – but I hope that offers a bit more clarity as opposed to confusion. If it doesn’t PLEASE let me know. I don’t mind anyone saying, “I don’t get that”. Seriously…

Real quick, check out these 3 verses:

“And the Holy Spirit descended upon Him [Jesus] in bodily form like a dove, and a voice came out of heaven, “You are My [the Father’s] beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased.” ~ Luke 3:22

“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My [Jesus’] name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.” ~ John 14:26

“When the Helper comes, whom I [Jesus] will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me . . .” ~ John 15:26

3 distinct figures all working independent of yet in concert with one another under the Father’s instruction. THAT’S TriUnity.

Aight, I’ll stop there. I know that was a lot…and that wasn’t even a fully fleshed out explanation. But I hope it serves to give, at least, some clarity to the questions you may have and the objections you may encounter. Along with possibly answering those questions, tho, most importantly LOVE THEM and PRAY FOR THEM. If possible, live out your faith in front of them with some consistency. A life well-lived truly preaches. While people may want to hear wisdom and perhaps even about your faith walk (as you should be prepared to give explanation for it 1 Peter 3:15), they more importantly want to see it lived out.

Much love, to ya. Feel free to ask anything else, whenever else. Cool​:ok_hand:t6::v:t6:

(Geoffrey) #5

Hello to all,

If I may also add some thoughts to the discussion. Firstly, what a well thought out and clear set of replies to the question. Very good, sound thoughtful and challenging information for any person genuinely seeking to consider. After all, men are to be persuaded that Jesus is the Christ the Son of the Living God. Whilst we often wish to respond with good information, and we must, lets not over look the real issue is what Christ Himself is and has done for us. It is so easy to go off giving a good response to a technical question but we forget to speak to the soul. I believe that if we can also speak to the questioners need for love, acceptance and assurance and security in faith through Christ, then we can make inroads. I am NOT suggesting to neglect correct theological answers when required, but challenging Love, Forgiveness and acceptance is a needy thing for any human being. I would also be seeking discussion about the questioners inner self and being. This is where Christ meets the soul of man in my mind.

Of course, no evangelism should take place without prayer support for those engaged in it because the Lord has chosen to release much of His Work through the office of prayer as well as human agency. I hope these thoughts add something helpful. There is no “one way only” to respond to a person seeking information about the Christian Faith. Each conversation must be taken on its merits but we can all be confident that the human soul has been created by our Lord and He knows how to get through to it. The Scriptures make the issue of Christ and what He has done for us as a central tenant of the Scriptures. The other information is very important and that it may help lead a person to review their belief system and reconsider their own flawed position is clear but it is the power of the Gospel that brings souls to life in Christ.

(Jasmine Hennock) #6

Hi James!

I believe everybody has contributed adequately for you, however, if you’d be interested in additional reading on a very complicated but exciting topic that is the Trinity, you should have a look at Richard Rohr’s book “the divine dance”. He’s quite controversial/mystic in his approach, but it gives a wonderful insight into the trinity’s workings.

Assessing Richard Rohr's book "The Divine Dance"
(James Donohoe) #7

I want to thank all of you who have reached out to help me. I thank God for Christian brothers and sisters who love God and take time to show the Love of Christ through their lives bringing Glory to God. Thank you for your theological answers and ideas and for the reminder from gnslaser. I have to remind myself that it is God who speaks to those that will receive our witness and He is the One who saves their souls. Oh, the burden and pressure that is taken off of us when we realize that we just bring the message but it is God who stirs their hearts!