Conversation with Muslims about Christ
How Can the Secret of
The Unity of the Holy Trinity
Be Explained to a Muslim?
All Rights Reserved
Order Number: FPB 8006 ENG
2nd Edition 2003
Title: How Can the Secret of the Unity of the Holy Trinity
be Explained to a Muslim?
Grace-and-Truth l P.O.Box 2904 l Weirton, WV 26062 l USA
Whoever talks to a Muslim soon recognizes that he considers our faith in God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit as an unforgivable sin. The Islamic creed stresses that there can be no God except Allah! Anyone who associates a Son or a Holy Spirit with the Creator is considered to be an enemy of Allah and all his angels (Suras al-Baqara 2:97-98; al-Ma'ida 5:73).
The rejection of the Holy Trinity by Islam
The objection to the Holy Trinity by the Muslims has many facets. This will be summarized as background information for conversations with Muslims:
Muhammad challenged the Christians, "Don't say three! That would be better for you!" (Sura al-Nisa' 4:171). "A mother of God cannot exist nor has she borne a son from Allah" (Sura al-Ma'ida 5:116). "Nobody should accept another human being as his Lord" (Sura Al 'Imran 3:64; al-Tawba 9:31). "Allah is not Christ" (Suras al-Ma'ida 5:17,72; al-Tawba 9:31). "For the Almighty it would be a trifle to destroy Christ and his mother, if they would claim to be gods" (Sura al-Ma'ida 5:17).
The rejection of the divinity of Jesus Christ
The confession that Jesus Christ is the Son of God is completely rejected 17 times in the Qur'an (Sura al-Tawba 9:30 et al.). 'Isa is called the son of Mary but never the Son of God. He is considered to be a creature like Adam (Sura Al 'Imran 3:59). Allah had commanded, “Be! so he was” (Suras al-Baqara 2:117; Al 'Imran 3:47,59; Maryam 19:35). There is a contradiction since Allah clearly states in the Qur'an: "We (Allah) blew some of our spirit into her (Mary)"; so 'Isa came to life in her (Suras al-Anbiya' 21:91; al-Tahrim 66:12). The Muslim can believe in the birth of Christ by the Virgin Mary, but also claim (contrary to the Christian creed) He was created, never begotten nor born of Allah.
The Qur'an indicates that Christ is a slave of Allah (Suras al-Zukhruf 43:59; Maryam 19:30), his ambassador (Suras al-Baqara 2:87; Al 'Imran 3:49,53; al-Nisa' 4:157,171; al-Ma'ida 5:75; al-An'am 6:61) and his prophet (Sura Maryam 19:30). He submitted to Allah (Suras al-Ma'ida 5:72,117; al-Tawba 9:31), prayed to Elohim (Allahumma; Sura al-Ma'ida 5:114) and would acknowledge Allah as his Master, who gave him instructions (Suras Al 'Imran 3:51; al-Ma'ida 5:72,114,117; Maryam 19:36; al-Shura 42:13; al-Zukhruf 43:64).
In these 50 verses of the Qur'an Jesus is stripped of his divinity. The spiritual warning of the Apostle John applies to Islam as well (1 John 2:18-25; 4:1-5).
The rejection to the divinity of the Holy Spirit
We should recognize that the Qur'an not only defames the Lord Jesus Christ, but also declares the Holy Spirit to be a creature and not God. Allah speaks several times of "our" Spirit (Suras Maryam 19:17; al-Anbiya' 21:91; al-Tahrim 66:12), or "my" spirit (Suras Sad 38:72; al-Hijr 15:29), but in all cases this spirit is considered to be created and not divine. In Islam no independent Holy Spirit is conceivable because Allah can only be one and not two or three.
Islamic traditions explain that Jibril (the angel Gabriel) is the spirit from Allah (Suras al-Baqara 2:97-98; al-Tahrim 66:4) who had conveyed the revelations of his Lord to Zacharias, Mary, 'Isa and Muhammad. He is indicated to be "the spirit of the Holy,” who strengthened Jesus in performing his miracles (Suras al-Baqara 2:87,253; al-Ma'ida 5:110; al-Nahl 16:102). In Islam this spirit remains a slave of Allah, under his command (Suras al-Qadr 97:4; al-Isra' 17:85; al-Shura 42:52), who executes his directions faithfully (Sura al-Shu'ara 26:193). He is highly honored by the Muslims, although they do not know who he really is.
What is missing in Islam?
Following this short introduction those who can think spiritually will understand some basic principles for our conversation with Muslims: In Islam there can be no Father, no Son, no Holy Spirit (Sura al-Ikhlas 112:1-4).
There is no spiritual security within the care of a Father-God, no personal relationship with the Almighty, no assurance of forgiveness of all sins, no possibility of recognizing the Holy Trinity (1 Corinthians 12:3; Romans 8:8-10,15-16 et al.), no fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:16-26) and no sure hope of eternal life (John 11:25-26). Where no Holy Spirit is acknowledged there can be neither spiritual thinking nor Christian living.
Besides our efforts to offer and to open the Gospel to the Muslims, a continuing intercession is necessary so that Jesus Christ will prepare individuals by his Spirit and grant them the grace to hear his Word, to understand it and to do it. Nobody will be able to explain the secret of the Holy Trinity to a Muslim unless the Holy Spirit creates a yearning in him for the real God and a readiness to hear his Word and receive the spiritual light that penetrates the darkness of human hearts.
If we want to explain the Gospel to Muslims, we should not be irritated by their rejection and the anti-Christian spirit that will be apparent to us. The love of Christ is stronger than the collective bondage in Islam. Looking for practical arguments to explain the Unity of the Holy Trinity to Muslims, five sources for conversation can be found:
I. The Testimony of the Old Testament to the Unity of the Holy Trinity
In the Torah and the Prophets we can find several comments that God is One in Three. The testimony of the Old Testament is important for an interested Muslim because it shows that the Holy Trinity is not an invention of the Christians but describes the actual being of God since eternity.
The first verses in the Bible already testify to the Holy Trinity:
Genesis 1:1-3: In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was on the face of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. Then God said, "Let there be light," and there was light.
In this introduction to the Bible we read about God, his Spirit and his Word. The evangelist John confessed that God had created the universe through Jesus, his incarnate word (John 1:1-4).
The first verse of the Bible will also guide us to ask God that his Spirit will hover over individual Muslims, families, villages, towns and countries, that their minds and hearts will be prepared until the Lord can say, "Let there be light!" And there was light!
In Genesis 1:26 God says, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness! "
God (Elohim) sometimes speaks in the plural (we), which includes the possibility of the Trinity. The Jews and the Muslims however call this form pluralis majestatis. In conversation with a delegation of Christians from Wadi Nadjran (Northern Yemen) Muhammad was deeply touched by this verse so that afterwards he let Allah speak in the plural in the Qur'an as well.
Elohim, the Hebrew word for God is plural. "El" means power, might and strength (Matthew 26:64), "him" means "they,” so that Elohim can be read as "the powerful is a plural". The word Allah in Islam can be understood in a corresponding manner, so that "al-el-hu" could be read as "the power is he" (a single person only)! The God of the Bible however is to be understood as a unity in plurality. Muhammad has adopted the expression Elohim into the Arabic language and used it as Allahumma five times in important texts in the Qur'an (Suras Al 'Imran 3:26; al-Ma'ida 5:114; al-Anfal 8:32; Yunis 10:10; al-Zumar 39:46). For him the name of God in the Old Testament, Elohim, seemed to be the key to prayers that will definitely be answered and fulfilled.
In Genesis 18:1-3 we read that Abraham was visited by three men. But he called them, "My Lord,” which is singular.
In Numbers 6:24-27 we find the Aaronic Blessing, in which the "Lord" is mentioned three times. Some churches identify this with the blessing of the Father, the blessing of the Son and the blessing of the Holy Spirit, as the blessing of the "one" Lord.
In Psalm 2:1-4 we read of the revolt of mankind against the Lord and his Anointed One (Messiah). But the Almighty laughed at them and said only one word: "You are my Son; today I have begotten You!" (Psalm 2:7). This revelation occurred 1,000 years before Jesus Christ. It points to the spiritual emergence of the Son out of the Father before all times, which should not be misunderstood as a biological begetting in Mary. Jesus existed long before he became incarnate. He is eternal God from eternal God! (John 1:14; Philippians 2:6-7).
Isaiah 9:6 is a shining example of the unity of the Trinity: For unto us a child is born, Unto us a son is given; And the government will be upon his shoulder. And his name will be called Wonderful-Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
This verse explains that the promised Son is not only a Wonderful Counselor and the Mighty God, but in him the Everlasting Father himself became man. Where else was a newborn child at the same time his Father? This unique revelation came 700 years before Jesus Christ lived on earth. This text is an essential witness to the eternal reality of the triune God.
Psalm 110:1 booms like the beat of a drum through time and eternity. There it is written: The Lord said to my Lord: "Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool."
The early Church understood this verse as a promise that explains the Ascension of Jesus and his enthronement in heaven (Matthew 26:64; Acts 2:25,34; 1 Corinthians 15:25; Philippians 2:9-10; Hebrews 10:12-13). The Son sat down with his Father on his throne (Revelations 3:21). Both rule the universe in complete unity. Since the Son has completed the redemption of mankind, the Father will make all his enemies "a footstool for his feet!" This promise includes every anti-Christian force and calls forth our faith in the victory of our God!
Those who speak with Muslims should emphasize the promises in the Old Testament to explain the unity of Christ with his Father, because their implementation in the New Testament appears as an irresistible "must" for a faithful Muslim. Whatever Allah commands must be done at once. If he promises something, it will undoubtedly become real. Nobody can stop the fulfillment of his revelation. For some Muslims the 333 promises of the Old Testament that were fulfilled in the New Testament can be strong evidence to the unity of the Holy Trinity. These promises and their fulfillment should therefore be read together and learnt by heart.
II. The Testimony of the New Testament to the Unity of the Holy Trinity
The four Gospels, the Letters of the Apostles and the Revelation are interspersed with intimations of the unity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. If we find some Muslims who are ready to read the New Testament, we should emphasize for them the unity of the Trinity. Muslims and Jews understand God to be "the only One." Some Christians put more emphasis on the three separate persons of God rather than the unity of God. They should change their thinking and learn from the children of Abraham to explain the unity of the Triune Holy One.
Matthew 1:23: Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel, which is translated: "God with us.”
Immanuel is one of the 250 names of Jesus in the Bible. He is true God and true man at the same time. In him God is with us. This promise in Isaiah 7:14 and its fulfillment can give us great comfort.
When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" (Matthew 3:16-17).
For a Muslim the stories of the baptism of Christ (Matthew 3:16-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-22; John 1:31-34; 5:37-38) contain an exciting fact: a voice was heard from heaven! Muslims understand this to be a direct revelation. Nobody can hinder the Almighty speaking. Who will be able to forbid him to say, "This is My Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased"? The Holy Spirit descended on him to equip him for his ministry in spite of the fact that he was born of the Holy Spirit. Jesus had himself been baptized in the Jordan against the objections of John the Baptist. Jesus was without sin and didn't need to be baptized, but he silently took all our sins on himself right from the beginning of his ministry.
* That is why John the Baptist shouted: "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!" (John 1:29)
* That is why the Holy Spirit descended on him as a dove and remained on him.
* That is why the Father testified, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased!"
The baptism of Christ is a central text in the church for the understanding of the Unity of the Holy Trinity. The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit worked together for the salvation of men from the very beginning of the ministry of Jesus.
Matthew 12:18 speaks of the servant of the Lord whom he had chosen, the one he loved and in whom he delighted. He would put his Spirit on him so that he could proclaim justice to the nations. This fulfillment of Isaiah 11:1-5 shows, that the Lord, his Servant and his Spirit are one in a total unity in the person of Jesus. His whole life was not only the life of an individual person, but he remained united within the Trinity.
Luke 4:18-19a: The Spirit of the LORD is upon me, because he has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.
In Luke 4:18 Jesus Christ introduces himself in Nazareth by saying, "The Spirit of the Lord is on Me!...." This short formulation refers again to the Holy Trinity because God, his Spirit and Jesus appear in total unity. Christ explained this reality and said, "because he has anointed Me." The word Christ means the Messiah, the anointed one.
For what reason was Jesus anointed? "To preach the gospel to the poor and heal the brokenhearted!" Everyone who has received the anointing of the New Testament (2 Corinthians 1:21; 1 John 2:20,27) can repeat this testimony of Jesus, for a Christian is only a Christian if the Spirit of the Lord is on him and compels him to fulfill his call (Isaiah 61:1-2; Romans 8:10-16).
All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age (Matthew 28:18-20).
In the great commission we read that everyone who decides to follow Christ should be baptized in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Why does this command not say "in the names"? Because the Three are One! The real name of our God is "The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit."
John 10:30: In the Gospel by John we read the striking testimony of the good shepherd: I and My Father are "two"?! Of course not – it says "one"! Why does it seem we always preach about two, if Jesus says only one? All evangelists to Muslims and Jews must abandon superficial understanding of this spiritual reality. The Father and the Son are one and not two! We need to think not only in a pragmatic and technical way, but we must train our minds in spiritual realities, and adjust our ministry to the seekers and believers in the Orient.
In the revealing testimony of Jesus about himself (John 14:9-11) we read: "He who has seen Me has seen the Father!" With this confession Jesus testifies to his unity with his Father in form and appearance as the fulfillment of Genesis 1:27. Subsequently Jesus says that the words which he speaks are not his own, but the Father, who lives in him, not only speaks through him but is performing what he says. Jesus remains in the Father and the Father in him. This underlines their complete unity in essence and spirit.
In John 14:23 Jesus says, "If anyone loves Me, he will obey My word and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make our home in him."
Jesus reveals the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in his followers. In this text the Spirit appears not only in an essential unity with the Father and the Son, but he represents them as their own Spirit as well.
In the three promises about the Counselor to come (John 14:26; 15:26; 16:13-15) we read 10 characteristics of the unity and the cooperation of the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit. The Spirit does not glorify himself or his charismatic bearers of talents but he glorifies Jesus. Jesus also did not boast about himself but always honored his Father. Our God is a humble and gentle God (Matthew 11:28-30)! There is no danger of a riot within the Holy Trinity. No member makes himself great but always glorifies the other! For that reason God handed over to his Son all authority in heaven and on earth; and Jesus similarly authorized the Holy Spirit to build his Church. The humility of the divine love is one of the secrets of the unity of the Holy Trinity. We can understand our God only when we allow him to change our character and make us humble just as he is. This contradicts the pride of Allah and his followers (Sura al-Hashr 59:23).
John 17:21-23: In his high priestly prayer Jesus asked his Father for his followers: "They may be one just as We are one: I in them and You in Me. That they may be perfect in one ..."
In this dialogue within the Holy Trinity Jesus summarizes his secret: We are one! This spiritual reality separates us from the Jews and the Muslims. The spiritual unity of the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit is the foundation of our faith. This unity however does not appear as a rational idea that stands as an object in front of us, but can be compared to a great magnet that tries to draw us into itself. The love of God is an attracting power.
Jesus asked his Father to make us one, so, as he and his Father are one, he in us and the Father in him. The Holy Trinity is not an inconceivable dogma but a spiritual reality that will incorporate us in the divine existence by grace. We are called "the body of Christ" (Romans 12:4-5; 1 Corinthians 12:27; Ephesians 4:4,25) and "the temple" of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16 et al.), and we have the privilege to enter and abide within the Holy Trinity, in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17; John 15:4) and in God himself (1 John 4:15-16).
The New Testament is full of indications to the secret of the Holy Trinity. Those who are keen on searching, reading and explaining may think over the following verses: John 17:1-3:10,21-23; Acts 1:4-5; 2:32-36; 1 Corinthians 2:10; 2 Corinthians 5:19; Galatians 4:4-6; Colossians 2:9-10; Hebrews 9:14; Revelations 7:10; 21:22-23; 22:3-4 and others. We should read these references to the unity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit not only rationally but also while praying, thanking and worshipping. Only the Holy Spirit can introduce us into the secret of the Holy Trinity; then we will no longer consider it an incomprehensible theory, but experience it as a grand reality.
III. References From Secular Sources to the Possibility of a Unity in the Trinity
The reflection on the Holy Trinity exceeds our human understanding. This divine secret can only be understood spiritually. Many Muslims however are not in a position to think spiritually because in Islam the real Holy Spirit does not exist. Jesus talked in parables to those who had not accepted his Gospel. So anyone who wants to explain the Unity of the Holy Trinity to Muslims who do not obey the Bible, can use numerous illustrations and practical examples from everyday life. Secondary school and university students are eager to listen to them.
The sun is a fireball with a diameter of 1.5 million kilometers. Some of its rays reach the earth in spite of the distance of 150 million km and give light, heat and life. All three appearances, the sun, its rays and its heat are an inseparable unity.
Electricity comes from a generator that produces the electrical current that creates light, heat and movement. All three, the generator, the current and the action are one!
Water can appear as liquid, ice or steam. In whatever state it appears, it always remains the same substance.
A room has length, width and height. If one of the three is missing, then the room is no longer a room but only a plane.
A person consists of body, spirit and soul. If one of the three is ill the others also suffer. If one of the three is missing, the others would not exist in a normal manner.
A family consists normally of a father, a mother and children. These three belong together as a unity. A divorce would be unnatural and painful.
The eye consists of several parts: We recognize the white of the eye, the colored iris and the black pupil. All together form one eye. If one of the parts would be missing, we would be blind.
The egg is a miracle with its shell, its white and its yolk. Out of it develops life - or a scrambled egg!
A white ray of light can be dispersed by a prism into three colors, because white is a combination of several colors.
A triangle has three angles and three sides, but is always one geometrical form.
Mathematics also supports the unity of the Trinity. Summing up one plus one plus one makes three, but multiplying one times one times one makes only one. In regards to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, they will not remain each as a separate person; but exist in a complete unity, where each one abides in the other. In this reality, they appear as an indivisible unit.
The dough for baking bread can explain this arithmetical secret. Flour, water and salt side by side do not yet form bread. But mixing these three elements, kneading and heating it makes bread out of it. So in the Holy Trinity no person exists alone or independently, but each lives in the other and altogether they are one.
In Africa an evangelist visited a village in the bush with grass huts. A woman was cooking food for her family in a pot on an open fire. The evangelist suggested that she should take away one of the three stones on which the pot rested. "No," cried the woman, "if I take away one stone, the pot will fall over and the meal will burn in the fire!" "Look," answered the evangelist, "You cannot cook without the Trinity. If you take one element of it away, all your life will collapse and you will fall into the fire!" He explained the unity of the Trinity to her in simple words out of her circumstances.
All these hints from daily life are no proof of the unity of the Trinity! Faith cannot be proven. If we could prove faith it would no longer be faith. Examples are only helps and signs that disclose themselves for those who want to understand the spiritual reality, and guide them to the secrets of the faith.
The above-mentioned examples have in common the fact that independent elements are united by a superior entity. Languages or cultures that are not yet fully developed can hardly think dialectically. The Holy Spirit however teaches us a new logic that appears exaggerated and illogical to a normal man. We believe, for instance, that Jesus is seated with his Father on one throne and at the same time he is living in our hearts. This is inconceivable for many Muslims: Either he sits in heaven or rests in our hearts but not both at the same time!
We confess that we are justified sinners by grace. A Muslim could answer: either you are a sinner or you are justified but you cannot be a justified sinner.
The Holy Spirit teaches the followers of Jesus a spiritual logic that a Muslim cannot easily understand. Their worldly thinking is different from spiritual logic. Therefore we must remain patient in our conversation with them. After all, spiritual facts seemed strange and unrealistic to us also for a long time. The intercession for the insight and inspiration of Muslims remains as important as the conversation itself.
We should also not forget in our discussions with Muslims that the word "Trinity" never appears in the Bible! Therefore we should not fight for the Trinity but for the unity of God! The reality of God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit is evident in all books of the Bible, because Jesus stressed his everlasting unity with his Father in the Holy Spirit.
The expression Trinity is also a linguistic mistake in English and Arabic. There is no such word as "Trinity" in the Bible! Christ and his apostles revealed the triune God; they never spoke about three different Gods. We should rethink the basis of our faith and return to the biblical reality.
IV. Signs of the Unity of the Holy Trinity in the Qur'an
Many Muslims are not ready to listen to the texts of the Bible because they suspect it was forged. Answers from logic and science are helpful for interested students of high schools and universities. An increasing number of Muslims will accept only answers from the Qur'an and Islamic traditions. We should search for hidden phrases about the Holy Trinity in the Qur'an itself for these fundamentalists.
Qur'anic quotations can be used at the beginning of a conversation because up to 60 per cent of the Qur'an consists of expressions and thoughts from the Old Testament, which were passed on verbally to Muhammad in the versions of the Mishnah and the Talmud. About eight percent of the Qur'an is derived from orally transmitted stories in the Gospels or myths from Christian sects. We therefore have the right to accept and extract the testimonies of the Jews and the Christians that were rendered into Arabic verses of the Qur'an, since they originated from Biblical sources. They must however be filled with their original spiritual substance. Furthermore many Qur'anic expressions in the Arabic language carry variant meanings and permit different interpretations. So it is permissible to fill the original meaning of the Bible into some Qur'anic texts.
Apropos of the Holy Trinity there are 5 groups of verses in the Qur'an which support the reality of the triune God:
The begetting of Christ in Mary
The Suras al-Anbiya' 21:91 and al-Tahrim 66:12 offer a revelation of Allah:
"We breathed into her (some) of our spirit!"
By that Christ would have been created in Mary. Allah talks in the plural, which can be considered to be a sign of his plurality. He says: "We blew (out of ourselves) from our spirit into her!" Allah certainly did not blow the angel Gabriel into Mary, nor did Gabriel blow his own spirit into Mary, on the contrary it is written that Allah blew his own spirit into Mary. One of these two verses claims that Allah had breathed generally into Mary; the other says that he breathed his spirit into her private parts!
With this testimony in the Qur'an the Muslims' assertion of a biological fathering by Allah is completely eliminated. These verses clarify the birth of Christ by the Spirit of Allah. All Three: Allah, his Spirit and Christ appear also in the Qur'an as an inseparable unit.
The Islamic commentators noticed the weakness of these verses and tried to alter the meaning by giving them a new interpretation: "Isa was only created in Mary by the Spirit of God and by his Word." But this is not the actual content of these verses. This twisting was interpolated into them in order to eliminate the divinity of Christ at its roots.
Allah supported Christ with his Spirit
In the Qur'an you can find three verses which claim that Allah strengthened Christ with the Spirit of the Holy One so that he would be able to accomplish his breath-taking miracles. According to these verses Christ has opened the eyes of the blind, healed the lepers with his words, and raised the dead from their graves (Sura al-Ma'ida 5:110). The Qur'an reports about ten of the miracles of Christ, which according to Islam, he could not perform by himself alone, but always with the help of the Spirit sent to him by Allah. This means that Allah, his Spirit and Christ cooperated in active unity!
Islamic commentators however emphasized that Christ was unable to work any miracle by himself, therefore Allah had to send Jibril to strengthen him for his actions. They could not understand the humility of Christ who said, "The Son can do nothing by himself. Whatever he sees the Father doing the Son also does" (John 5:19-23). But whoever asks a Muslim, "Who is able to restore the dead to life?" will get the answer: "Only Allah!" But if he then asks, "Do you agree then that Christ is Allah?" he will receive a harsh denial. The fact remains that Allah, his Spirit and Christ form a complete unity in action, even in the Qur'an.
Christ - the true Ayatollah
The annunciation of the birth of Christ in the Qur'an offers an exciting message from Allah, who says about Christ:
We will make him a sign for mankind and a mercy from "us" (Sura Maryam 19:21).
The Arabic word for sign is ayatun, read together with Allah results in "Ayatollah,” which means "the unique miracle of Allah." Christ is the only male Ayatollah whom Allah himself appointed as a sign for all people. In him the striking texts of Genesis 1:26 and John 14:9 have been accomplished.
Allah furthermore reveals that Christ is a mercy from "us,” speaking in the plural. This statement guided Qur'anic teachers in Africa to special meditation. They found that each Sura, except one, begins with the phrase: "In the name of Allah, the compassionate, the merciful!" These Islamic seekers of truth came to the conclusion: The Compassionate (al-Rahman) is God the Father, the Merciful (al-Rahim) is the Holy Spirit and the mercy (al-Rahmat) itself is 'Isa, the son of Mary. All three carry the same substance in themselves.
Muhammad providently peppered this interpretation by having Allah reveal to him: "We have not sent you except as a mercy for the worlds" (Sura al-Anbiya' 21:107).
What was the mercy of Allah in the life of Muhammad? He brought a new law, the Sharia, as the basis for his religious state. This law of Allah does not save any Muslim, but will judge everybody who wants to claim righteousness by his good deeds. Yet Jesus produced evidence of the mercy of Allah in his miracles: He healed everyone who came to him, raised individuals from the dead and introduced the Spirit of peace into the world. Here it becomes evident who really brought mercy to the world and who was full of compassion!
Christ the word of Allah and a Spirit of him
Several times Muhammad exploited the expression of the evangelist John, that Jesus was the incarnate Word of God (Suras Al 'Imran 3:39,45; al-Nisa' 4:171; Maryam 19:34). By this title he acknowledged the power of Christ as the full authority of the Word of God. According to the Qur'an, in Christ the creative, healing, forgiving, consoling and renewing power of the word of Allah is fully present and active. Christ did not only speak the Word of Allah but he was that in person. According to the Qur'an, Christ remained without sin, because there was no difference between his words and his deeds. In him the will of Allah and his spirit became visible, so as the revelation of Allah is divine, Christ the word of Allah is divine as well.
The Qur'an testifies several times that Christ was not conceived biologically but was an incarnate Spirit of Allah. Muslims confess that the son of Mary was a walking spirit on the earth, who appeared as a man and who, after his death, returned to his place of origin, to Allah (Suras Al 'Imran 3:47,55; al-Nisa' 4:158,171; al-Anbiya' 21:91; al-Tahrim 66:12). With these expressions Islam comes near to the secret of the Christian understanding of the Holy Trinity. The interpreters, however, try to alter this inference and call Christ a "created" Word and a created Spirit of Allah. But this does not appear in the Qur'an, it is only interpolated into it maliciously.
A Dialogue in the Qur'anic Trinity
In the book of the Muslims one finds a number of signs of the uniqueness of Christ. Allah had lifted the son of Mary after his death to himself into his glory (Suras Al 'Imran 3:55 and al-Nisa' 4:158). According to Islam, Christ lives with Allah today.
In a dialogue (Sura al-Ma'ida 5:116-117) Allah asked Christ, whether he had taught men to accept himself and his mother as two deities besides Allah. Christ's answer in the Qur'an to this critical question was clearly no! A Christian sect had imagined such a dubious Trinity in the Arabian Peninsula, which is rejected by all churches. Probably Muhammad had heard about this sect and their mistaken understanding of the Trinity. Since then Muslims think that the Christians believe that Allah slept with Mary and fathered a child with her. They rightly reject such a blasphemy! We confirm, too, that Muhammad is right to reject this idea! Such a Trinity does not exist! With this agreement much of the tension in Muslims against Christianity disappears! We should explain to them that we believe in a spiritual Trinity in Unity and not in a biological one, a Trinity in Unity that consists of God, his Spirit and his Word (John 1:1-14).
During this Qur'anic dialogue between Allah and Christ there appear – besides several anti-Christian distortions – some remarkable words, that after the Ascension of Christ, Allah should witness and watch over his orphaned disciples as Christ himself was a witness and shepherd to his disciples. Here Allah and Christ carry the same title and name that again underlines the divinity of Christ in the Qur'an!
No doubt we cannot evangelize Muslims with the Qur'an. In the book of the Muslims salvation is completely absent! We cannot believe in the divine inspiration of the Qur'an. But we find fragments of the Christian witness in the book of the Muslims. So take them out, purify them and put them like mosaic stones into the right place of the Gospel. Islamic fundamentalists do not normally listen to any other language than the words of the Qur'an. For this reason we bring to them the Gospel in their own idioms. Yet we should not quote words of the Qur'an if we do not know them exactly.
V. The Witness to the Unity of the Holy Trinity in the Personal Testimonies of Christians
The apostles clearly confess the existence of the Holy Trinity.
Peter says: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to his abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead... (1 Peter 1:3-10; 5:10)
John writes: By this we know, that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit and we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him and he in God. (1 John 4:13-15; 5:12,20)
Paul writes: God desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all. (1 Timothy 2:4-6; 2 Corinthians 13:14)
The witness of the apostles is often breathtaking. They testify to the spiritual reality of the unity of the Holy Trinity in our lives.
An elder of a church in Lebanon visited his son, an engineer, in Qatar, in the Persian Gulf. When he prayed before the meal with everyone present, a Muslim guest approached him afterwards and told him that he could see the visitor was a pious man; therefore he would like to suggest to him that he become a Muslim and receive the fullness of Allah's mercy.
The elder answered wisely, "I will think over your suggestion. If you can offer me more than I have already received, I will consider your offer!"
Puzzled, the Muslim asked, "What do you possess that we do not have?"
The elder answered, "Allah is my father, he knows me, cares for me and loves me. Christ is the Lamb of God, which carried away all my sins and has reconciled me with God. I will not be condemned and shall not go to hell because he has made me righteous before God. The Spirit of God dwells in me since Christ has purified my sinful heart. I can talk with my heavenly Father in my prayer and give him thanks for the eternal life which he granted me. I will not die, but I will live forever and rise from the dead as my Lord rose from the dead" (John 11:25-26).
The Muslim went away deep in thought because the elder had witnessed to him with simple words the reality of the unity of the Holy Trinity in his life.
In this sense we greet all those called to the service of the Lord Jesus among the Muslims and pray for them that the Lord may lead them to a spiritual conversation with the followers of Muhammad in their localities.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ,
and the love of God,
and the communion of the Holy Spirit
be with you all.
(2 Corinthians 13:14)
Q U I Z
If you have studied this booklet carefully, you can easily answer the following questions. Whoever answers 90% of all questions in the eight booklets of this series correctly, can obtain a certificate from our center on
in helpful ways for
conducting conversations with
Muslims about Jesus Christ
as an encouragement for his/her future services for Christ.
1. What does the first half of the Islamic confession of faith (shahada) mean?
2. In what ways did Muhammad reject the Holy Trinity?
3. How often can we read in the Qur'an that Allah has no Son? What does this denial mean according to 1 John 2:18-25?
4. Why is 'Isa the Son of Mary in Islam not the Son of God?
5. How does the Qur'an insist that Christ is a slave of Allah and subject to him?
6. Why can no Holy Spirit exist in Islam? What does this mean for the spiritual life of Muslims?
7. Why can Allah never be understood as a Father in the Qur'an?
8. What is missing in the Islamic conception of God?
9. What do the first three verses of the Bible reveal about the Unity of the Trinity? What can these verses mean for our services among Muslims?
10. Why does God in the Old Testament sometimes speak of Himself as a "We" (i.e. in the plural)? What is the exact meaning of the Hebrew word "Elohim"?
11. How is it possible to explain the Aaronic blessing (Numbers 6:24-27) and the divine adoration of the Seraphim in Isaiah 6:3 as a confession to the Triune God?
12. What does Psalm 2:1-7 teach us in view of the Trinity?
13. Why does Isaiah 9:6 remain a unique reference to the unity of the Trinity?
14. How did the writer of the letter to the Hebrews (1:9) explain Psalm 45:6-7? What can this signify for our talks with Muslims?
15. Why does Psalm 110:1 remain a challenge to every Jew and Muslim?
16. What can the promises in the Old Testament mean for a Muslim or a Jew?
17. What does the word "Immanuel" mean as a name for Jesus? Where is this promise written in the prophets?
18. Why did the unique revelation of the Holy Trinity follow the baptism of Jesus in the river Jordan? What can the short utterance of God after the baptism of Jesus mean for a Muslim? Who can hinder the almighty God from having a son if he wants to have one?
19. How did Jesus explain his title "Christ" in the synagogue in Nazareth? What does this revelation mean for the understanding of the Unity of the Holy Trinity?
20. Where in the great commission of Jesus can you find a hint to the unity of the Holy Trinity?
21. Why did Jesus not say, "I and the Father are two"? Why then do we often speak of two different Gods with Muslims?
22. What should we accept from John 14:9-11 regarding the deep secrets of the Holy Trinity?
23. Why does the Holy Spirit glorify the Son as the Son always glorifies His Father?
24. What did Jesus promise in John 14:23 about the unity of the Trinity?
25. Which essential insights into the triune God did Jesus reveal in John 17:21-23?
26. Why is the word "Trinity" a linguistic mistake in English when referring to the biblical God? Why is the expression "triune God" more adequate to explain the reality of Father, Son and Holy Spirit? What should we emphasize in our talks with Muslims and Jews about this subject?
27. Why do sun, solar rays and solar heat point to the triune God?
28. How do a generator, electric current and their effects in heaters, fans, coolers or computers illustrate the unity of the Trinity?
29. What can we learn from water, from a room and from a person as complex unities?
30. How does an eye, an egg or a triangle point to the unity of the Trinity?
31. What is the difference between 1+1+1 and 1x1x1? How does the dough out of flour, water and yeast become bread?
32. Why are these hints from everyday life not proofs for the unity of the Holy Trinity? Why are Christians able to think in dialectical terms; and what does a Muslim need in order to understand seemingly contradicting spiritual realities?
33. How did Muhammad imagine that Christ was generated in Mary? How can this imagination help us in our talks with Muslims?
34. Why can the strengthening of Christ by the spirit from Allah point to the "unity in action" of Allah, his spirit and Christ?
35. How does the Qur'an explain that Christ is the only male Ayatollah appointed by Allah? How did this Qur'anic verse help some African Qur'an teachers to draw closer to the reality of the Holy Trinity?
36. How can the Qur'anic expression that Christ is "a word from Allah" or "his word" incarnate help us in our talks with Muslims?
37. Why can the Qur'anic description of Christ as being a "spirit from Allah" support us to explain to Muslims the everlasting and divine being of the Son of Mary?
38. What does the Qur'anic dialogue between Allah and Christ after his ascension to heaven mean? Why can we agree with Muslims that the Qur'anic Trinity, rejected by Muhammad, must also be rejected by us? How can this agreement create a positive atmosphere to show Muslims the "spiritual" Trinity?
39. What is the basic requirement for explaining to a Muslim the spiritual unity of the Holy Trinity?
40. Which testimony of the apostles of Christ according to your understanding reveals the unity of the Holy Trinity in the best manner?
41. Can you show us where the word "Trinity" appears in the Bible?
Every participant in this quiz is allowed to use any book at his disposition and to ask any trustworthy person known to him when answering these questions. We wait for your written answers including your full address on the papers or in your e-mail. We pray for you to Jesus, the living Lord, that He will send, guide, strengthen, protect and be with you every day of your life!
Yours in His service,
Abd al-Masih and his brothers in the Lord
Send your replies to:
Weirton, WV 26062,
or by e-mail to:
The Spirit of the LORD is upon me,
because he has anointed Me
to preach the gospel to the poor.
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.