” A critical examination of Dr. Jerald F. Dirks’ arguments in light of the express teachings of the Qur’an”
Continues from Part I
In fact, there are several ways that the author(s) of the Qur’an could have expressed what Christians actually believed concerning God the Father’s relationship within the Godhead. S/he/they could have articulated the Christian understanding that God the Father is the first of three by employing any of the following expressions,
Allah huwa wahid min thalatha.
Allah huwa awwal min thalatha.
Allah awwal thalatha.
As it stands the phrase used in the Muslim scripture concerning God the Father’s position within the Godhead is blatantly wrong.
Now if Dirks and others wish to contend the Qur’an is referring to a heretical group of Christians such as the Maryamites who were worshiping three gods, namely God Father, Mary the mother and Jesus their offspring, then this only strengthens our case that these verses do not address Trinitarians, but apostates that deviated from the true faith. More on this shortly.
The Qur’an on the Deity of Christ
The Islamic scripture also distorts the Christian understanding of the Person of Christ when it accuses Christians of saying that God, or Allah, is the Christ. The historic Christian view is that Jesus is God, which is not the same as saying that God is Jesus. The former implies that Christ is fully God in essence, having every essential attribute of Deity, being all that God is; the latter, however, suggests that Christ is the only Person of God, the only One who is God.
In other words, to say that God is Jesus means that the entire Godhead is instantiated in Christ alone to the exclusion of the Father and the Holy Spirit, or that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are nothing more than manifestations of a single Divine Person. This latter understanding would imply that Christ is all three manifestations, which is a form of an ancient heresy known as Sabellianism which was condemned by the early Church on the basis of the explicit testimony of the Holy Scriptures which affirm that Father, Son and Holy Spirit are personally distinct from one another.
This precision in theological language is not a modern invention or polemic, nor is it simply a matter of splitting hairs, but a crucial distinction held by orthodox Christians even before Muhammad’s time. As Muslim author Neal Robinson noted in reference to an ancient Nestorian reference:
“… The text which dates from around 550 CE. concludes a discussion of the Trinity with the words ‘The Messiah is God but God is not the Messiah’. The Qur’an echoes only the latter half of the statement. C. Schedl, Muhammad and Jesus (Vienna: Herder, 1978), p.
And as another scholar writes,
“To say that God is Christ is a statement not found anywhere in the New Testament or in the Christian creeds. ‘God was in Christ’, said Paul, ‘reconciling the world to himself’. (2 Cor. 5, 19) But this reconciliation through Christ is quite different from saying that God is Christ. ‘You belong to Christ, and Christ to God’, said Paul again, putting the relationship into perspective. (1 Cor. 3:23)
“But in the early Church centuries there arose heresies, such as that of Patripassianism, which so identified Christ and God as to suggest that God the Father had suffered on the cross. About A.D. 200 Noetus had taught that Christ was God the Father, and therefore that the Father himself was born and suffered and died. These views were taken to
Hence, as it stands the Qur’an nowhere condemns the historic Christian understanding of the holy and blessed Trinity or the Divine Sonship of Christ. The Muslim scripture only speaks out against a mistaken view of orthodox teaching, which its author(s) erroneously attributed to Christians in general, as well as rejecting aberrant forms of historic Christian beliefs:
“It has often been thought that the Qur’an denies the Christian teaching of the Trinity, and commentators have taken its words to be a rejection of orthodox Christian doctrine. However, it seems more likely that it is heretical doctrines that are denied in the Qur’an, and orthodox Christians should agree with most of its statements… Sura 5, 77/73 then goes on to say: ‘Assuredly they have disbelieved who say: “God is one of three” [or “the third of three”]. There is not god but one God.’ The orthodox Christian must agree. God cannot be one of three. The notion of three gods is as offensive to Christianity as to Islam. Christianity claims to be monotheistic, to believe in one God only. The Nicene Creed begins, ‘I believe in one God’. The Articles of the Church of England start with the affirmation: ‘There is but one living and true God, everlasting, without body, parts, or passions; of infinite power, wisdom and goodness; the Maker and Preserver of all things visible and invisible’… The Qur’an denies Christian heresies of Adoption, Patripassianism, and Mariolatry. But it affirms the Unity, which is at the basis of trinitarian doctrine. The Qur’an, says, R. C. Zaehner, ‘does not explicitly deny any specific Christian doctrine except that Christ is the son of God, and this for obvious reasons that have already been pointed out. For, except to those who well coached in Christian theology, sonship implies physical procreation and this is unthinkable in God who is a pure Spirit.’” (Parrinder, pp. 133-134, 137)
This concludes our rebuttal. Lord Jesus willing, the second part of this rebuttal to follow shortly.
(1) This may be one reason why Allah is against Muslims adopting children:
Allah has not assigned to any man two hearts within his breast; nor has He made your wives, when you divorce, saying, 'Be as my mother's back,' truly your mothers, neither has He made your adopted sons your sons in fact. That is your own saying, the words of your mouths; but Allah speaks the truth, and guides on the way. Call them after their true fathers; that is more equitable in the sight of Allah. If you know not who their fathers were, then they are your brothers in religion, and your clients. There is no fault in you if you make mistakes, but only in what your hearts premeditate. Allah is All-forgiving, All-compassionate. S. 33:4-5
It seems that the author(s) is/are basing his/her/their rejection of adoption on the fact that Allah himself doesn’t adopt children. Therefore, neither should Muslims adopt!