Everyone was invited to a read along in Let’s Read About the Qur’an Together! The plan is to read together – What Every Christian Needs to Know About the Qur’an by James R. White.
Feel free to grab a copy of the book and join in at anytime! So far, we’ve covered:
- First Discussion: What Every Christian Needs to Know About the Qur’an
- Chapter 1a: What Every Christian Needs to Know About the Qur’an
- Chapter 1b: What Every Christian Needs to Know About the Qur’an by Ken Temple
- Chapter 2: What Every Christian Needs to Know About the Qur’an
- Chapter 3: What Every Christian Needs to Know About the Qur’an
Chapter 4: “Say Not Three”: The Qur’an and the Trinity
In this chapter, Dr. White examines how the Qur’an attempts to address the doctrine of the Trinity. He challenges Christians and Muslims with the question, “Does the Qur’an’s author show knowledge of the Trinity to where the criticisms offered are accurate and compelling?” (Kindle Locations 949-950). He asks this question in light of the belief that the Qur’an came directly from Allah who would know how to correct prior understandings of him from Christians. The Surahs examined in this chapter are central to the disagreements between Christians and Muslims.
The main issue White fleshes out in the chapter’s subtitles below is that the Qur’an attempts to refute an inaccurate portrayal of the Trinity. Therefore, this post will be brief instead of going into all of the details of White’s clear refutations. Understanding the inaccurate portrayals of the Trinity in the Qur’an are important so you may want to grab your own copy of White’s book.
Surah 4:166–172: “Say Not Three!”
This section is the longest of the chapter. Many of the how and why questions in this chapter on the Qur’an getting the Trinity wrong can be applied to the sections that follow. The question of how Muhammad knew anything about Christian doctrine as it informed his writing the Qur’an is irrelevant to Muslims. For, Muslims believe Muhammad’s encounter with Christians has no relevance on the Qur’an’s words since their holy book came directly from Allah untainted by human thought.
The problem, however, is that Allah should know which doctrines he attempts to refute in his book by accurately representing them. For example, the Qur’an posits Christians worship three gods – the father, son, and mother(Mary).
171. O People of the Book! Commit no excess in your religion,[ 66] nor say anything but the truth about Allah. The Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, was only a Messenger of Allah, and His word which He conveyed to Mary, and a spirit from Him. So believe in Allah and His Messengers, and say not “three.” Cease, [it is] better for you! Allah is only One God. Far is it removed from His transcendence that He should have a son, when His is all that the heavens and all that the earth contain. And Allah is sufficient as [their] Custodian.[ 67] (Kindle Locations 1011-1016).
This is the in accurate theme shown in the Qur’an that runs throughout the rest of the chapter.
Surah 5:12–19: “They . . . Have Disbelieved”
17. They indeed have disbelieved who say: “Allah is the Messiah, son of Mary.” Say: “Who has the least power against Allah, if He had willed to destroy the Messiah son of Mary, and his mother and everyone on earth?” Allah’s is the sovereignty of the heavens and the earth. (Kindle Locations 1176-1178).
The first quote translates into alleged Christian doctrine as “God is the Messiah,” which, as White notes, is not a sum total accurate rendering. Rather, it is a simplistic reduction of the Christian doctrine that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and God the Son.
18. The Jews and the Christians say: “We are the sons of Allah, and His loved ones.” Say: “Why then does He chastise you for your sins? Surely, you are but human beings of His creating. He forgives whom He will, and punishes whom He will. Allah’s is the sovereignty of the heavens and the earth and all that is between them, and to Him is the journeying.” (Kindle Locations 1195-1197).
I added the bold for emphasis to point out, as White does, that Christians do not believe they have always existed eternally.
Surah 5:68–77: “Allah Is the Third of Three”?
Two things that stood out to me in this section are:
72. They have disbelieved who say: “Allah is the Messiah, the son of Mary.” The Messiah (himself) said: “O Children of Israel, worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord. Whoever ascribes partners to Allah, for him Allah has forbidden Paradise. His abode is the Fire. For the unjust there will be no helpers.” (Kindle Locations 1242-1244).
73. They have disbelieved who say: “Allah is the third of three,” when there is no god save One God. If they cease not what they say, a painful torment will fall upon those of them who disbelieve. (Kindle Locations 1261-1262).
There is no indication from where the words in 72 came that are attributed to the Messiah Jesus. And 73 misrepresents the Christian doctrine of the Trinity which does not say Allah – God the Father – is the third of three gods.
Surah 5:116: Worshiping Mary and Jesus as Gods
116. And when Allah said: “O Jesus son of Mary! Did you say to mankind: ‘Take me and my mother for two gods other than Allah?’” He said: “Transcendent are You! It was not mine to say that of which I had no right. In saying it, then You knew it. You know what is in my self, but I know not what is in Your self. It is You, only You, Who know well all hidden things.” 117. I told them only that which You commanded me, [saying]: “Worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord!” I was a witness over them while I dwelt among them, and when You took me, You were the Watcher over them. You are Witness over all things. (Kindle Locations 1305-1310).
There is nothing in Christian doctrine at the time of Muhammad that indicates Mary was thought to be a god. I agree with Dr. White that a book directly from Allah with no human influence should not make such glaring errors on Christian theology.
Of course, there is much more to this chapter worth explore, but venue is only meant to be a discussion.
Here I blog…