The Quran teaches that there is only one God.
Say : He is God, the One and Only; God, the Eternal, Absolute; He beget not, nor is He begotten and there is none like unto Him. (Surah 112:1-4)
The Quran warns against associating others with God
But the Christian doctrine of trinity is not about associating others with God. It is about who this God is. Christians believe that God is in three Persons – Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Even the Bible teaches that there is only one God.
1. What Muslims say
(Deu 6:4) Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.
Besides me there is no other God; there never was and never will be. (Isaiah 43:10)
According to Muslims, how can Jesus and the Holy Spirit also be God if there is only one God?
2. What Christians say
This verse teaches plainly that there is only one God. If the Christian doctrine of trinity teaches that there are three gods, then it has definitely contradicted the clear teachings of the Bible. But the Christian doctrine of trinity is not about three gods; it is about one triune God who exists in three persons.
Muslims think that the doctrine of trinity contradicts teachings in the Bible itself, but it does not. This doctrine does not contradict a single verse in the Bible but is in fact substantiated by these same verses that talks about the existence of only one God. There is not a single verse in the Bible that tell us that this one God cannot be a triune God. (And I am not saying that whatever the Bible is silent on is true. I am only saying that the doctrine does not contradict the Bible.) On the contrary, there are many verses that tell us that both Jesus and the Holy Spirit are God, which I will show later on.
It is the teaching that there is one God in three persons: the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Because this one God exists in three persons, we can say that the Father is God, the Son is God and the Holy Spirit is God. But since they are three persons, the Father is distinct from the Son who is distinct from the Holy Spirit. All three persons exist in equality in the trinity. No one is superior to the other two persons.
When the Bible says that God is one, it did not elaborate that this “one” cannot be “three persons in one”. In fact, the use of the word “one” allows for multiple persons.
(Deu 6:4) Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.
The Hebrew word for “one” is “ehadh”. The same word is used of the “one flesh” of Adam and Eve (two persons). Therefore, the “one” flesh actually has two persons.
(Gen 2:24) For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one (Hebrew, ehadh) flesh.
Likewise in the Greek New Testament, Jesus said
(Mark 12:29) “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.
He uses the same word “one” in the following verse.
(John 10:30) I and the Father are one.
Again, two persons in that oneness. Clearly, the usage of the word “one” allow for more than one persons.
Muslims contend that the quran “nowhere says that the Christian Trinity is formed of Jesus, Mary and God”, as some Christian critics of the quran have concluded. The reference to Mary, he says, has to do with “the Roman Catholic doctrine of the worship of Mary”; and adds, “Had Mary not been worshipped by the Christians as the ‘Mother of God’, the conclusion would have been safe that the quran mistook Mary for the third person of the Trinity”.
Since the quran nowhere associates the Holy Spirit with the Trinity, it seems reasonable to hold that, in some way or other, Mary was connected by muhammad with this doctrine.
The trinity of God should be understood figuratively, not literally.
It is not possible for God to have a son.
A son is a product of the father’s sperm and the mother’s egg, in other words, a physical, sexual act. This cannot true of God who is not human.
What Christians say
Jesus says that he is the son of God. However, nowhere does Jesus teach that his beginning is the result of a physical union between God his Father and his mother, Mary. In fact, Jesus taught about his eternal co-existence with his Father.
(John 17:5) And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.
(John 8:58) “I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!”
No Christian understands the sonship of Jesus to be the result of sexual union between God and Mary. This idea is as repugnant to a Christian as it is to a Muslim. True, Christians believe that the Holy Spirit came upon Mary and as a result of that she could conceive even though she had not had any sexual relations with a man. But that is a miracle of God. God has the power to make Mary conceive without having the need for God to have sex with Mary.
(Luke 1:35) The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.
It is incorrect to think that the words “come upon you” has any sexual connotation. The Greek word used for “come upon” is “eperchomai” which carries no connotation of a sexual act. The same word is used when Jesus tells his disciples that the Holy Spirit will “come upon” them.
(Acts 1:8) But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
The Holy Spirit falling upon Mary is also taught in the Quran.
YUSUFALI: And (remember) her who guarded her chastity: We breathed into her of Our spirit, and We made her and her son a sign for all peoples.
Christians do not believe that Jesus is the literal son of God because Jesus did not become the son of God at the moment Mary was conceived. Christians believe that Jesus has always been the son of God from eternity. Christians do not believe that Jesus is a created being. (We will discuss that in detail later on in the article.)
Therefore, I believe the Muslim is right in saying that the sonship should not be understood in the literal sense but in the figurative sense.
The Quran and the Bible both uses the word “son” in the figurative sense.
For example, the Quran used the term “son of the road” to refer to a traveler (Surah 2:215).
The Bible talks about “sons of the light”.
Luk 16:8 And his lord commended the unrighteous steward because he had done wisely: for the sons of this world are for their own generation wiser than the sons of the light. (American Standard Version)
…son of wickedness.
(Psa 89:22 KJV) The enemy shall not exact upon him; nor the son of wickedness afflict him.
It is obvious that the usage of “son” in the above verses is figurative and not literal. In other words something that has the characteristic of another thing is describe as the son of it.
The Bible plainly teaches that Jesus is God’s son. There must be some reason why God the Father chose to describe Jesus as His special son. One reason could be because the idea of sonship carries with it close similarity with the father. We have the expression “like father, like son”. Jesus could be revealed to us as God’s son because of his utmost similarity with the Father, being God himself. Jesus himself talks about this similarity.
(John 10:30) I and the Father are one.”
(John 14:9) Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.
The Bible also describes Jesus as the Son of man. In doing so, it is affirming his human nature. Christians believe that Jesus is fully God and fully man.