I know what you’re thinking: Is “shirk” a curse word from a foreign language? I almost wish it was because that would make it easier to dismiss. No, “shirk” is the biggest sin in Islam. It is the opposite of their foundational doctrine known as “tawheed.”
In Islam Tawheed is the belief that God is one. Those who are Christians would say, “Yes we agree — God is one in substance, yet three in Person.” But to a Muslim by saying, “three in Person” we have just committed “shirk.” Committing shirk is unforgivable in Islam (Surah 4:48). According to Islam this is idolatry in its worst form. Surah 4:48 gives Muslims the definition for shirk, which is — setting up partners with Allah. Essentially this means: Attributing anything that pertains to deity to anyone other than Allah.
Unfortunately, most Christians don’t understand the degree of fear that Muslims live with. There is no doctrine of “justification by grace through faith alone” in Islam. I recently had a conversation with an Imam in which I asked him if the thought that he could still be sent to hell by Allah, even after a life of faithful service to Islam, filled him with fear. Without hesitation he replied, “Yes!”
Since the average faithful Muslim is filled with that same fear, and they believe that committing shirk would certainly send them to hell, then it isn’t difficult to imagine why Muslims think of the Christian doctrine of the trinity as blasphemous, and the creation of men.
Without the fact of the historical reliability of the New Testament, and the fact that Jesus Christ said and did things that no mere human would (without being considered insane or God), Christians would have no basis on which to defeat Islamic arguments against the trinity. But as my last two articles have shown Christians do have a trustworthy Bible and Jesus did say and do things that force us to choose: Lunatic or Lord? So as it relates to the Christian doctrine of “trinity” it is not a valid Islamic response to say, “Your Bible is corrupted”, or “Jesus never claimed to be God.” Both are easily proven to be false accusations. If a Muslim is open to more truth after being shown that such accusations have no merit, then showing them that the Christian doctrine of “trinity” is a logical conclusion based upon what we find in Scripture, may just be the thing that begins to stir their souls with the possibility they are worshipping a false god.
So what is the biblical evidence for God as trinity? Well an article on MTJ isn’t sufficient to discuss all of the evidence. I will only hit three pieces of evidence (in logical fashion) that I believe to be crucial.
- The Bible clearly teaches that God is One.
The famous Hebrew text for this is Deuteronomy 6:4, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one…”
That seems to shut the door on the possibility of the doctrine of trinity being biblical. But when one does a little digging they find that Hebrew language actually has 2 words for the English word “one.” One of them means “single, solitary, one; not one and a half, just one.” The other word means “composite oneness”; in other words it can signify composite parts that form a unity. A good example is Genesis 2:24 where God tells us, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” A husband is still a man, he is not his wife nor a woman, and yet in God’s eyes when he and she marry they become one. They are two different people and yet they are one in marriage.
Guess which word is used in Deuteronomy 6:4? It is the Hebrew word for “composite oneness.” This should not surprise the careful Bible student because in numerous places within the Old Testament we see a plurality within God. In Genesis 1:26 we see God say, “Let us make man in our Image, after our likeness…” In Genesis 3:22, after Adam and Eve sinned God said, “Behold the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil…” In Isaiah 6:8 right before God commissions Isaiah, the LORD say, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?”
The inescapable conclusion the Old Testament forces the careful thinker into is — There is a plurality within God who is One. Now, without the New Testament that would be problematic. That is why Jews who don’t believe Jesus Christ is the Messiah are forced to either ignore this evidence, or change it. In fact it has been reported than a rabbi named Maimonides, in the 12th century, changed the Hebrew word in Deuteronomy 6:4 from “composite oneness” (ehad) to “one” (yahid) in order to relieve the tension found in the Old Testament. But thank God we have another Testament: The New Testament.
- The Bible presents the Father, the Son, and the Spirit as divine.
I could list dozens of texts here, but for the sake of brevity — just one for each member.
The Father: Matt. 11:25- “At that time Jesus declared, ‘I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth…’” How can one be Lord of heaven and earth and not be God?
The Son: Matt. 1:21- “She will bear a son, and you will call His name Jesus, for He will save his people from their sins.” Who can forgive sins but God?
The Holy Spirit: In Acts 5:4 Luke refers to the Holy Spirit as “God.” It doesn’t get any clearer than that.
This New Testament claims to be the fulfillment of the Old Testament, (2nd Cor. 3:7-18; Hebrews 1:1-2) wherein we see God tell us He is “One”, a composite oneness. Thus, the New Testament expands on what was there in the Old, yet not clear and readily apparent to all.
- The Bible is either teaching that there are three Gods, in which case it would be contradicting itself, or the Bible is teaching that God is three in One.
This is the bottom line when it comes to whether or not the Christian doctrine of ‘God as Trinity’ can be trusted. If one believes the Bible, then when you study both testaments you have to make a choice. One choice would lead to throwing the Bible in the garbage. The other choice is to embrace God as trinity as a necessary though not completely understandable biblical revelation.
The former would lead to throwing away the Bible because you would have a contradiction in the Bible — How can God be One Being and yet three beings? If one rejects the trinity that is all that is left as a reasonable response to the evidence. The latter is the choice that the church has historically recognized as biblical revelation. We will not understand it all in this life but when we consider all the evidence in Scripture this is the doctrine that makes sense based on that evidence.
Shirk is Shaky
I believe the doctrine of “shirk” is one of the most powerful, deceptive creations of Satan in order to trap Muslims in a religious system that ends in eternal destruction. But nothing is impossible with God. Christians can lovingly share biblical truth with them and overcome the arguments they are regularly taught by their Imams. On a philosophical level shirk is shaky. On a Bible versus Quran level shirk is a lie from hell. The evidence is not in favor of the Quran, or Islam, or Allah. This is why a Muslim like Nabeel Qureshi (http://www.nabeelqureshi.com/) became a Christian after being confronted with these Christian counter arguments. As Christians we can do alot better in the preparedness department. “In your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is on you; yet do it with gentleness and respect” (1st Peter 3:15).