A response to

Trinitarian scholars admit it!


Mr. Al-Kadhi continues his assault against the Trinity be implying that Trinitarian "scholars" deny, or at least seriously question, the existence of the Trinity. After all, according to Al-Kadhi, the Trinity was the invention of the Byzantine Emperor Constantine at the Council of Nicea. When reading this section, we must remember two questions: Who are these "scholars" and precisely what are they saying?

The Trinity is a concept that many Muslims simply love to hate and some, such as Al-Kadhi, labor very diligently in order to misunderstand and misinterpret this doctrine. To begin this discussion, we must first realize that many Muslims misunderstand the concept of the Trinity. Christians do not worship three Gods, nor do they consider Mary a member of the Trinity as Sura 5:116 incorrectly implies. The Trinity is God, God's Word, and God's Spirit - not three Gods.

The one true God, was well established in the Old Testament (Isaiah 43:10 and Deuteronomy 6:4), and is made up of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Each is called "God" in the Bible. The Father is God (Galatians 1:1 and Titus 1:4) ; the Son (or Word), is repeatedly called God (John 1:1,14, Acts 20:28, John 20:28, Titus 2:13, and Hebrews 1:8); and the Holy Spirit is identified as God in various Scriptures (Acts 5:3-4, 1 John 4:2,3, and Hebrews 10:15,16). The concept of the unity within the Trinity is seen in Matthew 28:19, where the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit comprise one "name" because the term is singular in Greek. Incidentally, the Koran also testifies to the existence of the Holy Spirit as a separate manifestation of the godhead: "We gave Jesus the Son of Mary evidence, clear [signs] and strengthened him with the Holy Spirit" (Sura 2:87) and "To Jesus the Son of Mary We gave clear [signs], and strengthened him with the Holy Spirit" (Sura 2:253). If Mr. Al-Kadhi wishes to read about the nature of God in the Bible, the account of the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist clearly reveals the existence of a Triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit:

Matthew 3:16-17

As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him.
And a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased."

A second issue that Mr. Al-Kadhi loves to belabor is the first Ecumenical Council of Nicea. Al-Kadhi, and many other Muslim apologists, believe that the Council of Nicea was a vehicle by which the Emperor Constantine foisted the concept of the Trinity on Christianity. This viewpoint reflects Mr. Al-Kadhi's complete misunderstanding (or intentional distortion) of Church history. The Council of Nicea was not called to debate the Trinity, in fact no such controversy even existed at that time. During this first age of the Christian Church, the main topic that was debated by orthodox Christians and various heretics, was the issue of the divinity and humanity of Jesus Christ. These debates did not extend beyond the consideration of the second Person of the Trinity, Jesus. [For more detail see this article on The Council of Nicea.] The formulation of the Trinity was a explanation of the nature of God that was derived completely from the Bible. For those of you who are interested in this topic, read the primary documents of the Nicean Council. Mr. Al-Kadhi makes a great amount of noise over the fact that the term "Trinity" did not exist during the lifetime of the Apostles. The Apostles would not have been aware of the term, however, they were most certainly aware of the concept of God, God's Word (Jesus), and God's Spirit (Holy Spirit).

Al-Kadhi's Trinitarian "Scholars"

Now Mr. Al-Kadhi goes on to cite his "scholars" in order to make his argument against the Trinity. Al-Kadhi makes the same error that many of my freshman students make: any words that are printed on paper must be true if these words support their claims. He also continues his bad little habit of quoting things out of context and never cites primary sources. In fact, he attempts to use the Encyclopedia Britannica to make his point! He also enjoys "establishing" writers who disagree with the teachings of orthodox Christianity as "Christian" or "Trinitarian" scholars. Let us look at Mr. Al-Kadhi's citations and what they really say:

"The New Catholic Encyclopedia"

Al-Kadhi's first source is the New Catholic Encyclopedia. I disagree with some of the theological teachings of this work, however, it is of very high scholastic quality. Even Mr. Al-Kadhi gives respect to this wonderful work saying: "(Bearing the Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur, indicating official approval) we get a glimpse of how the concept of the Trinity was not introduced into Christianity until close to four hundred years after Jesus (pbuh)". Incidentally, for those of us who do not understand Latin (this probably includes Mr. Al-Kadhi), "Nihil obstat" (Latin for "no problem") indicates that the work has been reviewed by a knowledgeable clergyman and "Imprimatur" (Latin for "let it be printed") indicates that a Bishop permitted the printing of the work. According to The New Catholic Encyclopedia:

".......It is difficult in the second half of the 20th century to offer a clear, objective and straightforward account of the revelation, doctrinal evolution, and theological elaboration of the Mystery of the trinity. Trinitarian discussion, Roman Catholic as well as other, present a somewhat unsteady silhouette. Two things have happened. There is the recognition on the part of exegetes and Biblical theologians, including a constantly growing number of Roman Catholics, that one should not speak of Trinitarianism in the New Testament without serious qualification. There is also the closely parallel recognition on the part of historians of dogma and systematic theologians that when one does speak of an unqualified Trinitarianism, one has moved from the period of Christian origins to, say, the last quadrant of the 4th century. It was only then that what might be called the definitive Trinitarian dogma 'One God in three Persons' became thoroughly assimilated into Christian life and thought ... it was the product of 3 centuries of doctrinal development" (emphasis added). "The New Catholic Encyclopedia" Volume XIV, p. 295.

Now, Al-Kadhi is really excited: `They admit it! Jesus' twelve apostles lived and died never having heard of any "Trinity"!' No, Mr. Al-Kadhi! You are deliberately mixing terms and concepts. They did not know of the term "Trinity", but they most certainly knew of the concept. Please refer to the numerous verses that I mentioned in my introduction and read them!

Mr. Al-Kadhi continues, in his great excitement, by saying:

Did Jesus leave his closest and dearest followers so completely and utterly baffled and lost that they never even realized the "true" nature of God? Did he leave them in such black darkness that neither they nor their children, nor yet their children's children would ever come to recognize the "true" nature of the One they are to worship? Do we really want to allege that Jesus was so thoroughly incompetent in the discharge of his duties that he left his followers in such utter chaos that it would take them fully three centuries after his departure to finally piece together the nature of the One whom they are to worship? Why did Jesus never, even once, just say "God, the Holy Ghost and I are three Persons in one Trinity. Worship all of us as one"? If he had only chosen to make just one such explicit statement to them he could have relieved Christianity of centuries of bitter disputes, division, and animosity."

Jesus left his disciples with overwhelming proof concerning the Triune nature of God. There are numerous references that reveal the concept, of what we now call the Trinity, in both the Old and New Testaments. The Apostles and early Christians were very familiar with these verses and the ideas that they conveyed. Incidentally, for those of you who want to know what the Catholic Encyclopedia says about the Trinity, please read the online version - this entry (as well as the rest of the book) is excellent. Read this entry and decide for yourself if Mr. Al-Kadhi has an adequate understanding of the Trinity.

The Dictionary of the Bible

Al-Kadhi then cites The Dictionary of the Bible which, he proudly announces as "bearing the Nihil Obstat, Imprimatur, and Imprimi Potest (official Church seals of approval)". Imprimi Potest is the Latin term for "it can be printed".

"the trinity of God is defined by the Church as the belief that in God are three persons who subsist in one nature. That belief as so defined was reached only in the 4th and 5th centuries AD and hence is not explicitly and formally a biblical belief." The Dictionary of the Bible, John L. McKenzie, S.J., p. 899

The Trinity IS implied in the Bible and the term "Trinity" is an explanation used by humans to attempt to comprehend the nature of God. This is one of many distorting quotations by Al-Kadhi. Has Mr. Al-Kadhi made any effort to read and understand the complete article from which he quotes? What does it actually say? Note the words "explicitly" and "formally". KcKenzie does NOT deny that the teaching is Biblical, he only states correctly that these exact formulations are not used in the Bible itself but were developed later. The concept is Biblical. We have decided to present more of McKenzie's entry so that the reader can see for himself that McKenzie clearly states that the doctrine of the Trinity is based on the Biblical data.

For Christ's Sake

Al-Kadhi's next "scholar" is the religion reporter for the Toronto Sunday Star, Tom Harpur, who wrote in his book "For Christ's Sake" (my comments in bold):

"What is most embarrassing for the church is the difficulty of proving any of these statements of dogma from the new Testament documents. You simply cannot find the doctrine of the Trinity set out anywhere in the Bible. (WRONG!! Read the Biblical Proof). St. Paul has the highest view of Jesus' role and person, but nowhere does he call him God. (WRONG AGAIN!!! Read Corinthians 13:14) Nor does Jesus himself anywhere explicitly claim to be the second person in the Trinity, wholly equal to his heavenly Father. As a pious Jew, he would have been shocked and offended by such an Idea....(this is) in itself bad enough. WRONG ONCE AGAIN!! But there is worse to come. This research has lead me to believe that the great majority of regular churchgoers are, for all practical purposes, tritheists. That is, they profess to believe in one God, but in reality they worship three.." (I believe that this condition is the result of creeping modernism and poor ministry, not the orthodox teachings of the Church.)

Mr. Harpur is a very eloquent and highly educated man and I have read many of his articles and books. Unfortunately, he has fallen in to the trap of "Modernism" and admits that he is an "uncomfortable Christian" who does not believe in the exclusive claims of religion. I assume that he would also disagree with Islam's exclusive claims.

The Oxford Companion to the Bible

Mr. Al-Kadhi once again cites the Oxford Companion to the Bible:

"Because the Trinity is such an important part of later Christian doctrine, it is striking that the term does not appear in the New Testament. Likewise, the developed concept of three coequal partners in the Godhead found in later creedal formulations cannot be clearly detected within the confines of the canon ... While the New Testament writers say a great deal about God, Jesus, and the Spirit of each, no New Testament writer expounds on the relationship among the three in the detail that later Christian writers do." The Oxford Companion to the Bible, Bruce Metzger and Michael Coogan, p. 782

Once again Mr. Al-Kadhi cuts and pastes phrases to get what he wants. He used this same technique to quote this same book out of context in another chapter. If Al-Kadhi had continued reading this entry, he would have found an excellent definition and defense of the Trinity. But then again, I do not believe that a finding a good definition or explanation is his goal!

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