I knew you would raise objections to my last
letter—and so you did. “Jesus was no more than a prophet”
(Surah 4:171), you quoted from the
Qur’an. It is understandable that you want to stay on familiar
ground, for it seems secure. May I take you up on that by asking
you to read the context of your quote and perhaps a few other
passages from the Qur’an—and then reconsider what you wrote? We
read about Jesus that:
He was the Messiah
(Surah 4:171). (BIBLE: John 1:41, 4:25.26). This term is
not defined in the Qur’an. According to Jewish and Christian
understanding the expected Messiah would be sent by God to
liberate people from the bondage of sin.
He was a Spirit from God
He was the Word of God
(Surah 4:171) (BIBLE: John 1:1-14). We note that the Word
of God is the Thought of God and with that part of God!
He was born of a virgin
(Surah 19:16-35). (BIBLE: Luke 1:26-38; 2:1-20).
He created life and healed the sick
(Surah 3:49) (BIBLE: Matthew 11:1-6).
He is a sign to mankind
(Surah 19:21) (BIBLE: Luke 2:25-32).
He is illustrious in the world and the
hereafter (Surah 3:45) (BIBLE: Hebrews 1:3;
Colossians 1:16, 2:9).
He was taken to heaven by God
(Surah 4:158) (BIBLE: Acts 1:9-11).
He will come back to earth for judgment
(Surah 43:61, Mishkat IV. pp. 78-80;) (BIBLE:
John 14:1-6; John 5:22,25-27).
He was holy
(Pickthall) or faultless (Y. Ali)
(Surah 19:19) (BIBLE: Hebrews 7:26).
We already noted in this connection that
against popular belief both the Bible and the Qur’an do not
agree that all prophets were sinless.
Does all this not raise the intrinsic
question on just how ‘human’ a person can be who unites all the
above attributes in himself or herself? Do we know of any person
who could boast of calling just two of these attributes his or
her own? In the case of Jesus, one can only conclude that he is
super-human. And that is divine!
Now let me very briefly touch on another
point you mentioned and that is causing confusion even among
some Christians, the so-called ‘trinity’ of God. You could not
have touched on a topic more difficult to comprehend. To
understand this divine concept is equal to the attempt to
understand who God is. Let me say categorically that
Christians are decidedly monotheists! We believe in one
God, as our Bible teaches:
The Lord our God is one Lord.
I am the Lord your God ... Thou shalt
have no other gods before me.
There is ... one God and Father of us
all, who is above all
and through all and in all.
Both the Old and the New Testament agree on
Allow me to simplify a complex concept: I am
one person, and yet I am made up of body, soul and
spirit. So I am actually a unity of three components, i.e. a
trinity, although visible is only my body. Without my body I am
not complete, neither without my soul or spirit. Let me
reverently try to use this metaphor on the person of God. The
Bible speaks of God as the Creator, the Father. That needs
But then it also speaks of God becoming
incarnated in human form (John 1:1-5,9-14;
Philippians 2:5-11; Isaiah 63:8; Romans 9:5; Colossians 2:9).
This was to reveal himself to mankind and to take up the role of
the promised saviour. Perhaps for lack of a more illustrative
word, Jesus was introduced by God as his Son. I like to come to
that a little later again.
The third aspect or facet or ‘component’ is
God’s Holy Spirit. Ru Allah you would call him. By His
Spirit God speaks to the hearts and consciences of people. By
his Spirit he also leads them (John 16:7-15).
Evading complicated theological formulations, let us simply
assume that the one God chose to reveal himself in the
three mentioned ‘forms’, ‘functions’ or
‘personalities’. Knowing our incapacity to comprehend this, He
chose to explain himself in this way, and for that reason we
ought to accept that. Although my formulation may not be
sufficient or comprehensive, it expresses in essence what the
concept of the trinity of God is all about.
The name by which God revealed himself in the
Bible is Jahveh Elohim. Jahveh translated
means simply ‘Lord’. The ending ‘...im’ in Elohim, always
indicates the masculine plural form of a word. Therefore it
should actually read ‘Gods’. In Deuteronomy 6:4 (given to
Moses), we read: Jahveh (the Lord)
Eluhenu (our Gods)
Jahveh echad (the Lord is one, or a
As time went on (8th Century BC),
God explained his ‘personality’ somehow more tangibly through
the prophet Isaiah:
I will tell of the kindness of the
LORD ... he became their JESHUA (the Hebrew form
of the English name ‘Jesus’, meaning ‘Saviour’)
... yet they rebelled and grieved his
HOLY SPIRIT ... (Isaiah 63:7-10)
In the Gospel, Jesus is called both, ‘Son
of God’ and ‘Son of Man’. Although these names seem
to be in opposition to each other, in essence they are the same.
That becomes quite clear when we consider a vision the prophet
In my vision at night I looked, and
before me was one like a Son of man, coming with
the clouds of heaven. ... He was given authority, glory
and sovereign power; all people, nations and men of
every language worshipped him. His dominion is an
everlasting dominion that will not pass away...
We realize that this does not refer to a
The term ‘Son of God’ does not want to
indicate a sexual relationship between God and Mary, which
resulted in a ‘begotten’ son to be born. We must be mindful that
God is Spirit! It rather demonstrates the unique relationship
between Jahveh and Jeshua, i.e. God the Father and Jesus his
Son. Not with a single word does the Bible even remotely suggest
what most Muslims seem to assume is taught in the Bible, that
Christians believe Jesus to be a physical son of God. The Bible
rather suggests that in every sense no one is closer to the
father than his son. They are of the same kind. And so is God
the Father and his son Jesus.
Jesus, while on earth, displayed all the
human characteristics. He was a baby and grew up with his
parents. He needed food, drink and sleep. He is reported to have
cried. These display the heritage from his mother, if I may say
so. But he walked on the water, stilled the storm and fed a
crowd of 5000 with a few scraps of food. He healed countless
sick people, forgave sins, had absolute power over the demonic
world and even raised the dead. He himself rose from the dead
and was raised to heaven. All these are the credentials for his
divine nature. He did what only God can do. This demonstrates
the heritage from his heavenly Father.
The use of the title ‘Son of God’ may, for a
lack of an even more descriptive word, well be a figure of
speech like the term ‘son-of-the-road’, which is, I am told, the
translation of the Arabic word for a traveler. The purpose is to
show a relationship.
The words ‘only begotten Son’, as an old
Bible translation writes for the Greek word ‘mono-genis’, should
actually be rendered ‘only-born’.
The other is an unfortunate wording and can be misleading.
All this may appear at first rather strange
to you. Will you believe me that I actually feel with you? But
you already acknowledged the Bible to be evidenced revelation
from almighty God. Shall we resist or even oppose it just
because we fail to fully comprehend it? I do not want to preach
here, but dealing with the Gospel Truth I would like to urge you
to solemnly ponder on these thoughts. Since much of what I wrote
here is in contradiction of what you have grown up to believe,
it will indeed be necessary to apply your mind and your
reasoning instead of your feelings.