Dear Abdallah,

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 (Surah 4:171).

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. (Deuteronomy 6:4)

I am the Lord your God ... Thou shalt have no other gods before me. (Exodus 20:2,3)

There is ... one God and Father of us all, who is above all
and through all and in all.
(Ephesians 4:4-6)

Both the Old and the New Testament agree on that.

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 little explanation.

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 ‘’ 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 unity).

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 Daniel had:

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... (Daniel 7:13,14)

We realize that this does not refer to a human being.

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.

I will hear from you again!

Fond greetings!