Mohammed Hijab and the Trinity 1-5

Mohammed Hijab David Wood debate photo

Starting today in no particular order, we will be posting Mohammed Hijab’s (MH) errors, falsehoods and bad arguments used in his debate with David Wood. We will publish five points at a time, starting with his attacks on the Trinity.  Then we’ll look at his defence of tawheed. We are very grateful to the many apologists who have already posted rebuttals online, and this article relies substantially on material posted by Acts 17 ApologeticsAnthony Rogers, Vocab Malone , Islam Critiqued, Sentinel Apologetics, Christian Prince and Sam Shamoun.  We look forward to presenting our case to Muhammad Hijab at Speaker’s Corner, but for the last two weeks he has been unavailable..

  1. One divided into three?

Hijab began by calling into question the Athanasian Creed, in particular how “1 being [is] DIVIDED into 3 divine persons”, before sceptically quoting the Creed itself – “the Father Almighty, the Son is almighty, the Holy Spirit is almighty but there are not three almightys!” How can that be?! he says. But he failed to quote the rest of the Creed, which reads “and the catholic faith is this: that we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity; neither confounding the Persons, nor DIVIDING the Essence.” He failed to grasp the difference between ‘essence’ and ‘personhood’ – the crux of the Trinitarian claim. This more than anything undermined his whole case. More on this in subsequent points.

2. Misunderstanding  ‘Oneness’

MH quoted the following Scriptures to make his case that God is One, tawheed style:

Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one. (Deuteronomy 6:4)

‘You shall have no other gods before[a] me. (Exodus 20:3)

I, even I, am the Lord,
    and apart from me there is no saviour. (Isaiah 43:11)

(In fact in Deuteronomy 6:4, he misquoted the Hebrew Bible. He said  “sema yisrael ADONAI  elohenu ADONAI ehad” when the text says  “YHWH”, not Adonai.)

The citations from Exodus and Isaiah are not arguments for God’s monadic ‘oneness’; rather they are arguments for YHWH’s unique existence as the only TRUE God (as opposed to idols – Exodus 20:3), the only one worthy of our worship. Isaiah 43:11 the LORD speaks about his unique role as SAVIOUR  – but ‘saving’ is not one of Allah’s attributes and ‘saviour’ is not one of his names.  So what about Deuteronomy 6:4? The Hebrew for ‘one’, ‘ehad’ doesn’t just mean ‘one’ in the sense of ‘alone’; it can also convey the sense of compound unity. For example, the same word is used in Genesis 2:24, when Adam and Eve become ‘one’ flesh, while still being distinct in personhood. So ‘ehad‘ doesn’t rule out YHWH having more than one person either.

3. “A multiplicity of substantiations in any given genus”

MH said you can only have a distinction between something’s “how (?)”and its “what” when you have a “multiplicity of substantiations in any given genus.” This is called the “trying to impress with my cleverness” fallacy. His argument was confusing  as he kept referring to the ‘how‘ and the ‘what’, when he meant the ‘who’ not the ‘how – because the Trinity is about persons, not causation.

But what was he getting at with the ‘multiplicity of substantiations’ thing? Something along the lines of: you can only meaningfully talk about the individuality or personhood of ‘somethings’ (‘substantiations’) when there are a lot of something (‘multiplicity’) already in its particular category (‘genus’). But what category (or genus) do you put God into? Isn’t He in a unique category all his own? The Qur’an even teaches this very thing:

There is NOTHING LIKE HIM, and He is the All-Hearer, the All-Seer (Sura 42:11)

Doesn’t this  allow at least the possibility of God existing in three persons? Why is MH limiting God?

4. Pronouns, verbs etc.

MH claimed that in the Hebrew Bible “elohim” [pl- lit.’gods’] is always with 3rd person male singular pronoun.” Then he quoted Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God created..” – created, in Hebrew, is bara – a third person singular masculine verb (not a pronoun.) But he deliberately raced over the point here -surely if the Bible taught pure monotheism, “elohim” wouldn’t be plural in the first place? Genesis 1:1 doesn’t support his case, it undermines it.

He then claimed “there are 9000 pronouns that relate to elohim.. [where did he get this number?] but you don’t find a pronoun which is pluralised when it comes to elohim.” He’s wrong. For example, Gen 1:26

“Then God  (‘elohim ‘) said ‘Let US make mankind in OUR image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,[a] and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

This is not the only time God (‘adonai’ in this example) refers to Himself with a plural pronoun:

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? And who will go for US?’ (Isaiah 6:8)

(For a lengthier analysis watch this video from Sentinel Apologetics)

5. Jesus was given the name of God in Phillipians 2?

MH said  Jesus was given the “Name above every Name” in Phillipians 2:9 by God the Father, suggesting there was a point in time when he didn’t have it, therefore cannot be God. But he skips over verse 6 which says:

“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

6 “who, BEING IN VERY NATURE GODdid not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;

MH equates Jesus ‘self-emptying’ with heretical subordinationism. But he doesn’t understand that not all subordinationism is heresy, like Arian subordinationism. The Son is subordinate to the Father; He does His Father’s will by incarnating, and voluntarily laying down some of his divine rights and privileges as the verse suggests. On the other hand, the Father does not incarnate, He is not subordinate to the Son. The Spirit is sent by the Father; the Father is not sent by the Spirit, and so on. So there is subordination within the Trinity, but it is subordination of function or role, but equality in essence. This is an orthodox Christian position.

When Jesus is given is given the ‘name that is above every name’ it’s because He accomplished His Father’s will – dying on a Cross to save sinners who repent and believe in Him. This is not the Father conferring divine status on Jesus; rather he has always been, and will always be, co-equal with God the Father.

More coming.

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Allah is father to no-one

Father and child by a lake

We’ve been having discussions recently with a muslima who has got very annoyed at our suggestion that the name ‘Father’ only applies to the Christian God and not to the Islamic deity. She claims it’s OK to call Allah ‘Father’ because Allah ‘fathered’ all of us in the sense he ‘created’ all of us. So by that token, it’s OK for Muslims to call Allah their ‘father.’ But does this reflect what the Qur’an teaches?

Not in the least. If anything, Allah is at pains to point out that this is not how Muslims should perceive him:

He neither begets nor is born, Nor is there to Him any equivalent.” (Sura 112:3-4)

After dismissing the Christian belief in the divine Sonship of Jesus Christ, Allah says:

“Not one of the beings in the heavens and the earth but must come to (Allah) Most Gracious as a slave.” 19:93 (Hilali/Khan)

Nor is ‘Father’ one of Allah’s 99 names. In fact, calling Allah ‘Father’ is ‘a very grave sin’ according to this Muslim commentator:

No one has the freedom, no matter how well-intentioned, to ascribe to Allah Most High such false names and attributes as ‘father’ that they themselves create. That is a very grave sin indeed. Rather Allah Most High has Himself provided all His beautiful names (al Asma al-Husnah) in the Qur’an, and ‘father’ is most certainly not one of them, and can never be one of them. Neither is Allah Most High father, nor can He be even compared with father, since He is incomparable. Indeed elementary common sense reveals that He cannot be father since, although He created both the male and the female, He is neither male nor female. While the English word ‘He’ connotes masculinity, the Arabic word Huwa does not! The ‘moon’, al-Qamar, for example, is in the masculine gender in Arabic and yet is never considered to be male.

In the Qur’an Allah also takes Jews and Christians directly to task for their claim to be ‘children of God’:

But the Jews and the Christians say, “We are the children of Allah and His beloved.” Say, “Then why does He punish you for your sins?” Rather, you are human beings from among those He has created. He forgives whom He wills, and He punishes whom He wills. And to Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth and whatever is between them, and to Him is the [final] destination. (Sura 5:18)

In so doing Allah reveals the deficiency of his knowledge about Christian Scripture. No Christian believes God punishes us for our sins; instead out of mercy, Jesus is punished on our behalf:

“But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.”(Isaiah 53:5)

Allah also assumes fathers wouldn’t punish their children for their sins, when there are ahadith which clearly advocate punishing children when they do the wrong thing. For example:

It was narrated that Abu Hurayrah said: The Messenger of Allah said: “Teach your children to pray when they are seven years old, and smack them (lightly) if they do not do so when they are ten, and separate them in their beds.”(Narrated by Abu Dawood, 495; classed as saheeh (authentic) by Shaykh al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Jaami’, 5868)

Allah seems to be confusing punishment with discipline, which Hebrews 12 speaks of in a positive sense. God disciplines us as a loving Father also disciplines his children:

“Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined – and everyone undergoes discipline – then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live!”

It’s puzzling why Allah misunderstands fatherhood so much, given he is the creator of all things, including human relationships.  Christian Scripture doesn’t just have a different definition of fatherhood, the first person of the Trinity is a Father. There is evidence for this in the Old  Testament as well as the new:

Is this the way you repay the Lord, you foolish and unwise people? Is he not your Father, your Creator, who made you and formed you? (Deuteronomy 32:6)

Jesus teaches his followers to call God ‘Father’ when they pray:

‘This, then, is how you should pray: ‘“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name” (Matthew 6:9)

How amazing that God wants this kind of intimate, familial relationship with weak, sinful creatures like us! But it’s a relationship that isn’t conferred on us automatically, but by choice, through repentance and faith in Jesus as the unique Son of God who died in our place. “Whoever does not honour the Son does not honour the Father, who sent him.” (John 5:23)

“So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptised into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.”

So if our Muslims friend wants to call god Father, she needs a different god.

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Is power given to Jesus in the Bible?

Is power given to Jesus in the Bible?

Muslims use John 5:19 (Jesus gave them this answer: ‘Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself) to claim that power was given to Jesus, in order to ‘explain’ how Jesus could create life in Sura 5:110. But passage doesn’t say that! The passage actually affirms Jesus is God in the flesh! 18 For this reason they tried all the more to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but HE WAS EVEN CALLING GOD HIS OWN FATHER, MAKING HIMSELF EQUAL WITH GOD. 19 Jesus gave them this answer: ‘Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; HE CAN DO ONLY WHAT HE SEES HIS FATHER DOING, BECAUSE WHATEVER THE FATHER DOES THE SON ALSO DOES. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, and he will show him even greater works than these, so that you will be amazed. 21 For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it. 22 MOREOVER, THE FATHER JUDGES NO ONE, BUT HAS ENTRUSTED ALL JUDGMENT TO THE SON, 23 THAT ALL MAY HONOUR THE SON JUST AS THEY HONOUR THE FATHER. WHOEVER DOES NOT HONOUR THE SON DOES NOT HONOUR THE FATHER, WHO SENT HIM..

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Reclaiming martyrdom

Libyan martyrs
courtesy of the Catholic Exchange

It’s inevitable that the meanings of words evolve according to how society uses them – what’s interesting is what this says about society’s preoccupations. The sexual revolution changed the definition of ‘gay’;  our cynical postmodern weariness is changing the meaning of ‘virtue’, and so on. So it is with ‘martyr’. What is a martyr these days? A passive-agressive completer of menial tasks or a religious fanatic, bent on paradise, happy to blow themselves up and their enemies with them.

This is a fair enough definition – of Islamic ‘martyrdom’. Islam teaches believers to slay and be slain, that jihad – fighting in Allah’s cause -is the greatest of deeds, and that dying this way is so good you’ll want to come back to life just to do it all over again:

Qur’an 9:111—Surely Allah has bought of the believers their persons and their property for this, that they shall have the garden; they fight in Allah’s way, so they slay and are slain.

Sahih al-Bukhari 2785—Narrated Abu Hurairah: A man came to Allah’s Messenger and said, “Guide me to such a deed as equals Jihad (in reward).” He replied, “I do not find such a deed.”

Sahih al-Bukhari 2797—Narrated Abu Hurairah: The Prophet said, . . . “By Him in Whose Hands my soul is! I would love to be martyred in Allah’s Cause and then come back to life and then get martyred, and then come back to life again and then get martyred and then come back to life again and then get martyred.”

But because of our society’s woeful religious illiteracy, most people think that’s how Christians who are serious about their faith end up too: fanatics who slaughter people in the name of God. Twisted? Yes. But how did we end up in this situation? Why has the concept of Christian martyrdom been so successfully erased from public consciousness? Maybe because in the West, apart from some notable exceptions we don’t want to die for Christ anymore. We want full churches (who cares if they don’t teach the Bible), paid clergy in jobs for life, inclusive communities, uplifting meetings and guitar-led worship. What would Ridley and Latimer make of it all? Most of us – Biblically conservative Christians included – daren’t pipe up on social media in defence of Biblical truth, let alone go to the stake for it.

Then you hear stories from other parts of the world that bring us to our knees in  awe of the power of Christ in people’s lives and weeping in repentance for our own lukewarm love for our Saviour. Here is one, courtesy of Barnabas Fund from a couple of days ago:

“Pastor Stephen was asleep at home with his wife and two daughters in Darfur, Sudan, when six masked Islamists burst in, during the early hours of 2 March. They asked why he had continued to preach about Jesus, after they had warned him several times to stop. Stephen had a powerful evangelistic ministry and the day before had led 56 Muslims to Christ. Stephen‘s answer to the Islamists was simply to tell them about the Lord. The attackers tied up the family and chopped off their limbs until they died. Stephen, the last to die, sang “Hallelujah Hosanna” throughout it all. At their funeral, the powerful preaching caused another 214 people to give their lives to Christ. Praise God for the faithfulness of Stephen and his family and pray for all who have become Christians because of him, that they may glorify God by their lives and – if need be – their deaths.”

Martyrdom in Christianity is about laying down your life for the sake of Christ. It has nothing to do with ‘slaying others.’ You don’t do it for a better reward, but as a gift to the One who has given us more than we can ever possibly give Him back. Because of Pastor Stephen and his family’s faithfulness to the end, hundreds of people will now live eternally with Jesus.So let’s stop calling Islamic martyrdom ‘martyrdom,’ when it is a parody of martyrdom. Let’s call it what it is – jihad-inspired violence and terror.

One day, if we’re in Christ, we’ll meet Pastor Stephen face-to-face – and Latimer and Ridley and Cranmer and Stephen and the Apostle Paul and countless other brave Christian martyrs. What will we talk about? What we learnt at our last women’s conference? Whether Matt Redman was right to re-work “It is well with my soul?” Whether we were Calvinists or Armenians?

We pray for our Christian family in these countries, of course. But we pray too – God change us. Shake us out of our timidity and complacency with tears of repentance. May we never read these accounts, shrug our shoulders and carry on as before. And who knows what the consequence might be of a church that said- and meant – “to live is Christ, to die is gain?” (Phillipians 1:21)

Hugh Latimer was onto something with his (alleged) last words before going up in flames:  “Play the man, Master Ridley; we shall this day light such a candle, by God’s grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out.” Are we worthy torch-bearers of this flame today? Or are we slowly extinguishing it one compromise at a time?

Son of God conceived through sex?

Was the Son of God conceived through sex?

Hatun challenges Muslims’ false belief that the Bible teaches Jesus was conceived through sexual relations. But the Qur’an does teach something like that…

And [We have propounded yet another parable of God-consciousness in the story of] Mary, the daughter of Imran, [24] who guarded her chastity, whereupon We breathed of Our spirit into that [which was in her womb], [25] and who accepted the truth of her Sustainer’s words – and [thus,] of His revelations [26] – and was one of the truly devout. – Sura 66:12

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