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Role of Christian Councils Regarding Trinity and Jesus.

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Joined: 25 Jul 2006
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Post Post subject: Role of Christian Councils Regarding Trinity and Jesus. Reply with quote

Greetings Omar -

Some of my Muslim classmates say that neither Jesus nor the early church believed the Trinity. They say this concept of God has pagan roots and was included in Christianity by the Council of Nicea. One of my Muslim friends who is familiar with the Quran says that is the only unpardonable sin in Islam and gave me this verse 5:73:
    They do blaspheme who say: God is one of three in a Trinity: for there is no god except One God. If they desist not from their word (of blasphemy), verily a grievous penalty will befall the blasphemers among them.

Could you please help shed some light on this topic.
Fri Jul 20, 2007 8:24 pm
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abraham View user's profile Send private message
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Joined: 30 Jul 2006
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Post Post subject: Response to - Role of Christian Councils Regarding Trinity.. Reply with quote

Greetings Abraham -

Did you know that your Arabic form of your name is "Ibrahim". A friend of mine Farooq Ibrahim writes for our website. The story of Farooq Ibrahim is interesting if you have not read it here by selecting his name which is linked

OK. Getting to your question about Nicea -

The doctrine of the Trinity is central to the uniqueness of Christianity. It holds that the Bible teaches that "God eternally exists as three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and each person is fully God, and there is one God." So central is this belief that it is woven into the words Jesus gave the church in His Great Commission, telling believers to " . . . go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit . . ." (Matthew 28:19). The doctrine of the Trinity separates orthodox Christian teaching from heresy. This essential teaching of Christianity states that we believe in one God who exists in three separate and distinct persons--God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Each member is equal in nature and substance. It is not surprising, then, that the doctrine of the Trinity is one of the most denigrated and attacked beliefs by those outside the Christian faith.

The Council of Nicea convened on May 20, 325 A.D. The 230 church leaders were there to consider a question vital to the church: Was Jesus Christ equal to God the Father or was he something else? You see, at the Council, they were not trying to come up with the Trinity, they were trying to understand what Jesus and the apostles taught, because from the earlierst time of the church, since Christ was resurrected, people started worshipping Jesus as God. So the council tried to discuss from scripture, who really was Jesus and was he God, just as the Father was God.

Now getting to the verse from the Quran. What we discover is that the word "Trinity" does not exist in the Quran. The Yusuf Ali translation uses it but two other English translations by Muslim scholars do not. Hiliali & Khan which are Saudi sponsored do not have it and neither does Pickthal. See both below:
    Surely, disbelievers are those who said: "Allah is the third of the three (in a Trinity)." But there is no ilah (god) (none who has the right to be worshipped) but One Ilah (God -Allah). And if they cease not from what they say, verily, a painful torment will befall the disbelievers among them. (H&K 5:73)
    They surely disbelieve who say: Lo! Allah is the third of three; when there is no God save the One God. If they desist not from so saying a painful doom will fall on those of them who disbelieve. (Pickthal 5:73)

Hence, we can clealy see from above and from this linked answer that the Quran does not have an understanding of the Trinity.

There were many scholars at Nicea, one of them was Athanasius, only in his twenties, came to the council at Nicea to debate the idea that, "If Christ were not truly God, then he could not bestow life upon the repentant and free them from sin and death." He led those who opposed the teachings of Arius who argued that Jesus was not of the same substance as the Father.

When we talk about God as one what we mean is that He is one being and when we talk about God as three what we mean is that He is three persons. Thus to affirm the divinity of Father, Son and Spirit is not to suggest that there are three gods, but simply that the one God can be encountered in these different ways, all of which are equally valid.

It is very difficult to find illustrations for the doctrine of Trinity for the doctrine is in a class of its own. The danger with illustrations of the doctrine is the danger of confusing the representations of God with the reality of God. A poor illustration from science is that "light" is both a particle and a wave, at the same time. An Atom exhibits inertial, wave and quanta properties at the same time. Again, illustrations are just simply that - Our God is beyond that.

This is the dilemma which the early Church faced and discussed at Nicea - to adopt either a God who could be understood, but could not redeem, or a God who could redeem, and yet not be understood. The Church went for the second option

Regarding Pagan concepts, there are no pagan concept of One God and three persons. This is exclusive to the Christian faith. There are however Pagan Gods that talk about 3 gods, or about father, mother and son God, but no pagan roots have been identified before or after Christ that resemble the Trinity.

I hope this clarifies that God from the scriptures has a self identify of a "complex" one and not a "simple" one as Islam makes him out to be.

I hope this has helped in your understanding of the Trinity. It is not something we can completely wrap our minds around, but who can truly comprehend God of the Universe, our minds are not capable of that. But, that does not mean this concept is not logically or rational, but simply very hard to comprehand. Do you comprehend the nature of the Atom or the information in the DNA? So why do we think the God who is the creator should be "simple"?

Blessing & Peace,
Fri Jul 20, 2007 10:18 pm
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omar View user's profile Send private message
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