How can Christians believe in three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and still claim to be monotheists? For Christians, God is One, but He is also Love. This is different from simply stating that God loves His creatures. It is more radical.
Last update: 2023-03-14 14:45:27
Few subjects bewilder Muslims more than the Trinity. How can Christians believe in three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and still claim to be monotheists? It is important to remember that the Christian movement began with Jews who were just as convinced of monotheism as Muslims are. Muslims say the shahāda (“There is no god but God…”) and Jews say the shemaʿ (“Hear O Israel, the Lord is God, the Lord alone…”). The first disciples never denied the oneness of God, but through knowing Jesus and the Holy Spirit, they reached a new understanding of God as a communion of love.
What does this mean? Put simply, human sciences tell us that every human being is in relationship. Quantum mechanics tells us that this applies to physical realities too, for no phenomenon exists outside a relationship with its observer. Trinitarian faith hints to the fact that also God is relationship in Himself.
Here is another way of approaching the same idea: Christians, following the first Epistle of John, affirm that God is Love. This is different from simply stating that God loves His creatures. It is more radical. Even before creating the world, God was already love and always will be. God was lover, beloved, and love. Following Jesus’s example, Christians call these realities Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
In Islam, a famous hadīth qudsī has God say: “I was a hidden treasure. I loved to be known, so I created the creation in order to be known.” This saying tells us something important, namely that God loves to share His Richness, and this is why it is so dear to many Muslim mystics. But in postulating a dependence of God on His creation, this hadīth implies that God needed the world in order to be perfect. Therefore, mainstream Muslim scholars usually object to it, and rightly so, in our view.
But then, was God known and loved before creation? Was he love himself? Or was He alone and hidden? For Christians, God is the treasure of the hadīth, but He was never hidden, because He is eternally known to Himself and loved by Himself. He is a Trinity of love. In other words, God is One, but He is also Love. Now, what does the Qur’an itself say about the Trinity? This question is more complicated than it may seem, and it will be the subject of our next video.