Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Is Allah Enough?

The trinity is an impossible thing to explain. There is the egg analogy (shell, white, and yolk=three substances in one egg) and the water analogy (water, steam, ice= same substance) that take a stab at making the trinity easier to understand, but they miss the mark.

I have to admit, I've used these crude analogies in my Bible lessons to third graders before, but I usually qualify them, explaining that regardless of how hard we try, we can't wrap our minds around the trinity. Then I try to emphasize how marvelous it is that the depths of our God are so vast the human mind cannot search them, and although we cannot comprehend all of God's nature, we can know him and be assured of his great love for us. That's what makes Christianity different from any other religion.

Muslims believe in the one-dimensional god, Allah. They praise his self-sufficiency, and worship him for his love, compassion and mercy. They exalt Allah's oneness over the three-dimensional nature of the God of the Bible, claiming that Christians are guilty of shirk, the sin of worshipping more than one god.

Allah's one-dimensional nature is certainly easy to comprehend, but it's got one major problem: it makes it impossible for us to trust in his love.

Love, by its nature, must have an object. I love my sister, my mom loves my dad, my students love recess, my best friend loves to sing--love always has an object. Without something to love, there is no love. So, imagine Allah (or any one-dimensional god for that matter) before the creation of anything. He is alone in a great black void with no one and nothing to love. Can he have love?

Allah has two options at this point: he can love himself or he can create something to love. If he loves himself, his love is self-serving and counterfeit--imagine a world where everyone's love is self-serving like that! If he creates something to love, then his ability to love is contingent on his creation, diminishing his character and making his love no more enduring or trustworthy than a fickle human's love.

The trinity, on the other hand, perfectly explains God's love: love originates from and is fully expressed within the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit--everlasting love flows from God's character.

This perfect love compelled God to put on skin and live among us in order to show us how to love: "This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers" (1 John 3:16).

This perfect love drove God to give us a helper and life-guide through the Holy Spirit who indwells all Christians. "But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you" (John 14:26).

The trinity is a daily reminder to me that God will continue to pursue humanity relentlessly because he loves us fiercely. His infinite grandeur didn't stop him from taking on bodily form so that he could live with us, and then die for us; his perfectly selfless love compels him to dwell within and equip all Christians with the riches of his glorious power through the Holy Spirit!


8 comments:

  1. Well I learned something today! Thank you! It seems that allah needs to be brought out as the fraud he is.

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  2. Could Allah have created love when he created the universe? I think man created love. Love is a subjective experience after all.

    Why would you try to use reason to explain the Trinity when God isn't bounded by reason? Furthermore, how can you use reason to explain God's love? Based on the way his character changes throughout the Bible, he could change the rules tomorrow and tell a prophet that all non-believers need to die. It's ironic that Christians condemn others for faith based killings, when God commands and commits genocide in the old testament. He could also snap his fingers and make the universe disappear. Using your logic, the concept of lying must have been around before creation. So, what if God was lying about an eternity of love and happiness?

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  3. Hi Matt,
    If Allah (or people) created love then there is nothing within Allah’s character to keep him from acting out in hostility and hate. Only an inherently loving being is ALWAYS compelled to act out of love. (I’ll get to your genocide objection later, when I respond to your comments on my other blog post).

    I think your statement, “God isn't bounded by reason" reveals your assumption that reason doesn’t flow from God’s character. A lot of Christians, including myself, disagree with that statement. The laws of mathematics and reason govern our universe—this reality is a reflection of God’s character. Christians who believe that reason flows from God’s character believe that there are certain things God cannot do: he cannot make 2 + 2 = 6, he cannot make a colorless red car, and he cannot act in a way that is contrary to his character: he cannot be hateful when his character is inherently loving.

    My logic in no way suggests that lying was around before the creation of the world. I said that love must have an object, so that it must either originate with the creation of the world or be shared among a multi-dimensional being. Then I made the claim that the trinity makes it possible for love to originate and flow from God’s character. My logic actually leads to the conclusion that God cannot lie. Lying is simply the denial of truth and any perfect being whose nature is perfectly truthful and perfectly loving will not lie—their character will make it impossible to lie.

    I'm hoping to respond to your comments on my previous post sometime this weekend.

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  4. well said, my dear. thanks for enlightening us all.
    love love love

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  5. I'd like to quote Epicurius in regards to God's "love":

    "Is he willing to prevent evil but not able? Then he is impotent. Is he able but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Whence then is evil?"

    Why do you assume that love existed before creation? My point is that your logic uses the reality of our universe to describe "God". Therefore, lying must have existed before creation. Not that I believe in creation.

    How can you say that God is inherently loving? If you really do have free will as you have suggested, what has God done in your life to show his love? How could you come to the conclusion that there is a God if he doesn't participate in your life? And if he does participate in your life, why doesn't he participate in the lives of others? You casually dismissed my question, about God's intervention in suffering, in an earlier post by bringing up the gift of free will and God's desire for our genuine love. Would you love a person that watched you suffer and had the means to help you but didn't?

    One quick last question for clarity. Am I right to believe that you don't believe that God intervenes in the lives of humans? Because if he does then we don't have free will and if he doesn't then he is cruel.

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  6. I am using reason to describe a God of reason. I have used reason to conclude that love originates within the trinity because love must have an object. I’m still failing to see how lying plays in here. Are you arguing that I cannot use reason to discern truth?

    God is a God of love, Matt, that’s why he gave us hearts. And the thing about giving people hearts is they have the freedom to choose to love someone or reject someone. When we rebelled against our Maker things went haywire—we weren’t living the way he intended us to live so we began to malfunction. Enter: sin and destruction.

    But God didn’t just step back and watch us malfunction as human beings, he invaded our mess by making his dwelling among us in the person of Jesus Christ. He took upon himself the death that our evil necessitated and offers us new, abundant life free from sin and destruction. Jesus fixed the greatest of all evils when he made a way for us to conquer sin.

    But I’m curious, Matt, what would you have God do? If you were the author of the story of humanity, how would you perfect it?

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