Recently, a good friend named Cherry asked me to collaborate with her on some projects on our faith. The first was to assist her in debating a Muslim gentleman who goes by the internet persona "Sword of Allah". I do know the person's real name but am not sure I have permission to disclose it, so I won't.
This person makes his case against the doctrine of the Trinity in 3 videos of about a half hour each.
The arguments were presented in an inconsistent manner that suggested to me that he found the conclusion somewhere else then sought to work backwards to create the evidence. What I am saying is that the evidences presented were sometimes weak, sometimes inaccurate and sometimes contradicting other evidences and premises to the degree that no honest thinking person would believe that these arguments led to his conclusions rather than flowed from them. It's the old "Rose colored glasses" theme.
His videos cover some 90 minutes of themes here and I wont address all the points but I will adress enough of them to show that his arguments are simply unworkable for the purpose of resolving the question at hand- What is the nature of God?
Let's start off with a stark difference between video number 1 and video number 3. In video number 1, he reads from the introduction of the Revised Standard Version which decries the numerous inaccuracies found in the King James Version as the impetus for the RSV version. I actually agree with the premise that the RSV (Catholic edition) is the far superior version of the 2. I would argue that the Douay is better than either of them.
The problem is that in his 3rd video, he makes a full assault on the Book of Genesis as representing a picture of the true God. This undercuts his argumentation about the KJV vs the RSV in the other video and shows that his arguments are truly manipulation of the texts to uphold his own pre-conceived views and impugn those of Christians.
Let's start with a basic summation of his argumentation against the Book of Genesis. He quotes this particular story from Genesis 3- as one example-
The scene of the story has God walking in the garden and calling out to Adam "Where are you?" and "Who told you that you were naked?" Our friend infers that this proves that Jews and Christians believe in a God who is not Omniscient and must be informed by human beings. This is obviously a strawman as no Christian or Jew believes in such a God or that this passage speaks to such a God. The reason God asks Adam "Where are you?" is that it is a question that Adam must confront. It is the same when God asks "Why have you done this?". He asked the same question of Cain. "What have you done? Behold, your brother's blood cries out to me for vengeance".
This person isn't going after Christian belief so much as he is creating a strawman and knocking it down. He undercuts his entire argument with his own reasoning.
Here is why.
A Christian would argue that one accepts or rejects the Bible, as the Revelation from God before one can fully apprehend it's meanings. A Muslim would argue the same about the Koran. That is really our starting point. We have arrived at Genesis chapter 3, not started there. Each of us brings our own version of God into the text. However, since they are two different versions of God, we must acknowledge that one of us is wrong.
Let's start by admitting that the God of Islam is not the same God as the God of Christianity in many respects. It is helpful to be honest on where we actually agree and disagree and then see how we diverge.
The opponent is this debate claims that God cannot have rested on the Seventh day because being tired would be a human characteristic. He also posits that God could not have "repented" of making humans as repentance is a sign of guilt. God could not be guilty and God could not have failed to know His children's hearts could rebel.
He then goes on to say that this defies human logic and, because we have brains, we can see and understand that these images cannot truly represent a God who is far above us in every way.
Do you understand my friend's dilemma? He posits a God far above us in every way. We would agree. Then He presses further by pointing out that God is all knowing, and we are not. We agree, again. Finally, he suggests that this God would be well aware of our inclination to rebellion and opposition to His will. In this, we also agree.
He then contradicts himself with his own words and his own ideology by suggesting that we ignorant humans can comprehend God's Word and will be our own logic and overcome our sinful separation from God by our own efforts.
A Christian would argue that we cannot get up to God, He can only come down to us. We cannot possibly discern God's will through our efforts. He must reveal it to us. We would argue that we also cannot satisfy His justice, He must show us mercy if we are to escape being lost.
Let's tackle the question of God's revelation first.
One of the principle ways that God speaks to us is the scriptures, which He presented to us in pretty miraculous fashion. In these Scriptures, God must inform us what we are and are not to do and to believe. He is God. We are not. Thus, it is not necessary that we understand, only that we obey. This is the quandary our friend is in and he says as much. He does not believe our scriptures or parts and translations of our scriptures because they fail to make logical sense to him. Thus, he sets his own frail, human mind as the arbiter of God's revealed truth.
A Christian's view is much more straightforward. We believe that if God said it, that settles it. Whether we assent or understand is no matter. Thus, we confront the Scripture and conform our mind to what it reveals while he attempts to change the Scripture- or dismiss it entirely- if it does not conform to his view.
Thus, he sees "God rested on the seventh day" as a sign of a weak God that gets tired while we see it as a foreshadowing of Jesus rest in the tomb to redeem us. He sees God repenting as an admission of guilt. We see it as God speaking to us in words and phrases we can comprehend that we might better understand how our grievous our sin is to Him. If he wants to discuss these interpretations, he can. He chooses to misrepresent them instead.
The reason is clear. The Scriptures he appeals to do not support his ideology in the slightest.
Let's look at his arguments regarding John Chapter 1.
He argues that it is impossible for a "Word" to identify a person, much less a Divine Person. He argues that a person could be individually identified by their voice but not be a Word. His argument is very sound logically...at least in terms of human logic.
His problem is that that humanly sound logic runs into a brick wall in the sense of the clear words of the passage.
1In the beginning* was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
2He was in the beginning with God.
3* All things came to be through him,
and without him nothing came to be.
What came to be through him was life,
and this life was the light of the human race;
5* the light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness has not overcome it.
6* A man named John was sent from God.
7He came for testimony,* to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him.f
8He was not the light, but came to testify to the light.
9The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.
10He was in the world,
and the world came to be through him,
but the world did not know him.
11He came to what was his own,
but his own people* did not accept him.
12i But to those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God, to those who believe in his name,
13* who were born not by natural generation nor by human choice nor by a man’s decision but of God.
14And the Word became flesh*
and made his dwelling among us,
and we saw his glory,
the glory as of the Father’s only Son,
full of grace and truth.
15* John testified to him and cried out, saying, “This was he of whom I said, ‘The one who is coming after me ranks ahead of me because he existed before me.’”
16From his fullness we have all received, grace in place of grace,*
17because while the law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
18No one has ever seen God. The only Son, God,* who is at the Father’s side, has revealed him.
So let's have an honest conversation here. I can say that my name is John and I live in the United States. You can say that you don't believe that and offer many reasons why you feel my arguments are not credible. One argument you cannot make, if you intend to be credible, is that I never actually said I was John, living in the United States because people can plainly see that I did say that. Your argument simply wouldn't be credible.
When this gentleman attempted to exegete the passages in Genesis, he did so by inference.
God said to Adam "Where are you?" and this gentleman inferred that means God did not know the answer though the text does not instruct us that that is the case. When the passage said God repented of creating man, this gentleman inferred that this impugned guilt on God. Again, the text does not directly show this. It is merely an interpretation. Repentance means to "turn away from" or "to regret". It can be from guilt but not necessarily so. When reading the passage showing God rested on the 7th day, he infers that it shows a God who grows tired in His Divine nature. The text does not show this. He inferred it.
In inferring these things, he acts as if his interpretations are the only ones possible. Nothing could be further from the truth. Literally billions of people have understood God's question to Adam as causing Adam to be convicted of how he had moved out of God's will. Billions have understood God's "repentance" to be a literal device the author used to express God's grief at the malice of sin. Billions have understood God resting on the 7th day to be a foreshadowing of God taking on humanity and dying for our sins.
The proof of this foreshadowing is in the fact that John deliberately ties the themes that identify Jesus (The Word of God, the Light, the Bread from Heaven, The Good Shepherd, the King...) to themes found in depictions of God in Genesis and the Old Testament. To ensure that you could not miss this, he starts his gospel with the same three words as Genesis- "In the Beginning".
It is simply impossible to read what John is saying here and conclude that he is not saying that Jesus Christ is both the God of eternity past we see "In the Beginning" in the Book of Genesis and the human religious figure in flesh. It is agonizingly clear. Verse 1 says He was in the beginning. Verse 10 said He was in the world. Verse 14 says He was flesh and made His dwelling among us.
Like my argument about who I say I am and where I live, you cannot deny that John says who Jesus is and where He lived. You can call John a liar, you can say he was a madman but don't expect to be taken seriously if you are positing that John is promoting a non-Divine Jesus here, that argument is simply untenable.
His arguments concerning 1 John 5:7 are just as dishonest and untenable. However you parse the words, it cannot be denied that the vey same writer is identifying three persons in the Godhead- the Father, the Word and the Spirit. That John, the writer of 5 New Testament books, believed in a Trinitarian God is unarguable. It's just that simple.
Again, call John a liar if you will. Call him a madman if you must. What you cannot do is call him a Muslim because it's clear theologically that he wasn't that. Neither was Thomas who called Jesus "My Lord and My God" (John 20:28). Neither was Paul who called Jesus "The fullness of the God" (Philippians 2:6). While the passages cited in Genesis are open to interpretation, these new Testament passages are not. Our opponent suggests John 1:1 should be changed from "The Word was God" to "The Word was God's". We are not about the change the meaning of the Greek word Theos to match this novel interpretation. These passages say what they say and we must evaluate whether we accept it or not.
This is the gospel that was delivered to us. This is the testimony that we have of Moses of Abraham and of Jesus. This testimony must be completely dismissed to accept the Islamic view of God and of Jesus and Moses. How can we do this?
In Galatians 1, Paul says that we are not to believe any other gospel even if an "Angel from Heaven" delivers it.
Yet, here we are. After rejecting the direct revelation from God concerning Jesus, Moses and Abraham, we accept, 700 years later, a totally different Gospel supported by the same names but with dramatically different ideology? No. If you accept God, you accept His word and how He is revealed to us- as One God in three persons. Period.