by Matt Slick
The Bible and the Quran agree with each other on many aspects of who God is. However, there are areas of differences not only in who God is, but also on what the term “Son of God” means as it refers to Jesus. So, first let me address the similarities and differences they have regarding God.
Both the Bible and the Quran teach that
- there is only one God
- that God is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent
- that God is eternal, unique, the creator, and the judge
I believe that their agreement on these major issues is because Muhammed was influenced by Christians and Jews. In the area of Mohammed’s time, there was a great deal of polytheism and idol worship. In contrast to that polytheism, he picked up a lot of the theology from the Christians and Jews and incorporated it into the Quran. But, he also picked up some heresies that were taught by false Christian groups and some of those misunderstandings are incorporated into his writings which I’ll get to later.
Of course, I do not believe that the Quran is from God. I am firmly convinced that it is the product of the imagination of Mohammed and I believe there are ways to show that to be the case. Perhaps that would be a good topic for another debate. Nevertheless, though there are similarities in the Bible and the Quran regarding God, there are also differences.
The most significant is, of course, with the doctrine of the Trinity.
The Quran denies the Trinity but also misrepresents it. Let’s take a look at three verses in the Quran.
- 5:73, “They do blaspheme who say: Allah is one of three in a Trinity: for there is no god except One Allah. If they desist not from their word (of blasphemy), verily a grievous penalty will befall the blasphemers among them.”
- 4:171, “O People of the Book! Commit no excesses in your religion: Nor say of Allah aught but the truth. Christ Jesus the son of Mary was (no more than) an apostle of Allah, and His Word, which He bestowed on Mary, and a spirit proceeding from Him: so believe in Allah and His apostles. Say not “Trinity”: desist: it will be better for you: for Allah is one Allah: Glory be to Him: (far exalted is He) above having a son. To Him belong all things in the heavens and on earth. And enough is Allah as a Disposer of affairs.”
- 5:116, And behold! Allah will say: “O Jesus the son of Mary! Didst thou say unto men, worship me and my mother as gods in derogation of Allah?” He will say: “Glory to Thee! Never could I say what I had no right (to say). Had I said such a thing, thou wouldst indeed have known it. Thou knowest what is in my heart, Thou I know not what is in Thine. For Thou knowest in full all that is hidden.
Within these three verses we see a denial of the Trinity and also a profound misunderstanding of what it is. Let me explain.
First, surah 5:73 implies that the Trinity is polytheism.
- Surah 5:73 says, “They do blaspheme who say: Allah is one of three in a Trinity: for there is no god except One Allah."
The construction of this verse is important. In Islam, Allah is the one true God. So, if we were to substitute the phrase “the one true God” for “Allah” we would have “the one true God is one of three in a Trinity.” This, of course, is a problem because it implies that the Trinity is three gods. In fact, when we look at Surah 5:72 it says, “They do blaspheme who say: “(Allah) is Christ the son of Mary.” But said Christ: “O Children of Israel! Worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord.” Whoever joins other gods with Allah—Allah will forbid him the garden, and the Fire will be his abode. There will for the wrong-doers be no one to help.
So, the Quran teaches that the Trinity is three gods. But, that is wrong. The doctrine of the Trinity is not that there are three gods. Instead, it is the teaching that there is one God in three persons. Now whether or not any of you in here will accept that doctrine as true is irrelevant to the fact that the doctrine of the Trinity is monotheistic, not polytheistic and the Quran mistakingly identifies the Trinity is three gods. So, when Muslims deny the Trinity they are not denouncing the biblical Trinity, but something else. Instead, they are denouncing a triad, which we Christians also denounce.
The doctrine of the Trinity is derived from the whole of Scripture. If any of you are interested in knowing how it is derived, then please go to my website at carm.org and search for the word Trinity. You’ll find several articles that detail what it is and how it is derived from God’s word.
Now, if you’re a Muslim and if you say that the Bible has been corrupted, let me state that the Quran itself tells you that the Torah and the Gospel were given by Allah to Moses and Jesus (10:94), the Psalms to David (4:163), and that the Quran confirms what came before it (3:3). Furthermore, surah 6:34 and 18:27 tell us “none can alter the words of Allah”, “none can change his words.”
- 3:3, "It is He Who has sent down the Book (the Qur'an) to you (Muhammad) with truth, confirming what came before it. And he sent down the Taurat (Torah) and the Injeel (Gospel).”
- 10:94, "So if you (O Muhammad) are in doubt concerning that which We have revealed unto you, [i.e., that your name is written in the Taurat (Torah) and the Injeel (Gospel)] then ask those who are reading the Book [the Taurat (Torah) and the Injeel (Gospel)] before you. Verily, the truth has come to you from your Lord. So be not of those who doubt (it)."
- 6:34, "Verily, (many) Messengers were denied before you (O Muhammad), but with patience they bore the denial, and they were hurt, till Our Help reached them, and none can alter the Words (Decisions) of Allah. Surely there has reached you the information (news) about the Messengers (before you).”
- 18:27, "And recite what has been revealed to you (O Muhammad) of the Book (the Qur'an) of your Lord (i.e., recite it, understand and follow its teachings and act on its orders and preach it to men). None can change His Words, and none will you find as a refuge other than Him.”
- 57:27, "Then, in their wake, We followed them up with (others of) Our messengers: We sent after them Jesus the son of Mary, and bestowed on him the Gospel.
So, if the Bible is wrong, then the Quran is wrong. The Trinity is arrived at by looking at the Torah, the Psalms, and the Gospels and since they cannot be corrupted, then it is not proper for you to doubt the word of God found in the Bible, the very word that Muslims are commanded to believe in according to surah 4:136 which says “believe in Allah and his apostle, and the Scripture which he hath sent to his apostle and the Scripture which he sent to those before him.” Why be commanded to believe in something that is corrupted?
So, though the Quran denies the Trinity, it does not deny the biblical doctrine of the Trinity. Instead, it denies a misrepresentation of it and demonstrates that Mohammed did not have a proper understanding of the doctrine in the first place. Muhammad made a mistake. The Quran is wrong.
Son of God
I would like to now turn my attention to the phrase “son of God” as it is used in the Quran and the Bible.
Basically, the Quran implies that the Christian concept of Jesus being the son of God means that somehow, someway God had physical relations with Mary to produce Jesus. Surah 6:101 says “How can he have a son when he hath no consort?” A consort is a spouse, a companion, and in this case someone who would be Allah’s physical companion with whom he would have produced Jesus. But, both Muslims and Christians reject this idea.
It is not Christian doctrine in any way to think that God had any sort of relations with Mary in order to produce Jesus. This is false. If my opponent argues that it is the case, then he is not arguing against Biblical doctrine, but against something else and is not entering into the debate. The Bible does not teach God had a consort. Christians do not teach this, nor have Christians ever taught it. The Quran got this wrong just as it got the doctrine of the Trinity wrong. This is problematic since if the Quran is supposed to be from God, you would think that it would correctly represented doctrines it criticizes.
Instead, the Christian doctrine of Jesus being the son of God is one of eternal relationship, not biology. Let me reiterate. Christianity does not teach nor has it ever taught that when Jesus is called the son of God that it means there’s a biological connection between God the Father and God the son through a woman.
Instead, it means that in the eternal Trinity God the Father elected people for salvation and sent the son to be the one who would redeem those who were selected. Therefore, since this election is before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4) the doctrine of the sonship of Christ is one of eternal duration, not biological, sexual reproduction. It is a Christian theological position and my opponent should understand this if he wants to debate it.
As I said earlier, the Quran says that the gospel is given to Jesus by Allah, (57:27). This means according to the Quran what Jesus spoke is from Allah. Furthermore, we know that the Quran says that the words of Allah cannot be altered (6:34; 18:27). This means Jesus words cannot be altered.
Therefore, when Jesus said something in the Gospels, then we can trust what he said. This is important because when we turn to his words in John 10:36 we see that Jesus said he was the Son of God. As a good Jew, Jesus would never have believed that he was literally the offspring between God and a woman with whom God would have had relations.
- John 10:36, “Do you say of Him, whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’?”
Furthermore, the New Testament says many more things about Jesus being the son of God, including the following.
- Jesus Christ is the Son of God, (Matt. 26:63, Mark 1:1, John 20:31, Heb. 4:14).
- The angel Gabriel said to Mary that “…the holy offspring shall be called the Son of God,” (Luke 1:35).
- John 5:25, “Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.”
- Paul had faith in the Son of God (Gal. 2:20).
- The Son of God has no beginning or end. Heb. 7:3 says, “Without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, he remains a priest perpetually.”
- The Son of God appeared to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8).
- Believe in the Son of God so that you may have eternal life (1 John 5:13).
If the Quran is really from God, then it would not make mistakes when it criticizes the doctrine of the Trinity and it would not err regarding what it means to be called the Son of God according to the Bible. As a Christian theologian I can tell you that the Trinity is not three gods and the term “son of God” does not mean God had a consort. If my opponent says that the Trinity is three gods and the term “Son of God” means that God had a consort, then he is not debating against the biblical position. Instead, he is debating against the false representation found in the Quran.
Let me say this a different way.
If Muslims deny the doctrine of the Trinity based on their understanding of it from the Quran, then have a faulty understanding of what it is. They are not disagreeing with the Christian doctrine of the Trinity. Instead, they are disagreeing with the representation of the Trinity is presented in the Quran… With which we Christians also disagree.
Likewise, Jesus being the son of God in no way means that he was begotten with a consort. Instead, it means that he is equal to God in nature, not that there is more than one God. We find this in John 5:18 where the apostle says that Jesus “was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.”
Just as the doctrine of the Trinity, the actual doctrine, is that there is one God who exist as three distinct and simultaneous persons, the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit, so also the term “son of God” in reference to Jesus is a claim to his divinity.
Let me close by quoting from the Torah which, according to the Quran (10:94) was given by Allah to Moses and the gospel which was given to Jesus by Allah (57:27).
- Exodus 3:14, “God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”; and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’”
- John 8:24, Jesus said, “…unless you believe that I am, you will die in your sins.”
That is who God is and that is what the term “Son of God” is referring to. Thank you.