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Common Misunderstanding of the Trinity

May 6th, 2009 by posted in Evangelism

Not long ago, as I was listening to one of the many podcasts that I subscribe to, I heard Dr. William Lane Craig talking about a recent debate he had had with a Muslim apologist. One of the things he talked about was very interesting to me. He talked briefly about a common misunderstanding among Muslims of the Christian doctrine regarding the Trinity.

Very few Christians are not somewhat familiar with the concept of the Trinity. There may be some very limited analogies to describe to our finite, human brains how this Trinity actually “works.” But, in general, we know and accept that there are three “persons” in one God. We don’t believe in poly-theism (the idea of there being multiple gods). We are mono-theistic, believing that there is only one God. The difficulty is in describing how there can be one God who exists in three, distinct, separate and equal “persons” or “centers of consciousness” as Dr. Craig has been known to describe it.

Certainly, it is difficult enough to describe the Trinity as it actually is taught in the Bible. What makes it even more difficult is when people of other faiths (or no particular faith) make incorrect assumptions. This is what seems to be the case with respect to many (I won’t say “all”) Muslims. In Dr. Craig’s description of his debate, it seemed to come out that what the Muslims believe about the Trinity is that it is composed of the God the Father, Mary the mother and Jesus the Son.

Obviously, this is far different from the Christian understanding of the Trinity. In fact, most Christians, I would hope, would vehemently denounce such a teaching as heresy. If anyone attempted to teach doctrine this way, it would be outright blasphemy!

What this points out, however, is a better understanding of how Christianity is perceived by some other world religions and can hopefully help us to see why some of these other faiths are so strongly set against Christianity. After all, this teaching would suggest that God actually took human form and had sexual relations with a woman to produce a son. And in the Muslim view, to associate anything earthly with God is an outrage.

It also shows some of the things that we, as Christians, need to do to help educate people about not only what Christianity is, but what it is not! This is but one misunderstanding of a popular Christian doctrine. How many other teachings of Christianity are misconstrued and misunderstood by people of other faiths or people in the atheist camp?

According to scripture, there are some truths to which people are blinded and simply cannot see. But that should not prevent us from doing our part to teach and address various misunderstandings. They may not “get it” but perhaps over time, the Holy Spirit will work in a persons life in such a way that, once they accept Christ and the blinders are lifted, it will all suddenly make sense.

Grace, love and peace.

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