Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Contra Islam’s Claim of Rigid Monotheism: Plurality in Eternity is an Inescapable Aspect of Islamic Theology!

Posted in: Theology

The religions of Islam and Christianity are both monotheistic in their beliefs about God, although there is a key distinction that sets them widely apart from one another. Christianity believes in the existence of God who possesses unity and plurality in the form of the Trinity, while Muslims believe that Allah has a strict unity without any aspect of plurality in eternity (this is what they teach on the surface, anyway).
As experts on Islam, Norm Geisler and Abdul Saleeb, point out, "Islamic monotheism is rigid and inflexible. Its view of God’s unity is so strong that it allows for no plurality in God at all." (Geisler–Saleeb, Answering Islam, p. 134) Unfortunately, this Islamic distinctive creates an overemphasis on the unity of God. Allah is so unified in himself and withdrawn from his creation that there can be very little understood of him by Muslims. The adherents to Islam put such an emphasis on God’s unity that they are virtually agnostic in their understanding of who he is. As missionary to Muslims, Jay Smith, asserts:

According to Islam, Allah is one dimensional; that is he has only one character, which is powerful and imposing. He is an omnipotent and impersonal God, one who is completely transcendent, and therefore quite distant and distinct from his creation. (Smith, The Hermeneutical Key, p. 4)

Although there are many philosophical problems with this understanding of God, the main issue is that their view of Allah’s strict unity causes them to completely deny the theological possibility of plurality in eternity. Along with various passages from the Koran that teach against the triune nature of God (Sura 4:116, 170; 112) this overemphasis of God’s unity is what ultimately leads Muslims to reject the Christian concept of the Trinity altogether.

But, the $64,000 question is this– *Do Muslims really deny plurality in eternity?*

I will assert that Muslims would like to deny plurality in eternity at all cost, but they cannot consistently do so no matter how hard they try. The reason is this: Even though Islam strongly rejects the eternal unity and plurality of the Christian God, their own beliefs come back at them with an unavoidable aspect of plurality in eternity. How is this the case? Simply put, Muslims believe that Allah is eternal, and that the Koran is eternal as well. But no Muslim believes that Allah and the Koran are identically the same. What Muslims must realize is that by accepting another distinct eternal entity (i.e. the Koran) in their theological system, they are actually including an aspect of *dual-plurality* within their view of God and eternity. Basically, Muslims try to deny the possibility of eternal unity and plurality for Christians who believe God is an eternal Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. But they do so while being guilty of maintaining plurality for themselves by believing in the simultaneous existence of an eternal God and the eternal Koran. Because of the Muslim view of the eternality of the Koran (and its complete distinction from Allah), plurality in eternity is an inescapable aspect of Islamic theology.

This fact blatantly contradicts the Muslim position of Allah’s rigid eternal unity, and, this contradiction greatly weakens Islam’s argument against the eternal plurality and unity of the Christian Trinity in the process. This seems to pose an unavoidable *shirk-o-rama* for devout Muslims who wouldn’t dare assign any partners to God–that is, except for Allah’s eternal companion and partner–the Holy Koran. Since Muslims are always trying to accuse Christians of being tri-theists because of the plurality of the Trinity, perhaps they should analyze their own plurality in eternity before pointing the polytheistic finger at anyone else. Maybe this would be a major step for Muslims to take on the way to realizing that plurality is a necessary aspect of an eternal God; and therefore, the Christian God is the more plausible deity to adhere to.


Anonymous Matthew said...

You left off the third uncreated eternal being... kursi. It's the throne upon which Allah is seated in the 7th heaven. I think Smith's statement is simply false. I'll try to get a fuller reply tomorrow.

11:02 PM  
Blogger Sal Monella said...

Hey Matthew,

Thanks for your brief response to my post. I am not sure where you are going with it as of yet, but I am looking forward to checking out your full input. Untill then . . .


8:33 AM  
Blogger Franklin Mason said...

I had assumed that the Koran was the Word of God. If this is so, it is not another substance that exists in addition to God. When we speak, we do not thereby create some entity that before did not exist. Rather we in some way express a thought, and this thought is in us; it is of us. It is not in any sense in addition to us, or over and above us.

I'm no Muslim, but this kind of reply seems to me to answer your objection.

3:05 PM  
Blogger Sal Monella said...

Thanks Franklin ;)

Well, I wish it were that simple. The thing is, Muslim theology holds to an eternal God (Allah) and an eternal book (the Koran). They are not one in the same, which creates a plurality in eternity for the Muslim belief system.

Various Muslim schollars have wrestled with the problem for years, and I have yet to see a really clear response that has succsesfully answered the problem.

I still think that it seems very inconsistant for a belief system to chide Christianity so hard for plurality in the Trinity, while holding such blatent plurality themselves.

Thanks again for your response.


6:14 AM  

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