WRF Member Dr. Larry Bray Debates Muslim Leader and Summarizes the Points Raised in the Debate

WRF Member Dr. Larry Bray Debates Muslim Leader 

Below is a summary of the main points made during the debate.  At the bottom is Dr. Bray’s contact information.  

The Lord recently opened up an opportunity for me to discuss spiritual matters with a Muslim. Neither debate nor world religions is my strong point, but being committed to defending the hope that is in me (1 Pet 3:15) I agreed to enter into the discussion.

Since both Christianity and Islam are monotheistic religions I decided to focus in on our ideas related to this one God and who exactly He is. My intent was to show through the logic of faith that the Trinitarian concept of God is the only reasonable one given certain other foundational beliefs about God, foundational beliefs that both the Christian and the Muslim share.

The questions that I presented to my Muslim counterpart were:

1.       Is there one God?

2.       Is God personal? (by personal I mean: having a will, ability to communicate his will, exhibiting emotion like hating sin and loving holiness)

3.       Is God eternal?

4.       How many persons are in the one God? (by person I mean: having a will, ability to communicate his will, exhibiting emotion like hating sin and loving holiness)

5.       Does God need anything outside of himself?

As you can imagine, both of us agreed on some of the foundational conceptions of God as brought out by some of these questions. We both believed that:

·         There is one God

·         God is eternal

·         God is personal

·         God needs nothing outside of Himself

The point of disagreement between us rested on the question of how many persons are in the one God.  My Muslim counterpart believes that there is but one person in the one God while I hold to the Trinitarian framework of there being three persons in the one Godhead – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

An interesting thing to consider at this point is that for the characteristics about God that we agreed upon my Muslim counterpart quoted from the Quran to make his point. For the Trinitarian characteristic he did not quote from the Quran, but rather said, “What I know is that God is one , has the will , the ability, and cognition. Let me give you an example, logically if you wanted to eat a food ,then you extended your hand to eat, and then found a bad taste, so you hated this food .So You have the will and the ability and emotions, but you [are] still one person.

It was at this point that I focused in on the Trinity as our point of contention, addressing the following to my Muslim counterpart:

The biggest difference in our understanding of the nature of God lies with the Trinitarian doctrine. I will show how our common understanding of the other attributes of God necessitates a Trinitarian God, and how the denial of this attribute of God is not logically sustainable.

The particular attributes of God that we agree on are: Eternal, personable, in need of nothing.

Since God is eternal, he was around before anything was created.

Since God needs nothing, he did not need creation but was God for eternity before creation.

Since God is personable, he has within himself 3 persons. Otherwise we must admit 1 of the following:

·         God is not personable

·         God is not eternal and thus not in need of persons prior to creation

·         God does need creation in order to be personable and thus stands in need of the creature

The only way God can have all of these attributes is in a Trinitarian framework which allows for God to be personable, eternal, and in need of nothing.

God was able to be a personal God before creation because the one Godhead is comprised of 3 distinct persons. These 3 persons interacted personally with each other from eternity and throughout eternity.

At this, my Muslim counterpart asked about the distinctions within each of the three persons and how this might be a problem with the essence of God being at odds with itself. I clarified by stating the following:

The persons in the Godhead have distinctions, but they are not distinctions in essence, rather they are distinctions in personhood. So if the order signifies these personal distinctions it would be inappropriate to reverse the names, but if it did not signify these distinctions it would be appropriate.

As an example, one characteristic of personhood is the will. Therefore we see this distinction in the will of the persons of the Godhead:

The Father sends the Son to carry out the work of redemption.

The Son carries out that work by living a holy life and dying for the sins of his people on the cross.

The Holy Spirit makes the redemptive work of Christ be effective for his people by applying it to their heart.

It was at this point that my Muslim counterpart asked for scriptural evidence for the Trinity. What a wonderful thing for a Muslim to ask me to check out the Bible for doctrine! I was happy to do so by giving the following biblical evidence:

1) There is one, and only one, God

"Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. (Deu 6:4)

 2) The person of the Father is God

For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased," (2Pe 1:17) 

3) The person of the Son is God

. . . waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, (Tit 2:13)

 4) The person of the Holy Spirit is God

But Peter said, "Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God." (Act 5:3-4)

 5) The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are distinct and simultaneously distinguishable persons

and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, "You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased." (Luk 3:22)

6) The three persons (Father or God; and Son or Christ or Lord; and Holy Spirit or Spirit) are frequently listed together in a triadic pattern of unity and equality

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. (Joh 14:26)

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, (Mat 28:19)

 It was after this that my Muslim counterpart wanted to shift topics and show that the Bible was corrupt while the Quran was not, so it is here that our interaction basically ended.

God blessed me with the opportunity to show a Muslim that both logically and biblically the Trinitarian concept of God is the only reasonable view to have of God. I pray that God will work on him and others as they are confronted with the truth of the biblical God. And I pray that my Christian brothers and sisters will be emboldened to speak the truth of God even in the face of opposition.

Dr. Bray may be contacted at larryicr@gmail.com