People of the Book! Our Messenger has come to you, making clear to you much of the Book that you have kept concealed, and passing over a lot. A Light has come to you from God and a Clear Book. (Surat Al-Ma'ida: 15)
Christians' Errors Regarding the Trinity
Throughout history, God has sent prophets to lead their people out of their mistaken beliefs and to the path of true monotheistic belief by relaying God's revelation to them. Although each religion contains different stipulations, observances, and practices, their essence is always the same: tawhid, which the Qur'an defines as "to believe in God as the One and Only Deity." Someone who believes in tawhid knows that Almighty God is the Lord of the worlds, that all people are totally dependent upon Him, and that all beings have submitted to Him. To put it another way, Christianity and Judaism, despite their corrupted forms, are built on the foundation of absolute monotheism.
All members of these three religions who believe in God's existence and oneness abide by the religion that our Lord revealed to Prophet Abraham (pbuh). According to the Qur'an, his religion is a haneef (pure natural belief) religion, and our Prophet (may God bless him and grant him peace) was commanded to abide by it:
Then We revealed to you: "Follow the religion of Abraham, a man of pure natural belief [haneef]. He was not one of the idolaters." (Surat an-Nahl: 123)
The word haneef means someone who believes in and serves only God. This is the attribute of Prophet Abraham (pbuh) that the Qur'an emphasizes as being haneef, for this great servant of God distanced himself from his tribe's superstitious beliefs and turned solely to God. He also encouraged his tribe to abandon their pagan beliefs and idolatry. (For details, see Harun Yahya, Prophet Abraham and Prophet Lot [Istanbul: Global Publishing, 2005].)
The divine religion revealed to Prophet Abraham (pbuh) was maintained by sincere believers among his progeny:
Who would deliberately renounce the religion of Abraham except someone who reveals himself to be a fool? We chose him in this world, and in the Hereafter he will be one of the righteous. When his Lord said to him: "Become a Muslim," he [Abraham] said: "I am a Muslim who has submitted to the Lord of all the worlds." Abraham directed his sons to this, as did Jacob: "My sons. God has chosen this religion for you, so do not die except as Muslims." Or were you present when death came to Jacob and he asked his sons: "What will you worship when I have gone?" They said: "We will worship your God, the God of your forefathers Abraham, Ishmael and Isaac – one God. We are Muslims submitted to Him." (Surah Al 'Imran: 130-133)
As we have seen, Prophet Abraham's (pbuh) haneef religion is common to Jews, Christians, and Muslims. Jews regard him as the prophet of all Jews and say that they are following his path. Like them, Christians also regard Prophet Abraham (pbuh) as one of their prophets. Faith, love, and respect for this great prophet are as important to Jews and Christians as they are to Muslims:
Who could have a better religion than someone who submits himself completely to God, is a good-doer, and follows the religion of Abraham, a man of pure natural belief? God took Abraham as an intimate friend. (Surat an-Nisa': 125)
As commanded by our Lord, Muslims believe in what was revealed to all of the prophets and make no distinction between them:
Say: "We believe in God and what has been sent down to us; what was sent down to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes; what Moses and Jesus were given; and what all the Prophets were given by their Lord. We do not differentiate between any of them. We are Muslims submitted to Him." (Surat al-Baqara: 136)
However, those who are closest to Prophet Abraham (pbuh), who is a role model for all believers with his joyous faith in and deep love of God, his submission and obedience to all of our Lord's commands, and his superior moral values, are those who abide by those moral values and follow the path of monotheism. Our Lord reveals that:
The people with the strongest claim to Abraham are those who follow him and this Prophet, and those who believe. God is the Protector of the believers. (Surah Al 'Imran: 68)
For this reason, Christians and Jews who sincerely believe in God must, like Prophet Abraham (pbuh) and those who follow him, turn solely to God and adopt his moral values, sincerity, and depth of faith. Like his followers, they must be devout believers in God's oneness and ascribe no partners to Him. However, the Christians have left this path due to their belief in the trinity, which has, in effect, given God two partners: Prophet Jesus (pbuh) and the Holy Spirit (God is surely beyond that!).
What does the error of the trinity mean for Christians?
Christianity was born among the Jews living in Palestine. Almost all of Prophet Jesus' (pbuh) people, including his followers, were Jews who lived by the Mosaic law. The most fundamental characteristic of Judaism was its uncompromising monotheism.
The concept of the trinity, the culmination of a long process, refers to belief in a three-part God consisting of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It has become one of traditional Christianity's most important elements of faith, despite its contradiction of monotheistic belief in our Almighty Lord as the One and Only. It may be described as follows:
The belief in the trinity, which is a mistaken one seeing our Almighty Lord through a superstitious eye, ascribes divinity to Prophet Jesus (pbuh), sent by God as a prophet to his people. However, despite its many internal contradictions and anti-monotheistic nature, it still occupies a very important place in Christian belief. In fact, some Christians consider it a "litmus test" for those who consider themselves to be Christian.
As a result, some contemporary Christian denominations reject the trinity. The Unitarian Church, for example, is a large denomination that rejects this belief. Although there may be differences of opinion among them, such congregations deny that Prophet Jesus (pbuh) is the son of God and say that true Christianity commands one to believe in God as the One and Only. Many of them also emphasize the erroneous belief that Prophet Jesus (pbuh) was crucified to atone for humanity's sins. Today, one can find anti-trinitarian Christians throughout the Christian world under different names and different ecclesiastical organizations. In the United States in particular, "opponents of the trinity" are growing stronger every day, and there is a great increase in the number of people openly expressing the truth in the Christian world. Among these, The Worldwide Church of God is particularly noteworthy. The founder of this church, Herbert W. Armstrong, maintains that belief in the trinity is a superstition that emerged under the influence of pagan cultures.
On the other hand, it is a fact that some anti-trinitarian views emerged within various Christian churches but that they were suppressed. For instance, the founders of the Seventh-day Adventist movement, which was born in the nineteenth century and stresses that Prophet Jesus (pbuh) will soon return, actually built their denomination on Arian foundations (Arius a young deacon in the Alexandrian church, was an important Christian of the third century who rejected the trinity and the divine nature ascribed to Prophet Jesus [pbuh]) However, the charges of deviation from Christianity leveled at this denomination by other churches led to its abandonment of Arianism and subsequent adoption of the trinity. This interesting volte-face is today admitted by members of that church.1
One of the most noteworthy aspects of this subject is that trinitarian belief does not appear in the Bible itself. It appears neither in the Old Testament, the holy book of the Jews, nor in the New Testament, the Christian holy text. Rather, it is based on misinterpretations of a few New Testament passages, and the word itself was only used for the first time by Theophilus of Antioch at the end of the second century. Acceptance of the belief took place much later. Given these facts, Biblical researchers and scholars, as well as opponents of the trinity, ask such questions as: If this belief were really true, did Prophet Jesus (pbuh) not state it unequivocally? And why is trinitarian belief not openly stated in the Bible? Their answers are unambiguous: No belief that is not clearly present in the New Testament, and which was thus unknown to the early Christians, can represent the basis of Christianity. This is an error that came about after Prophet Jesus (pbuh) and under the influence of the established Greek [pagan] culture.