The Summit Lecture Series: A Muslim Makes Sense of the Trinity, with Nabeel Qureshi

The Summit Lecture Series: A Muslim Makes Sense of the Trinity, with Nabeel Qureshi December 29, 2015

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As a Muslim, I believed that God appointed Jesus (the Quran teaches very clearly that Jesus is THE MOST miraculous of prophets); and I believed that the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John ARE God’s word.

But, when I was hit between the eyes with the reality that the Gospels could not have been corrupted over the past 2,000 years; and that Jesus did, in fact, claim to be God, I suffered from cognitive dissonance, to say the least!Nabeel Qureshi

I had a HUGE intellectual and personal dilemma.

What had previously been pretty much just an academic wrestling match with my Christian friend, David, became something that hit home to my very mind and soul and it consumed me.

For the first time, I began to question what I had been taught my whole life and led to believe as truth. I thought about my parents, sister and extended family and everything they had given up in order to follow Islam. And wonder if Islam is true at all.

Now, my investigation turned much more personal. I began praying more and more fervently as I sought out truth. Now, I had prayed before – at least five times each day – but, it was more out of Muslim duty, not out of loving God with my whole heart.

But, at this new point in my life, I was seeking God like never before. I learned Matthew 7:7 in a whole new perspective:

“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.”

I also knew that the Quran says, “If you seek truth, you will receive it.” So, I prayed like crazy, “Allah, could you show me the truth here? I need to know what the truth is.”

This started me asking questions like, “Can the Trinity actually be viable? What does it mean for God to be three-in-one and one-in-three?”

This summer coincided with when David and I took Organic Chemistry together. In Chemistry, you learn that everything is made up of atoms. Each atom has multiple parts – a nucleus made up of a neutron and a proton and electrons floating around it. Then, multiple nuclei come together and share electrons within electron clouds, called molecules.

Now, sometimes, these electrons hang out in one area and then all of a sudden flip to another area because of the polarity and other factors. When this happens, you have multiple resonance structures. And here’s what my Organic Chemistry professor said about resonance structures:

Image: ChemistNATE
Image: ChemistNATE

“A molecule is every single one of its resonance structures at every point in time. BUT it’s no single one of its resonance structures at any point in time.”

Upon hearing this, I stopped and thought, “If she can believe that about Chemistry, what problem do I have about the Holy Trinity?”

In other words, there are certain things in science that we know to be true, but are inexplicable at the macro level. Another example is light: We know that light is both a particle AND a wave. This makes no sense to physicists, but they know it is still true. There are things that happen on the deeper levels of science that just do not fit our macro-understanding.

Why is it, then, that the Trinity poses such a problem, when we can expect the One who created the world to be more complex than anything in the world?

Another perspective is this: God created our minds. So, if I can “create” a god that my mind can grasp, it probably isn’t the right God. God is bigger than us.

This is when I began to realize that no matter what objection I had to the nature of God, it is an unviable objection – unless there is an obvious contradiction. This is because God MUST BE greater than my comprehension.

Image: Cath Art Creations by Marianne
Image: Cath Art Creations by Marianne

So, this leads to the question, “Is the Trinity a contradiction?”

No.

The definition of the Trinity is: God exists in one Being, and three Persons. Now, if I were to say that God was one Being and three Beings, that would be a contradiction. Same goes for if I were to say that He is one Person and three Persons. But, He is one Being and three Persons.

So, what’s the difference between a being and a person?

I am a human being. That is my being – I am human. But, my person is Nabeel. That’s who I am. So, my being makes me what I am, and my person makes me who I am.

Therefore, God is one Being, but His one Being has three co-equal Persons: the Father, the Son and the Spirit. This is not a contradiction. He is just more complex than anything we’ve seen on this earth. And that’s what we can expect!

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