The Trinity has got to be one of the most puzzling doctrines in the history of world religions. And it is something with, at best, questionable roots in the Old Testament.
You’d think that a belief as important as the Trinity would at least be hinted towards in previous revelation. But you’ll find nothing clear and compelling in the Old Testament from which this doctrine of the Trinity can be derived. And we must emphasise “clear” here because Christian missionaries, being as imaginative as they are, try to infer the Trinity using the most comical of arguments.
You may read this article about such “hidden references,” as they themselves put it, admitting essentially that no explicit reference towards the Trinity exists in the Old Testament.
In fact, you’ll struggle to form a coherent view of the Trinity even in the New Testament, as is acknowledged by Christian scholars themselves.
We thus read in William J. La Due’s Trinity Guide to the Trinity, p. 21:
The outstanding American biblical scholar Raymond Brown (1928-98) has reviewed the references in the New Testament to ascertain how Christ and the Holy Spirit are related to God the Father. He says that Jesus was never called God in the Synoptic Gospels, and that the Fourth Gospel does not portray Jesus as saying specifically that he is God. Moreover, there does not seem to be any justification for asserting that Jesus is called God in the earlier layers of the New Testament traditions. Brown does hold that Paul believed in the divinity of Jesus, although he may have used other categories to explain himself.
Likewise, Sir Anthony Buzzard, is a Unitarian – a Christian who refutes the Trinity, as did Isaac Newton and many others. Yet he still extensively quotes Trinitarian scholars to support his arguments.
He writes in his commentary of the Bible, while explaining John chapter 20:
Celebrated experts on Christology admit that the Trinitarian concept of God has a serious flaw. Dr. J. A Dorner (Prof. of Theology at the University of Gottingen) wrote, “It must of course be allowed that the doctrine of the Trinity, as laid down even by the Nicene Fathers, leaves much to be desired… How shall we determine the nature of the distinction between the God who became man and the God [how many Gods?] who did not become man, without destroying the unity of God, on the one hand, or interfering with Christology on the other? Neither the Council of Nicea, nor the Church Fathers of the fourth century satisfactorily answered this question” (History of the Development of the Doctrine of the Person of Christ, T & T Clark, 1989, Division 1, Vol. 2, p. 330).
Note these statements also: “It must be admitted by everyone who has the rudiments of an historical sense that the doctrine of the Trinity formed no part of the original message. St. Paul did not know it, and would have been unable to understand the meaning of the terms used in the theological formula on which the Church ultimately agreed” (Dean Matthews, DD, D. Litt., God in Christian Experience, p. 180). “The evolution of the Trinity: No responsible NT scholar would claim that the doctrine of the Trinity was taught by Jesus or preached by the earliest Christians or consciously held by any writer of the NT. It was in fact slowly worked out in the course of the first few centuries in an attempt to give an intelligible doctrine of God” (Dr. A.T. Hanson, Professor of Theology, University of Hull, The Image of the Invisible God, SCM Press, 1982). “It might tend to moderation and in the end agreement, if we were industrious on all occasions to represent our own doctrine [the Trinity] as wholly unintelligible” (Dr. Hey, Lectures in Divinity, 2, 235).
So the Trinity is not only impossible to find in the Bible, but also naturally confusing due to being Shirk… Why even try to make sense of the Trinity then? What was the point in developing such an incoherent doctrine?
It’s because they consider Jesus to be “God incarnate.”
Let’s put the Trinity aside, and focus instead on how their belief in Incarnation pushed Christians to adopt another blasphemous belief. What am I referring to?
Their belief that God does taqiyyah, and that He had to do it in front of… Satan.
“Divine Taqiyyah” in Christian Theology
As we aim to be neutral and objective, and we certainly do not wish to be accused by Christians of being partial and unfair in our treatment, we’ll begin by quoting an influential contemporary Christian scholar. Alister McGrath is an Anglican priest from northern Ireland. He is the author of the authoritative Christian Theology Reader, which has gone through many editions and basically serves as a textbook within many Christian academic institutions.
He writes on p. 291:
In this passage, which dates from around the year 400, Rufinus of Aquileia (c.340–410) sets out a classic statement of the “fish-hook” or “mousetrap” theory of the atonement, which held that Christ’s death on the cross was an elaborate trap laid for Satan. Satan, it was argued, held humanity so securely captive that God was unable to liberate them by any legitimate means, and thus resorted to divine deception. The humanity of Christ was the bait, and his divinity the hook. Unaware of Christ’s divinity, Satan was trapped through his humanity. The highly questionable morality of this theory was the subject of intense criticism by many medieval writers.
So, as McGrath writes, this theory with its “highly questionable morality” says nothing less than: Jesus was divine but faked his humanity so that he could trap Satan.
Christians basically say that Jesus did taqiyyah to trick Satan.
It’s also a sort of coping mechanism. When you can’t justify Jesus’ divinity, just say that his humanity is a sort of “mask” and trick. How convenient – especially when you don’t have any Biblical arguments to back up your belief about his divinity.
Let’s also read Rufinus, who is quoted by McGrath:
[The purpose of the incarnation] was that the divine virtue of the Son of God might be like a kind of hook hidden beneath the form of human flesh […] to lure on the prince of this world to a contest; that the Son might offer him his human flesh as a bait and that the divinity which lay underneath might catch him and hold him fast with its hook. […] Then, just as a fish when it seizes a baited hook not only fails to drag off the bait but is itself dragged out of the water to serve as food for others; so he that had the power of death seized the body of Jesus in death, unaware of the hook of divinity which lay hidden inside. Having swallowed it, he was immediately caught. The gates of hell were broken, and he was, as it were, drawn up from the pit, to become food for others.
So again, the whole purpose of the Incarnation was a way to fool Satan. As McGrath says, this theory was also espoused by many other Christian writers, including Augustine – the most influential theologian in Western Christianity. McGrath comments on p. 294:
This passage develops the “mousetrap” model of the atonement, found in the writings of Rufinus of Aquileia (5.7). (The Latin term muscipula literally means a “fly-trap,” and occurs frequently in the Latin translation of the psalter used by Augustine. A better translation of the Hebrew would be “snare” or “trap.”) It is interesting to note the imagery that Augustine uses, especially his development of the theme of the “lion of Judah.” This would become a standard feature of medieval hymnody and preaching.
An author who has thoroughly studied this question is Nicholas Constas in his article, The Last Temptation of Satan: Divine Deception in Greek Patristic Interpretations of the Passion Narrative, written for the Harvard Theological Review and published in 2004 (vol. 97, no. 2).
Constas says it all began as a response to the Greek pagans, and more specifically the Stoics. Within their moral philosophy, they considered enduring pain to be something commendable and masculine. On the other hand, they deemed it unmanly for a person to express their sufferings. And Jesus in the New Testament is portrayed expressing his fear of death.
Constas writes on pp. 139-140:
Having succumbed so pathetically to the fear of death, the suffering figure described in the Gospels was in flagrant violation of Roman decorum, a construction of the Stoics, whose teachings on the endurance of pain were vaunted as the ideal expression of masculine behavior and identity. It will be worth remembering that the Stoics further distinguished between the “sage” and the “fool.” The sage was a perfected creature who attained wisdom (and thus divine similitude) by divesting himself of the ignominious marks of creaturehood, especially fear and suffering. The primary characteristic of the sage was, in a word, apatheia: freedom from passion. Thus the anti-Christian philosopher Celsus (ca. 176) argued that, if the Christian savior was in any sense divine, “he would have never uttered loud laments and wailings, nor prayed to avoid the fear of death, saying something like: ‘Oh Father, let this cup pass from me’ (Matt 26:39).
Constas thus says this is the background (or “hermeneutical framework,” as he puts it) of the divine deception theory. He then describes the “fish-hook” theory as elaborated by Gregory of Nyssa (335-395), another of the most influential Christian theologians.
Constas presents Gregory of Nyssa’s justification for divine deception on p. 145:
Gregory further stresses that God’s deceit, unlike the devil’s, was enacted for therapeutic purposes, thereby classifying it among forms of deception culturally acceptable in late antiquity. If God deceives, tempts, and seduces, it is to capture, immolate, and ultimately redeem the desire of the other.
Taqiyyah for “therapeutic purposes”… doesn’t this remind you of Christian missionaries when it comes to evangelizing Muslims?
Constas says that this theory was naturally bashed by generations of Christian scholars, who often used quite strong terms:
Scholarly assessments of Gregory of Nyssa’s fishhook have generally been rather prim and patronizing. Hastings Rashdall called Gregory’s theory “childish and immoral.” J. A. MacCullough deemed it “perverted and repulsive.”‘Gustaf Auln found it “highly objectionable, disgusting and grotesque.”‘ George Florovsky characterized it as “self-contradictory, inconclusive and inappropriate.”” Reinhold Niebuhr found it “unimportant and implausible.” Cyril Richardson confessed that it was “repellent,” while Frances Young has twice characterized it as a “crude and distasteful trick.”‘” Anthony Meredith dismissed Gregory’s idea as “novel and strange,” noting that it “hardly had many followers.”
So, the divine deception theory is deemed “childish”; “immoral”; “perverted”; “repulsive”; “disgusting”; “grotesque”; and so on by modern Christian scholars, and some of these are quite influential. Florovsky for example is one of the most important modern Orthodox Christian theologians.
But one of the main issues for Christians is that Traditional Christian scholars accepted it. We had already referenced Augustine, but Constas lists numerous others. He writes on pp. 146-147:
Disdain for Gregory’s fishhook and the theory of divine deception is clearly an estabished topos within contemporary scholarship, and, like many scholarly constructions, it has distorted the nature of the actual evidence. Far from being a grotesque idiosyncracy limited to the writings of Gregory of Nyssa, the image of a divine fishhook baited with the flesh of Christ was used by dozens of writers from the mid-fourth through the seventh centuries and beyond, including such notables as Athanasius, John Chrysostom, John of Damascus, and Maximus the Confessor, to mention only a few. Among Latin writers, Augustine introduced a variation on this theme in the form of a mousetrap baited with Christ’s blood.
Constas goes on to show how this absurd theory resulted in other absurdities. For instance, how Jesus was portrayed as a worm in later writings, iconography and paintings. Such respect! And this is what happens when you talk of “fish-hooks.”
Coming back to the issue of taqiyyah, it gets worse. They say that Jesus used taqiyyah against the Devil, but also that this taqiyyah was done as payback – by mirroring the taqiyyah done by Satan earlier! Constas writes in pp. 155-156:
The emphasis on Christ’s deception of the devil in the garden of Gethsemane, which seems to detract from the centrality of the crucifixion, is in fact a typological requirement intended to mirror and thus reverse the devil’s deception of Eve in the garden of Eden. According to the logic of typological recapitulation, it was only right that an act of deception should be undone by deception. In Gethsemane, therefore, Christ deceived the deceiver by typologically appropriating the devil’s allurements and stratagems. Just as the agent of a disease serves also as its homeopathic cure, so does the primal deception determine the ingredients for its own neutralizing antidote. (…)
In this stunning typological juxtaposition, the devil becomes a serpent, coiled around a tree, in order to seduce Eve, in response to which the deity becomes a worm writhing on the cross, the tree of life, in order to seduce the devil. (…)
For Gregory, the deception of Eve in the garden of Eden provides the paradigm for the divinity’s deception of the devil.
So, they believe he quite literally used the “Devil’s tricks” against the Devil himself. And the Devil is a creation of God, not any sort of “equal” to Him. And here, they imagine Jesus not only as a worm, but some sort of alter ego to the Devil.
Just how far will Christians go to justify the Shirk of the Incarnation?
Constas writes on p. 161, as a kind of conclusion regarding the many influential theologians who subscribed to the divine deception theory:
For Gregory of Nyssa, the incarnation was precisely (and paradoxically) an act of concealment; and concealment, together with the correlative notion of deception, characterizes for him the entire order of redemption.
So do the Christians missionaries who accuse Muslims of doing taqiyyah, also attack Christians for believing the Incarnation was some sort of cosmic taqiyyah by God against the Devil? What about their belief about God using the Devil’s own tricks against him?
These are not “modernist” Christian scholars arguing these things, but the most influential Christian theologians throughout history. They’re considered “Church Fathers” and “saints.”
I conclude with the following:
There is no God but Allah. He is Exalted far beyond what they ascribe to Him.
May peace be upon our beloved Prophet ‘Isa (Jesus). He is pure and free from their lies.
May Allah bless our beloved final Prophet Muhammad, and grant him peace. Amin.