A Muslim friend of mine contested the absence of any clearer teaching regarding the Trinity in the Bible and it prompted me to investigate. In his mind Islamic tradition has taught him there is no such thing as the Trinity for the particular chronic translation he studies there from teaches him so. Though I have pursued the same translation I recognize that his believe is predicated more on the translator and not the Quran itself. Be it as it may it is of no consequence, because in my experience the greater population of Islam likewise fails to grasp the Trinity idea, here is the reason why.
Pantheism is monotheism in the making
Studying Islamic history reveals that their monotheistic zeal for the one God Allah so eclipsed the Trinitarian teachings of 6th century Christian missionaries that though their efforts to eradicate these doctrines, which were perceived as threatening to their ideology, ultimately created an antagonism effect against the three in one idea. Notwithstanding this conflict, the initial rejection of Trinitarianism should not at all be surprising considering the metamorphoses of the god concept traversing a hermeneutic paradigm of polytheism, henotheism and eventually leading into an amalgamated monotheism.
In my friends affectionate challenge to me I was reminded that even the Hebrews of the Old Testament we’re one time polytheists and having gone through the struggles of henotheism became monotheistic zealots not unlike the better ones of the Arabian Peninsula. As time passed the Hebrew people came and went each successive generation strengthening this monotheism and bequeathing on to the next this same zealotry.
During the bestowal life of Jesus Christ the Levantine Jews thus “could not reconcile the Trinitarian concept with their established monotheistic believe in the one LORD the God of Israel” [Paper 104: page 1144: 5.5] with the teachings he revealed. These teachings in reference were primarily universal in constitution, such as the teachings of the kingdom and the Fatherhood of God / brotherhood of man concept. This latter teaching in particular, explains the prejudices ever-present in monotheism today, the same kind of prejudice early held by the apostles in Jesus d gay. Though having the advantage of researching in The Urantia Book it isn’t difficult to deduce the fact that the Lord went to great lengths to facilitate comprehension on behalf of them. Being so nurtured in their dominating concept of Yahweh the apostles often found themselves perplexed with the words of the master and defaulted to their philosophic positions of traditions when they could not reasonably grasp an adequate understanding. Embryonic Christianity inherited the same declination which was inevitably strengthened through the writings of the New Testament primarily from the pen of Paul.
When the Jesusonian evangels therefore penetrated the desert bringing the story of the risen Christ as the second person of a trinity, a concept which according to The Urantia Book “erred in fact though particularly true with respect to spiritual relationships” [Paper 104:1 page 1145 1.4] they unknowingly accentuated the evolving God concept among proto Islamic. The desert people were living on the eve of a great day of religious advancement regarding their comprehension of deity. This Bedouin community was on the latter end of experiencing the time honored process of evolving all of their polytheistic deities into one unified (theoretical) entity, an experience slowly traversed by the Hebrews previously.
In a primitive Religious Society polytheism is a relative unification of evolving concept of Deity; polytheism monotheism in the making [Paper 5 .4 page 67] it is from this broad perspective that explains why my friends contest the presence of the Trinity in the Bible the romantic struggle of love between man and God is written in the Testaments is a story of a monotheistic betrothal not a story of a Trinitarian co-op. A narrative about a trinity is relatively absence from the Scriptures albeit I counter that the presence of the Trinity is revealed through those indivisible elements that made monotheism possible
Notwithstanding the Hebrews did sustain at least a vague concept of the Trinity and through the concept never became elaborate in their theology, it began to solidify once they deanthropomorphised their monotheism, a something the Arabian Bedouin never had a chance to experience.
The Meccan rejection
Some Islamic theologians teach that it was Jewish theology coupled with the later arriving Christian teachings that made Islam radically monotheistic. I tend to disagree though it is true that Judeo Christian teachings influenced the birth character of Islam to no small degree, it is hardly accurate to say that the influence thereof was the cause of Islamic radicalism. Furthermore it would be a far reach to lay the responsibility of Muslim extremism at the feet of a Jew or a Christian.
Instead, my research leads me to believe that Muhammad founded the Muslim faith as a philosophic protest against all the social demands of the day, which, when recalling the 6th century history were derived from multiple sources. Again it may be true that Judaic and Christian methods of proselytizing may have been a bit austere albeit the social collateral requirements of Zoroastrianism and Mithraism were equally as strict. Second Muhammad’s motivation was aggravated by the fact of the inconsistency and incoherency of the polytheistic tendencies of his own people.
Now here’s the crux. Foreign religious groups like Christianity and Mithraism in and by themselves had a less than moderate influence in the rise of a radical Islamic monotheism. So too was the impact of the religious vagrancy of the Bedouins insignificant. It was, in retrospect it today, the aggregate condition that overwhelmingly maturated its birth, a condition which traumatized the transition process of a fading polytheism (proto Islam) to a sublime monotheism (embryonic Islam). At least, that would have been the normal advance of things is established religions of the day nurtured, instead of attempting to conform new spiritual movements like Islam.
Given sufficient time monotheism will evolve on its own when left relatively unmolested or “as a philosophic protest against the inconsistency of polytheism” [Paper 104:2 page 1145] as is demonstrated in the experience of the Old Testament peoples. To glean from their experience their hermeneutic traversal from polytheism to monotheism was a gradual conceptual development, being sustained from time to time by the patriotic revivals by those devoted to Yahweh “the one God of final and supreme value…. The Lord God of Israel. [Paper 96.1 page 1052].
Nevertheless passing the monotheistic torch from generation to generation wasn’t all a smooth run. The progress of the Hebraic concept was constantly inhibited, and thus retrogressed at times by inevitable repercussions do to cultural and tribal impingement. One such impingement was the idea of the jealous God. Indeed Moses may have taught this but “No prophet or religious teacher from Machiventa to the time of Jesus attained the high concept of God that Isaiah the second who proclaimed during those days of captivity” [paper 97.5 page 1068] and who punctuated the fact that God is all powerful a loving father a God of all the peoples.
It is observable that when two cultures begin to intermix whether by political imaginations or religious ones, the less evolved can assimilate only so much from the greater, even if the greater presents their knowledge ready made for them. Accordingly, the depths of assimilation by the lessor can be measured by “which is reasonably consistent and compatible with its current evolutionary status, plus it’s genius for adaptation”. [paper 92.2.5 page 105] Suffice it to say the proto Islamic culture, though ready to usher in a glorious monotheistic era did so; yet because of the unusual number of attributing factors, including the absence of any kind of spiritual fostering by the more mature religions, the new concept of one God was susceptible to the frailties of new faith. Had the birthing of the Islamic concept of Allah been given enough time to develop in the hearts of the Mohammedans, the preaching of Jesus Christ as a second person and Deity wouldn’t have been such a direct threat to the Muslim faith. The Meccan rejection wasn’t against the Lord per se, but in the infantile Islamic mind it was against the idea of one God, who was, as it were, jealous.
In as much as monotheism arises as a protest against the inconsistency of polytheism, an inevitable repercussion of its normal evolutionary development, Trinitarianism likewise develops out of the impossibility of conceiving the Oneness or indivisibility of a deanthropomorphised or [monotheistic] deity of unrelated Universal significance ” even though mind you that the Trinity itself is super existential having reality long before its conception in the human mind. [Paper 104:2 page 1145] Notwithstanding, Trinitarianism never had a chance in the days of Muhammad for reasons we just discussed. To sum up then, the Mohammedans just could not reconcile their new monotheistic concept manifesting in three channels of eternal nature in contradistinction from distinguishing three gods as one. It is always difficult for an emerging monotheism to tolerate Trinitarianism when confronted by Polytheism ” [Paper 104: page 1144: 5.5] The Urantia Book suggests that the Trinity idea best takes hold when there is a firm monotheistic tradition coupled with some degree of doctrinal elasticity as seen in the birth of Christianity, and this, within the Hebraic realms of Judaism. To be sure let us briefly recount the evolution of the god concept among the Hebrews.
The Concept of Elohim
As man has been known to worship deity through a variety of pantheistic organizations of natural medium such as stones, mountains, plants and trees, this worship evolved up to animals, elements, the heavens consummating in man. From the rocks Jacob used as pillows, the volcano in Sinai, the trees of Israel’s apostasy, the urge to worship a monotheistic God was fostered in Hebrew culture until the concept of God as father was born. Over this long stretch of time, monotheism slowly solidified in the Hebraic mind and through consecutive eras their lesser ideas of deity were through henotheism subordinated to a greater concept. The Hebrews, beginning with the family of Abraham, “long believed in the existence of other gods other than Yahweh, but they increasingly, held that foreign deities were subordinate to Yahweh. [Paper 96.1 page 1054.4.4].
It was all but inevitable that, as the Hebrews advanced in culture, the evolution of their way of life and religious viewpoints demanded a more or less complete change in the character of their monotheistic conception of the nature of their God, Yahweh.” [Paper 96.6 page 1059.2.4]. Furthermore as their monotheistic comprehension became replete, a greater conception would become necessary to account for all the deity activities outside the immediate rooms of their understanding (the unrelated universe significances). Thus the idea of the Trinity actualized in Hebrew theology. I surmise that all this evolutionary scaffolding was directly repercussive of this same Trinity who, as I mentioned a moment ago, had existence long before man possessed any worship coherency.
Nevertheless, it was due to the unfortunate circumstances within the Kingdom of Israel, their inter-racial prejudices and political differences that prevented the concept of Trinitarianism to become widespread. In fact, it wasn’t until the Babylonian captivity that Trinitarianism had any real and significant incorporation in Hebrew theology. Thath was because the Jews were induced to enlarge their monotheistic concepts. It is not tragic happenstance that the Jewish exile broadened the Jewish mind in both good and not-so-good ways. Concisely to the point, the Jews felt that, in order for their nation to ultimately survive, if they’re ideologies were to prevail [Paper 87.9 page 1075.3.3] they would have to turn their attention to the painstaking effort of indoctrinating the world of the Gentiles, about the “God of Gods”.
Thus, Hebraic monotheism reached a level of elasticity where it could no longer maintain its theological integrity bespeaking of a national deity, as it was to be mobilized and proselytized to all nations. The concept of Yahweh by necessity, had to be expanded, and so the Jews turned to their concept of Elohim, which, up to that time, had not yet been fully taught and even less understood.
The postulate of Elohim a three-fold manifestation of Yahweh – lingered in and out of Hebrew consciousness since the days of Abraham where, in Christian theology, it or the teachings are suggested to have been bestowed upon him either by Melchizedek or through Melchizedek having its origin during the time of Adam. As students of The Urantia Book, we know that a Trinitarian concept of monotheism was first revealed during the era of Dalmatia and was reintroduced during Adam’s administration. In any case, the idea of a threefold Deity co-op is a level of intellectual and spiritual comprehension that is not entirely obtained through evolutional methods like henotheism. Though God may be ONE, and this truth was clear in Adam’s mind, it hasn’t always been so clear in the non-divisible minds of the rest of us. Indivisibility remains a rough gem to polish.
Yet the Jews were determined to unify the differentiating characteristics indicative of the effort to expand their monotheism and these efforts should be praised. For in their desperate attempt to survive, they little realized that they were inadvertently returning to Adam’s concept of an exalted anthropomorphism; that is, a son of God and incidentally prepped the podium for the same Son to teach of the universality of a monotheistic deity, or a creator father. Hence Elohim was the Jewish attempt to theologize the supernal characteristics of Yahweh, and given the level of the cultural civilization of the day, which was in chains, they did an excellent job. I give them ‘kudos’.
However, because the Jews became overly engrossed with the prerogatives of the priesthood upon the return from captivity, Elohim remained staged throughout the Hellenization age. For more than 300 years, the doctrine of the Trinity remained shelved in the Hebrew mind. Yet the advance in monotheism was made, and the world was ready to take it to the next level.
Equipped with The Urantia Book, the study of Hebrew monotheism in the Old Testament is perhaps, the best example of the evolving God concept in the world. Their philosophic transition from polytheism to monotheism represents as a whole, the necessary requisite to the further, global, revelation of God. The Hebrew example illustrates the “evolutionary link between a religion of evolution and religion of Revelation; [Paper 92.6 page 1011.4.2] which is crucial to the understanding in the 21st century because the big religions of the world teeter on the precipice of this link.
A Planetary Father
To the Jews of Jesus day, Elohim was denotive of the God of Gods while Yahweh was the God of Israel. It would be helpful to bear in mind that generally speaking, these two are one and the same. Only in theology do they grammatically differentiate. Now, all my religious experience teaches me that the Lord, then even now, predicated his entire ministry on the Elohim tenant, even though the New Testament doesn’t specify the master systematically instructing the apostles on the Trinity. To elucidate my hypothesis, allow me to point out that, according to The Urantia Book, Jesus often spoke of Elohim when not directly quoting the Torah (i.e. the Scriptures), which indicated his efforts to extend the Jewish concept of Yahweh from, a deified racial father (of Israel), to the idea of a father God of all races of men. This had been an undeveloped Jewish Construct having its genesis some four centuries previous. Nevertheless there were some unforeseen implications of this ideal in the Jewish mind and they undoubtedly would forever change the course of their history.
Even though Jesus exalted Israel’s Yahweh to be the world’s Father God it proved to be too much for the Jews, even though the concepts had already found their way into the Scriptures. The prejudice’s I mentioned earlier really become clear at this point. At that time the Jewish national ego was excessively engrossed in a struggle of determination, although under the Roman suzerainty enjoyed a considerable degree of self-government, [Paper 121l page 1334.1.2] it was more or less religious not political.
The Lord’s concept of Elohim was not to their liking for they envisioned Yahweh way to be the ‘God of all nations’ albeit they desired him to remain politically Jewish. This ideology was underwritten throughout their theology. The fact that the master, being Jewish himself, but not conforming to Jewish political thought, promulgated a global concept of Yahweh that seem to preclude the assumption which could exclude the pivotal role of the interpretation of the prophet Isaiah saying “inherit the heathen”. Thus by Jewish reckoning, they projected themselves as having to share Yahweh on equal terms with these same heathen, and of course, their ritualism and legalism. Otherwise stated, their traditionalistic inertia would just not accommodate that concession.
In the aftermath of the crucifixion, when Christianity began to plow the hearts of men, the heralds of the kingdom took with them the seeds of understanding regarding the Trinity; consisting of God, His Word, and His wisdom. In teaching a variation, the Apostle Paul expressed it as the Father, the Son, and spirit. .[paper 104 page1144] Whatever paradigm was employed by these early Christians, one thing was absolutely clear: was his emphatic life declaration of his oneness with the Father, the Trinity demonstrated by the Lord was that the Father sent him into the world to reveal their combined natures and to show forth their conjoint work.” [Paper 169.4 page 1855-56] And herein lies the clarity for my friends argument. The concept of the Trinity is quintessentially revealed throughout the Bible in those lives lived in God as sons and through the Son.
As a son, I learn about God from Jesus, by observing the divinity in his life. I augment this observation through the study of his teachings; teachings in my personal life and by the teachings I disseminate from The Urantia Book. From his examples, I can grasp the highest concept of God as I am able, a concept which represents the measure of my capacity to perceive the reality of the infinite paradise Trinity. Though I cannot hope to totally comprehend such a reality, I can however; grasp a miniscule glimpse through is focalization in the personality of the master of my soul, Jesus Christ. Ergo, the concept of the Trinity effectively provides for the full expression and perfect revelation of the eternal nature of deity.