Monday, July 28, 2014

Book Highlight: Grand Central Question

Chapter 9:  God’s Triune Greatness

We now come to the above chapter in our journey through Abdu Murray’s book Grand Central Question in which we begin to see that a Trinitarian conception of God provides a superior answer to the Grand Central Question of Islam:  How is God great? 

Islam affirms that God is entirely different from us yet in the area of his nature and personhood he is exactly the same. Just as humans do, God has one nature and is one person under the Unitarian conception of him.  To Murray it seems that the doctrine of the Trinity is a better fit with Islamic theology.  He writes:

Given the Muslim view of God’s utter differentness, it is surprising that Islam makes God to exist in the same way we do. What would not be surprising is to find that God exists totally differently than we do. He is one in being, but three in personhood. He transcends our notions of existence, and because he is so much higher than us, this transcendence actually shows God to be great.1

But how does God existing with one nature and as three persons show him to be great? Aseity and selfless love. God is self-contained and depends on no one for anything. While the Muslim believes this; under their unitarian conception of God it is impossible for he would have to depend on created beings to be relational. And the Qur’an states the he is “full of loving kindness” in Sura 85:14. The Muslim response to this charge has been that God’s love of a creature is from eternity and that his love is different. Yet how can actual love exist without an actual object? It cannot.  Additionally, if God is the source of love how can humanity have a different kind? It cannot. Humanity merely expresses love differently.  As an eternal tri-personal being, God depends on no other being to be relational. He is love.

The God who is great expresses love perfectly, and perfect love is selfless. It is others-centered. But how can love be perfectly others-centered if God is an absolute singularity, having one nature and one personhood? How can God express relational aspects of who he is independent of the existence of creation if he exists in such a way? It is quite impossible to see how.

The Trinity makes it possible. For God to have no lack in relationship, to have no lack of love or the expression of it, he must exist, from eternity, as a being in community.2

In the next chapter, Murray writes of God’s greatest expression of his perfect love; the incarnation.

Stand firm in Christ,
Chase

Footnotes:
1. Page 200.
2. Page 208.

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