Oneness differs between a covenant-keeping God and a contract-expecting God in essence, reliability, and motivation. What distinct characteristics does a relational, loving God display?
Oneness in Trinity continually displays unity within the godhead and when forming a covenant bond. The chart below helps to distinguish the two perspectives on how we view divine Oneness. Covenant Oneness aligns with the Bible, while the Quran assumes a Contract Oneness perspective.
In English, the word “one,” as in “we are one nation” or “the husband and wife are one,” implies a unity of persons. The Jewish Scriptures demonstrate a unity of two things in the book of Genesis with the forming of day and night as “One” day (Gen. 1:5) and then when explaining a covenant leaning marriage as “becoming one flesh” (Gen. 2:24). In both instances, the Hebrew word is Echad, One.Sometimes spelled Ehad, אֶחָד in Hebrew allows a unity within the Oneness presented.
The Trinity of the Father, Son, and Spirit is a “Oneness in Unity,” highlighting Oneness without excluding the divine personhood. True, Oneness and Unity can display redundancy in meaning, but Oneness describes the biblical emphasis that we believe in one God, not three. At the same time, Unity focuses on the united bond of distinct persons within that Oneness—the Oneness of Yahweh shares in unity rather than partnering with different, separate unrelated parts.
The Quran rejects the idea of Oneness as a unity of persons. Al-Tamimi, a Saudi Arabian scholar, states, “Oneness implies perfection, and partnership signifies imperfection.” Imam Abu Hanifa. Translated by Abdur Rahman Ibn Yusuf. Al Fiqh al Akbar: An Accurate Translation. sunnahMuakada.com, pdf, 33. Partnership as a keyword in Islam carries a negative connotation when associated with Allah since partnership implies another outside of Allah to counter him. Despite the Bible never affirming or defining the Trinity as a partnership since God’s Oneness is not outside himself or viewed as separate to rival each other. In light of these ideas, Allah’s Oneness is called Absolute Oneness.
Reliability in Oneness
Relatability is the divine quality to connect and dwell with or within followers. The God of the Bible displays a desire to relate, connect, dwell near to, and even dwell within the believers (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). He loves them; his Spirit dwells within and empowers believers to love as he would.1 Corinthians 3:16-17 and John 15
Countering this idea, Absolute Oneness promotes a form of singularity without persons or partnerships. His distinct aloneness displays a lack of relatability and sharing with adherents. For example, consider the basic Islamic creed, Al-Fiqh al-Akbar Creed (760 A.D.), most likely written to counter the Nicene Creed. Alluding to Surah 112, which highlights Allah’s Absolute Oneness, the creed states: “Allah Most High is One, not in terms of the number, but in that, he has no partner. He neither begets nor is He begotten, and there is none co-equal or comparable unto Him. He is not like unto anything from among His creation, and nothing from among His creation is like unto Him.”Muhammad ibn Khalifah al-Tamimi. Tawhid of Allah’s Most Beautiful Names & Lofty Attributes. Abu Safwan Farid Haibatan, translator. Birmingham: Al-Hidaayah Publishing, 2002, 117. … Continue reading The very ideas of Yahweh’s Oneness and Allah’s aloneness are quite distinct. One allows relationship, connecting, and a joining of divine persons, while Islam positions Allah alone, with no other and no possible uniting of persons.
Relatability connects and shares. The God of the Bible dwells near and in believers seeking a covenant connection with believers and seeking to dwell within to abide together in love and empowerment.1 Corinthians 6:19-20 and John 15 While Islam presents Allah at a high power distance, expecting submission to his commands.Surah 4:59 The phrase, Allahu Akbar, meaning God is great, presents Allah above and they repeat the phrase to invoke his power in a situation. Likewise, the Islamic pillars display the distance when Allah is the high-power-distance diety expecting submission, prayer, fasting, and giving of gifts without dwelling with them. The biblical relationship does not eliminate obedience but grants by God’s Spirit the ability, guidance, and life-giving power to live for God. At the same time, Islamic ideas intend to provide guidance and the power for the community (Ummah) to bring about compliance. Again a manner of distance in relationship with Allah and adherents.
Heart of Divine Oneness
The God of the Bible calls us into a covenant relationship with him. A bond with responsibilities and an expected dwelling together. Revelation 21:3 says, “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.” God’s closeness reveals in His pursuing love toward us. The biblical narrative stresses God’s everlasting love and willingness to give to bring life and reconciliation.See Gen. 3:21, Gen. 22:11-14, and John 3:16 The beginning and ending of the Bible center on God’s heart to dwell with his Creation in a redemptive manner.
Oneness differs between a covenant-keeping God and a contract-expecting God in the essence of Oneness, their differing ways in reliability, and the motivation to bond with believers. Allah’s manner of protecting displays his absolute aloneness, prioritizing power and guardedness rather than the biblical ideas of the sacrificial love of a loving God.
Please see Searching Below the Surface for a deeper reflection on these vital issues. Another blog on Oneness.
|↑1||Sometimes spelled Ehad, אֶחָד in Hebrew|
|↑2||Imam Abu Hanifa. Translated by Abdur Rahman Ibn Yusuf. Al Fiqh al Akbar: An Accurate Translation. sunnahMuakada.com, pdf, 33.|
|↑3||1 Corinthians 3:16-17 and John 15|
|↑4||Muhammad ibn Khalifah al-Tamimi. Tawhid of Allah’s Most Beautiful Names & Lofty Attributes. Abu Safwan Farid Haibatan, translator. Birmingham: Al-Hidaayah Publishing, 2002, 117. Al-Tamimi is an Islamic Professor at al-Madinah University in Saudi Arabia.|
|↑5||1 Corinthians 6:19-20 and John 15|
|↑7||See Gen. 3:21, Gen. 22:11-14, and John 3:16|
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