My book Searching Below the Surface explores the nature of Oneness in the Bible and Quran. Many approaches exist for teaching these ideas, and here are a few helpful ideas for contrasting these two ideas. In addition, these are extra notes not found in the book, which may help one teach or study these ideas more.
|Terms for Trinity of Oneness||Terms for Absolute Oneness|
|Persons, Character, Unity||Tawhid, Alone, One|
|Persons within one essence||No partners exclusive or inclusive of essence|
|Divine Unity – Divine Persons||Divine Reality|
- When teaching new believers, first teach about Salvation. Through this process, they internalize Yahweh’s personalness.I use Yahweh and Allah in this article to distinguish between the biblical God and the quranic idea. Salvation will prepare them for the Trinity of Oneness. Before studying the doctrine of who Yahweh is, help them understand how he works and how he desires to dwell with them. With this foundation, students are more likely to understand the oneness of Yahweh.
- When we started working with Persians in our new believers’ class, we had some seekers. The topic of the nature of God has always prompted discussion and debate. Considering this, we first taught about Salvation so that students could understand what faith entailed. After this, we moved them to an advanced new believers’ class that began with the nature of God. By then, they understood his nature through personal Salvation.
- Suggested initial topics of Salvation: Word of God (2 Tim 3:16–17, 2 Pet. 1:16–21), Creation of humanity (Gen. 2), Sin (Gen. 3), Faith (Heb. 11:1–6, Gen. 15), Repentance (Gen. 15:1–6),Abraham evidences a change of mind from his own plan to faith in God’s declaration. First, he desired to use his servant to find an heir, but after God’s declaration, he believed. He changed … Continue reading Law (Rom. 3:19–20; Matt. 5:17–20), and Salvation (Rom. 10).
- When disciplining believers from another background, stress a contrast between the Trinity of Oneness with Absolute Oneness. In some languages, the translation of Trinity is either misleading, a foreign word, or just unclear, so seek to find a word that promotes oneness.
- For years, a Central Asian brother often said to an unbeliever, “God is seeking you.” This excellent phrase minimized competitive discussion focusing on which religion or viewpoint is better and opened the door to sharing Yahweh’s desire for a relationship. He would chuckle and say, “We do not compete to see which religion is better but to realize we can know God because he is seeking us.”
- Notice the various names used for the Deity in different languages. Each may have a nuance or a history to it. For instance, Arab Christians and some Southeastern Asian Christians use the name Allah for the God of the Bible, while many Turkish believers avoid the name Allah. We should seek to understand how early believers in these countries chose the name for the Deity. Often political events moved them to adopt their viewpoints.
- Promote oneness, not threeness. Teach oneness more than threeness. God’s oneness is a Trinity, but in Western circles, threeness is often stressed more than oneness. Some resources, though theologically sound, tend to teach a threeness of God indirectly. For instance, Millard J. Erickson‘s “The Deity of Three” and“God’s oneness and threeness”Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology, 3rd ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2013), 297. Unknowingly misrepresent Yahweh to the Muslim mind.A possible illustration of this is the Arabic phrase ثلّثهُ ثلث ثلثه ثلثة He made it three; or called it three. Sometimes, non-Christians will state that the “Trinity” is not found in the Bible. This point provides an excellent springboard for saying what we can know about God from the Bible.
A practical way to cultivate oneness is in prayer. First, be aware of how the believing community uses God’s name in prayer—is this consistent with teaching about the Trinity? Praying to the Father, then at times to the Son and the Spirit, is rarely supported in the New Testament, yet to the hearers, this type of prayer could promote threeness (Matt. 6:9–13).
Check out Difference in Oneness.
God with us and God without us Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 by Imad N. Shehadeh, Langham Global Library, 2018 and 2019. An excellent Middle Eastern perspective on the Oneness in Trinity.
The Pursuing God by Joshua Ryan Butler, Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2016. Despite the weakness in using the word “reckless” to describe God’s actions, this book presents the idea of the Lord’s constant desire to seek us.
|↑1||I use Yahweh and Allah in this article to distinguish between the biblical God and the quranic idea.|
|↑2||Abraham evidences a change of mind from his own plan to faith in God’s declaration. First, he desired to use his servant to find an heir, but after God’s declaration, he believed. He changed his mind and heart to believe.|
|↑3||Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology, 3rd ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2013), 297.|
|↑4||A possible illustration of this is the Arabic phrase ثلّثهُ ثلث ثلثه ثلثة He made it three; or called it three.|