Trinitarians make the claim that God is one Being who exists eternally as three distinct persons — the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Put simply, “one God in three persons.” All three persons of the Trinity are said to be co-equal and co-eternal, and “each is God, whole and entire”. Notice that Trinitarians make the claim that the Son, whom they believe to be Jesus Christ, is fully God. Not partially God, but fully God. Now, being God carries with it certain essential attributes, two of which are omnipotence (All Power) and omniscience (All Knowledge). If Jesus really is fully God then we would expect him to consistently exhibit such characteristics throughout the New Testament.
THE FIG TREE INCIDENT
The Gospel of Mark touches upon an incident with Jesus and a fig tree:
We are told that Jesus approached a fig tree because he was hungry, and when he realised it had no fruit, he became angry and cursed it. Such an incident makes no sense in light of the Trinitarian claim that Jesus is God. God is All Knowing, so if Jesus really is God then that would make him the creator of fig trees, in which case how could he not have known that it was not the season for figs? Moreover why would God curse the fig tree for doing something He himself willed it to do? If Jesus is God, then wouldn’t it have been more befitting of him to command the tree to bear fruit? Why ruin a perfectly good tree, come fig season this tree would have had fruit and others could have eaten from it!
From the perspective of Trinitarian theology and the dual nature of Jesus, it would have been the limited human nature that made the mistake and the divine nature that had the power to curse the fig tree. However this situation presents us with some difficult questions with regards to the interplay between the divine and human nature – why did the divine nature not inform him that there were no figs instead of acting upon the mistake of his human side? Is this a case of the human nature overriding the divine nature? Is such a thing possible?
This incident brings to light the many paradoxes of the Trinity. For example, how can God be All Powerful and yet have weaknesses such as hunger? Such attributes are mutually exclusive. It would be like being asked to draw a square circle. Such a task is impossible, because a shape cannot have four corners like a square and no corners like a circle at the same time. Yet such paradoxes are what Trinitarians have to believe in order for Jesus to not only be God, All Powerful and All Knowing, but also human with limitations such as hunger and possessing limited knowledge. Something cannot be both infinite and finite at the same time, and to believe so is no different than believing in a squircle.
From this incident we can see that when it comes to the knowledge of Jesus, it seems that either the divine nature is lacking or completely absent. How then can the claim be made that Jesus is fully God? From what we’ve seen it seems that Jesus is human but not fully divine because he lacks essential attributes of God, such as possessing All Knowledge. The co-equality of the persons of the Trinity is a central pillar of Trinitarian theology, without which the foundation of the Trinity comes crashing down.
Some Trinitarians try to get around these problems by claiming that the story about the fig tree and its lack of fruit are not to be taken literally but rather is a symbol of the nation of Israel and its lack of faith. Now if the fig tree represents Israel in this particular incident then this creates a problem. Notice that Mark makes it clear that the fig tree was not defective, rather it just wasn’t the right season, yet Jesus admonished a perfectly functioning fig tree for obeying God’s law by producing figs in certain seasons. This would mean that Israel was being punished by God for obeying him! Such interpretations must be rejected because Mark very clearly gives us the reason that Jesus approached the fig tree: “Jesus was hungry.” It doesn’t say that “Jesus approached the fig tree because he saw an opportunity for a parable.” To ignore this understanding is to do a disservice to the text which states in crystal clear terms the reason why Jesus approached the tree, hunger.
For the three Abrahamic faiths, the nature of Jesus is perhaps the most contentious issue. Was he just a Messianic imposter, as seen by Jews? Or perhaps a divine Son of God, as seen by Christians? The Islamic view of Jesus lies between these two extremes. The Qur’an clarifies for mankind that Jesus the Messiah was a messenger in a long line of messengers:
This verse illustrates one of the many beautiful qualities of the Qur’an, its simplicity. The Qur’an contains a universal message for people of all ages and backgrounds, from the child to the adult, from lay people to scholars. Here the example presented by the Qur’an, the need of sustenance by Jesus, is in fact profound if we reflect upon it. Anything that has a need, in this case food, cannot be God. What happens if the need is unfulfilled? In this case, Jesus would die from hunger. But we know that God is All Powerful, He cannot die. What happens to human beings after we eat? We need to relieve ourselves. To entertain such a thought about God however, would be blasphemous.
For Trinitarians to hold foundational beliefs about the nature of God that are at odds with the New Testament is a clear indication that they are in a state of confusion. Revelation is an opening up, an uncovering. If one’s understanding of God, which is a fundamental aspect of revelation, is confused then this is a clear indication that our understanding is incorrect. God, out of His mercy for mankind, resolved all of the confusion surrounding Jesus in the 7th century by revealing the Qur’an. The Qur’an puts forward a clear picture of both God and Jesus that is easy to understand:
In one short verse, the Qur’an unravels centuries of myth-making and demystifies for us who the real Jesus is. Jesus is not God, or even the literal Son of God, rather he is a man, messenger and Messiah. He is a creation of God, just like the messengers that God sent before him, such as Abraham and Moses. God, by contrast, is unique and separate from His creation. Islam is a religion of clear guidance; there is no confusion about who God is and who Jesus is. The Qur’an provides the simplest, easiest and most accessible description about the nature of God.
Muslims respect and love Jesus as a great prophet of God. In fact Islam holds a unique position among world religions as it is the only religion other than Christianity that acknowledges Jesus as the Messiah. You may be surprised to know that Jesus is mentioned more times by name in the Qur’an than Muhammad, peace be upon them both, and that Mary, the mother of Jesus, even has a chapter of the Qur’an named after her.
To learn more about Jesus in Christianity and Islam, please download your free copy of the book “Jesus: Man, Messenger, Messiah” from the Iera website: