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Daily Mail is Offensive to the Intelligence

From the Koran (Sura 112, “Al-Ikhlas”, or “Purity of Faith”):

Say: He, Allah, is One. Allah is He on Whom all depend. He begets not, nor is He begotten. And none is like Him.

There is a commentary on this by a Muslim scholar named Abdullah Yusuf Ali (d. 1953), in his The Meaning of the Holy Qur’an:

…we must not think of [Allah] as having a son or a father, for that would mean to import animal qualities into our conception of Him.

This is of course a Muslim critique of the Christian idea of the Trinity; Judaism takes a similar line, as seen for example in Chapter Three of Hasdai Crescas’s fourteenth-century The Refutation of the Christian Principles:

We say: if the son were generated, then God would be generated. This follows from your statement that each one of them is God…

The Islamic critique is the subject of a new letter by Archbishop Rowan Williams, addressed to Muslims (emphasis added):

Here it is important to state unequivocally that the association of any other being with God is expressly rejected by the Christian theological tradition. Since the earliest Councils of the Church, Christian thinkers sought to clarify how, when we speak of the Father ‘begetting’ the Son, we must put out of our minds any suggestion that this is a physical thing, a process or event like the processes and events that happen in the world. They insisted that the name ‘God’ is not the name of a person like a human person, a limited being with a father and mother and a place that they inhabit within the world. ‘God’ is the name of a kind of life, a ‘nature’ or essence – eternal and self-sufficient life, always active, needing nothing. But that life is lived, so Christians have always held, eternally and simultaneously as three interrelated agencies are made known to us in the history of God’s revelation to the Hebrew people and in the life of Jesus and what flows from it. God is at once the source of divine life, the expression of that life and the active power that communicates that life. This takes us at once into consideration of the Trinitarian language used by Christians to speak of God. We recognise that this is difficult, sometimes offensive, to Muslims; but it is all the more important for the sake of open and careful dialogue that we try to clarify what we do and do not mean by it, and so trust that what follows will be read in this spirit.

Daily Mail headline (also reproduced on WorldNetDaily):

Archbishop of Canterbury: ‘Christian doctrine is offensive to Muslims’

(Hat tip: NT Wrong)

One Response

  1. […] blogged on this gross distortion of Williams’ letter to Muslims at the time, although I wasn’t then aware of Davies’ considered theological contribution.  Davies […]

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