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The Names Of The Trinity

We learned from the previous discussion that Christianity believes in one God, who is in a Trinity. God's person, His Word, and His Spirit. This Trinity has other names; the Father (God's person), the Son (Word of God), and the Holy Spirit (Spirit of God).

Some ignorant people object to these names for they think it means procreation and sexual relationship. God forbid this understanding! Therefore, we shall clarify the intention of these names.

The Father

To Christians the meaning of the word Father does not mean an actual physical father. First, it has a metaphorical meaning. God is the source and the creator of all creatures. So He is called the Father of all creatures, especially the intelligent ones. As the prophet Moses said, Is He not your father and your possessor. He made you and brought you up. (Deuteronomy 32:6), or as Isaiah the prophet said, O Lord, Thou art our Father. (Isaiah 64:8). In the New Testament the apostle Paul declared, Yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things, and we exist for Him. (I Corinthians 8:6). The word father in this context is stated in much the same way as used in the Arabic Father of blessing (Abu al-Khair Abdu al-Barakat) and Father of God (Abu al-Fadi), and others. These should not be understood in terms of a procreator or actual parentage but rather metaphorically.

Secondly, there is the legal meaning. In the case of adoption, the word father does not mean that he gave birth to the adopted son; rather he accepted him as a son and granted him all legal rights. He considers himself responsible and obligated to him as a real father. The apostle Paul speaks about this, You have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, 'Abba! Father! (Romans 8:15) and in Galatians 4:4, he uses the term to obtain adoption. So God's fatherhood in our adoption is based on divine legal rights.

Thirdly, there is the essential meaning. This is the meaning which can only be applied to God's Trinity. May He be exalted! As a word bursts from the mouth, the son emanated from the Father before all ages. Jesus who is the Son became flesh through the blessed Mary because He was from the very beginning a spirit from God the Spirit. It is stated in John's Gospel, And we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14) Jesus viewed God as His Father, in this unique, essential meaning which cannot be applied to any one else. Neither does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him. (Matthew 11:27)

Lastly, there is the spiritual meaning. After God had poured His Holy Spirit into the hearts of all believers through His Son, they were born again, a spiritual birth. They were converted by this friendly, divine Spirit. These believers were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man but of God. (John 1:13) Jesus Christ taught us to say, Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. It is not the right of any man to call himself a son of God and call God his Father unless he obtains legal adoption. The anointing of the Holy Spirit reveals to us the secret of the name of God the Father. We do not believe in the fatherhood of God in a physical sense; but in purity of holiness, we believe in the birth of Christ and the descent and indwelling of the Holy Spirit in believers.

The Son

When we say Christ is the Son of God, this does not mean that Christ came by means of intermarriage. Son is not intended to mean a physical relationship or birth by procreation. We only say Christ is the Son of God to mean that Christ came from God. He is related to no physical father so He is related to God. The word son as used in common language, in the Qur'an, and in prophetic conversation does not indicate physical breeding.

Son in Common Language

In many linguistic expressions, the word son is not used to indicate physical generation. For example, we say that students are sons of knowledge; citizens are sons of the homeland; an Egyptian is a son of the Nile; and an Arabic is a son of the desert.

Son as Used in the Qur'an

The word son is occasionally used in the Qur'an when it does not mean physical generation. This you can observe in the following references:

Sura al-Baqara 2:214: Whatever you bestow in charity must go to your parents and to your kinsfolk, to the orphan and to the poor man and to the stranger. Interpreters say that stranger (Ibn al-Sabil) indicates the traveller. Al Iman al-Nasafi and Shaikh Hasanayn Makhluf said, He was called a stranger (Ibn al-Sabil), for permanently sticking to the road.

Son in Muslim Tradition

In the Muslim tradition originating from God (Hadith Kudsi), it is stated, the rich are my agents and the poor are members of my family (my sons). Do we understand by this that God married a wife and gave birth to children who are the poor?! Surely not!

Therefore, the term son of God does not mean procreation in human terms, but rather, this expression was intended to attribute or relate Christ to God, and not infidelity or partnership with God! For sonship originates in the spiritual fatherhood of God. God is the Father and Christ is the Son, only in a special, unique meaning which does not apply to any other.

The Holy Spirit

As previously discussed, the Holy Spirit is God's Spirit and is mentioned in the Qur'an in many places.

Sura Yusuf 12:87: Do not despair of Allah's spirit; none but unbelievers despair of Allah's spirit.

Sura al-Baqara 2:87 and 253: We gave Jesus the son of Mary veritable sins and strengthened Him with the Holy Spirit.

Al Imam al-Nasafi said, By the Holy Spirit is meant, the sanctified spirit...or the name of God the greatest.

Sura al-Ma'ida 5:110: Jesus, son of Mary remember the favour I have bestowed on you and on your mother; how I have strengthened you with the Holy Spirit.

Al Sayyid Abdul Karim al-Djabali said about the Holy Spirit that He is not created, and what is not created is eternal and the eternal is God alone.

Also Al-Shaikh Muhammad al-Harira al-Bayyumi said, The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God and the Spirit of God is not created.

This is the holy Trinity in one God in whom we believe, and this is the secret of naming it as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

The Father is the title of the essential Fatherhood of God.
The Son is the title of the incarnated Word of God.
The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God Himself.

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