Turning the Tables Pt. 6a: The Three Witnesses of 1 John 5:7

Here is another installment in my series where I take the typical Muhammadan objections and turn them against the beliefs of Muslims http://www.reformedapologeticsministries.com/2015/10/turning-tables-pt-5.html.

THE OBJECTION

The following passage, 

“For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.” 1 John 5:7 Authorized King James Version (AV)

Is often taken to be the clearest, in fact the only explicit, proof-text for the doctrine of the Trinity since it says that there are three who are one, namely the Father, the Word (Son), and the Holy Spirit, which is what the word Trinity literally means, i.e. three (tri) in one (unity).

However, since many modern NT scholars believe that this is a spurious verse that found its way into some very late medieval Greek NT copies, it is not surprising to find Muhammadan polemicists capitalizing on this information in order to discredit the doctrine of the Trinity and the reliability of the NT documents. Note, for instance, the following tirade:

Christians usually like to claim that Bible corruptions are not a big deal, that it never deals with doctrinal issues, yet in this case, 1 John 5:7 is a corrupted verse that does involve a doctrinal issue, specifically that of the Trinity. Trinitarian Christians of the past and even THE PRESENT often used/use this verse to prove the Trinity, hence we have a corrupted verse which is directly linked to doctrine. Also as I said, Christians even now still use this verse! Can you believe that? A verse that has been proven to be a forgery is still being used by Christians as evidence, this merely highlights the wide ignorance of Christian followers, that they really don’t know much about their faith and book. In fact I have a request for my readers, go talk to any Christian you know, and ask them what they think of 1 John 5:7, do not even infer that this passage is corrupt, just ask your Christian friend what he/she thinks of this verse, and indeed you will be surprised to see that many of them will not know that this verse is a corrupted forgery.

Now you would think that the problems end there, but they don’t, the problems only get worst. Trinitarian Christians like to claim that the Bible preaches the Trinity, yet if that is the case, then why did certain Christians need to insert a forgery to try and prove the Trinity? You see folks, not all Christians believed in the Trinity, this was a big problem, and Trinitarians knew there was a problem because this doctrine is not explicitly found anywhere in the Bible, and due to this problem they decided to forge a verse, which explicitly and clearly mentions a Trinity! Folks, just think of this, Trinitarians had to forge a verse to try and prove the Trinity, if that isn’t a problem then what is?!

It is quite clear my friends, the Bible cannot be trusted, and the doctrine of the Trinity is not in the Bible, if it was, then Christians wouldn’t need to forge the doctrine into the Bible.

And Allah Knows Best! www.muslim-responses.com (Sami Zaatari, The Problem of 1 John 5:7: http://web.archive.org/web/20130927224856/http://muslim-responses.com/Forged_Trinity/Forged_Trinity_)

Zaatari isn’t alone in his rant against the Comma Johanneum:

The only verses in the whole Bible that explicitly ties God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit in one “Triune” being is the verse of 1 John 5:7

“For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.”

This is the type of clear, decisive, and to-the-point verse I have been asking for. However, as I would later find out, this verse is now universally recognized as being a later “insertion” of the Church and all recent versions of the Bible, such as the Revised Standard Version the New Revised Standard Version, the New American Standard Bible, the New English Bible, the Phillips Modern English Bible …etc. have all unceremoniously expunged this verse from their pages. Why is this? The scripture translator Benjamin Wilson gives the following explanation for this action in his “Emphatic Diaglott.” Mr. Wilson says:  

“This text concerning the heavenly witness is not contained in any Greek manuscript which was written earlier than the fifteenth century. It is not cited by any of the ecclesiastical writers; not by any of early Latin fathers even when the subjects upon which they treated would naturally have lead them to appeal to it’s authority. It is therefore evidently spurious.” (The lie of 1 John 5:7 http://www.answering-christianity.com/1john5_7.htm; bold emphasis ours)

Here is another example:

“Again the Quran in surah al-Maidah, chapter 5, verse 73, it says, Laqad kafara allatheena qaloo inna Allaha thalithu thalathatin – that they are doing kufr, they are blaspheming, those who say that God is three in one; that means Trinity. And in surah an-Nisa, chapter 4, verse 171, wala taqooloo thalathatun–’Do not say Trinity.’ This says stop it, it’s better for you. The word ‘Trinity’ is mentioned in the Quran no less than two times.

“But if you pick up the Bible, in the complete Bible, the word ‘Trinity’ is not mentioned anywhere. If you read this big encyclopedia, its more than twice the size of the Quran – actually, you knows this is, it’s small ink. This is along with Arabic and English and commentary. The Bible actually is twice the size… more than twice the size of the glorious Quran. Nowhere will you find the word ‘Trinity’, nowhere!

“The closest verse that any Christian can come to, regarding the concept of the Trinity, is the first epistle of John, chapter 5, verse 7 which says, ‘For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost. And these Three are One.’ The closest verse regarding the Trinity is the first epistle of John, chapter 5, verse 7. And if you read the Revised Standard Version… they have thrown it out as a fabrication, as a concoction, as an interpolation. They’ve thrown it out! Who? Not Muslims.

“Jesus Christ (peace be upon him) never claimed divinity, as I mentioned earlier. And in the catechism of the Church, they say, ‘the Father is a Person, the Son is a Person, and the Holy Spirit is a Person, but they aren’t three Persons; they are one Person.’ Person, Person, Person, but not three Persons, one Person. What is this? 1+1+1 is? Three, but the Christian says One!” (Zakir Naik Q&A-213 | Christian scholars removed trinity from Bible: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YBBjnEvmy38)

THE REBUTTAL

These objections are all presupposing that the word one confirms that all three are one God, e.g., by saying that the Father, the Word and the Holy Spirit are one the verse is essentially confirming that they are all one God, being united in essence. As we shall see, this assumption backfires against these Muhammadans since it ends up proving that Jesus claimed to be God Almighty in the flesh. But first we need to expose the shameless misrepresentation of what the doctrine of the Trinity actually teaches.

Islamic Deception At Its Finest

The quote from Naik provides a perfect illustration of Muslim deceit at its finest. Naik claims that the catechism of the Church teaches that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are not three Persons but are actually one Person. This shameless lie is easy to refute since there is not a single Trinitarian catechism, which asserts that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are a single Person. Rather, every orthodox catechism of both the past and present affirm that the Father, Son and Spirit are three eternally distinct, yet inseparable Persons who eternally coexist as one God. Take, for instance, what the following section from the Athanasian Creed states:

Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the catholic faith. Which faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled; without doubt he shall perish everlastingly. And the catholic faith is this: That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity; NEITHER CONFOUNDING THE PERSONS; nor dividing the Essence. For there is ONE PERSON of the Father; ANOTHER of the Son; and ANOTHER of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is all one; the Glory equal, the Majesty coeternal. Such as the Father is; such is the Son; and such is the Holy Ghost. The Father uncreated; the Son uncreated; and the Holy Ghost uncreated. The Father unlimited; the Son unlimited; and the Holy Ghost unlimited. The Father eternal; the Son eternal; and the Holy Ghost eternal. And yet they are not three eternals; but one eternal. As also there are not three uncreated; nor three infinites, but one uncreated; and one infinite. So likewise the Father is Almighty; the Son Almighty; and the Holy Ghost Almighty. And yet they are not three Almighties; but one Almighty. So the Father is God; the Son is God; and the Holy Ghost is God. And yet they are not three Gods; but one God. So likewise the Father is Lord; the Son Lord; and the Holy Ghost Lord. And yet not three Lords; but one Lord. For like as we are compelled by the Christian verity; to acknowledge EVERY PERSON BY HIMSELF to be God and Lord; So are we forbidden by the catholic religion; to say, There are three Gods, or three Lords. The Father is made of none; neither created, nor begotten. The Son is of the Father alone; not made, nor created; but begotten. The Holy Ghost is of the Father and of the Son; neither made, nor created, nor begotten; but proceeding. So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons; one Holy Ghost, not three Holy Ghosts. And in this Trinity none is before, or after another; none is greater, or less than another. But the whole three Persons are coeternal, and coequal. So that in all things, as aforesaid; the Unity in Trinity, and the Trinity in Unity, is to be worshipped. He therefore that will be saved, let him thus think of the Trinity. (Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Athanasian_Creed; bold, italicized and underline emphasis ours)

And here is what the modern day catechism of the catholic church says:

253 The Trinity is One. We do not confess three Gods, but one God IN THREE PERSONS, the “consubstantial Trinity”.83 The divine persons do not share the one divinity among themselves but each of them is God whole and entire: “The Father is that which the Son is, the Son that which the Father is, the Father and the Son that which the Holy Spirit is, i.e. by nature one God.”84 In the words of the Fourth Lateran Council (1215), “Each of the persons is that supreme reality, viz., the divine substance, essence or nature.”85

254 The divine persons ARE REALLY DISTINCT FROM ONE ANOTHER. “God is one but not solitary.”86 “Father”, “Son”, “Holy Spirit” are not simply names designating modalities of the divine being, FOR THEY ARE REALLY DISTINCT FROM ONE ANOTHER: “He is not the Father who is the Son, nor is the Son he who is the Father, nor is the Holy Spirit he who is the Father or the Son.”87 THEY ARE DISTINCT FROM ONE ANOTHER IN THEIR RELATIONS OF ORIGIN: “It is the Father who generates, the Son who is begotten, and the Holy Spirit who proceeds.”88 The divine Unity is Triune.

255 The divine persons are relative to one another. Because it does not divide the divine unity, the real distinction of the persons from one another resides solely in the relationships which relate them to one another: “In the relational names of the persons the Father is related to the Son, the Son to the Father, and the Holy Spirit to both. While they are called three persons in view of their relations, we believe in one nature or substance.”89 Indeed “everything (in them) is one where there is no opposition of relationship.”90 “Because of that unity the Father is wholly in the Son and wholly in the Holy Spirit; the Son is wholly in the Father and wholly in the Holy Spirit; the Holy Spirit is wholly in the Father and wholly in the Son.”91

256 St. Gregory of Nazianzus, also called “the Theologian”, entrusts this summary of Trinitarian faith to the catechumens of Constantinople:

Above all guard for me this great deposit of faith for which I live and fight, which I want to take with me as a companion, and which makes me bear all evils and despise all pleasures: I mean the profession of faith in the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. I entrust it to you today. By it I am soon going to plunge you into water and raise you up from it. I give it to you as the companion and patron of your whole life. I give you but one divinity and power, existing one in three, and containing the three in a distinct way. Divinity without disparity of substance or nature, without superior degree that raises up or inferior degree that casts down. . . the infinite co-naturality of three infinites. Each person considered in himself is entirely God. . . the three considered together. . . I have not even begun to think of unity when the Trinity bathes me in its splendor. I have not even begun to think of the Trinity when unity grasps me. . .92 (Catechism of the Catholic Church http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p1s2c1p2.htm; capital emphasis ours)

Naik is simply parroting the same trickery and misinformation of his master the late Ahmad Deedat, since he is the first one that we are aware of who claimed that the catechism of Christians teaches that the three are not distinct Persons, but are actually one and the same Person.

Now that we have refuted this gross lie, it is time to focus on the issue at hand.

An Inconsistent Argument That Backfires

According to the Muslim polemicists we cited, the following verse,

“There are three who testify in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit, and the three are one (hen eisi).” 1 John 5:7

Clearly and emphatically affirms the Trinity since it says that the Father, the Word and the Holy Spirit are one. This means that if we find a similar verse that uses the same or similar language to the above text, the Muslims would therefore have no choice but to admit that the Holy Bible does proclaim that the one true God is multi-Personal in nature.

Lo and behold, such a passage does exist!

“‘My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life. They shall never perish, nor shall anyone snatch them from My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all. No one is able to snatch them from My Father’s hand. My Father and I are one (hen esmen).’ Again the Jews took up stones to stone Him. Jesus answered them, ‘I have shown you many good works from My Father. For which of those works do you stone Me?’ The Jews answered Him, ‘We are not stoning You for a good work, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, claim to be God.’” John 10:27-33

Here we have the Lord himself affirming that he is one (employing the same Greek word) with the Father in the context of granting everlasting life to all his flock, thereby guaranteeing that they shall never be lost or destroyed. Now for Christ to be able to preserve all true believers from ever perishing he must be omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent, since he must know who the flock are and be with all of them no matter where they are at, or how many they happen to be, so as to make sure that they remain perfectly safe and secure in his grasp. No wonder the Jews accused Jesus of making himself out to be God, since they could see that he was claiming the prerogatives and functions, which the Hebrew Bible ascribes to Yahweh God Almighty alone:

“See now that I, even I, am He, and there is no god besides Me; I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal; there is no one who can deliver out of My hand.” Deuteronomy 32:39

““There is none holy as the Lord, for there is none besides You, and there is no rock like our God… The Lord kills and makes alive; He brings down to the grave and brings up.” 1 Samuel 2:2, 6

“O come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker. For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand. Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts…” Psalm 95:6-8a

“Indeed, from eternity I am He; there is no one who can deliver out of My hand; I act, and who can reverse it?” Isaiah 43:13

This isn’t the only time where the Lord spoke of his ability to grant eternal life to all believers:

“For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom He will… Truly, truly I say to you, the hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live… Do not marvel at this. For the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His [the Son’s] voice and come out—those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.” John 5:21, 25-, 28-29

“‘For I came down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. This is the will of the Father who has sent Me, that of all whom He has given Me, I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. This is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.’ The Jews then murmured about Him, because He said, ‘I am the bread which came down from heaven.’ They said, ‘Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How is it then that He says, “I have come down from heaven”?’ Jesus therefore answered them, “Do not murmur among yourselves. No one can come to Me unless the Father who has sent Me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.’” John 6:38-44

Note that in the above examples Christ says that he shall be the One who gives life and raises the dead from their graves at the last day and hour by the power of his all-glorious and majestic voice!

Even the Quran agrees that this is a function, which only God can and will carry out when that hour finally arrives:

That is because God — He is the Truth, and brings the dead to life, and is powerful over everything, and because the Hour is coming, no doubt of it, and God shall raise up whosoever is within the tombs. S. 22:6-7 Arberry

Interestingly, Christ even applies the very title “the Truth” to himself as he reassures the disciples that he will return to take them to live with him in the very heavenly presence of his Father:

“‘Let not your heart be troubled. You believe in God. Believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places. If it were not so, I would have told you. I am going to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, you may be also. You know where I am going, and you know the way.’ Thomas said to Him, ‘Lord, we do not know where You are going. How can we know the way?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, THE TRUTH, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also. From now on you do know Him and have seen Him.’” John 14:1-7

Hence, Jesus’ claim to being one with the Father is an explicit affirmation that Christ is fully God in essence, and that God exists as a multi-Personal Being. There is simply no way around this fact for these Muslim polemicists if they are going to be honest and apply their own argument concerning 1 John 5:7 consistently.

We have more for these Muhammadans in the second part of our rebuttal https://answeringislamblog.wordpress.com/2017/06/08/turning-the-tables-pt-6b-the-three-witnesses-of-1-john-57/.

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