It was, as the moderator stated in his concluding remarks:”conducted in a spirit of tenderness, gentleness and sympathy” by all who participated including the callers.
The topic under discussion was The Trinity and presenting the Christian point of view was Professor Peter McEnhill of Cambridge University.
Some of what I thought was interesting and important:
- Mr. Bunglawala gave a piece of personal testimony. He said he had read a Gideon’s New Testament while in hospital at the age of 15 which then led him to truly become a believer – in Islam. If that has you scratching your head wondering what’s going on, it’s important to realize there is an identity issue here. Islam, in his case, seems to have operated along an axis of ethnic identity :
"You are a white Englishman THEREFORE your religion is Christianity. I am a brown Pakistani THEREFORE my religion is Islam. The Gideon’s New Testament has awakened a desire to be ‘religious’ THEREFORE I will become a believer in Islam."But Truth transcends ethnic identity or ‘being religious’ : if Islam is Truth we should all be Muslims; if Christianity is Truth then *all* are commanded to repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. Of course, Mr. Bunglawala’s Islamic faith and understanding would then have developed as he would subsequently immerse himself in Islamic teachings.
- Mr. Bunglawala kept coming back to the notion which he stated and implied numerous times that neither the word (and hence it seemed to him) nor the concept of the Trinity was found in the Bible itself. All these arguments were ably addressed by the professor who reminded us of the monotheistic Jewish origins and backdrop of the writers of the New Testament.
- A caller brought up the I AM saying from John 8 which then led to discussion and finally comments by Bunglawala that John was the latest of the Gospels and so represented the Trinity as a notion that had gradually crept in to the faith. Professor McEnhill responded by stating the doctrine of the deity of Christ could be found in the Synoptic Gospels (penned within 30 years of the death of Christ) and in Paul’s writings which go back to 15 years prior to the Synoptics.
- Professor McEnhill noted the word “person” was used very circumspectly by Tertullian and then gave the best definition of the Trinity I had ever heard: “a communion of love between Father, Son and Spirit Who is one in will and purpose”.
- Bunglawala wanted to place Jesus in a “line of prophets” and Professor Mackenhill made it clear it would have been easy for the writers of the New Testament to do so if that was their intention.
- When one caller mentioned YHWH was God’s proper name Mr. Bunglawala jumped on that piece of information by saying Jesus had never said he was YHWH. First, one could ask Bunglawala why God’s proper name does not occur in the Koran but more importantly the Apostles quoting the Old Testament did place Jesus where the OT passage was saying ‘YHWH’( i.e. : Psalm 16:8-11 in Acts 2:25-28; Isaiah 8:12-13 in 1 Peter 3:14-16)
- In summary, the professor hit on all the points I would have expected one would need to cover in a discussion on the Trinity. I also welcomed his concluding comments that the debate needed to move out from strictly biblical considerations toward a more wider philosophical discussion questioning “the prime value placed in Islam on this simple, absolute, unrelated, indivisible Monad... it can look sterile, transcendent and unrelated to Creation”.