Episode 34 – Abdu Murray (part 3) – A former Muslim discusses the doctrine of the Trinity

In this episode, Rod concludes his interview with Abdu Murray, North American Director of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries.

For most of his life, Abdu was a proud Muslim who studied the Qur’an and Islam. After a nine-year investigation into the historical, philosophical, and scientific underpinnings of the major world religions and views, Abdu discovered that the historic Christian faith can answer the questions of the mind and the longings of the heart.

In this episode, Rod and Abdu discuss the doctrine of the Trinity including:

  • whether analogies are useful in understanding the Trinity:
  • baptism in the name of Jesus Christ;
  • whether a person is required to believe the doctrine of the Trinity to be considered a Christian; and
  • what it means to be a true follower of Jesus Christ.

External Links:

Music – Praise the Father, Praise the Son by Chris Tomin (2008) – available from Amazon

7 Replies to “Episode 34 – Abdu Murray (part 3) – A former Muslim discusses the doctrine of the Trinity”

  1. My question to Abdu on the requirement to know trinity in the way he’s discussed it is that, it seems one has to know the various theological theories to even comprehend the nuances of divinity: so in that regard how about the poor and uneducated and/or even those without access to the resources needed to bring them to this ostensibly deep knowledge of Godhead, are they lost? It seems to me that the Gospel ceases to be as simple anymore – it requires a high level of education and understanding. The poor and uneducated have no chance.

    1. I think this answers your question.

      Roger Olson, a well known Christian theologian and author (Baylor University) stated the following:

      “…the doctrine of the Trinity is not part of the gospel; it is not revealed truth. It is constructed out of revealed truth and constitutes necessary reflection on revealed truth in the light of heresies (subordinationism, adoptionism, modalism, tritheism, etc.). Once the doctrine of the Trinity was constructed and embraced by the church (Orthodox, Catholic, Protestant) it could not and should not be set aside, ignored or rejected. But neither should it be confused with revelation itself or the gospel of Jesus Christ.

      …If the doctrine of the Trinity is not part of the gospel, what doctrine is? Central to the gospel are the deity and humanity of Jesus Christ (incarnation) and the atonement (the cross as saving sacrifice for sins). Also included are salvation by grace through faith and Jesus’ and our resurrections by the power of God. These are necessary beliefs, insofar as they are known and understood (however dimly), for being “Christian.” Part and parcel of the gospel is that God has come to us and for us as the Father of Jesus Christ and that Jesus Christ is God and savior and that the Holy Spirit is the personal power and presence of God in resurrection life.

      …How one can grasp the gospel and not believe in the doctrine of the Trinity is difficult to understand, but it happens. Many Christians simply cannot “wrap their minds around” the doctrine of the Trinity and so put it on a shelf, so to speak, and leave it there — neither believing it nor denying it.

      A few deny it simply because they misunderstand it and it’s difficult to blame them. According to a famous statement often attributed to St. Augustine “If you deny the Trinity you lose your salvation but if you try to understand it you lose your mind.” That’s the difficulty many Christians find themselves in and they feel caught between having to believe a doctrinal formulation they can make no sense of and being threatened with losing their status as Christian (if not their salvation).

      …Please don’t get me wrong; I think belief in the Trinity, that God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit and yet one God, is essential to authentic Christianity. But someone who demurs from confessing the “one substance, three persons” for reasons other than denial of the deity of Christ and the Holy Spirit, are probably just confused, mystified, perplexed. I would not join a church that did not confess the doctrine of the Trinity in some form (at least implicitly if not explicitly), but I cannot deny the Christian status of someone who is genuinely confused and uncertain about it.

      A few years ago I visited a church that claims not to believe in the doctrine of the Trinity. A soloist sang a song titled “O Lamb of God” the first line of which says “From your side you sent your Son.” I tried to ask my friend who is an elder of the church how they can sing that song and mean it and at the same time deny the doctrine of the Trinity. He looked at me bemused and said “We believe whatever the Bible says.” Then I was bemused. My life experiences and reading of Brunner have led me to think that the doctrine of the Trinity, although extremely important as a landmark, if not a pillar, of Christian doctrine, is not essential to being Christian. But I suspect that if I could get any real Christian who claims not to believe in the Trinity alone in a room, one-on-one, for an hour long conversation about the matter I could convert them to belief in it.”

      1. I suppose you’re suggesting that it only serves to give one a better understanding of The Eternal, who otherwise is incomprehensible to begin with but it is inconsequential to one’s salvation?

        Pardon me, I’m trying to find the bottom line (sorry if i’m Missing your point).

        Cheers

        1. You’re close… from my point of view. I would not say it is inconsequential. The doctrine of the Trinity was a response to false doctrine. Truth is embodied in scripture. But error arose in the church and became false doctrine (Sabellianism, Arianism, Nestorianism, etc.). Orthodoxy (right teaching) was developed to counter false doctrine. One does not require an understanding of the doctrine to be saved. But rejecting the doctrine of the Trinity for some false teaching is extremely dangerous.

          I appreciate what Robert Reymond said on the subject: …we need to be reminded of Calvin’s opinion that all such words as the church finds useful after the close of the canon to aid in the understanding of Scripture are admissible provided they attest to what Scripture itself teaches. There is nothing, I admit, sacrosanct about the word “person,” and if the church were to discover another word which more accurately conveyed the intention of Scripture, I would welcome it. Indeed, I am certain that John Calvin speaks for every Christian when he writes:
          “I could wish they [that is, the Greek words, ὁμοούσια, homoousia, οὔσια, ousia, πρόσωπον, prosōpon, and the Latin substantia, persona] were buried, if only among all men this faith were agreed on: that Father and Son and Spirit are one God, yet the Son is not the Father, nor the Spirit the Son, but that they are differentiated by a peculiar quality.”

          We should understand the Godhead as scripture teaches and the doctrine of the Trinity helps us to do that in the face of false doctrine which would include modalism as taught by WMB, or other false doctrine such as that of Lee Vayle (who mixed Arianism with Nestorianism to come up with a view that denied Christ’s deity). When confronting false doctrine, an understanding of the doctrine is necessary. But it is not necessary to understand the doctrine of the Trinity to become a Christian. That is why children can be come Christians simply based on their simple understannding of the Gospel.

          Does that help?

      2. Bro. Bergen, I am listening to your podcast, reading your website material/resources, and I will be honest, I am intrigued by many of the comments coming from both sides of the aisle; by what is said and how it is said.

        I am halfway through your podcasts, and this is the only one that I dare to address personally. I do not argue with people, but I have no problem communicating what I believe when asked. However, my comment has nothing to do with doctrine, the message or the like.

        In the very last line of your reply above, you come across to me as prideful and more sure of yourself than any man should when it comes to sharing the gospel or explaining bible doctrine. If we could rely on head knowledge alone Paul never needed blinding.

        You would have to use YOUR definition or biblical interpretation of what a real Christian is, and if you could not “convert” the individual, you, I assume, would say they are not a real Christian. I only speak for myself. I listened to you and Bro. Murry explain your view of the Trinity. I humbly say you could not convert me to your view on the topic in any given amount of time.

        Again, I am not writing to argue Trinitarianism, but you seem as though you would make yourself look the same as you describe Message believers…..if they do not convert to what you believe, they are not “real Christians.”

        That one line says more about you, than it does about the topic. I am not angry, this is just my opinion. I read your comment several times, even checking where the quotation marks were located. If I read it wrong, I apologize.

        Lord bless us all!

        1. Marlon,

          I don’t think you read my comment in context. I was quoting Roger Olsen, a very respected theologian. So to accuse me of being prideful is incorrect. You might accuse him of being prideful but I think he is simply stating what he believes – that a person who honestly looks at the scripture will see the truth in the doctrine of the Trinity if they are shown the proper Biblical perspective.

          If you want to know what I think of the status of message believers, I would recommend you read the article we wrote on the subject which you can find by clicking here.

          I would never state that I could convince anyone of anything, particularly those currently in the message, but that is largely because of the problem of cognitive dissonance.

          In the end, people are going to believe what they want to believe. My responsibility as a Christian is to try to warn those in the message of the false doctrine, false prophecies and false humility of the man that I followed for almost 40 years.

          I would commend you for being like Bereans. It is important to search out the questions we have asked concerning the message to see if they are true. We don’t ask people to believe us but we do ask that they check things out for themselves to see if they are true.

          I would also state, as we have communicated since our website started, that if you can find anything that is incorrect on our site and provide us with the evidence, we will change it. I am aware that there are probably things that I still believe that are wrong. There are likely things on our website that are wrong. But if no one tells us about them, we will be unable to change that information. We want the website to be truthful and factually correct.

          Shalom!

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