I had the chance to both watch and participate in a live broadcast commenting on the debate between David Wood and Mohammed Hijab. One of the things I was waiting to see was whether Mohammed would try to use the Old Testament, or Jewish Scriptures, as a foil against the Trinity - perhaps remarking upon how rabbinical Judaism is non-Trinitarian and how the Old Testament (in his mind) does not support the Trinity. In this, he did not disappoint me.
What did disappoint me was his lack of understanding of the Hebrew Scriptures, the Hebrew language, and the doctrine of the Trinity. Why can someone like Mohammed get away with blatant errors such as the ones he fell into during the debate? One reason he and other Muslims are able to do is that many Christians are woefully ignorant in the doctrine of the Trinity, and of the Old Testament support for plurality in the Godhead. which falls under understanding the Jewish roots of the Christian faith. We Christians must fully understand what we believe before we can properly teach the tenets of our faith to the outside world.
To the uneducated Christian, it might well look like the early Jewish followers of Jesus went from a monotheism that disallowed any sort of distinctions within the Godhead to a full-blown Nicaean trinitarianism without any problem. This blatantly ignores the allowance within Jewish thought in the Second Temple era for plurality within the Godhead. I have found it rare in any church to find any teaching on the Hebrew Scriptural evidence for plurality in the Godhead or the Jewish roots of the Trinity.
Mohammed Hijab also made assertions about the Hebrew language which can not be supported by someone who has actual knowledge of the Hebrew language. He attacked one of the common ways that Christians try to affirm the Trinity (from the word Elohim in Genesis 1), and by doing so fell into an untenable situation. It is not as though the argument cannot be used - if further substantiated by some additional facts from the first three chapters of Genesis - but Christians often do not know how to use or state the argument correctly.
In order to defuse the argument from Genesis 1, Mohammed made use of an argument from circles of Judaism that the plural in Elohim is related to the majestic plural, like Queen Victoria saying, “We are not amused.” To buttress this argument, he made the absurd claim that only singular pronouns are used with Elohim. However, within the same chapter of Genesis, it is clearly stated: “Let us make man in our image.” What Mohammed ignores is that in this passage, the noun for image carries the pronoun attached to it, which often happens in Hebrew. Furthermore the pronoun attached to the word image is first person plural. So, his assertion that plural pronouns are not used with Elohim demonstrates a distinct lack of knowledge as far as the Hebrew goes, but it is something that many Christians would not pick up on either.
If the church is going to be prepared to take on the challenge that Islam presents to the gospel of Jesus Christ, it is necessary that we understand proper apologetics to defend against Islam’s attacks against the Trinity. It is also critical that we better understand the Jewish roots of our own doctrines so we can defend the continuity between the New Testament and the Old. It is for purposes like this that I am called and that Zionsbanner exists.