Eternal Word

Image four ayat of surah Al-Alaq

“Recite …”
See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

It seems to me that the way Nicene orthodoxy solves the problem of Jesus being the self-revelation of God (“of one substance with the Father …”) is fundamentally similar to the way Asharite tradition in Islam solves the problem of the Quran being the self-revelation of God (eternal, uncreated). It also seems to me that this is no coincidence. The values or principles involved – the oneness of God, the conviction of the divinity of the revelation, what is potentially at stake in recognizing that divinity as unassailable, the fundamental understanding of the nature of God – impel both religious traditions in that direction.

I haven’t read any commentary to this effect – probably because I haven’t read the right stuff, possibly because authors still have to take into account people’s desire to compare Jesus and Muhammad, religious figures. It’s uncommon in my sources, but not unheard of – and again, this may be a problem with my sources – to find a recognition of the equivalence of Jesus and the Qur’an, which seem superficially dissimilar, but which would both be designated in their respective traditions as Word of God. For that matter, Jesus is sometimes designated as the Word of God in Islam, too.

If Christian-Muslim dialog is going to move past the possible obstacle raised by the doctrine of the Trinity (is it “assigning partners to God” or not? does it fall afoul of the Quran?) in the context of the Quran, or alternatively, raised by the Quran with respect to the doctrine of the Trinity, it seems to me that it will occur somewhere in the neighborhood of this realization, that both religions have traditionally treated the Word of God in fundamentally the same way.


About HAT

Heather Thiessen (HAT) is a happily married 60-ish, Bible-reading, Presbyterian Church Sunday School teaching and choir singing, small fuel efficient car driving, still pretty much 2nd wave feminist and generally out lesbian Hoosier mom. (There are no monochrome states.) From time to time she teaches religious studies to students at a small liberal arts college in Louisville, Kentucky.
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