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Does the verse 5:17 mean as if Christians believe Christ is Only God or Godhead is confined to Jesus by saying God is Messiah? I also want to copy this from a Christian missionary:

"Fifth, the Quran also distorts Christian beliefs regarding the Person of Christ when it accuses Christians of saying that God, or Allah, is the Christ. The historic Christian position is that Jesus is God, which is not the same as saying that God is Jesus. The former implies that Christ is fully God in essence; that he has the entire essential attributes of Deity and is all that God is, whereas the latter suggests that Christ is the only one that is God. In other words, saying that God is Jesus means that the entire Godhead is instantiated in Christ alone to the exclusion of the Father and the Holy Spirit, or that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are nothing more than manifestations of a single Divine Person. This latter understanding would imply that Christ is all three manifestations, which is a form of an ancient heresy known as Sabellianism which was condemned by the early Church, why would it still be the problem for the Quran ."

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    This objection is meaningless. If the "is" refers to identity, it makes no difference the order it is said. Jesus is God is the same statement as God is Jesus. If the "is" refers to species, then it is polytheism because they are saying Jesus is one individual of the species of God and there are multiple.
    – The Z
    Jan 25 at 21:02
  • Also, perhaps we should stop caring about what Christian think statements "imply."
    – The Z
    Jan 25 at 21:04
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    When Christians say that "Jesus is God," they are, generally, saying that Jesus is divine. Depending on the context, "God" can refer to "God the Father," a divine being in general, or divinity in general.
    – mojo
    Jan 26 at 23:38
  • @The Z by the way is their argument valid that the verse means only Jesus is God
    – Abdul Moiz
    Jan 27 at 11:53
  • Not really. None of the verse really implies that.
    – The Z
    Jan 27 at 18:17

2 Answers 2

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Fifth, the Quran also distorts Christian beliefs

The Qur'an doesn't distort the Christian belief, it challenges it.

5:17 لَّقَدْ كَفَرَ ٱلَّذِينَ قَالُوٓا۟ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ هُوَ ٱلْمَسِيحُ ٱبْنُ مَرْيَمَ ۚ قُلْ فَمَن يَمْلِكُ مِنَ ٱللَّهِ شَيْـًٔا إِنْ أَرَادَ أَن يُهْلِكَ ٱلْمَسِيحَ ٱبْنَ مَرْيَمَ وَأُمَّهُۥ وَمَن فِى ٱلْأَرْضِ جَمِيعًا ۗ

They have certainly disbelieved who say that Allah is Christ, the son of Mary. Say, "Then who could prevent Allah at all if He had intended to destroy Christ, the son of Mary, or his mother or everyone on the earth?"

"God is Christ" is how Christians interpret the verse, which is a correct reading.

However, they put it like this:

  1. The father is god.
  2. The son is god.
  3. The holy spirit is god.

Why does the Qur'an put it in reverse?

Because the final meaning of Christian trinity becomes:

Jesus is god, then god is also Jesus.

It's a bidirectional relation where both statements agree with the trinity [minus 2 personas], making Jesus as the human incrnation of god on the earth, yet the Qur'an chooses to put Allah's name before Jesus, that way gives a clearer understanding of how trinity portrays a polytheistic view of God turning to a human being.

If Allah put the statement exactly like Christians say:

They have disbelieved those who say "Christ is Allah!".

Then that gives the notion of the human turning to a divine, which even contradicts with what Jesus says about himself in the Gospels:

John 14:28 Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I.

"My Father" stand to "My Lord", and this is a proof that Allah and Jesus are impossible to be equal, and it gets more ridiculous when you read what the human Jesus was doing in his earthly life:

Luke 6:12 And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.

And even agrees with Qur'an [5:117] about the human Jesus:

John 20:17 Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.

Here's the conclusion, if the Christian trinity is not consistent with what we are reading in the Qur'an and the Gospels, Allah has full authority to criticize the holes in that belief by putting His name before Jesus:

4:171 يَـٰٓأَهْلَ ٱلْكِتَـٰبِ لَا تَغْلُوا۟ فِى دِينِكُمْ وَلَا تَقُولُوا۟ عَلَى ٱللَّهِ إِلَّا ٱلْحَقَّ ۚ إِنَّمَا ٱلْمَسِيحُ عِيسَى ٱبْنُ مَرْيَمَ رَسُولُ ٱللَّهِ وَكَلِمَتُهُۥٓ أَلْقَىٰهَآ إِلَىٰ مَرْيَمَ وَرُوحٌ مِّنْهُ ۖ فَـَٔامِنُوا۟ بِٱللَّهِ وَرُسُلِهِۦ ۖ وَلَا تَقُولُوا۟ ثَلَـٰثَةٌ ۚ ٱنتَهُوا۟ خَيْرًا لَّكُمْ ۚ إِنَّمَا ٱللَّهُ إِلَـٰهٌ وَٰحِدٌ ۖ سُبْحَـٰنَهُۥٓ أَن يَكُونَ لَهُۥ وَلَدٌ ۘ لَّهُۥ مَا فِى ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٰتِ وَمَا فِى ٱلْأَرْضِ ۗ وَكَفَىٰ بِٱللَّهِ وَكِيلًا

O People of the Scripture, do not commit excess in your religion or say about Allah except the truth. The Messiah, Jesus the son of Mary, was but a messenger of Allah and His word which He directed to Mary and a soul [created at a command] from Him. So believe in Allah and His messengers. And do not say, "Three"; desist - it is better for you. Indeed, Allah is but one God. Exalted is He above having a son. To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth. And sufficient is Allah as Disposer of affairs.

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  • what about the argument that the verse means the whole Godhead is confined to Jesus or the argument that it refers to Sabellianism which was already condemned by Christians themselves?
    – Abdul Moiz
    Jan 27 at 11:51
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    @AbdulMoiz Assalamu alaikum. To Trinitarian Christians (majority of Christians today), it's not bidirectional. "God is Jesus" (never used) is not the same as "Jesus is God" (frequently used). The correct understanding of incarnation is not that "God became man" but "God adds on a human nature", thus retaining his full divinity. This point is extremely important to get it right. Whenever you see Jesus praying to God, Christians understand it as Jesus (in his human nature) who prays to God. (cont'd) Jan 27 at 21:41
  • This Trinitarian and incarnational model was developed to preserve monotheism while fully taking into account what Jesus said. I tried to summarize how this happened in the first 300 years in my answer to your C.SE question which also explained in depth why "God is Jesus" is not the same as "Jesus is God". Jan 27 at 21:43
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5:17

They disbelieve those who say, “God is the Christ, the son of Mary.” Say, “Who can prevent God, if He willed, from annihilating the Christ son of Mary, and his mother, and everyone on earth?” To God belongs the sovereignty of the heavens and the earth and what is between them. He creates whatever He wills, and God has power over everything.

The verse is quite clear. It says that those who say (or believe) that God is the Christ are wrong. Actually not more and not less. Indeed, There have been Christian groups who stated that God and Jesus are the same, as sects saying just that withdrew to Arabia because, in contrast to other areas, Arabia was not ruled by a Christian who might disturb them (Also many Nestorians who taught quite the same as the Quran, refusing the Trinity teaching, emigrated to Arabia).

To have a more complete scope, we must not ignore the following verse:

4,171

O People of the Scripture! Do not exaggerate in your religion, and do not say about God except the truth. The Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, is the Messenger of God, and His Word that He conveyed to Mary, and a Spirit from Him. So believe in God and His messengers, and do not say, “Three.” Refrain — it is better for you. God is only one God. Glory be to Him — that He should have a son. To Him belongs everything in the heavens and the earth, and God is a sufficient Protector.

I understand the first sentence like this:

  • Jesus is the Messenger of God
  • He sent His Word and the Holy Spirit to Mary (who, owing to the Word and the spirit, gave birth to Jesus).

This is completely in line with Christian teachings.

One could even understand:

  • Jesus is the Messenger of God
  • Jesus "is" His Word (he also conveyed to Mary)
  • Jesus "is" a Spirit from Him

which comes very close to Christan dogmatics, and it would be acceptable with the knowledge of the Message of the Quran as long as we understand "is" as "bears in himself".

The missionary does not conflict with 5:17 but with the passage do not say, “Three.” (repeated in 5:72-73). In fact, the Trinity (three-unity) dogma, saying that God, the Holy Spirit and Jesus are both, one and distinct, is a quite complicated construction that somehow tries to reconcile the positions that God, the Holy Spirit and Jesus are the same and the (Quranic and more or less also Nestorian) position that God is One, His Spirit is His Spirit inspiring and speaking to the prophet, who is the messenger. The compromise has been accepted by many churches because it can be and is understood in any graduation of the compromise.

The verse states that what is wrong and what is right cannot be reconciled.

God is not Jesus (agreed by all contemporary Christians and Muslims)

and

Jesus is not God (this missionary and many - but not all - Christian churches disagree but it is certainly confirmed by the Quranic Message).

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