‘Produce your proof if you are telling the truth’ (Q 2:111)


I have just realised as I am typing this that the heading rhymes – surely this is no coincidence, but a momentous sign that this is a particularly important verse to pay attention to (I am being facetious – many words in English rhyme).

Paul has very kindly said I can return to Blogging Theology (I was a contributor years ago) to highlight my latest blog posts and videos, and to try and spark some conversations about them here on BT. Paul has been very kind about my content, and I in turn value Paul’s unique perspectives and content found here on BT and on his the BT Youtube Channel. I look forward to interacting more with his articles and videos as time permits.

Please do check out my blog post here – https://steelmanapologetics.com/produce-your-proof-if-you-are-telling-the-truth-q-2111/

The verse I discuss is:

Q 2:111 – ‘They [i.e. the People of the Book] also say, ‘No one will enter Paradise unless he is a Jew or a Christian.’ This is their own wishful thinking. [Prophet], say, ‘Produce your evidence, if you are telling the truth.’ (Abdel Haleem)

In a nutshell my argument is: if the Qur’an is divinely revealed, why would God say the words of Q 2:111 challenging the religious exclusivism of Jews and Christians, given that Christians can in fact easily ‘Produce [their] proofs’ by highlighting exclusivist texts (e.g. Mark 8:34-35; John 14:6)? The language suggests not that Jews and Christians have corrupted scriptures that teach mistaken doctrines, but that they are simply making things up with no foundation.

I would be happy to discuss this topic either here or there, and I hope it is of interest!



Categories: Islam

62 replies

  1. First, none of these NT verses say only “Christians” will enter paradise.

    Second, what kind of “proof” (burhan) the Quran is here demanding from the Jews and Christians?

    Third, this passage is not about the Jews and Christians corrupting their texts but about their own claims.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for your thoughts 🙂

      Mark 8:35 says that one must give up their life to follow Jesus and for the sake of the Gospel in order to save it. The following verses talk about our souls, and v. 38 is clearly talking about the coming of Jesus at the end of times, the time of judgement. One will be judged based on whether or not they have given up all to follow Jesus.

      This is just one verse as an example. Repeatedly in the Gospels faith in Jesus is presented as saving faith, and those who oppose him will be judged (e.g. Matthew 10:15, and Matthew ch. 23). Jesus talks above his own death as being sacrificial on behalf of others (e.g. Mark 10:45, the Last Supper narratives); if people are saved by trusting in Jesus’ death to forgive their sins, what will happen to those who do not accept this?

      I’ve tried to stick to Matthew, Mark and Luke, as Muslims often do not like John’s Gospel. But this would have been part of the Gospel collection held by Christians of Muhammad’s time. John’s Gospel is even clearer in saying:

      ’16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.’ (John 3:16-18, NIV).

      Those who do not believe in Jesus will perish, and stand condemned.

      As to your second point about what kind of ‘proof’:

      The Qur’an repeatedly thinks that divine revelation is the best basis upon which humans should base their beliefs. I assume you would not disagree with this? And so if Christians can appeal to their Gospel, which the Qur’an affirms is reliable (I know this is a huge topic where we will probably disagree), then they have a good ‘proof’ to bring forward. As an analogy, in Q 3:93 the bringing of scripture is a proof:

      ’93 Except for what Israel made unlawful for himself, all food was lawful to the Children of Israel before the Torah was revealed.a Say, ‘Bring the Torah and read out [the relevant passage] if you are telling the truth. 94 Those who persist in making up lies and attributing them to God after this are the wrongdoers.’ (Abdel Haleem translation)

      Notice the contrast between appealing to scripture (‘Bring the Torah and read it out if you are telling the truth’) and those who simply are ‘making up lies’. This challenge assumes the Torah is accurate. I believe the same thing is going on in Q 2:111.

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  2. Q 2:111 – ‘They [i.e. the People of the Book] also say, ‘No one will enter Paradise unless he is a Jew or a Christian.’ This is their own wishful thinking. [Prophet], say, ‘Produce your evidence, if you are telling the truth.’ (Abdel Haleem)

    The Quran is being rhetorical. If only Jews and Christians can enter Paradise, then Abraham is not in Paradise because he was neither a Jew nor a Christian.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Interesting point, that hadn’t occured to me. Your suggestion would fit well with Q 3:67: ‘Abraham was neither a Jew nor a Christian. He was upright and devoted to God, never an idolater’.

      Q 2:111, however, never says that it’s talking about Abraham. If the Qur’an means this, it is rather unclear. Muhammad is responding to Jews and Christians in his audience, who are disputing who in the present time may enter paradise. This is confirmed by v. 112, which contradicts the Jews and Christians by saying that in fact whoever does good will enter paradise.

      Given that the context seems to be about Jews and Christians in Muhammad’s time disputing who can enter heaven, it is odd that the Qur’an would challenge them ‘Produce your evidence, if you are telling the truth’. Christians could then point to exclusivist passages in the Gospels, as I’ve mentioned.

      If the Qur’an is joining into this debate by saying ‘You say NO ONE will enter Paradise unless he is a Jew or a Christian, and yes you have Gospel verses you can produce saying one must be a Christian to be saved, my point is that Abraham centuries ago (before the Gospels were written) entered heaven, so HAH, one doesn’t need to be a Christian!’, this is both very unclearly stated and also a bad argument. The fact that Abraham entered heaven centuries before Christ doesn’t at all refute the Christian argument that once Christ has come, died a sacrificial death, and the Gospel gone out to the world, that people must accept the Gospel.

      The focus of Q 2:111 is also not about the Christians ignoring something in the OT (that Abraham wasn’t a Christian), but is actively asking them to produce something in support of their position (which they can easily do). It’s as if the Qur’an here isn’t aware that there are exclusivist texts for Christians to point to, otherwise it wouldn’t be phrased like this.

      You may not be convinced, but if you’re right that Q 2:111 is about Abraham, then I find it hard to believe that God is arguing in an unclear and unconvincing manner. If the Qur’an were from Muhammad and he wasn’t expressing himself well here, then yes maybe it’s about Abraham. But I prefer to think the Qur’an makes good arguments than that it makes bad arguments.

      PS: No offence is intended by this, but I have to speak frankly so my objection can actually be understood.

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      • Hi Richard,

        How come Abraham is not a Christian? When he met Jesus. “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.”
        John 8:56 NKJV

        He sounds like a follower of Christ. A Christian is a follower of Christ.

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      • One more question Richard,

        And do you believe the appearance of God on earth in the Old Testament was Jesus?

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      • Hi Turbo,

        I was conceding for the sake of argument that Abraham was not in any way a Christian. As a Christian I would say that Abraham and all OT believers believed in the revelation that was given to them, which is in harmony with what would later be revealed with the coming of Christ. The exact amount of knowledge they had, and exactly what John 8:56 means, could be debated. Can one call Abraham a Christian because he believed in the foundational promise that through his descendants blessing would come to the world, or even because he during his lifetime had a vision of the coming of Christ? Sure, one could, but it’s not a hill I would die on.

        I do believe that OT appearances of God were indeed Jesus, yes

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      • I do believe that OT appearances of God were indeed Jesus, yes

        😳

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      • Hi there,

        The idea of Jesus as being the Angel of the LORD in the OT is an ancient one, going back at least as far as Justin Martyr in the 2nd century. For an introduction to this topic, Anthony Rogers talks a lot about this –

        Best wishes,

        Richard

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      • 🤦🏽

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  3. Zetter: Given that the context seems to be about Jews and Christians in Muhammad’s time disputing who can enter heaven, it is odd that the Qur’an would challenge them ‘Produce your evidence, if you are telling the truth’. Christians could then point to exclusivist passages in the Gospels, as I’ve mentioned.

    As I said, the challenge is rhetorical as is much of the Quranic polemics on Judaism and Christianity. Even if you skip the example of Abraham, the challenge can be read as follows, ‘Where is your proof that only Jews and Christians go to Paradise? Did a (dead) Jew or Christian communicate with you from Paradise? Otherwise, it’s all wishful thinking.’

    In this vein, can you prove, for example, that Nabeel Qureshi is in Paradise right now?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Rhetoric is fine, and the Qur’an obviously is engaged in rhetoric and polemic. But often when people appeal to ‘rhetoric’ I feel like it’s a way to excuse bad or unclear argumentation. Wouldn’t God’s literal speech use ‘good’ rhetoric, in terms of substance and clarity?

      I can even accept that ‘rhetoric’ might allow God’s speech to exagerrate or mock an opponents point of view to point out how ridiculous it is (e.g. Q 5:75 pointing out that Jesus ate food; not a very logical argument, but emotionally charged to many). But at least in Q 5:75 the point of the rhetoric comes across; what is actually being said is clear, even if the argument is dubious. The thing about Q 2:111 is that it just doesn’t sound like its talking about Abraham, and its challenge to produce proof is bizarre given that Christians can do this. Surely God knows that Christians will reply with puzzlement that they’re just following what the Gospel says? I just don’t think the rhetoric is clear or well-worded if it’s about Abraham.

      I feel your next suggestion doesn’t address the point about the Qur’an explicitly saying ‘Produce your truth’ (similar to Q 3:93). The issue isn’t whether someone has communicated with them from the dead, it’s what their scripture says.

      By logical deduction yes – the NT, inc. the Gospels, say Christians go to heaven. Nabeel was a Christian. So yes he’s in paradise/heaven.

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      • Zetter: Rhetoric is fine, and the Qur’an obviously is engaged in rhetoric and polemic. But often when people appeal to ‘rhetoric’ I feel like it’s a way to excuse bad or unclear argumentation. Wouldn’t God’s literal speech use ‘good’ rhetoric, in terms of substance and clarity?

        Yeah, because if anyone knows rhetoric it’s some random guy on the internet with a polemical agenda. If the subjects of 2.111 understood the challenge as anything other than rhetorical, why didn’t they simply point to the so-called exclusivist passages in the Bible?

        Zetter: By logical deduction yes – the NT, inc. the Gospels, say Christians go to heaven. Nabeel was a Christian. So yes he’s in paradise/heaven.

        Did Nabil communicate with you from Paradise? No. Did you go to Paradise to find out? No. If only Jews can go to Paradise, then Nabil is not in Paradise. If only Christians can go to Paradise, then Abraham is not in Paradise. At the end of the day, you have no hard evidence.

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      • ‘Yeah, because if anyone knows rhetoric it’s some random guy on the internet with a polemical agenda.’ Two can play that game – you can say I’m polemical against Islam, I can say you’re polemical against Christianity. This gets us nowhere, let’s not focus on who I am or who you are.

        ‘If the subjects of 2.111 understood the challenge as anything other than rhetorical, why didn’t they simply point to the so-called exclusivist passages in the Bible?’ – they may well have done. The Qur’an doesn’t record all of the reactions of those who disagreed with the Qur’an. It records some of their objections, not necessarily all of them, and I’m not aware of any responses to the Qur’an’s responses that are preserved.

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  4. What people had to do before the church came in to existence is irrelevant.

    The Christians in the text are not talking about the past. Everything in the text is in the present tense.

    Lets not start to redefine the word Christian. It refers to people who lived after the church was formed and practised the rituals of the Christian faith.

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  5. “. . . 70 or so verses which I’ve come across which I believe suggest that the Qur’an is affirming the reliability of the Torah and the Gospel.”

    Richard is right – all the Muslims here need to also go and see the spreadsheet at his site that has 70 verses of the Qur’an that affirm the reliability of the Torah and the Gospel.

    https://steelmanapologetics.com/quran-verses-affirming-the-reliability-of-the-torah-and-the-gospel/

    Like

    • Glad you appreciated this Ken. If you go back and refresh the page I’ve just added an update about the appendix in Martin Whittingham’s new book, which I think will be of interest. He lists 101 verses with a positive attitude towards the Bible, and 16 where ‘Some form of corruption [is] assumed’. Looking at the 16, most of them are about concealing and a couple oral corruption, all of which to my mind suggests the textual reliability of the Torah and the Gospel.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Indeed, the Qur’an never says the text of the Bible was completely corrupted and lost.

    The verses Muslims use to claim that do not say that.

    Those verses are talking about oral interpretations / hearsay, and groups that go apart and write things and claim that it is from God.

    https://apologeticsandagape.wordpress.com/2019/06/03/context-of-surah-279-is-278-and-275/

    Liked by 1 person

  7. “Even if you skip the example of Abraham, the challenge can be read as follows, ‘Where is your proof that only Jews and Christians go to Paradise? Did a (dead) Jew or Christian communicate with you from Paradise? Otherwise, it’s all wishful thinking.’ ”

    Was the writer of the Koran expecting some empirical evidence? If so why would need revelation in the first place?

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  8. Paradise created by God

    Who was that God?

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  9. Produce my proof about the Trinity? I don’t think that’s what the verse is challenging me to do. It’s about who gets to go to Paradise

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  10. The Spirit of God is not God.
    The Words of God is not God.
    The Angel of God is not God.
    The Creation of God is not God.

    The God of Abraham is straightforward.

    If He says One that’s mean One, if He says Three that’s mean Three.
    If He says I am the one and only God that’s mean He is the one and only God, no others gods except Him.

    If you want to use OT then Isaiah 43:10-11, Deuteronomy 4:35,39, Numbers 23:19, Hosea 11:9, are the clear cut who is He.

    If The God of Abraham is a Triune, He will say in a clear cut : I am a Triune God or I am One in three persons God or something like that in a clear cut.

    According to Quran The Triune God is not The God of Abraham.

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  11. I can account for your verses in my worldview by saying that although God is three persons (Father, Son and Spirit), he is one in being. The Father, Son and Spirit are united in their essence.

    How do you explain verses about the Angel of the LORD? How do you explain Genesis 1:2 and other passages that talk about the Spirit of God?

    If we’re talking about the OT view of God, we must account for all of the verses, not only some of them.

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  12. If we are talking about the OT, we are talking about The God of Abraham, no other gods except the God of Abraham. He is the one and only God, no others gods except Him.

    If The God of Abraham is Triune God, the first thing he will say “I am Triune God” or “I am God in three persons Father, Son and Spirit” or something like that, but no, He never said that.
    He will explain in the first place in a clear cut so no one will argue about it.

    The God of Abraham is straightforward. The God of Abraham says in Isaiah 43:10-11, why didn’t He say like you say ? Because He is One not Triune.

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    • Isaiah 43:
      10.
      “People of Israel, you are my witnesses,” announces the Lord.
      “I have chosen you to be my servant.
      I wanted you to know me and believe in me.
      I wanted you to understand that I am the one and only God.
      Before me, there was no other god at all.
      And there will not be any god after me.
      11.
      I am the one and only Lord.
      I am the only one who can save you.

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      • Absolutely, amen. I agree with those passages.

        You’re assuming that God would have to be explicit, whereas I think if God wants to more gradually reveal who he is over time, he is free to do so. I would also say the clues are there right in Genesis if you read carefully.

        Which brings me back to my point – Genesis 1:2 talks about the Spirit of God. What or who do you think this is?

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  13. I didn’t assuming but sure, like you said if God wanted to more gradually reveal himself overtime as Triune God, He would explicitly say I am The God of Abraham I am Triune God in the time of Moses or Jesus or Muhammad. But no, He always says I am one and only God no other gods beside me.

    Regarding The Spirit of God I already answered above, The Spirit of God is not God. It was creation of God, it could be an angel or something else but for sure its God’s creation but not god.

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    • Yes God says he is the one and the only God, and there are indeed no other Gods. But this is in the context of the OT talking about the Spirit of God, and the Angel of the LORD. We have to understand God being one in that context.

      Ezekiel 2:2 ‘2 Then the Spirit entered me when He spoke to me, and set me on my feet; and I heard Him who spoke to me.’ Do angels enter into people? And in Genesis 1:2, before God has begun creating, the Spirit already exists. Only God exists at that point.

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      • In Ezekiel 2:2 that was an angel Gabriel (Jibreel) bringing the message from The God of Abraham to prophet Ezekiel.

        “Do angels enter into people?”
        Yes, angel is a kind of spirit, they can enter into human body, many times angel appeared to prophets of God as a man, God give them human body, even devil can enter human body so that human become possessed.

        “in Genesis 1:2, before God has begun creating, the Spirit already exists.”
        No, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” and then “Spirit of God was hovering over the waters”. (spirit of god without a body)
        Our soul is a spirit of god inside a body.

        Genesis 2:7 Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. (God put his spirit into Adam)

        Ezekiel 37:14 – I will put my Spirit in you. And you will live again. (God put his spirit into dead body).

        God can create spirit anytime, He just ‘breathe/blow’ to create it.

        Spirit of God is not God.

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    • There is a difference between an angel appearing as a man (we all agree on this) and angels entering into other people. Can you show me where this happens either in the Bible or in the Qur’an?

      Can you also show me where in the Bible it says that the Spirit is an angel, e.g. the angel Gabriel?

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  14. The devil (Iblis) can appear as a man, he also can enter into people likewise the angel can appear as a man
    and if God command him to enter into people he would do it.
    No record either in the Bible or Quran God command an angel to enter into people but if God command him to do it he would do it.

    I already told you that the Spirit of God could be anything, it could be an angel, our soul or something else, is up to God where He wants to put it.

    The point here is The Spirit of God is not God that the one Trinitarian claimed it to be God.

    Regarding the name of angels, in Islam Jibreel is an angel who bring the message from The God of Abraham to His prophet. Maybe you have different name in the Bible about him.

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    • But as you say, neither Bible nor Qur’an talks about angels entering into people. And so it’s not a natural way to interpret Ezekiel 2:2 to be referring to Gabriel or an angel.

      If you let the Old Testament speak on its own terms, you conclude that the Spirit of God is in some way related to God. Jews and Christians agree on this. Jews might speak more about it as an impersonal force or something, but it’s still the impersonal force of God, not an angel. I feel like you’re approaching the OT with an Islamic lens, which no one could have done before 600 AD.

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      • Ezekiel 2 is about The God of Abraham sending His message to His prophet through His spirit, like I said it could be an angel or something else but not God, that’s the point.

        Look carefuly : 1 “Then He said to me, “Son of man, stand on your feet, and I will speak with you.” 2 And as He spoke to me the Spirit entered me and set me on my feet; and I heard Him speaking to me.

        Ezekiel didn’t say “as HE spoke to me HE entered me” but he said “as HE spoke to me the SPIRIT entered me”.
        That’s mean another spirit entered him to helped him to stood up. And who wanted to speak with him? The first spirit so he continued delivering the messages from God to him (Ezekiel).

        In Islam the spirit who has a job for sending message to God’s prophet is an angel Jibreel (Gabriel).

        That also what was happened in creation of Jesus, The God of Abraham put His spirit into Mary’s womb through an angel.

        The Spirit of God is not God
        Jesus is not God.

        So in Abraham’s faith there is no Triune God.

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      • (Apologize my english, I am not a native english. Hope you understand my writing.)

        Liked by 1 person

  15. Hi Sam,

    Your English is great, don’t worry about that 🙂

    If you want to say that an angel is speaking to Ezekiel, that’s fine, but it still says ‘The Spirit came into me’. And nowhere in the Bible or the Qur’an does it say that angels enter into people.

    Perhaps another verse would be more helpful. Psalm 104:30 –

    30
    When you send your Spirit,
    they are created,
    and you renew the face of the ground.

    Does the angel Gabriel create and bring life?

    Job 33:4

    The Spirit of God has made me;
    the breath of the Almighty gives me life.

    Does an angel make human beings? Notice the parallel – the Spirit of God is associated in the first part of the parallel with the breath of the Almighty in the second.

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    • I think you still didn’t get it.

      There are 2 spirits:
      – First spirit is the one who ask Ezekiel to stand up because he wants to speak with him to deliver the message from God, therefore this spirit is an angel (messenger).
      – Second spirit is the one who enter into Ezekiel and help him stand up, we can just call him a spirit of God (because no record in the Bible and the Quran an angel enter into human)

      But still they are not God

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      • Ah okay, thank you for clarifying.

        So as for the second spirit, you have just accepted it is not an angel, ‘because no record in the Bible and the Quran an angel enter in human’. If its not an angel, what is it? You have said yourself, ‘a spirit of God’. How can a spirit of God not be God?

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      • You’re welcome.

        Again I have to tell you that spirit of God could be anything, it’s up to God where He wants to put it.
        If He put his spirit in our body then it become our soul and become a human.
        Or He wants to make his spirit to become an angel, animal,
        Or God just create his spirit but He doesn’t put in any thing, it just a spirit but still obeying God’s command.

        All is up to God.

        Spirit of God is not God.

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      • Ah okay I see. But where does the Old Testament say this is a CREATED spirit? It doesn’t. As far back as Genesis 1:2 the Spirit just exists, it’s just always there. It gives life (Psalm 104:30; Job 33:4) and is spoken of in relation to God (Job 33:4).

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  16. If you don’t want to use “CREATED” is fine, the point is God make it exist

    Our soul is the spirit of God, He make it exist and he put it in our body and we become a living being.

    The spirit of God can’t be exist if God doesn’t make it exist.

    In Psalm 104:30 and Job 33:4 God give His power to the spirit/angel to make it happen.

    And also God can give His power to his prophets like Ezekiel, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad.

    How it works? it’s explained in Ezekiel 37:1-14.

    Again:

    The Spirit of God is not God
    Jesus is not God

    The God of Abraham is the one only God, not The Triune God.

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    • Similar to Ezekiel also God give his power to Abraham in Quran 2:260

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    • ‘If you don’t want to use “CREATED” is fine, the point is God make it exist’ – but where does the OT say that that God made his Spirit to exist? Or that ‘God give His power to the spirit/angel to make it happen’ – where does it say this?

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      • Did you read Ezekiel 37:1-14?

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      • Yep, where in Ezekiel 37:1-14 does it say that the Spirit is created?

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      • No worries.

        Ezekiel 37:
        5. …..“I will put breath in you. Then you will come to life again. ( was the breath there? No, God created it / made it exist)
        6. I will attach tendons to you. ( was the tendons there? No, God created it / made it exist)
        I will put flesh on you. ( was the flesh there? No, God created it / made it exist)
        I will cover you with skin. ( was the skin there? No, God created it / made it exist)
        14. I will put my Spirit in you. And you will live again. ( was the spirit there? No, God created it / made it exist).

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      • Well hold on, it’s saying the Spirit will come and be within them. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist before. Christians talk about the Holy Spirit coming and dwelling within us, but that doesn’t mean we don’t believe the Spirit is eternal – it’s just that it wasn’t always within us, and then at some point it was.

        Also the whole thing is a metaphor btw about how God will restore Israel. Therefore I think you might be taking quite literally a symbolic passage. But even if you want to take it literally, it doesn’t say God ‘created/made the Spirit exist’

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      • – “it’s saying the Spirit will come and be within them.”
        It doesn’t say that in NIRV

        – “it doesn’t say God ‘created/made the Spirit exist’”
        Yes, God also doesn’t say ‘created/made the tendons exist’”
        Yes, God also doesn’t say ‘created/made the flesh exist’”
        Yes, God also doesn’t say ‘created/made the skin exist’”

        How?

        Like

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