great, for the word ibn is suitable for use in a metaphorical sense, which sense is needed
in the title "Son of God". But walad is not used metaphorically. Christian writers
who lived hundreds of years before the Hijrah repeatedly denounced the carnal ideas of the heathen,
and pointed out in what an entirely different sense the title of Ibnu’llah is given to
Christ. For instance, Lactantius, writing about A.D. 306, more than 300 years before the Hijrah,
says: " He1 who hears the words ‘Son of God' spoken must not conceive in his mind
such great wickedness as to fancy that God procreated through marriage and union with any female,—a
thing which is not done except by an animal possessed of a body and subject to death. But since God
is alone, with whom could He unite? or, since He was of such great might as to be able to accomplish
whatever He wished, He certainly had no need of the comradeship of another for the purpose of
The fact should be noted that, when philosophical language is used in the Gospel, our Lord Jesus
Christ is styled "The Word of God"
اللهِ), as in John i. 1, 14; Rev. xix. 13 (compare the
title "Word of Life" in I John i. 1). The other title, Ibnu’llah, has really the
same meaning, but it is used for two special reasons: (1) for the benefit of simple people, who are
the great majority of the human race, and who could not understand the former phrase, and (2)
because it enables us to realize the personality of the Word of God
اللهِ) and the love
which exists between the Divine Hypostases
(الاقانيم) of the Holy Trinity (compare John xv. 9, 10; xvii.
23, 26). Neither of these latter facts could be expressed by the title "The Word of God".
It is true that no human vocables
(الفاظ) can be well suited
to express at all fully and correctly the realities of the Divine Nature
(ذات), but we cannot be
wrong in employing the terms used in the Holy Scriptures by men who wrote under Divine Guidance and
(إلهام). The relation which subsists between the Hypostases in the Divine Unity infinitely
transcends human language and thought; yet we can in some measure understand something of it. The
limitless ocean cannot be contained in a cup, yet enough of it can be held in such a vessel to give
us some idea of its nature. Both titles, "The Word of God" and "The Son of God",
are used in the New Testament with the same meaning; i.e. they express the fact of Christ's
essential Deity, His oneness with the Father (John x. 30). Only by believing what Christ Himself
says on this point can we at all understand the doctrine of the Atonement and the way of salvation
through Christ, who tells us that only through Him can men come to God the Father (John xiv. 6:
compare Acts iv. 12).
The Old Testament and the New not only agree in ascribing to Christ the attributes of Deity, but
they also denote His Divine Nature by clearly and plainly calling Him God: for example, in Ps. x1v.
6, 7; Isa. ix. 6; John xx. 28, 29; Rom. ix. 5; Heb. i. 8; I John v. 20. Whoever will carefully and
prayerfully study such passages as these will perceive that these exalted titles are given to
Christ, not from exaggeration or courtesy, but because they express a truth essentially important
for men to know.
The thoughtful Muslim is aware that the Qur'an agrees with the New Testament in calling Christ
"the Word of God"
اللهِ).1 We shall deal with this more fully, if it please God,
when we come to inquire into the doctrine of the Most Holy Trinity.2 Here