To begin with, it should be remembered that unitarianism as opposed to Trinitarianism is the view that God is a uni-personal rather than a tri-personal being. Islamic Tawheed is one (and the worst) of many versions of the former; Christianity uniquely proclaims the latter.
This is important to keep in mind for the following reason: whereas on unitarian assumptions one wouldn’t expect to find in the Bible distinctions drawn between multiple divine persons, this is just what would be expected on Trinitarian assumptions.
The first verse of John’s Gospel is a good illustration of the point. According to John’s Gospel:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”If the author of this passage was a unitarian, it would not be surprising for him to say “the Word was with God”, which he in fact does. But it also wouldn’t be surprising on Trinitarian assumptions, for Trinitarians also believe the Word was with God. However, that is not all the passage says; it also tells us “the Word was God”. This additional statement changes everything for the unitarian, but the Trinitarian is left unaffected by it: it is exactly what would be expected if the author of this passage was Trinitarian. And just as it would be incredibly inept for a unitarian to reply, “But the passage could not teach that the Word was God, because he could not be God and be with God at the same time”, since this is just what Trinitarians believe and is precisely what the passage says, so it would also be incredibly inept for a unitarian to approach similar phenomena in the Old Testament in the same way, as we will in fact find in the case of Yahya’s would-be rebuttal.
When we turn to the Old Testament passages that speak of the Angel of the Lord, we find that they upset and over-topple unitarian expectations in exactly the same way. They do so by identifying the Angel as God while at the same time distinguishing Him from another person who is identified as God. Consider as an example the first occasion in the Bible where this phrase is used – Genesis 16, which recounts what happened after Hagar fled from Sarai.
Now the angel of the LORD found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, by the spring on the way to Shur. He said, "Hagar, Sarai's maid, where have you come from and where are you going?" And she said, "I am fleeing from the presence of my mistress Sarai." Then the angel of the LORD said to her, "Return to your mistress, and submit yourself to her authority." Moreover, the angel of the LORD said to her, "I will greatly multiply your descendants so that they will be too many to count." The angel of the LORD said to her further, "Behold, you are with child, and you will bear a son; and you shall call his name Ishmael, because the LORD has given heed to your affliction." He will be a wild donkey of a man, his hand will be against everyone, and everyone's hand will be against him; and he will live to the east of all his brothers." Then she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, "You are a God who sees"; for she said, "Have I even remained alive here after seeing Him?"Since Yahya believes Muhammad was a descendant of Hagar through her son Ishmael, he should pay particular attention to what this passage says (and not just the later verses in the passage that say Ishmael will be a wild donkey of a man).
In the first place, the phrase “the angel of the LORD”, as well as the fact that the Angel speaks of the LORD in the third person in verse eleven (“…the LORD has given heed to your affliction”), seems clearly to distinguish the Angel from “the LORD”.
Secondly, at the same time, this same passage also identifies the Angel as LORD. Not only does the Angel issue imperatives to Hagar and conduct the whole conversation with an air of authority that exudes divinity, but the Angel promises that He will do the same thing for her that God promised to do for Abraham through Sarah, saying, “I will greatly multiply your descendants so that they will be too many to count.”
Finally, while all of this may be lost on those who think Muhammad was a descendant of Hagar, it wasn’t lost on Hagar herself, for “Then she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, ‘You are a God who sees’; for she said, “Have I even remained alive here after seeing Him?”
Passing over the mention of the Angel of the Lord in Genesis 21:8-20, where similar observations could be made, what is said in Genesis 22 about the Angel of the Lord is particularly instructive. After Abraham goes to the place where God commanded him to take Isaac and offer him as a sacrifice, we read:
When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the LORD called out to him from heaven, "Abraham! Abraham!" "Here I am," he replied. "Do not lay a hand on the boy," he said. "Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son." Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide. And to this day it is said, "On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided." The angel of the LORD called to Abraham from heaven a second time and said, "I swear by myself, declares the LORD, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me."As in Genesis 16, this passage at once distinguishes the Angel from God and identifies Him as God.
That He is distinct from God is evident once again by his very title, i.e. the Angel of the LORD, as well as by the fact that he speaks in verse twelve of God in the third person (“Now I know that you fear God”).
That He is also God is evident not only from the fact that He speaks as God (“…you have not withheld from Me your only son…” [vs. 12]; “I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky [vs. 17]; and “…because you have obeyed Me” [vs. 18]), but because of what it pointedly says in verses 15-16: “The angel of the LORD called to Abraham from heaven a second time and said, "I swear BY MYSELF, declares the LORD,…”
In terms of the unitarian/Trinitarian debate, only Trinitarianism is consistent both with the fact that the Angel is distinguished from God and the fact that He speaks as God and is identified as God in the above (and many other) passages.
Yahya’s failure to understand all this is openly exposed in his response to virtually every one of the passages from Sam he tries to deal with. He somehow thinks the mere fact that the Angel is distinct from another person called God proves that He cannot also be God.
For example, Yahya says Zechariah 1:12-13 “shows the angel of the Lord communicating with God; the angel asks God a question and God answers the angel. Clearly this passage shows the angel not to be God as they are clearly shown to be distinct entities.”
He does the same thing with Numbers 22:31, saying:
“Shamoun fails to look further down in the chapter; after this event, the author identifies this angel as “the angel of the Lord” and not as “God” or “the Lord” (22:32 and 35) thus showing the author (said to be Moses) did not believe this angel to be God…”We get more of the same on Zechariah 3:1-2:
"If you read further on in the chapter, the angel actually speaks and the author said to be Zechariah) identifies the angel as “the angel”. Surely if the angel was the Lord it would have been addressed as “the Lord” rather than “the angel”. So we notice the author draws a distinction between “the angel” and “the Lord”, thus to two cannot be the same!.... Essentially, Zechariah does not claim the angel to be God but draws a distinction showing the two are not the same."And Zechariah 3:4:
On Exodus 23:20, Yahya says:
"Shamoun misses another verse in this chapter which proves that this angel is simply an agent of God and not God himself, verse 6 shows the angel QUOTING the Lord and delivering the Lord’s message by saying “this is what the Lord Almighty says:…"
“Thus we realise God sends the angel, therefore the angel cannot possibly be God! Shamoun misses this as this clearly shows this angel is not God!”….All of this completely misses the point at issue, for in each of the passages where the Angel is distinguished from God He is also identified as God, showing that the prophetic authors were not unitarians. In effect, what Yahya is doing is reading his unitarian assumptions into the text rather than taking everything the texts say into account to see if they are consistent with everything unitarianism predicts we should find. Since Yahya assumes that God is uni-personal, any passage that distinguishes God from the Angel automatically rules out the divinity of the Angel as a matter of “pure logic”, as Yahya said in one of the quotes above. But it only follows logically if Yahya’s starting assumption, i.e. God is uni-personal, is true. Only if that assumption is true does the conclusion that the angel is not God follow from the observation that the Angel is distinguished from God. But Yahya’s starting assumption is the very point at issue, and this means that all of Yahya’s arguments on this score commit the fallacy of begging the question and reasoning in a circle, something we have seen from him before (here).
“Clearly, in this passage, God sends the angel and speaks of the angel as a separate being (a creation of God). This angel is sent BY God, thus cannot possibly be God. Pure logic! Shamoun misses the verse and misses the logic due to his desperation to convince us of his personal beliefs.”
“The fact that God speaks of this angel as a distinct entity should be enough to realise that this angel is not God.”