...are the ones that make the biggest difference

10.24.2005

Do we worship the same God?

Adam Cleveland over at Pomomusings posted about a dinner at Princeton. The dinner was hosted by the History Department, which invited Muslims to break their Ramadan fast with a group of Christians in order to sponsor understanding and "unity", apparently. The event included accompanying the Muslims to their evening prayers. It wasn't clear whether the Christian participants actually prayed with the Muslims at that time, but Adam asks this question: "What would happen if Christians and Muslims met together in fellowship, in community, in unity, praying to the same God, coming from the same tradition, from the same faith of Abraham?"

My $.02 - we're not praying to the same God and no matter what they claim, Muslims are not of the Abrahamic tradition. To accede that point, to suggest that they are legitimate heirs of Abraham is to deny historical reality and worse, it is essentially denying Jesus' unique, salvific and divine role. If this kind of thing represents Emergent thinking, to me, its yet another nail in its coffin.

7 comments:

Jamie Arpin-Ricci said...

Ouch, double spammed. You may want to consider turning on a verification tool.

Peace,
Jamie

Anonymous said...

"What would happen if Christians and Muslims met together in fellowship, in community, in unity, praying to the same God, coming from the same tradition, from the same faith of Abraham?"

This is the kind of silly question that isn't worth asking. Christians and Muslims necessarily are not in unity because they do not worship the same God and do not come from the same tradition. The idea that you could boil it all down to the point where we can all agree and just consider ourselves 'Abrahamists' requires that we absolutely cease to be Christians, and they absolutely cease to be Muslims.

-Doug

Jamie Arpin-Ricci said...

I am not sure I would frame my response in such strong terms, but I see the dangers you point out. I have spent years involved in a ministry context that had an emphasis on building understanding and relationship between the world religions, which I believe is truly valuable.

However, it is easy to get swept up in the wave of politcal correctness that goes a long with this and go too far. While we would probably disagree where that line is, I think we agree that blurring the lines of who God is goes too far. Scripture teaches us that if they reject the Son, they reject the Father. Hard, but clear.

So, while I enjoy pomomusing blog, I would not say he represents the average emergent journeyer.

Peace,
Jamie

P.S. Glad to see you put the word verification on.

Anonymous said...

In Adam’s post he shared an anecdote about the Christian who asked, “You say you believe in our same God, but you pray to Allah? That doesn't make any sense.” As Adam put it, the Christian was answered by a Muslim who “kindly shared with the other man that Allah is Arabic for God.”

It seems to me that this illustrates the danger of both the unnecessary complication of the issues and the danger of the unjustified simplification of the issues.

It’s certainly true that “Allah” is the Arabic word for God. Arabic-speaking Jews use the word “Allah” in the synagogue. Arabic-speaking Christians use the word “Allah” as well. In fact, when my Orthodox Christian bishop (who is a native of Syria) sings parts of the Divine Liturgy in Arabic he uses the word “Allah” in reference to God.

The Christian in Adam’s anecdote may or may not have been ignorant of the language issues here. But the Muslim who “kindly shared” his response with the Christian side-steps the real content of the Christian’s question by blithely suggesting that it’s just a matter of language. Regardless of language, the point is that the god that the Muslim refers to as “Allah” is not the same God that the Christian refers to when he speaks of “God.” The god of Islam is utterly transcendent, untouchable by his creatures, ontologically isolated from his creation and isolated in himself. The God of Christians is at once utterly transcendent (in His unapproachable divinity) and utterly immanent (in the Person of Jesus Christ, in his tangible, incarnate divine humanity), who communicates Himself and His life to us; He is nearer to us than we are to ourselves (in whom we live and move and have our being), while at the same time unattainable in His essence; being even in Himself a communion of Love, never isolated, Three Persons in one Essence.

The core truths of Christian revelation are an enormous offense to Islam and the Muslim in Adam’s anecdote does his faith a great disservice by smoothing over the fact. Adam does his faith a disservice in the same regard.

-Doug

Ephrem Christopher Walborn said...

For what it's worth, Dante considered Mohammed to be a heresiarch, and thus a heretical Christian.

Of course, the description of Mohammed is the vilest part of the whole cantica, with his body "cleft from the chin right down to where men fart." It goes on from there...

Any way you look at it, the only way to approach "unity" with Muslims would be to abandon Christianity for syncretism. At the same time, we can balance this with the traditional understanding that all truth is God's truth.

joel said...

nice blog, however, the line about Jesus being uniquely "slavic" has me scratching my head. How is he even remotely slavic unless you are using a definition that i am totally unfamiliar with?

slavic is a language group. slavic peoples are those that speak a slavic dialect (Russian, Ukranian or southern slavicians like the serbo-croats etc...). As far as i know, on Earth, Jesus did not.

Nathan said...

Joel -

I checked back through the post and I think you misread where I was talking about Jesus' uniquely salvific role, not slavic. Though had He been slavic, it would probably clear up church we all should belong to! :)