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Do We Worship Different Gods?

Apparently the assertion that Christians and Muslims worship the same God is extremely controversial. I am going to take another stab at it to try to defend this position.

First, Christians and Muslims clearly have radically different conceptions of who God is, e.g. Christians are trinitarians; Muslims are unitarians. I am not at all attempting to refute this. Many would argue that the character of the Christian and Muslim concepts of God are also radically different, and I would tend to agree.

Second, Allah is synonymous with God. The former is the Arabic term for the latter. When the Bible is translated into Arabic, Allah is used in the same places where our English translations say God. Asking whether Allah is the same as God is the same as asking whether Dios (Spanish) is the same as God.

Third, there are two fundamentally different ways to think about identifying God. The first is to take God as the subject and then describe who God is. If Christians and Muslims provide contrary descriptions of God, it seems likely they are describing different gods. This is analagous to two people describing their friend Andy, who discover that they have been talking about two different people all along. On the other hand, we can take God’s actions (specifically His act of creation) as the predicate and then attempt to discover who performed the action. This is analagous to two people calling their American Family Insurance rep and discovering that they have diffent conceptions of who he is.

It follows then that the theological models of who God is (as subject) are different. In worship, however, we are both addressing the Creator (as predicate). When we address our worship to the Creator, it is the creator who receives our worship regardless of who we conceive Him to be.

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  1. ALHAJ
    July 16, 2007 at 11:53 pm

    Dear Ryan Jones,

    I find myself rather disturbed reading what you and your fellow write about your creed.

    In respect of the deity that created the heavens and earth shared by all human being our belief is the same. Only that the Qur’an is being, in a way, specific. Allow me to quote Jones from the Chapter of Luqman, Chapter 31 verses 25 and 26 which reads:

    ‘And thus it is [with most people]: if thou ask them, ‘Who is it that created the heavens and the earth?’- they will surely answer, ‘God.’
    Say: ‘[Then you ought to know that] all praise is due to God!’- for most of them do not know [what this implies].
    ‘Unto God belongs all that is in heavens and on earth. Verily, God alone is self-sufficient, the One to whom all praise is due.’

    Muhammad Assad commented that when asked about the creator of the heavens and earth most of us answered unthinkingly, following a vague habit of thought, without realizing that a cognition of God as the Ultimate Cause of all existence logically postulates one’s full surrender to Him, and to Him alone.

    Speaking about the length of the historical ministry of Jesus some put it the most to three years while others put it at least a year. Within that short span of time very little is revealed by Jesus as to the concept of God looking at what were available as depicted by the synoptic gospels. Most of his ministry time was spent on healing works and correcting the misconception of the Pharisees as regard to the daily or Sabbath application of the scriptures.

    The theological aspects of God in Christianity were found in the Gospel of John, the fundamentals are there. It is up to you whether the concept of God according to the Gospel of John is really what Christ brought.

    As for Acts of the Apostles, Paul did not put Jesus as the incarnation of the Father.

    It takes three centuries for the world of Christianity to make a decision whether God is a Unity or a Trinity. Why? This you can rationalise. If Trinity indeed came from Christ, there should be no polemic about it as immediate as the ascencsion of Jesus.The decisions were made by theologians, again I say theologians, the Gentile Theologians.

    Greeks were not the people familiar with semitic revelations as far as the history of the Greek people or for that matter the Romans is concerned.

    Even if you read the latest book ‘Jesus of Nazareth’ written by Pope Benedict, verses he put forward to support his beliefs were pregnant of interpretations and we seemed to be pushed off the literal meaning. Were the interpretations alleged by Pope Benedict were what the Gospellers intended,to be exact Christ intended?

    Founded opinions had been made by scholars that polemics will continue among Christians (see what you write and your fellow write on your blog about the Christianity creed vis a vis your sincere belief that Christ is everything).

    The position of Christ vis a vis the church and the scriptures vis a vis the historicasl intellectuals will be subjected to a continuous debate. All yearning to find the true face of Jesus – historical Jesus, Church-Jesus or scriptural-Jesus.

    I believe the church-face of Jesus will thrive.

    The religion of Jesus was transferred by Paul to the Gentiles who were foreign to Judaism. I don’t intend to lecture you on this. You know your creed. The Gentiles made their own assessments as to what Jesus brought. As a result Jesus according to the Jews differed from Jesus according to the Gentiles, to be spoecific the Christians.

    The two diifferent faces of Jesus carries on until today between the Jews and the Christians.

    The Jews figure of Jesus is not much different from Moslems. Jesus is not God’s incarnnation, a human being fundamentally.

    Beginning from the Reformation, Protestants tried to look back into the Hebrew Bible for a trace of their creed. Why from the ‘Hebrew’ Bible? For what? You know better than I do.

    I am not trying to make a mess of your blog’s polemics on Chritianity Jones. After all it’s about you all, why should I poke my nose? But God, Jones, being belonging to all of us, gives us, so everybody, the right to speak of Him on whatever platform. I believe you you are willing enough to give me a spare of opinion.

    You talk of Allah. Who is Allah? Translation often confuses. Let me tell you.

    Allah in Islam is the name of God. Literal translation of Allah as God is wrong from the Islamic perspective. But if you say Allah is God or God is Allah, how can I say that is wrong.

    ‘Ilah’ is God (with the first letter in capital letter in ‘God’, not necessary in Greek or Arabic), that’s it – meaning the only one deserved to be worship and obeyed and the only God for people who beleive that there is a deity and the deity is monotheistic.

    He is the Creator and not the created. He does not need the created because He stands on His own, and the created needs Him because the created stands on Him. The attributes of the created (creation) are absolute opposite of the Creator.

    The Creator is not ‘becoming’ or ‘unbecoming’ because He is The First without beginning and The Last without ending. In between His essence being The Fisrt without beginning and The Last without ending there is no history. If there is history then it’s creation. Only creation has history for it has beginning and it has ending. History takes upon passage of time. Time is also created by God. Therefore if anything is confine to time it’s creation.

    Jesus lived in time.

    That’s the reason why from Islamic theological point of view we cannot take Christ as God’s incarnation, what more to take him as God Himself. There’s no confusion here between Jews and Moslems.

    Prohphet Muhmmad mission to explain to the Arabs what is meant by religion, Islam and ‘what God is’ to ensure a correct worshipping of Him (the living God) took 23 years of ministry to be absorbed fully by the Arab Moslems. Fom then on the Arabs are led loose to preach Islam to all corners of the earth. There’s no mistaken of what God is.

    So come what may to counter Islam, internally or externally, theologically or scripturally or intellectually, we are established and ready.

    Hence, for that reason, the Qur’an put it bluntly that there’s no compulsion to embrace Islam. Moslems are not apprehensive if people do not embrace Islam. But the call to Islam is heard in every Moslem countries through mosque minarets, even in foreign soil (five times a day), as now is in Rome.

    Thank you Jones.

    AlHaj ibn Ibrahim Asy-Sarawaki

  2. ALHAJ
    July 18, 2007 at 11:45 pm

    Dear Ryan Jones,

    I have published your post above, ‘Do We worship Different Gods’ in my blog with comments. I hope you don’t mind.

    It’s a good peice of article to remind where we all stand actually. As I have emphasized even to J.K. Jones, in search for God and for truth, that how (posited) are we all.

    And I am always of the belief that we cannot choose our own path. God is the one who made the choice.

    Once, Prophet Muhammad said, God showed to him Moses rebuking Adam, for the outcasting of men from heaven to earth.

    Adam answered: ‘God has especially chosen you for the Torah and has written it with His own hand and has spoken directly to you, are you going to rebuke me for what was already written in the Torah (predestined)forty years before I was created that I am going to be outcasted to earth?

    And the Prophet said ‘Hence Adam beat Moses, Adam beat Moses!’.

    Thank you.

    AlHaj ibn Ibrahim Asy-Sarawaky

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