Thursday, August 09, 2007

The God of Christians and Muslims

I do not know why I keep circling back to the question of whether Christians and Muslims worship different gods. Here is a video clip from Ergun Caner arguing for the opposing view, that we have different gods.



My question is simply this: why do we have to have our theology right in order for us to be worshipping the same god? It is easier to differentiate between Islam and Christianity. What about Roman Catholics and Protestant Evangelicals? Do we worship the same god? How about classical theists and open theists? Same god? Calvinists and Arminians? Same god? Fundamentalists and Evangelicals? Where exactly do we draw the line?

I cannot see any way around this logic:
A. Every one of us has erroneous theology to one extent or another.
B. If erroneous theology necessarily leads to false worship, then we all worship falsely.
C. At least some people do not worship falsely.
Therefore:
D. Erroneous theology does not necessarily lead to false worship.

8 comments:

Ben said...

I don't think you can argue from erroneous theology to same/different God. That seems to be going in reverse. There must be a different way that doesn't go to humanity's fallen, erroneous, subjective thinking in order to prove a point about God.

To bring the discussion down to earth. Just because I think the same things about a Honda Accord as my friend Jimbob, that doesn't mean we both are driving the same car. Similarly, I can't say, "Well, Jimbob, you think the Honda you drive is great, and I hate the one I drive. So we're obviously not driving the same car." I can say, though, "I don't think you're driving the same Honda as I."

But how can we tell whether the Hondas are really the same one? The only way is to actually go right up next to the cars, touch them, get in them, drive them around for a while...

If God is real, then we ought to be able to do similarly with him. Unless, of course, religion is all subjective and there's really no "realness" to it all. Then we're stuck. Or unless we're unable to sense anything at all about these god/s. Then we're stuck again. And then you just end up with both gods being the same, a whole bunch of nothing.

ALHAJ said...

Dear Ryan Jones,

That comments by Ben is interesting, only that God is not like a car even how misleading your featuring of it (the car)as long as you are there and you point to the right car you are right about the car the object you are featuring.

The same applies to people who see a particular mountain each from different side will feature the mountain differently but still as long as they all there at the foot of the mountain they point to the same mountain they are all correct.

The mountain is the object, the features are the aspects of the mountain.

Each Apostle of God talked of the same object God but the features of religion each brought (not the features or attributes of God) differs one from the other. They are all correct to be followed - for each entailed in each special way submitting to the will of God. Each has its time span and abrogated with the coming of the next Apostle but the teaching of the attributes of God remained intact and the same.That applies to Adam, Abraham, Moses etc. till Jesus and Muhammad.These are the people whom any one wishes to have a correct perspective of God must relied on or resorted to in their endeavour to worship the rightful God, the One and Only. All begins with the saying and affirmation that God is One. Read what they say in the jungle of scriptural manuscripts available by men claimed and counter claimed to be authentic.

Everbody acknowledges God is One.That is correct as far as the semitic or revealed religion is concerned - Judaism, Christianity or Islam for that matter. The semitic religion came first proclaiming God is One, then came Christianity with Trinity, then came again the latest conforming the earliest that God is One.The difference in religious features is not a major issue. What does matter is what does One really mean, because that identifies Him. For true searchers until one identifies Him correctly one will not have a peace of heart. Search the manuscripts and don't forget that God has created us in His 'image' , meaning we are furnished by God with the faculty/capability or natural disposition to discriminate and to identifies Him correctly. Rid of prejudicial advocatives attidues and be a judge to distinguish between truth and falsehood. Keep constant prayer until the foundation of the palace of God shook and you are inspired with truth.

Truth is the property of God, revealed to mankind by His Apostle, and given only to those whom He chose. Be right about that. No one can simply claimed that he holds the truth except the Apostles and their trustees. If God sealed his heart, nothing can passed through even the Apostle or his trustee talk to the individual.Be humble about that.

Be honest with oneself that one is seeking truth for truth cannot share a common domain with untruth.

There came six blind men from Afghanistan upon an elephant. The first touched the tail and claimed that the elephant was like a rope; another touched the body and claimed that the elephant was like a wall; and another touched the ear and claimed that the elephant was like a big leaf. None of them had seen an elephant earlier for all had been blind before they came across an elephant. So none gave a correct claim of what an elephant was.

Then there were many people born with open eyes that can see well the brightness of the sun and the beauty of the moon, all claimed to have known a woman called Leila. Each caliming her features as such and such. But when Leila passed by none seemed to know her, they even asked who she was.

Tough Leila is not God, also an object like a car or a mountain, and objective study, devoid of prejudices,is a must to know her.

The same applies to God - objective as far as reasoning allows, and prejudicial as far as safeguarding against faleshood is discernable.

There's no shortcut to know divine truth except (for searchers)through the multitude of God's Apostles proclaiming God is One and that God is One, Original, never a modofied One.

And God is a Constant and change is nature.

Thank you

AlHaj ibn Ibrahim Asy-Sarawaky

ALHAJ said...

Dear Ryuan Jones,

My apology Jones - for typing error for comments.

'Each caliming her features as such and such' should read 'Each claiming her features as such and such' para 9.

'never a modofied One' should read 'never a modified One.' 2nd last paragraph.

Thank you.

Alhaj ibn Ibrahim Asy Sarawaky.

ALHAJ said...

Dear Ryan Jones,

I have just been able to see the video functioning.

I can understand the point each speaker is opining depending on the perspective each is speaking. You already elaborately correctly wrote on that in your e-mail to me.

As to your 'A. Every one of us has erroneous theology to one extent or another' I don't agree with you otherwise we are no dissimilar with the six blind men from Afghanistan and that we charged God has not appointed Apostle to show the correct theology.

I absolutely agree with your 'B. If erroneous theology necessarily leads to false worship, then we all worship falsely'. That is the function of Apostles God sent to us to keep us on the right path.

As to your 'C. At least some people do not worship falsely' I agree with you and they are not few but many.

Finally your 'D. Erroneous theology does not necessarily lead to false worship' you are totally wrong there.

Thank you Jones and my apology for messing you post.

AlHaj ibn Ibrahim Asy-Sarawaky

godwatcher said...

So, really, the question you're asking is not so much "Do Muslims and Christians worship the same God?" but "Where do we draw the line between worshiping the true God falsely and worshiping a false God truthfully? And is there even a difference?"

I had a huge answer typed out, but I found I disagreed with it before I finished typing it, so now I've deleted it. This question is really hard, and I don't like anything I've come up with or anything I've read on here.

But, just to generate some ideas, why do you assume (C) that at least some people do not worship falsely? Maybe we all worship falsely, because we live in a fallen world that's being redeemed. We see through fleshly eyes, live in fleshly bodies, and think with fleshly minds. Check out 1 Corinthians 13:9-12. Paul says that we know in part, we prophesy in part, and we see in a mirror dimly. What we see as reality is only a tiny, smudgy, dirty portion. He says that we will see face to face, we will know fully, and the partial things will be surpassed by the perfect things. Clearly, we've only got part of the picture, so maybe we all do worship a little off, but God sees our honest hearts anyway.

I do think that God constantly reveals more of Himself to everyone open to Him, Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, Christians of every sort and denomination. If a person is honestly seeking God, when they hear His voice, they'll let go of whatever conception of God they have to in order to line up with what He's saying.

When He brings new revelation, correction, doctrine, etc. to their path, they have a choice - either go along with it, change their thinking, and follow the new thing God has confronted them with, or stubbornly reject His voice and remain entrenched in their own false views of God.

Maybe it's at this point where things change from worshiping the true God in a false way to worshiping a false God, one created out of stubbornness in their own minds.

[Warning: shameless self advertising coming up.]

This is why I don't do a theoblog but just The Blah Blah, my Christian Music MP3 Blog and my random thoughts godwatcher blog. It's so much easier when you don't have to figure things out.

R.T. Jones said...

Wow, it's been so long since I've done anything with my blog that all this seems rather distant to me right now. Here's a few thoughts.

First, I am a bit disillusioned with blogging in general. This post has generated some of the best dialogue I've had in the history of my blog (which is now under a new name), and yet it somehow feels awkward to carry on a real dialogue in the comments. I suppose what I would really like is for people to respond to what I have written in their own blogs, and then to leave a trackback in my comments section. Then we could get a real dialogue going back and forth.

Ben, here's where I think your analogy breaks down: there is more than one Honda Accord, but there is only one creator. (Of course polytheists and atheists would disagree with me, but everyone participating in this discussion accepts this.) I am not asking "which creator" and then pointing to something (an idol or something) and saying, "behold your creator." I amy saying that when we worship the unseen creator, there is, by definition, only one being that can receive that worship.

AlHaj, I am not entirely sure that I understand why you disagree with me on point D. I think it is a valid argument. That is, if you agree with A, B, and C, then you must necessarily agree with D. In other words, I don't think I made an error in my logic (but if I did, please correct me).

You disagree with point D, but you accept points B and C. So then our real difference is in point A. You believe some people do not have erroneous theology. How can this be? Even if I were to accept that the Quran is the perfect revelation of God, and even if I learned flawless Arabic, there would still be places where my interpretation of a particular passage was different than yours, and yours different than someone elses, and so on. If we have contrary interpretations, then, at most, only one of us can be right. This is why I think that even if I were to accept that Islam is true, I still conclude that there are many good Muslims that have erroneous theology, at least to some extent.

But this exposes the true difference between us. I can find no compelling reason to accept the authority of the Quran. I am not particularly interested in having a blogging "shouting match" where you simply assert why you're right and I assert why I'm right. But if you're interested in discussing it, I would like to explore this difference through a blogging dialogue. I think such a discussion could be fruitful for both of us, at least to bring about mutual understanding.

Jake, you bring up an interesting distinction. I have never thought of it as worshipping the true God falsely vs. worshipping a false got truthfully. This is a good way to put it. But I think what I'm arguing is that there IS no such thing as worshipping the true God falsely (or if there is, it is due to false motives or insincerity). What I am arguing for is a fundamental distinction between what we believe about God and what happens spiritually when we worship. Worship is an action, and therefore cannot be either true or false. Strictly speaking, you cannot ride a bike or run a mile falsely. Either you ride your bike or you don't; either you run a mile or you don't. (The only way around this is to use the word 'falsely' metaphorically, to mean 'deceitfully' or 'incorrectly'. Literally the word does not mean these things, and it is this literal meaning I am discussing.)

I could put it this way: in order for our worship of the creator to be idolatrous, I think there needs to be an actual idol.

Thanks for your comments everyone.

ALHAJ said...

Dear Ryan Jones,

I am surprised you respond to my comments. I thought they were to be left there for anybody who cared to read.

Your A, B, and C are facts in themselves in real life. I cannot agree with you that your D is correct in conlusion of a mixture of your A, B and C. Your B is already a contradictory to your D and you claimed it is correct which I can understand - the unmanifested Christianity theology that you hold behind it.

To a Christian 'erroneous' theology is irrelevant as long as you believe in Christ. Right?

Why? Because God has manifested 'Himself' in the form of Christ, walked the earth and the Christian has seen God 'Himself' and as such his whatever erroneous premonition or theology for that matter of God is insignificant. Am I not right?

But would one be pleased to be charged as distorted in reasoning when one claimed that erroneous theology could equal correct worship? Would one then be honest, especially applying reasoning subjectively in trying to come to term with God? Has the path to God been crooked?

Reasoning has its own discipline, unless used according to its own discipline, the reasoning is no reasoning at all.

Apart from Christianity as explained above, there are three methods in which God 'manifested' Himself to humankind:

1. Reasoning;
2. Natural disposition; and
3. Revelation.

Revelation is the fundamental of all the three and can stand alone. But it is of no meaning to one who cannot reason. Hence one who cannot think or reason is not burden to embraced Islam.

In reasoning there are three prerequisite perspectives in understanding God: what is a 'must' for God, 'possibile' for God, and 'impossible' for God. Its truth is like mathematical truth, crosses prejudicial religious boundaries, unantagonistic, non-mystic, no nonsense-mystery. But reasoning cannot stand alone as it has its limitation (human); to distinguish its limitation is paramount and it needs the stamp of revelation to certify. Otherwise philosophers like Plato,Aristotle etc. would had reached God. I believe by themselves they had reached God only unrecognised.

The same applies to natural disposition - the inborn belief in God; it needed the most aid from revelation as it is the most weakest in differentiating and it is prone to listen to whispers.

As for revelation, there are three revealed religions around; in term of revealing God, each comes from the same One God and sent to the only same specie - Adamites - therefore each should confirm the truth of the other, not inter-contradictory. Only Islam as far as I know of so far conforming the common truth of the three religions - worship in the One God (Torah, Old Testament and the Holy Qur'an).

So Ryan there's nothing about belittling beliefs or trying to be defensive or persuasive. Maybe intrusive.

Responding to comments is a religious deeds. It helps you to understand better of your own faith, rid you of your prejudices of others. By far the most important is: have you been thinking correctly lately; if you think so, how fair are you responding to unexpected comments. You know, what we know of our belief last five or ten years may not be the same today.

Finally Ryan, nobody has a perfect knowledge of God, neither the ulemma nor the Pope; and our knowledge of God is very limited (unless of course you consider the one 'walking on earth' is manifestating enough.) Out of that limitation and our own limitation we have a variant understanding of God thus all the misinterpretations and misconceptions (erroneous theology) vis a vis the burning desire to worship God correctly.

In Islam, allow me, three things a Moslem must uphold to have a right to enter paradise even he has sins as big as the heaven and earth:

1. Believe in God;
2. Belief in the Messengerhood of Muhammad;
3. Does not ascribe divinity to other than God.

The three are, in Islam, the 'a must basic theology' for a correct worship of God.

Missing one of the three, a person may claimed himself a Moslem for worldly possessions, but in the Hereafter he is a lost sheep and Hell is his permanent abode.

Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. said the Jews and the Christians each will be divided into 72 sects and the Moslems 73 sects, all of whom shall enter Hell (all because of erroneous theologies) except one .....

[I would be very much pleased if you could reason out objectively to me - theory and fact - that incarnation is 'a must' for God and that it is 'possible' for God to incarnate itself. I asked for your 'reason' because your scriptures are not written in their original language, not an imediate dictation from the lips of Christ that I can rely upon. Your reason, pure and simple. You may e-mail it to me.]

Thank you.

AlHaj ibn Ibrahim Asy-Sarawaky.

ALHAJ said...

Dera Ryan Jones,

Your illustration in commenting Jake make me feel uneasy. It is not I am defending Jake, no!

You say, 'Worship is an action, and therefore cannot be either true or false. Strictly speaking you cannot ride a bike or run a mile falsely. Either you ride a bike or you don't; either you run a mile or you don't.

Ryan, whether you worship God or whether you worship idol ( and the idol is there infront of you literally) as long as it is an action done out of one 's own freewill it is not false worship. Unless you give values to the act of worship according to religious valuation that contradict such worship, then the worship is false. To an idolator worshipping idol is not false worship as good as any other worshipping done by other religious groups.

Once a Head Buddhist Association in Indonesia got angered by a Moslem defining or categorising God as such and such. He said is that God you busy yourself defining in your mind the real God 'there'? Why bother defining God you might got Him wrong, He is there, just worship Him!

One tries to define and another just don't bother, just worship he commanded! Where do you stand here Ryan, like a defining Moslem or like a Buddhist or nowhere?

Afterall, God has manifested Himself in Christ, why are Christians still worried? They have been far ahead of the Moslem, they have seen God! Are you still uncertain, unsure of your belief in Christ?

There is a difference, however, on riding a bike which you are sure of is a bike, and a mile which you run which you are sure of is a mile and an idol you bow which you are sure of is an idol. The bike you ride you can prove is a bike, the mile you run you can prove is a mile and the idol you bow you can prove is an idol. But how do you prove the God you charaterise in you mind and your soul is none the less is the real God 'there' you focus in your prayer? Hence your worship is correct!

Either you ride or you don't ride at all, there cannot be false riding, you say. Either you worship or you don't worship at all, there cannot be false worship except idolatory.

But how can you prove that the Father in heaven is the Son on earth like you prove either you ride the bike or you don't ride at all. Anybody of a sensible mind will not find the difficulty in agreeing with you that there cannot be false riding. But the Father in heaven is it the Son on earth? Nobody has seen the Father as one has seen the bike.

'Incarnation' is a term by itself already is not truth per se.

So you and me are no more difference from the eyes of the Indonesian Buddhist.

Prophet Muhammad said ponder on the creation of God but don't delve into the essence of God for that you are destructed.

Thank you.

AlHaj ibn Ibrahim Asy Sarawaky