Wednesday, February 27, 2008

One God

Recently, Dom (of villageidiotsavant ) recommended that I check out a blog called christian cognition.The writer, Mike Lee, is a police officer living in Jackson, MI (birthplace of the Republican party).

Currently, Mike is having a "weekly challenge" with another blogger (Alex).

I want to comment on something Mike wrote in his answer to their question of the week. "President Bush also said Christians and Muslims worship the same God (you know my position on that one)"

I felt it was more appropriate to put my comment here rather than in the comment section of his blog; I intend to have a rather lengthy comment and I don't want to monopolize Mike's space.

First of all, I've only recently begun reading his blog, so, I don't know his position viz a viz Bush's statement on Christians and Muslims worshiping the same God. I'm assuming, from the tone, that he doesn't agree with Bush on that.

Not a few Christians are uncomfortable with the idea that Muslims might worship the same God we do.We worship God, not Allah, they'll say. We believe in the Trinity....Father, Son and Holy Spirit...and the Muslims don't. How can anyone believe our God and theirs is one and the same?

But, look in the Quran, and you'll find stories of Adam, Moses, Jesus and even the Virgin Mary.
Our understanding of the God we worship in Christianity comes from the Jewish tradition in what we call "the Old Testament". Our God is the God of Abraham.

Muslims, like Jews and Christians, also worship the God of Abraham, although the traditions in each religion differ in many details. In Judaism and Christianity, it was Issac who God asked Abraham to sacrifice;  in Islam, it is believed that the son Abraham was to sacrifice was Ishmael- who they also believe to be an ancestor of Muhammad.

Many Christians will argue that Muslims do not believe in the Triune God, therefore, Allah is a different deity. Jews do not accept the Trinity either, yet, no one will deny that we worship the same God as the Jews.

I don't want to gloss over the disagreements. Christianity and Islam are different. Our world views are light years apart....so far apart that it would be impossible for both religions to be right. But, there's no denying that both religions have a common root.
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17 comments:

Mike said...

Marianne Williamson, a staunch proponent of the New Age "A Course in Miracles" mentions "Jesus" also. Her idea is that "Jesus" is the ultimate level of our personal achievement. So, does that mean we worship the same Jesus?

Mike said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mike said...

By the way, thanks for visiting and weighing in!

FYI, your first sentence has my name as "Bill Lee"...you corrected it later to Mike. Just FYI :)

RTS said...

Hi Mike,
Thanks for pointing out my typo.I've edited the post to show your name correctly.
I'm not familiar with Marianne Williamson...I can't comment on her until I've read a bit about her. But, at first blush,being Catholic, I believe that Protestants are in very serious error concerning Christ's teachings. Does that mean they don't believe in the same Jesus?

Mike said...

RTS, The point is not whether or not we agree on various teachings that are not essential to salvation, such as whether or not salvation can be lost, whether or not tongues-speaking is for today, whether or not there will be a rapture, etc.

The point is this: IF the God of Islam and the God of Christianity are one in the same God, then that God is a delusional, confused god and is not worthy of our worship, praise, or adoration. Here's why.

Suppose God initially sent one messenger (Christ) to save mankind, and that messenger (Christ) said He completed everything necessary for salvation, and that He was the sole means of access to the God who sent Him, and that He would be crucified, buried, and resurrected from the dead, etc.

Now suppose that EXACT SAME GOD who sent Jesus sent yet another messenger (Muhammad), and that messenger's (Muhammad) purpose was to COMPLETE what Jesus did not/could not complete, said that Jesus was not crucified, and taught that mankind is not sinful and does not need a savior, etc.

IF that very same God sent two messengers with two distinctly opposing messages, then that very same God would be nothing less than a deluded, confused God! Both messengers cannot possibly be sent from (although both can CLAIM they were sent from) the very same God. It is simply not logically possible if God is what/who we know Him to be.

If God is perfect, however, then it should be presumed He would get it right THE FIRST TIME.

According to your flawed theology, however, God made a gigantic mistake. GOD SPEAKING: "Oops! My first attempt in Jesus failed, so I better send Muhammad to complete My initial plan. And oops! I'm going to change My message all-of-a-sudden because I was confused...I thought man was sinful and needed a savior. I guess not, I was mistaken. My bad."

How ridiculously absurd!

RTS said...

You miss the point entirely.God did not send Muhammad as a messenger. The Quran isn't God's word, although, the Muslims mistakenly think it is;
just as the Protestants are mistaken in their views about God.
Protestants believe in the same God we do but they have distorted Christ's teachings.There are hundreds of Protestant denominations that hold contrary views but believe themselves to be right.
"IF that very same God sent two messengers with two distinctly opposing messages, then that very same God would be nothing less than a deluded, confused God!"
Those are your words,not mine.
"If God is perfect, however, then it should be presumed He would get it right THE FIRST TIME."
He did get it right the first time....with the Catholic Church.

Mike said...

1) But, you see, if Christians and Muslims worship the same God, and if Muhammad was also a messenger of God's (which he claimed to be), then it would follow (by that same line of reasoning) that Christ and Muhammad were sent by the SAME God. And if that SAME God sent two confused "prophets", then He must be confused Himself.

2) The Protestant (although I prefer to call us Reformers) vs. Catholic debate is an altogether different issue. Reformers may disagree on some minor points of theology and/or practice, but not the core issues, like salvation through Christ alone, the authority of Scripture, the sinlessness of Christ, Christ's death, burial, and resurrection, etc. But please stay on point with the topic of our debate: whether or not it is LOGICALLY and SCRIPTURALLY possible for two messengers with conflicting truth claims to be sent from the SAME god. It must be thought throuh much more carefully.

PS, I stand by my point that a god who would send two opposing messengers would himself be a deluded, confused god not worthy of our worship.

1stanbul said...

"If God is perfect, however, then it should be presumed He would get it right THE FIRST TIME."

As I remember, there is a rather large portion of the Bible devoted to the prophets before Christ. Before that there were Judges (and only because God said the Israelites could have no king, which he continued to hold true for another couple of generations before he changed his mind).

God almost NEVER got it right the first time. I'm directing this particularly to RTS because he stuck most strongly in his conviction. It is because God admitted his mistakes that you can have porkchops and clams. It's because he realized that he screwed up before that you have Noah and the Ark. It's the reason you have the Ten Commandments. The reason you have Christ at all.

That being said, would it not be possible that he sent another prophet after Christ?

Also, for Mike, I have the words of Epicurus.

"Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?"

Contradictions are the first sign of fallacy.

RTS said...

To Mike,
"and if Muhammad was also a messenger of God's"
I am not saying that Muhammad was God's messenger....I don't know many times I have to say that.
He believed that he was... but he was wrong. That doesn't change the fact that it is the same God.
Calvin, Luther, Knox all believed they were "God's messenger"of sorts but they were mistaken as well. Protestants and Muslims worship the same God as Catholics but both of those two groups have mistaken ideas about the God we worship.
I see no difference between Muslims and Protestants. Both are heretical in what they follow.
Your wanting to call Protestants "Reformers" is telling.
"Reformers may disagree on some minor points of theology and/or practice,"
The differances between Catholics and Protestants are not "minor points of theology and/or practice" The differances are as major as the differances between Christian and Muslim.
"PS, I stand by my point that a god who would send two opposing messengers would himself be a deluded, confused god not worthy of our worship."
"But please stay on point with the topic of our debate: whether or not it is LOGICALLY and SCRIPTURALLY possible for two messengers with conflicting truth claims to be sent from the SAME god."
I agree.....exactly my point viz a viz the herectical Protestants.As I said,I see no difference between Muslims and Protestants. I see both as worshiping the same God as I though both are misguided.

RTS said...

Hi Alex,
One problem that many atheists ( and fundamentalist Christians ) have regarding the Bible is the desire to take everything in it at face value.
The Bible was written by men who were inspired by God. Often, they wrote things as they viewed them through their particular cultural paradigm.
I've often felt as if the Jewish prohibition of pork was more due to a fear of trichinosis than it was a command from God.
As for Noah.........more mythological than factual.
It's not a case of God not getting it right the first time, but rather man's misinterpretation.

1stanbul said...

"One problem that many atheists ( and fundamentalist Christians ) have regarding the Bible is the desire to take everything in it at face value."

Mike knows this already, at least I hope. I was a Christian. I belonged to the Disciples of Christ (just like Reagan) and I was on track to enter the ministry. I know my Bible, I've read it cover to cover twice. I've gone through the Qu'ran. I've spent years of my life studying economics, philosophy and science. From this study I've come to the conclusion that it's frankly quite stupid to pick and choose what parts of your religion are valid.

Yes, Ecclesiastes sits right next to Proverbs. I understand that it was written by men (much more than Christians do) and for specific reasons at that (the medical reasons to avoid menstruating women, pork products, lepers etc). I do not accept that you can claim a book to be holy and deny parts of it, though. If your text is imperfect, how do you know what to believe?

The first answer would be to cynically study the context it was written in. I find it unfortunate that believers devalue their own miracles like the crossing of the Reed Sea. An error in translation cost the crowning miracle of the exodus! The same scrutiny can show how La Semana Sancta is masquerading as series of miracles, too. Eventually, learning the context removes all the magic. The best way to make atheists is to make people read, study and understand the Bible and its history. The road to cherrypicking your scriptures will only lead to having your faith torn to pieces upon closer inspection.

Your other option is to disregard that the book has imperfections. It's entirely holy, that's why it's called the Holy Bible. You can now see the problem. It's either all or nothing.

Which is why I argue against the fundamental view. It causes people to read further into their faith. After that, education does the work for me.

1stanbul said...

rts, I don't speak for Mike or for anybody else but myself, but I just read your latest response to him on this post.

I know that I stand for free inquiry and open discussion. My life is devoted to learning and education. I am before all things an academic.

I also know that I don't stand for insulting somebody's beliefs. I have never called Mike a sheep for having faith and he's never called me a heretic for lacking it. I realize that religion is a sensative topic with your whole worldview at stake. I also realize that having something as personal as faith insulted is one of the greatest insults to a self any person can have.

For that reason, I request for him that you 1) provide evidence for your claims of heresy before you make them and 2) cease making such hurtful claims. Yes, I realize they're your belief and you're being honest but it would be hurtful to me, and I'm afraid it might be hurtful to Mike, to insult his faith so much as to call him a condemned sinner in the eyes of his god.

In the eyes of your loving, forgiving, gracious God whose son was thoroughly ecumenical.

RTS said...

To Alex,
"From this study I've come to the conclusion that it's frankly quite stupid to pick and choose what parts of your religion are valid."
I do not pick and choose which parts are valid.I believe the Catholic church is Christ's true church and I accept it as valid.
"If your text is imperfect, how do you know what to believe?
The first answer would be to cynically study the context it was written in."
I don't see how having a contextual view of the Bible can be called cynical.You'll have to elaborate.

"The best way to make atheists is to make people read, study and understand the Bible and its history. The road to cherrypicking your scriptures will only lead to having your faith torn to pieces upon closer inspection."
Subjective opinion, not backed up by facts.

"It causes people to read further into their faith. After that, education does the work for me."
This really an arrogant statement. You haven't discovered some deep truth or enlightenment by embracing atheism.

"1) provide evidence for your claims of heresy before you make them"
The Catholic Church has always maintained that Protestants are heretics....this is not something new.
As an academic you should already be aware of that.
"2) cease making such hurtful claims. Yes, I realize they're your belief and you're being honest but it would be hurtful to me, and I'm afraid it might be hurtful to Mike, to insult his faith so much as to call him a condemned sinner in the eyes of his god."
I cannot go against my deeply held believe ( as taught by my religion ) that Protestants are in grave error. I will not modify my beliefs to prevent hurt feelings.

1stanbul said...

This is my final post having to do with you until you learn to behave like someone who is willing to discuss to learn.

First off, I do know the Catholic Church's opinion on Protestantism. I've become even more aware of it since the Pope released his referendum regarding Protestantism. What I wanted to know were your thoughts. I expected you to explain your position, not the churches. I also expected you to demonstrate an understanding of that position and be able do defend it. I was hoping that you would be different than a lot of Catholics I've spoken with who leave their thinking to the Holy See. I also don't appreciate you implying that I'm not at all knowledgeable about your faith. Which brings me to my next point.

I, sir, am living proof that research and study of the Bible can lead to loss of faith. The majority of atheists out there who refer to themselves as skeptics are also evidence of this.

Third, I apologize for my use of the word "cynicism" I did mean "skepticism" but had been listening to a radio program and the word came up. I typed what was in my head.

Fourth, the "arrogance" of my statement is no worse than yours. You believe that you have achieved a higher enlightenment than I, why am I no entitled to the same belief? I did myself the honor of coming to my own conclusion, as have many Protestants (I typically hold non-fundamentalist Protestants in higher regards than Catholics due to the tradition of inquiry that has been in the movement since Martin Luther). I ask that you demonstrate you have done the same.

Finally, your last sentence shows to me that you missed my entire purpose in writing another comment. I don't ask you to change your beliefs. I would not have called you a delusional moron before, I will not now, and I won't in the future. Calling anybody a sinner that must repent isn't going to hasten their conversion, it's just going to anger them.

And frankly, you're good at it. You've thoroughly pissed me off. And although I'll never call you a name I will definitely think them pretty loudly.

RTS said...

"This is my final post having to do with you until you learn to behave like someone who is willing to discuss to learn."
Oh Master, I humbly beg your pardon. I wish to grovel at your lotus feet and learn your true wisdom.

"I, sir, am living proof that research and study of the Bible can lead to loss of faith. The majority of atheists out there who refer to themselves as skeptics are also evidence of this."
There is also a good deal of research on the stages of spiritual development:
1) Chaotic, Antisocial
2) Formal, Institutional, Fundamental.
3) Skeptic, Individual, questioner.
4) Mystic
You're in stage 3. Perhaps you may make the leap into the 4th stage one day.

"Third, I apologize for my use of the word "cynicism" I did mean "skepticism" but had been listening to a radio program and the word came up. I typed what was in my head."
Apology accepted.

"I did myself the honor of coming to my own conclusion, as have many Protestants (I typically hold non-fundamentalist Protestants in higher regards than Catholics due to the tradition of inquiry that has been in the movement since Martin Luther). I ask that you demonstrate you have done the same."
Obviously, there is no way for you to know the spiritual path I took.
I went through a period when I did not believe in Christ.
I've studied Buddhism, Islam and Hinduism. I've read at least five different translations of the Bhagavad Gita.I've practiced Yoga and meditation.
I returned to the Catholic church after a series of "supernatural" events.It would be impossible to describe these events in this limited format.

"Calling anybody a sinner that must repent isn't going to hasten their conversion, it's just going to anger them."
If you look carefully at what I've written, I never called Mike a sinner. To be precise, I didn't actually call him a heretic either. I called Protestant churches heretical.Neither of you had a problem when I called Islam a heresy.

"And frankly, you're good at it. You've thoroughly pissed me off. And although I'll never call you a name I will definitely think them pretty loudly."
I am not afraid to piss off someone.Anyone with strong convictions will do that.
Feel free to call me any name you like.

Mike said...

Alex, thank you for the defense. Quite honestly, I'm not hurt. I've been called much worse by much worse people. I can handle it. Thanks, bro.

RTS, there is no problem with being exclusivistic in one's belief. I am, admittedly so, exclusivistic as well. There is also no problem with the message of Christ's gospel offending people. It inherently does it on its own. The problem, however, is when we Christians use our exclusivity to add offense to what is already offensive, rendering the message unpalatable to those who might otherwise give ear.

I wouldn't for a moment suggest backing down on exclusivity. I simply would recommend polishing the presentation. We are to be salt, not vinegar.

After all, if a million dollars gets wrapped in an ugly-wrapped package at the store and is placed on a shelf, nobody (if they don't know what it contains, anyway) will open it...let alone even give the package a second look.

Just some food for thought.

RTS said...

Hi Mike,
While it's certainly true that we could not live on a diet made up entirely of vinegar,there are some recipes that require it and will not allow substitutions.

When talking about the very wide differences between Catholics and Protestants, it might appear that we are being "exclusive" but there are good reasons for this division.
It would be difficult to go into all the differences, but I will describe one that is insurmountable.
Catholics believe that the Holy Communion...the Eucharist....is more than a symbol or metaphor.We believe that, during the Eucharistic service at Mass, Christ transforms the bread and wine into His actual Body and Blood.
Again, this is not a symbol of Christ but the real Christ. When we take Communion, we are doing as Jesus commanded...that we eat His flesh and drink His blood.
We also believe, that as the body of Christ, the Eucharistic host is God and deserving of our worship and adoration.
In the view of the Protestants, we are guilty of idol worship. They do not believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist and this difference alone will never allow us to be united.
We believe that this is Christ's teaching and therefore Protestants are guilty of heresy for not believing this as well.