Skip to comments.Christians, Muslims, and the "One God"
Posted on 03/26/2013 6:56:09 AM PDT by NYer
Last week, Pope Francis received a collection of world religious leaders in his first ecumenical and interreligious event. His address to them contained diplomatic niceties and specific expressions of good will aimed at Orthodox, Protestants, Jews, and Muslims.
His remarks to the latter recognized that Muslims worship the one living and merciful God, and call upon him in prayer. In this he echoed the 1964 dogmatic constitution Lumen Gentium, which gave a nod to the Mohammedans, who, professing to hold the faith of Abraham, along with us adore the one and merciful God, who on the last day will judge mankind.
Now, both Lumen Gentium 16 and Pope Franciss words have a pastoral rather than doctrinal purpose. Their aim is to build interreligious bridges by generously acknowledging whatever can be found to be true in other faithsnot to make precise pronouncements about their theology. That said, Lumen Gentium is an exercise of the ordinary Magisterium, and even casual statements from a pope (be it this one from Francis or similar ones made by his predecessors) shouldnt be taken lightly.
So, what does it mean to say that Muslims adore the one God along with usto say, as can be reasonably drawn from these statements, that Muslims worship the same God as Catholics? We can consider the idea in several senses.
I think we can say with confidence that any monotheist who calls out to the Lord is heard by the Lord, whether its a Muslim, a pagan philosopher seeking the God of reason, or a Native American petitioning the Great Spirit. As Lumen Gentium 16 continues, God is not far distant from those who in shadows and images seek [him].
Likewise I think were on solid ground in saying that the subjective intention of Muslims is to worship the one Godmoreover, the one God from the line of Abrahamic revelation. Whether or not their version of that revelation is authentic or correct, thats what they profess to hold to. Furthermore, some of the attributes of the God to whom they address their worship are comparable to the Christian Gods: He is one, merciful, omnipotent, and the judge of the world.
Just as clearly, though, we cannot say that the God in whom Muslims profess to believe is theologically identical to the Christian God. For the most obvious example, their God is a lonely God, as Chesterton put it, whereas ours is a Trinity of persons. Beyond that difference, in the divine economy our Gods are also quite different: most pointedly in that ours took human nature to himself and dwelt among us on earth, whereas the Muslim God remains pure transcendence. To Muslims the idea of an incarnation is blasphemy.
And so perhaps we can distinguish between worship of God and belief in him, the former being more about the intent of the worshiper and the latter being more about the object of belief himself. Thus could Gerhard Müller, bishop emeritus of Regensburg and since last year the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, assert in 2007 that Muslims and Christians do not believe in the same God, and yet not contradict any magisterial teaching.
Of course, Jews believe in an utterly transcendent and lonely God, too; the idea that Jesus was Gods son, Yahweh incarnate, was likewise blasphemous to the Jews of his day. Is their theology as deficient as Islams? Ought we to put them in the same category as Muslims: subjectively worshiping the one God but believing in him, as least partly, in error?
Well, at least one difference suggests itself. Muslims profess to hold to the faith of Abraham but really dont; their version of Abrahamic faith is false. (Of course, they believe that our version is the false one, a corruption of the Quran.) Jews, on the other hand, know and believe in their God according to his authentic self-revelationwhat they have received from him is true, just incomplete. To be fully true, Jewish theology just needs to be perfected by Christian revelation, whereas, although we can identify many truths in it, Islamic theology needs to be broken down, corrected, rebuilt from an authentic foundation.
Now, it can be a bad practice to judge ideas by their sources. But if, as Benedict XVI has said, faith is at root a personal encounter with God, then the authenticity of Gods personal revelation of himself is of the utmost importance. In other words, the source of God-knowledge becomes the very question. We worship and believe in God because and to the extent that we know him. And we know him, above all other reasons, according to how he revealed himself to us.
In this sense, then, I suggest that we can correctly say that Jews worship and believe in a God who is qualitatively truer, closer to the God of Christianity, than the God of Islam. Both Jews and Muslims lay claim to the same revelation, but where Jews have an accurate record of it (and thus of the God it reveals) Muslims have a fictionalized adaptation.
This question of the theological similarities and differences between Christianity and Islam is perhaps more important than it ever has been. With religious folk of all kinds increasingly beset by secularism and moral relativism, we look across creedal lines for friends and alliescomrades-in-arms in the fight for unborn life, traditional marriage and morality, religious rights, and a continued place for believers in the cultural conversation. It can be an encouragement and a temptation, then, to look at Islam and see not warriors of jihad against Arab Christians and a decadent West, but fellow-soldiers of an ecumenical jihad against an anti-theist culture.
Can Islam be that reliable ally? (Shameless product plug alert.) Thats the subject of the newest book from Catholic Answers Press: Not Peace but a Sword by Robert Spencer. The evidence he presents will help us understand Islams God more clearly, and make us examine more shrewdly the prospects for any future alliance with followers of the Prophet.
Todd Aglialoro is the acquisitions editor for Catholic Answers Press. He studied theology at Franciscan University, the University of Fribourg, and the International Theological Institute, and spent several years working in diocesan ministry before embarking on a career in Catholic publishing.
That may be the most ignorant thing anyone believes.
The islamic god is NOT God.
The difference between the Jewish and Christian God compared to that of Allah - is that the former rallies around death - where that of Christ is of life...when we believe LIFE is of the most importance, despite those that have used it for corruption, there is peace. Allah brings death and control - slavery and rape - and things that are dark to the forefront to despise and counter what Christ accomplished...it’s interesting that Islam came after Christ 700 yrs later and does not “improve” the situation, but only worsens it. That is evil at work - nothing more...
I have to question the “one God “ of the Muslims because of this worhsip of a moon as a god. It contradicts the idea of the Jewish/Christian idea of God.
Sorry, Pope... you're off base on this one.
I for one will NEVER call to that fake muslim moon-god "in prayer."
” Because of this worhsip of a moon as a god.”
Correction: “moon rock”
In the Latter Days there will be many false teachings. How will we know them? Two ways:
1) Any teaching (religion) that denies Jesus Christ or His sovereignty as the one true Risen Son of God is a false teaching (religion).
2) By their works shall we know them.
Looks like old "Allah" falls down flat on both counts.
Didn’t the Pope say that when anyone prays to God, the one only God, hears it? If so, how does it matter what form God takes in that person’s mind?
Muslims do NOT believe in the divinity of Jesus, therefore, they will burn in Hell.
Every other argument is irrelevant.
Indeed it seems you are correct. However, I will defer to some extent in the same way the author did to Chesterton. On this topic, I believe it would be appropriate to compare the practice of modern Islam to ancient Paganism; a desperate reaching by man to discover God that is, in some respects at least, successful. However, as in all such endeavors undertaken by men using vain or insane sources, they fall short of Truth.
And thus the conclusion may be drawn: Paganism ultimately violates the First Commandment in the worship of a man-made God, but is greater than humanism in its worship of man himself.
Right, but when a muslim prays to wage jihad, does he still pray to the same god? I think not. That was my point.
I don’t see why not. People have been praying to God to smite their enemies for a very long time. I imagine when they succeed, they certainly think so.
Just because he is praying for something that it is not permissible to pray for, does not mean that this is not Who he is praying to.
There is only one God, no matter what his name is.
However, the middle eastern death cult believes their god commands them to do something that is incompatible with a loving, merciful God.
The Pope means well, but will soon be disappointed in his dialogue with the death cult.
Islam is very reliable.
You can 100% rely on them to betray, to lie (Taqiyya), to never surrender (only allowed a temporary truce, a Hudna), to fight (jihad), to...
It matters because God is an objective reality outside the mind, and true apprehension is superior to subjective interpretation.
Man is not the measure of all things.
The basic declaration of faith is: “there is no god but God...and Muhammad is his prophet.” Is the god of Muhammad the God of Abraham? Is the god of Muhammad the “God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ”? I can’t go along with the Pope on this one.
How do you know God is an objective reality outside the mind? Is that what you believe, or do you have proof?