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Posted By: Carson Daniel My Muslim student put me to shame - 11/28/06 04:56 PM
Friends,

I teach Comparative Religions in a Sociology Department at a secular Community College. An Evangelical Christian asked if the God Allah is the same God worshipped by Christians. I tried to go around the question by giving the usual, at least since VCII, politically correct answer. "Allah is the Arabic name for God." "All three Monotheistic religions trace their beliefs back to Abraham." You know, the usual crap we must give in order to keep our jobs. In frustration a young female Muslim piped up and said "No, we don't worship the same God. We don't believe that the true God has a Son and so we don't worship Jesus Christ." I then recovered my integrity somewhat by admitting that I had given the politically correct answer but she had given the truth. I'll never make that compromise again. I rejoice in God my Savior who is Jesus Christ. I will never be ashamed again to admit it.

Not bad for an old goat like me eh? We can all learn.

Unless we all lose our fear of man we will not find God.

Do you think that there is still hope for me?

CDL
Posted By: Lawrence Re: My Muslim student put me to shame - 11/28/06 05:50 PM

Great post Dan ! And while we're fessing up, I'll add that my conscience does not allow me to believe in Nostra Aetate in any way. If that makes me a Cafateria Catholic in some peoples estimation, that's fine as I'm sure I've been called worse.
Posted By: Myles Re: My Muslim student put me to shame - 11/28/06 06:43 PM
Actually I disagree with the young Muslim woman. If she does not worship the same God as I then one of three things is true: 1) she's an athiest, 2) she's a polytheist or 3) she's an anti-realist.

Quote
For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly percieved in the things that have been made.
--Romans 1:19-20

Be you Arisotle or Avicenna if you manage to make your way to the knowledge of one God, then you believe in my God and no other. Objectively, no matter how you've come to the knowledge of His existence, if you believe in the One God then it is He who is of whom you speak.

If your student denies this fact then she must be an athiest because if she does not worship He who is then who is she worshipping? There are no 'gods' besides the One God of the Bible. So if she doesn't worship Him then either a) she's an athiest b) she believes there are two different gods or c) she doesn't really believe in an objective reality called 'God': God is just a construct based upon commonly shared ideas be they Muslim or Christian.

A line needs to be drawn between objectivity and subjectivity. Objectively if you speak of God then you speak of the same God. Subjectively however people may percieve, opine etc. various different ideas about the One true God.

It is not politically correct to say we worship the same God. It is politically correct to say that Muslims or anyone else properly worships/understands the One true God. Whilst the Muslims may indeed recognise that there is one God, they fail to accept the truth about Him and in this they are in error. Objectively there is one God but in their subjectivity the Muslims profess various things about Him that are simply wrong.

What your Muslim student may believe about the One God is irrelevant. The fact that she uses the One God as a point of reference illustrates behind her subjective opinions is an objective point of reference and the objective nature of this argument is one of the most important things to defend in this day and age. If she denies that when Christians and Muslims speak about God they're talking about the same objective reality then she's fallen into the postmodernist trap, concsiously or unconcsiously. For to deny that theists are objectively arguing about a concrete existent is precisely what postmodernism wants to do.

For instance, if I say, President Clinton was powerful and someone else says President Clinton was weak that doesn't mean we're not talking about the same President Clinton. In fact for the debate to have any meaning at all behind it we must be talking about the same President Clinton. To deny the other person is speaking about the same President Clinton means either 1) he doesnt believe in the existence of President Clinton; 2) that there were two President Clintons or 3) that there is no objective reality to which 'President Clinton' refers to and President Clinton is just a construct of our communities making it just as valid to say anything you like about 'President Clinton'.

Bottom line regardless about what you thought of his presidency there was a President Clinton. Likewise, regardless of whether you mistakenly deny the truth of God's triune nature (amongst other things), when you speak of the One God you're speaking of the same God any other theist is.
Posted By: Carson Daniel Re: My Muslim student put me to shame - 11/28/06 06:57 PM
I believe that Islam is both polytheistic and heretical, but those are not things that I've been willing to say in class. Sometimes I've had speakers come in who have said as much, but I haven't.

I suspect that many nominal Muslims and Christians for that matter are not realists but nominalists. In order to get along most will say almost anything.

CDL
Posted By: Myles Re: My Muslim student put me to shame - 11/28/06 07:21 PM
Obviously having posted around here much in the past I'm more than aware that you can see the incorrect aspects of Islam quite clearly Dan. I wasn't 'having a go'. What I was trying to do was draw attention to the philosophical inconsistencies in the girl's response and why thus she has not put you to shame. Her answer lacks the real philosophical rigour to stop an anti-realist coming in and turning her sentence into a lovely little language game to show the lack of objectivity in religious beliefs outside of sentiment.
Posted By: Apotheoun Re: My Muslim student put me to shame - 11/28/06 07:33 PM
The "god" of Islam is not the true God of biblical revelation, nor is the "god" of Islam the true God who became man in Christ Jesus; moreover, to profess faith in the "god" of Islam is to openly deny the doctrine of the incarnation of the eternal Logos, and the dogma of the Holy Trinity. Finally, it must be remembered that "true worship" (orthodoxy) can only be given to the Father, through the Son, and in the power of the Holy Spirit; and so, to equivocate on this truth of faith by saying that a Muslim "worships" the true God while he simultaneously denies the dogmas of the Trinity and the incarnation is to be unfaithful to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

God bless,
Todd
Posted By: Myles Re: My Muslim student put me to shame - 11/28/06 07:44 PM
This is a response to me. As a reprimand? Wherefore? Are you taking issue with something I have said? I dont understand.
Posted By: Annie_SFO Re: My Muslim student put me to shame - 11/28/06 07:49 PM
I recall we had a similar discussion on the boards last year that went round and round. When I was studying moral theology at what I would term a nominally crazy Catholic university (Georgetown), I remember we had a fascinating discussion about the same topic, but it also went round and round and round and all seemed to hang on how we defined "sameness."

I think how we define "same" and on what level is how we always get into trouble. Are we talking about "sameness" in the sense of the Almighty Himself, as He exists, or are we talking about "sameness" with regard to how we humans of different faiths are capable of describing Him to each other? To me, "same" conjures up more of a sense of humans describing what they understand to be "identical" about a God we cannot fully understand in our limited human capacity and, as such, I would tend to agree with the young Muslim lady in your class.

But are the truly faithful in our religions seeking the same Father? I think we probably are.
Posted By: Apotheoun Re: My Muslim student put me to shame - 11/28/06 07:52 PM
Myles,

Did I quote any of your posts in my post? Did I address my post to you? No, I did not do either of those things. Thus, my post is simply a statement of my own theological position, or to put it another way, it is an expression of my refusal to offer a pinch of incense on the altar of modern theological indifferentism.

May God bless you,
Todd
Posted By: Myles Re: My Muslim student put me to shame - 11/28/06 08:04 PM
I thought as much but its hard to figure out when the post says reply to Myles. I apologise for misinterpreting. It would be helpful if there was a way of not having those troublesome little references admin. Can you remove them before you post? Like say just post without it saying 'in response to'?? Or is that just part of the software?
Posted By: Apotheoun Re: My Muslim student put me to shame - 11/28/06 08:10 PM
I believe it is the software. I use the quick reply box because it is faster, and it calls my post a "reply" to the last post in the thread, whether it is or not.
Posted By: Apotheoun Re: My Muslim student put me to shame - 11/28/06 08:19 PM
The point of my original post was to emphasize the fact that Muslims believe in a false "god," a "god" based upon Quranic "revelation," which explicitly denies the divinity of Christ and the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. Moreover, true worship requires "right praise" (i.e., orthodoxa), and since a Muslim does not worship the Father, through the Son, in the power of the Holy Spirit, he does not truly worship God.
Posted By: Wondering Re: My Muslim student put me to shame - 11/28/06 09:02 PM
If you were my teacher in a public university, I would hope your answer would be one which presented the various viewpoints accurately and allowed me to draw my own conclusions.

You could answer that it depends on who is responding to the question, which would be an appropriate answer for a comparative religions class anyway. There are five possible answers I can think of depending on the respondent's viewpoint.

1) Christians and Muslims do not worship the same God. Christians are polytheists who worship three gods. All three being intertwined and dependent on the others means none of them can be the same God Muslims worship.

2) Christians and Muslims do not worship the same God. Christians worship a triune God which cannot be separated in essence, revealed to them through the prophets and the incarnation. Muslims worship a god revealed to them through a different prophet, and reject the Christian God.

3) Christians and Muslims do worship the same God. Muslims do not worship God in his fullness, not having faith in the Son and Holy Spirit, but that which they do worship, limited though it is, is of the same God.

4) Christians and Muslims do worship the same God. Christians add on all sorts of beliefs about God which are not accurate, but that which they share with the Muslim faith is of the same God.

5) All belief in God or gods is relative and all people who are religious are worshipping or revering or honoring that which is good in the world, which means they are all worshiping the same thing no matter how they go about doing so.

This type of response gives the students the fullness of knowledge and allows them to formulate arguments among themselves about which viewpoint best describes their own opinions, without putting you in a position of being PC or shamed. It avoids you being in the middle of the debate but allows the debate to occur. It seems like a much wiser course of action.

Now if you were in a Catholic school, I would sincerely hope that you would state the Catholic stance unequivocally (which, I believe most recently, has been officially been promulgated as viewpoint 3.) If you disagreed, you could again use this method to discuss historical and current positions of the church without giving your opinion.
Posted By: Carson Daniel Re: My Muslim student put me to shame - 11/28/06 09:50 PM
Wondering,

The only problem with your solution is that I'm not a secularist. I can offer all of these as a secularist but not as a Christian. Why? Because truth holds no weight for a secularist. It is everything for a Christian. I do in fact offer all of these so-called solutions but I put them within a framework of understanding all of three major worldviews that exist in the world. I let them know that these various options are all secularist options which carry us not toward truth but toward a slightly better understanding of why people believe as they do.

I also tell them that all reforms begin as heresies from the perspective of the religion(s) they tried to reform but that most reform movements eventually wind up as separate religions.

I could pretend that some of the options carry as much weight as all the others but what I would be saying if I did is that the secular view is correct. Religion is just a bunch of hooey.

Since I do teach in a Catholic University, as well as the secular one I referenced, I teach #3. If I did not believe it I would not teach the other options, expcept as errors and I would show why they are errors. If I did not believe #3 I would not be so dishonest as to teach at a Catholic University in the first place.

CDL
Posted By: Wondering Re: My Muslim student put me to shame - 11/28/06 10:18 PM
Originally Posted by carson daniel lauffer
Wondering,

The only problem with your solution is that I'm not a secularist. I can offer all of these as a secularist but not as a Christian. Why? Because truth holds no weight for a secularist. It is everything for a Christian. I do in fact offer all of these so-called solutions but I put them within a framework of understanding all of three major worldviews that exist in the world. I let them know that these various options are all secularist options which carry us not toward truth but toward a slightly better understanding of why people believe as they do.
Carson,

You are teaching in a secular college through their sociology department, whose goal is understanding diverse populations' thoughts and beliefs. I don't see the problem with presenting them with the goals of the class by offering them the fullness of possible answers. It does not make all the answers equal and allows the women and men present to see how their viewpoint is viewed and to strengthen their own arguments. This is not equivalent to stating that all opinions are equal (as I know several sociology profs would say), nor is it the same as stating the non-Christian opinion as the positive approach and either knocking, or leaving out entirely, the Christian response (as other Soc profs I know would). That there is an objective truth and different opinions and viewpoints is not against the Catholic faith to teach, nor is it "secularist" to do so.
Posted By: Michael_Thoma Re: My Muslim student put me to shame - 11/29/06 05:37 AM
I would like to see how Islam is explained as polytheistic, don't both Muslims and Jews claim (not that I can or should validate those claims...) monotheistic belief? In the same way, we as Christians believe in Trinitarian Monotheism, Jews and Muslims call us polytheists no matter what we say we believe...

As for heretical, how can that be? It is certain the Ebionites were heretics, but Islam has evolved from its early stages, and the few early Christian-turned-Muslims-heretics have long died.

Another subject I was wondering... there are a handful of preachers who claim they can find Christian references in Qur'anic verses and that the non-Christian interpretations are interpolated by those (Muslim Imams/leaders) who disagreed with Christianity - is this true?
Posted By: Apotheoun Re: My Muslim student put me to shame - 11/29/06 08:38 AM
Michael Thoma,

If my memory serves me, I believe that Harry Wolfson -- in his book "The Philosophy of Kalam" -- shows that Muslim theologians in the middle ages took the Eastern Orthodox doctrine of "energies" (attributes) to an extreme, holding not only that the attributes of Allah are distinct from his essence, but that each attribute is an independent subsistence. In other words, each of Allah's attributes is a distinct divine being.

God bless,
Todd
The Mohammedans repeatedly accuse us of polytheism - this has had at least one liturgical backlash: most Christians in the Arab world, when making the Sign of the Cross, add two words, so that it reads: "In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, one God Amen.

Although it is possible to argue that the god whom the Mohammedans profess to worship is indeed the One God of the Bible, I'm not inclined to agree - because the attributes of the Mohammedan deity are not the same as the attributes of the One God. Moreover, while Christians have never repudiated the Old Testament, but rather make extensive use of the Old Testament in worship, prayer and teaching, Mohammedans make no use whatever of the Old Testament and/or the New Testament, cleaving exclusively to the Qu'uran.

Father Serge
Posted By: ebed melech Re: My Muslim student put me to shame - 11/29/06 12:56 PM
I am of the opinion that insofar as the Muslims believe in the one God who created heaven and earth, we worship the same God. Insofar as they deny belief in the one God of (Abrhaham) Isaac and Jacob Who is Triune and has sent His only Son to redeem the world, we do not worship the same God.

It reminds me a bit of Paul and Barnabas's mission to Athens, when they saw there the temple dedicated "To the Unknown God".

Paul then speaks to the philosophers at the Areopagus:

Quote
You people worship many gods. But you have this one unknown god, and he is more than you think he is. He is the God of gods, the one who governs all the other gods.

Gordo
Posted By: Carson Daniel Re: My Muslim student put me to shame - 11/29/06 01:34 PM
Originally Posted by Michael_Thoma
I would like to see how Islam is explained as polytheistic, don't both Muslims and Jews claim (not that I can or should validate those claims...) monotheistic belief? In the same way, we as Christians believe in Trinitarian Monotheism, Jews and Muslims call us polytheists no matter what we say we believe...

As for heretical, how can that be? It is certain the Ebionites were heretics, but Islam has evolved from its early stages, and the few early Christian-turned-Muslims-heretics have long died.

Another subject I was wondering... there are a handful of preachers who claim they can find Christian references in Qur'anic verses and that the non-Christian interpretations are interpolated by those (Muslim Imams/leaders) who disagreed with Christianity - is this true?

Michael,

The Qur'an is in major part a reinterpretation of the Hebrew and Greek scriptures i.e. of the Old and New Testaments. Muslims (Mohammadens smile have always asserted that these testaments were on the right track but had through translation and misunderstandings had collected many errors. God corrected those through His final prophet through the completed revelation of the Qur'an.

It can be said that there was a Moon God named "Allah" who really was the pattern for early worship among the Muslims. Hence one might interpret Islam as Polytheistic or at least as worshipping a different God than do the Christians and the Jews. Many serious people point to this but I have not studied their arguments enough to know what to make of them.

CDL

Posted By: Carson Daniel Re: My Muslim student put me to shame - 11/29/06 02:34 PM
This is one of those questions that will drive us toward deeper understandings and is far too important to leave to mere "thinking". Prayer, meditation, fasting seem necessary for this because it has everthing to do with our destiny.

In any event, I will be with that class today and will admonish the students to take this question very seriously. If our student is correct then it behooves us to choose whom we will serve. Will we serve the god of consumption, of self satisfaction, of Islam, or Christianity.

CDL
Posted By: Apotheoun Re: My Muslim student put me to shame - 11/29/06 04:01 PM
Originally Posted by ebed melech
I am of the opinion that insofar as the Muslims believe in the one God who created heaven and earth, we worship the same God.

[. . .]
The "god" of Islam creates both good and evil, and both righteous and sinful acts; moreover, he creates some men for heaven, and others -- by a positive act of will -- he creates for damnation, and there is no will but the will of Allah; and so, I confess as a truth of Christian faith that the "god" of Islam is not the true God of Christian revelation.

Finally, as a Christian -- who holds the Orthodox faith -- I confess that Mohammad is not a prophet, that the Quran is not a true revelation, and that Islam is a false religion.

God bless,
Todd
Posted By: domilsean Re: My Muslim student put me to shame - 11/29/06 04:35 PM
The Muslims are descended from Ishmael, and therefore wouldn't necessarily care about the Scriptures from the line of Isaac, I would assume.

They like to say it's the same God, but I think the Muslim Allah doesn't allow so much in the way of free will and free thought.
your student was right, Danny boy!would that there be more honest people like that young woman. alas, her honesty will not save her, Jesus Christ will, but with what she said, she is not far from the Kingdom of God. pray for her.
Much Love,
Jonn
Posted By: Carson Daniel Re: My Muslim student put me to shame - 11/29/06 07:56 PM
Originally Posted by JonnNightwatcher
your student was right, Danny boy!would that there be more honest people like that young woman. alas, her honesty will not save her, Jesus Christ will, but with what she said, she is not far from the Kingdom of God. pray for her.
Much Love,
Jonn

Good point John. I do indeed pray for her.

CDL
Posted By: ebed melech Re: My Muslim student put me to shame - 11/29/06 08:06 PM
Todd,

I do not disagree with your negative critique of Islamic views, nor do I ascribe some type of doctrinal equivalency between Christian Orthodoxy and Islam. By saying "insofar as..." that does not mean that I would describe as orthodox every point of Muslim doctrine regarding the one God. But there are points of agreement, and I think that that needs to be acknowledged, as much as the points of disagreement - and what we would regard as error.

And I think my distinction still stands.

God bless,

Gordon
Posted By: Administrator Re: My Muslim student put me to shame - 11/29/06 09:48 PM
I think it is quite necessary to differentiate between the God that Muslims worship and their understanding of that same God.

Todd is correct that Mohammad is not a prophet; that the Quran is not a true revelation; and that Islam is a false religion. This does not speak to the God that they believe in but rather to their faulty understanding of the God that they believe in.

In 1 Corinthians 13 Paul spoke: We see now through a glass in a dark manner; but then face to face. Now I know in part; but then I shall know even as I am known.(DR)

If we Christians see now only �through a glass in a dark manner� we can say that Muslims are just aware of the existence of someone behind the glass, cannot see through it even in a dark manner and, therefore, have made a lot of wrong conclusions about God. That does not mean that they worship a different God.

We must take advantage of the fact that they know that the Lord is behind that glass and, with the Light of Christ, show them the true splendor of the Trinity.
Posted By: rcguest Re: My Muslim student put me to shame - 11/29/06 10:24 PM
Originally Posted by Administrator
I think it is quite necessary to differentiate between the God that Muslims worship and their understanding of that same God.

Todd is correct that Mohammad is not a prophet; that the Quran is not a true revelation; and that Islam is a false religion. This does not speak to the God that they believe in but rather to their faulty understanding of the God that they believe in.

In 1 Corinthians 13 Paul spoke: We see now through a glass in a dark manner; but then face to face. Now I know in part; but then I shall know even as I am known.(DR)

If we Christians see now only �through a glass in a dark manner� we can say that Muslims are just aware of the existence of someone behind the glass, cannot see through it even in a dark manner and, therefore, have made a lot of wrong conclusions about God. That does not mean that they worship a different God.

We must take advantage of the fact that they know that the Lord is behind that glass and, with the Light of Christ, show them the true splendor of the Trinity.

Dear John (Mr. Administrator),

Excellent!...as they say in the Guinness commercials.

Bill
Posted By: rcguest Re: My Muslim student put me to shame - 11/29/06 11:35 PM
To All,

Forgive me if I stray off topic here and add my uneducated two cents, but I'd like to convey these thoughts.

The Catholic Church, and in particular our late Holy Father John Paul II, did not embrace the ecumenical movement and move it beyond Christianity to dilute the faith, but rather to build it up. Without dialoging with non-Christians, how else can we show them Christ?

I try to follow the example of St. Francis of Assisi and Mother Teresa of Calcutta...and John Paul II. In the words of Saint Francis; "Preach the Gospel always, and if necessary, use words."

I do not fear that a Muslim or a Jew may gain heaven, but that I as a Christian may not.

In Christ,
Bill
Posted By: Michael_Thoma Re: My Muslim student put me to shame - 11/30/06 03:47 AM
Dear Todd,

Would you also say that protestants who believe in double predestination are also believing in another god?
Originally Posted by Apotheoun
Originally Posted by ebed melech
I am of the opinion that insofar as the Muslims believe in the one God who created heaven and earth, we worship the same God.

[. . .]
The "god" of Islam creates both good and evil, and both righteous and sinful acts; moreover, he creates some men for heaven, and others -- by a positive act of will -- he creates for damnation, and there is no will but the will of Allah; and so, I confess as a truth of Christian faith that the "god" of Islam is not the true God of Christian revelation.

Finally, as a Christian -- who holds the Orthodox faith -- I confess that Mohammad is not a prophet, that the Quran is not a true revelation, and that Islam is a false religion.

God bless,
Todd
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