Pledge of Idolatry

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Well, here's a new idea. The pledge of allegiance is idolatry, according to Joe Carter of Evangelical Outpost, not because the flag itself is an idol (which may be a problem for someone people, however) but because the god mentioned in the pledge is not the God of Christianity. It's a function of civil religion in distinction from any particular religion such as Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, etc. I'm not quite sure what to think of this. John Coleman at Ex Nihilo has a response, based largely on the claim that the pledge has many important consequences that we don't want to give up. I don't think what Coleman says fully responds to the original argument, since the same might have been said about emperor worship in the Roman Empire. That brought great unity and commonality to the empire, it involved a tradition around which the whole empire organized, etc. Still, I'm not convinced the original argument is right either (partly for concerns I've already raised about those who think 'God' refers to different gods from one religion to another, which I don't think is true of Islam and Christianity, for instance). I'll need to think about this a bit more before commenting further, but any thoughts are welcome in the meantime.

2 Comments

Your posts examining whether Christians and Muslims worship the same God are interesting and well-argued but I still believe the conclusion is false. I wrote a series of posts on that same topic myself and used the following as the core of my argument:

1. P -- The Gospels of Matthews and John make accurate claims about what Jesus said.
2. Q -- Everything Jesus said was true.
3. R -- Jesus said that he is the begotten son of God. {John 3:16, 1, 2}
4. S -- Jesus said that you can know the Father, if and only if you know him first. {John 8:19, Matt. 11:27 1, 2}*
5. T --> U -- If you deny that Jesus is the begotten son of God then you do not know Jesus. {Modus Ponens, 1, 2, 3}
6. U --> V -- If you do not know Jesus then you do not know the Father. {Modus Ponens, 4}
7. T --> V If you deny that Jesus is the begotten son of God then you do not know the Father. {Hypothetical syllogism, 5, 6}
8. W -- Muslims deny that Jesus is the begotten son of God. (Qu�ran (Sura 112) -- �Say: He is God, The One and Only; God, the Eternal, Absolute; He begetteth not, Nor is He begotten; And there is none Like unto Him.�)
9. T & W -- You deny that Jesus is the begotten son of God and Muslims deny that Jesus is the begotten son of God. {Conjunction, 5, 8}
10. W --> V -- If Muslims deny that Jesus is the begotten son of God then Muslims do not know the Father. {Simplification, Modus Ponens, 7, 9}

I agree with your conclusion. I'm not sure how this has any bearing on my thesis, which is independent of whether Muslims truly know God. My claim was simply that their terms refer to God. All sorts of people talk about God without knowing God, so establishing that Muslims don't know God is irrelevant.

As I said, I'm not sure what I think of your argument. It's not enough to show that the pledge talks about God (which I think it does), since there's still the issue of whether saying it alongside others who aren't Christians counts as syncretistic worship. I'm not sure it counts as worship in a robust enough way, i.e. any more than mountain climbing with a Muslim who admires God's handiwork alongside you is synretic.

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