Muslims Worshiping God But Not Worshiping God

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Rick Love and John Piper have reinvigorated the debate over whether Muslims worship the same God as Christians. See Justin Taylor's summary of the reasons for the Piper position. I'm of course on record taking the opposite view (see here), but in contributing to the comments on Justin's post I ended up putting my reasoning in a different enough way that I wanted to post it here as well. What follows is a slightly modified version of my comment on Justin's post.

First, let me present an issue in the philosophy of language. There's some difference of opinion about how words acquire their reference, i.e. how it is that a word comes to refer to the thing that it does. The dominant view in philosophy of language today is that a word comes to refer to what it refers to because of an initial "baptism" that declares what it refers to, along with various processes that happen along its continued usage. But there's a causal chain back to the original "baptism".

The name "George W. Bush" refers to the guy who happens to be the current president because his parents gave him that name and continued to use it to refer to him without changing it, and he continued to use the name without changing it. Its reference is because of that causal chain back to when his parents declared it to be his name.

Now suppose someone comes along and enters into the causal chain, calling him George W. Bush and engaging in the normal process of using the name. But this person starts claiming that the guy called George W. Bush is a clone of the original and has only existed for a few years. That amounts to denying an essential property of George W. Bush, i.e. his origin. Someone can't be him without having that origin. Nonetheless, the person with the cloning theory successfully refers to the real George W. Bush, despite having a view that denies one of his essential properties. So it can't be that denying an essential property of a being means you're not referring to that being. Some claim that because one of God's essential properties, according to Christianity, is his existence in three persons, then someone who denies that element of God's nature must be talking about a different (and non-existent) being. Not so. That's not how language works.

Muslims use certain words to refer to the being they worship (to remain neutral at this point). The linguistic practice that involves those words referring to the being they worship traces back to the time of Muhammad, who wrote a series of Surahs that ended up becoming the Qur'an. In these writings, Muhammad claimed to have received them from an angel, and they spoke of the being worshiped by the Christians and Jews. The word 'Allah' was initially a description for a divine being in Arabic, not a name, although perhaps it now functions in a namelike way, much like 'God' in English. 'Allah' thus referred explicitly to the God that so far had been worshiped by Jews and Christians. Muhammad went on to say a whole bunch of things about God that Christians would deny, including some things that amount to denying some essential properties of God. Islam is a false religion that is worthless in terms of knowing God, according to Christian teaching, and the worship of this being under Islam does not count as genuine worship.

Nevertheless, it seems completely ludicrous to me to claim that this being that is falsely and ungenuinely worshiped by Muslims is not God. Muhammad intended to refer to the God long worshiped by Jews and Christians that Muhammad when he said all those false things about God. The being he misrepresented and twisted all sorts of things about is the God of the Bible. I don't know how the historical facts can get around that.

There is an issue of how a Christian should make this point. Perhaps Love didn't go far enough in distancing himself from how people might hear it. But that doesn't mean what he says is false.

I want to say that not only is Love's claim indeed true, but it's true in the same way the Bible is true when it speaks this way. See II Kings 17, which makes it clear that syncretists can fear God and other gods at the same time. It's true that they're thus not really fearing God by not serving him fully. The passage even goes on to say that. But it's still God that they're not really fearing. The name 'YHWH' is even used. It's him that they're not fearing properly when they fear both him and other gods. So why is it a problem if Muslims also worship God in one sense but don't really worship God in another sense? It's God they're not worshiping properly. The term still refers to him. It's just not genuine worship of him (which is what Love perhaps could have emphasized to avoid misleading people).

One further thought. Those who say that denying the Trinity means one's terms for God don't refer to God have to say the same about Jews. Do Christians want to say that we don't worship the God of the Jews? It's very clear that the New Testament authors thought they were worshiping the God of the Jews, and they didn't think the Jews suddenly were worshiping some fictional being once Jesus appeared and Jews started denying essential properties of God that hadn't previously been revealed. The way the NT speaks of this is that they were worshiping God but just not doing so properly. It was still God that they weren't worshiping properly.

Now I don't want to extend this to all monotheists. Being a mere monotheist may not be sufficient to be worshiping God (albeit wrongly). If the origin of a particular monotheistic religion connects its worship of one being up with God in some linguistically-appropriate way, then they might worship God even if they do so wrongly. But if the religion begins by picking out something that clearly isn't God, calling it God, and then worshiping it, then I wouldn't say they worship God, even wrongly. They worship that other thing. So I don't agree that any old monotheistic religion worships the true God but wrongly. It has to have the appropriate historical-linguistic connection. But Islam so clearly does that it amazes me that anyone could deny it. The only reason people are giving for denying it seems like such a non sequitur, as my Bush example above shows, that I have to think people are confusing improper worship with worship of the wrong thing. You can improperly treat anything, getting even its essential properties wrong, while nevertheless still referring to it when one speaks of it.

23 Comments

Just to clarify: is it an assumption of this argument that the Christian God exists?

If that's being taken for granted, your argument looks pretty compelling.

Things get trickier if there might not be a God. (I don't think the question is senseless -- maybe two people could have different beliefs about Sherlock Holmes, and we could sensibly ask whether the case is like that or like the case where people believe in different detectives -- but it is trickier.)

Yes, I'm entering into an in-house debate among Christians, where it's assumed that 'God' functions as a proper name. The term does refer to the being Christians believe in, a being who exists.

If 'God' is instead a non-referring definite description, then that changes everything. I'd need quite a bit more of an argument to say what I want to say without the shared assumption. But I don't think atheists, Hindus, or Wiccans care all that much whether Christians and Muslims worship the same non-existent being or different non-existent beings. So I didn't think it was worth spending a lot of time filling in that gap.

Jeremy,

I take your point about language and so on, but I think that you’ve missed the mark a bit. Muslims, not unlike Mormons or even garden variety Christian cults, certainly share—to some extent—texts and nomenclature with Christians. But it seems to me that these various sects do not in fact refer to the real Jesus in the way that one might mistake to the real George W. Bush for a clone. To continue your analogy, those sects are referring to a non-existent clone which they call Jesus or God. The difference is two-fold: a.) the entity that they envision lacks the very essential properties that define God; and b.) they deny any description of God that accurately reflects His essence or nature. Suppose, for example, that a Christian and a non-Christian were each asked to provide a detailed and exclusive definition of God. The clear divergence of the two would illustrate my point.

So, contra your statement that one “can improperly treat anything, getting even its essential properties wrong, while nevertheless still referring to it when one speaks of it,” I would argue that non-Christian sects that speak of Jesus are simply thinking of a completely different, albeit non-existent entity, while simultaneously denying the One True God, as evidenced by the fact that some Muslims refer to Christians as “infidels” and Joseph Smith claimed that all pre-LDS sects were illegitimate; Christians are thought to be so because non-Christians realize that their god is at variance with the one that Christians insist is The True God. A god that did not raise Christ from the dead, a god that is the father of two competing sons (Jesus and Lucifer), a godhead of which Jesus is not a part, etc. is simply not the eternally self-existent God of the Bible, notwithstanding your points regarding language.

Incidentally, I didn’t include Jews in the non-Christian category above because, as Paul points out in Roman 9, there are Jews and then there are Jews (i.e., some genetic Jews are not spiritual Jews, while some genetic gentiles are spiritual Jews). Also, Jesus himself acknowledged the Jews and their texts, although, presumably, He was aware of the aforementioned truth that was subsequently revealed to Paul, which certainly qualifies that acknowledgement.

As I showed in my Bush clone analogy, not believing in some essential property does not prevent reference to the same thing. Now maybe your claim is that Muslims and Mormons don't have any properties or insufficiently many of them to refer to God successfully. I don't think that's true. It's easy to refer to God successfully without involving very many properties at all. I just did it, simply by using the word 'God'. In most English contexts, using that word does in fact refer to God. That's all it takes. Now if you additionally throw in some other properties that Mormons will share with orthodox Christians or that Muslims will share with orthodox Christians, the successful references is even more clear.

There are plenty of such properties. All three agree that God is our creator. Muslims believe God created the universe. Mormons speak of someone named Jesus who did pretty much what the NT texts say he did. The aren't biblical inerrantists. (They're not even Book of Mormon inerrantists.) But they do think the Bible is basically reliable in what it says about Jesus. Muslims even think much of the Bible is correct, at least enough to make it clear that the person Jesus whom Christians believe to be God is the same person they don't think is divine but is a mere prophet. All three believe that od is just, merciful, extremely powerful, extremely intelligent, and so on. Muslims believe God to be self-existent. I could go on and on, actually. I do see the things both groups deny as similar to what my hypothetical Bush-clone theorist says about Bush. It's a denial of essential properties, but there's enough in common that allows successful reference to the real Bush whom he's saying these things about, just as there's enough in common with Mormons and Muslims that they're saying these things (which I'll insist are false) about the actual God.

simultaneously denying the One True God, as evidenced by the fact that some Muslims refer to Christians as “infidels”

and Joseph Smith claimed that all pre-LDS sects were illegitimate

Saying that someone has the wrong views isn't equivalent to saying that they aren't referring to the same being when they express those views. If Joseph Smith said pre-LDS sects were illegitimate, it doesn't mean that he thought they weren't talking about God when they used the word 'God'. At most it shows that he thought they believed false things about God, indeed things that don't have whatever religious value he thought Mormonism to have. But then his view is parallel to what I'm saying. His statements don't require anything more than that. The same is true of calling people infidels, which just means that they're unfaithful to what's true. You can be unfaithful to what's true about God without talking about someone other than God whenever you use the word 'God' (or a word that means the same thing in another language, e.g. 'Allah' in Arabic, 'theos' in Greek, 'Elohim' in Hebrew', or 'deus' in Latin).

A god that did not raise Christ from the dead, a god that is the father of two competing sons (Jesus and Lucifer), a godhead of which Jesus is not a part, etc. is simply not the eternally self-existent God of the Bible, notwithstanding your points regarding language.

I've already responded to your main point here, but I want to point out that the first two examples you use aren't even the denial of essential properties. Unless you think God was forced by his nature to send Christ to begin with, the first is a contingent property. So that doesn't even come close to supporting your argument.

As for being the father of two competing sons, it's that in a sense true? Jesus is certainly the Son of God according to biblical teaching, and Lucifer is associated with Satan, who is usually taken to be an angel. Angels are frequently called the sons of God in the Bible. Satan and Jesus are certainly competing in that they're on opposite sides. Now it's different if you add in that Jesus is merely a created being. That does get an essential property wrong. But I've already given my response to that, and my point here is that what you point out in the first two items in this list isn't denying an essential property at all. It isn't even denying a contingent one.

With Jews, are you saying that Jews who aren't Christians don't believe in God? There are surely atheist Jews, but ones who don't accept Jesus as Messiah but who still believe in God trace that believe to the Hebrew scriptures. Are you suggesting that they also don't believe in God? I find that conclusion completely implausible. It follows from your view about Mormons and Muslims, but it seems to me to be such a ridiculous conclusion that it shows what's wrong with your argument.

Perhaps by contrast, could you relate this discussion some of the eastern religions/ways? Hinduism has at least 4 of 5 different words that can be translated as god/God/GodForce/DivineForce. We often wonder if ANY of the terms are intrinsically or substantially similar. What do you think? Some of the main terms are Ishwar, Baghvan, Devtha/Devi, Brahma.

Jeremy, this is a very useful post. Whilst I have not finished my philosophy masters (and try to avoid too much philosophy of language), I have dealt with a bit of the reference/labelling discussion. (I seem to remember discussions about ships that had every part being replaced over time and whether it was still the same ship or not...such fun). I think you make a solid point against people who use the differences in conceptions of God in this debate.

I see one flaw in your George Bush analogy, and that is, the person who claims he saw a clone (we'll call him 'Bob') actually saw the real George W., and so even though he had a wrong conception of George, his label still referred to the real George W. If for instance, he had actually seen a clone or a look a like, we would say he was not actually referring to the real George W. This is the case even if Bob was told by someone who actually knew the real George W., that the clone was really George W. and was the current president of the united states.

It is quite clear that Christian's do not think Mohammad actually met or had any sort of mediated communication with the real God. So, even though he may of claimed to have met the Christian God and worshiped him, in fact, he is referring to a different being entirely. Thus, even if Mohammad refers to Allah as 'The creator of the universe' (much as if Bob refers to cloned George as 'The current president of the united states'), it does not necessarily mean that he is referring to the same being as when Christian's refer to the creator of the universe.

TJ, I don't think the Hindu words refer to God in anything like the way the Arabic 'Allah' does, because the latter has to do with historical origins of the term and continued reference to the same being. To get a reference to the actual God with the Hindu terms, the name would have to function like a definite description (e.g. "the being who created the world"). I don't want to rule out such reference, but it's going to require the word basically serving as such a description, and then the description refers properly because enough beliefs involved are in common with the actual description of God. I don't think that's likely from Hinduism, but I won't rule it out.

Alan, you're right that Muhammad's reference couldn't be generated by actual contact. My Bush example just shows that you can deny an essential property and still refer. But maybe you're right that I haven't shown that this will work in this case, because maybe what generates the actual reference is direct perception of the guy in question.

So let me rework the example, and you can let me know what you think. Suppose the guy with the crazy theory about Bush being a clone doesn't ever see him, but he does read about him in the newspaper and online the same way Muhammad had heard about God through what he knew of the Bible. Then he said "that guy, the one everyone keeps calling George Bush. He's a clone." Isn't that enough to refer? That case is more parallel.

By the way, the ship changing parts case is called the Ship of Theseus, and it's a metaphysics puzzle about how much physical objects can change their parts without ceasing to be the same thing. It's not quite the same issue we're looking at, although I suppose some similar issues will come up in both cases.

Jeremy,

First of all, Alan essentially echoes my point (perhaps I wasn’t as clear as I could’ve been), which is that, while Muslims, Mormons, et al. use the words ‘God’ and ‘Jesus’, they pour a completely different meaning into those words. Now, they probably think that they’re referring to the real God and the real Jesus; but, as I pointed out, if a Muslim or a Mormon were presented with an accurate description of God and Jesus, they would undoubtedly reject both. Thus, their conception of God amounts to little more than a figment of their imagination.

Unless you think God was forced by his nature to send Christ to begin with, the first is a contingent property. So that doesn't even come close to supporting your argument.

Your point here is baffling. Christ’s incarnation became an inextricable aspect of His identity the moment it occurred; and that Christ was sent, that He was raised to life after having been crucified is now an immutable fact of history—a fact of which Mohammad was most certainly aware (though he obviously did not accept it as truth). Therefore, Mohammad’s denial is indicative of profound confusion with regard to Christ’s true identity. So, Mohammad’s ‘Jesus’—the one that is merely one among several mortal prophets—happens to be illusory. Beyond that, whether or not God was forces by his nature to send Christ is quite distinct from the question of whether or not it occurred, so your point about its contingency is moot.

As for being the father of two competing sons, it's that in a sense true?

I’m not sure if that’s a serious question; but assuming it is, the short answer is: no…not in the way Mormons think, which is the only sense with which my comment was concerned.

It seems as though you’re emphasizing words at the expense of their actual meanings. That is, the ultimate meaning of a word or phrase is to be found in the context in which is used—i.e., that which the user is attempting to communicate informs the meaning of the words used; not the other way around. Imagine a case in which one inadvertently uses a poor choice of words, resulting in miscommunication. Would it not then be absurd for a hearer to insist that the words used ought to stand, along with their meaning, without regard to the intended meaning? This is also true in reverse: if one intentionally uses commonly understood words (e.g. God or Jesus) but defines them differently, then it follows that the words are referring to something altogether different, namely that which is in the mind of the one using the words.

The identity of God is distinct from the word ‘God’. But even if one intends to refer to the real God when using the word ‘God’, mere intension is not quite adequate. For example, Christ prophesied that, at the judgment, many will attempt to support their claim to Heaven by listing their various good deeds (e.g., healing the sick, raising the dead, and so on) but He will tell them that He never knew them, which, by implication, means that they never knew Him either…even though they thought they did.

In light of the fact that mistaken ‘Christians’ won’t be graded on a curve in the final analysis, why should one think that sects and individuals that are much further from the mark with respect to the identity of God and Jesus (e.g. Muslims, Mormons, etc.) will get credit for simply being in the ball park? The determining factor is not the intended referent; rather, it’s the meaning that one applies to a word, and the context in which it’s used, that determines the identity of the referent. So, the word ‘God’ refers to whatever or whomever the user has in mind; such can be either the real God, in which case His actual known attributes must be acknowledged, or else it’s some imaginary ‘God’, the attributes of which are limited only by the imagination.

I'm not denying that significant portions of their conception of God are nothing but figments of their imagination. I don't see how that prevents their words from referring to God. Physicists referred to heat when they used the word 'heat' even before they knew what it was. They thought it was a substance that they called caloric. Now we know it's the average kinetic energy of the particles of the object whose temperature is being measured. They had its nature very wrong, but they managed to refer to it just fine.

If it can become an inextricable part of his identity, then it's a contingent property. Necessary properties can't be gained or lost. The reason contingency and necessity matter is because the argument I'm criticizing claims that you can't refer to something if you deny one of its essential properties. By definition, contingent properties are not essential, so contingent properties don't even support the premise of the initial argument. Now maybe you have a different argument in mind, but I think you'll need to spell it out. The argument you seem to me to be piggy-backing on is about essential properties.

Look, it doesn't count as an argument against my position if you argue for something that my position includes. So showing that Jesus never knew them and thus that they never knew him shows nothing. I've already accepted that Muslims don't know Christ in the sense of knowledge that Jesus' statement deals with. I'm not pretending that they're Christians or anything silly like that. All I'm saying is that their words about God actually refer to God but say drastically false things about him, enough that it seems like a totally different picture of God if you focus only on the differences (although there still are plenty of things in common). Where exactly did you see me saying anything about anyone getting so sort of credit for anything? You seem to be getting my position entirely wrong, which explains fully why your arguments aren't moving me one bit. You're arguing against a position that isn't mine.

So, the word ‘God’ refers to whatever or whomever the user has in mind; such can be either the real God, in which case His actual known attributes must be acknowledged, or else it’s some imaginary ‘God’, the attributes of which are limited only by the imagination.

I sure hope that's false, because I thought I've been referring to God all the time whenever I speak of him, and I thought I've been addressing him whenever I speak to him. I'm fairly sure I believe some false things about God. It would be pretty awful if there were no way to speak of God and talk to God unless your every belief about God is 100% accurate.

Thanks for the response Jeremy. I've been thinking about it over night, and your analogy is certainly much better now. Although perhaps I can offer a similar analogy which will show that it is hard to say whether Muslim's do or do not worship the same God. (Which is my position...and from this, I consider that it would unwise to say they do, and thus dangerously obfuscate the vast differences and associated consequences for Muslims)

Lets talk about Bob and George again, but also throw into the mix Steve. Steve regularly meets with Bob, and shows him pictures and news articles about George the POTUS. Steve confides in Bob telling him what a great man George is, and that George gives Steve instructions on how some things need to be done, but that actually the real George was killed a few years back, and they put a clone of George in his place.

=>Right now, we are where your analogy leaves us, but we still cannot be sure whether Bob actually 'follows' the same George as others, because worship is more than just referring to the same God, but involves action.

Soon, Steve comes to Bob and tells him that as a citizen of the US, Bob has a duty to follow the instructions of the POTUS, and that George has told Steve to pass on to Bob the important task of handing out pamphlets about the evils of the pro-life movement.

Bob queries why George would ask him to do this, as all the news articles he read about George said that George was pro-life, but Steve quickly responds that the news articles are wrong in this, George is really pro-choice, and really they are only right in identifying George as the POTUS, the man who should be obeyed.

So Bob does 'his' duty.

So the question is...who is Bob really serving?

Whilst his talk of the POTUS may be actually referring to the same George as everyone else, his actions clearly have the possibility of actually serving George's enemies.

I would suggest, this is much closer to the conception of how Christian's view Islam. Which I think leaves the more difficult theological question of whether you can worship God whilst doing something contrary to God's character and will.

It may be more correct to say that Muslims might sometimes worship the same God as Christians. For instance, when they worship God as creator, I think it is feasible that they might worship the same God. But when the radicals blow themselves up as an act of worship, I think it is not feasible to claim that they are worshiping the same God.

But my position all along has been that Muslims in a sense worship the same God as Christians and in a very important sense do not. I wouldn't put it as sometimes doing so and sometimes not. I'd simply say that one thing people mean by worshiping the same God is true of them and another thing meant by the same expression is very much not true of them.

I see scripture speaking both ways, and so I've tried to give an account of how both can be true without contradiction.

Fair enough too...I not so much trying to argue as thinking aloud. I think adding 'worshiping' adds context to the statement 'the same God' which really needs investigation as it important to the 'sense' of statement.

Which is why whilst I agree that a Muslim can be referring to the same God as Christians when they talk of God, I don't necessarily think they do refer to God, especially when they talk of worshiping or serving God. I guess the conclusion of my point is that serving something is truth dependent (hence it matters if you have your conception right), whereas referring to something is more conceptually dependent (hence it can be enough that you think you are referring to the same God).

Jeremy, one of my former professors addresses this issue a bit in his new book (http://www.amazon.com/Theology-Context-World-Christianity-Influencing/dp/0310275113/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1205194551&sr=1-1). He deals with it from a couple different angles, but only briefly discusses the onotological question.

He says that anyone who claims to be a monotheist would have to agree that, ontologically speaking, Muslims and Christians worship the same god. But he doesn't spend much time discussing why this is so, so I thought I'd throw the question at you, since you are philosophically inclined and use words like "onotologically" on a daily basis. If you have the time, it'd be great. I'll pay you back at the next family gathering...

As far as I can tell, he probably just means what I'm talking about here. The ontological question is just whether we're talking about the same being. He's probably distinguishing it from the ethical question of which way of worshiping is ok. But I'd have to see the context to be sure. I don't have any indication from your comment that he's talking about anything at all different from the main question discussed here.

Allow me to clarify a bit. What hung me up was the thought that any monotheist MUST agree they worship the same god. Is there a philosophical reason why someone can't say they just made a god up out of thin air? I can give historical reasons supporting the claim, but issues of philosophy are not my strong suit. Maybe I'm confusing myself, of course.

Oh, I'm not making that claim. Rick Love did say that, but I'm not following him in that claim. I don't think the Flying Spaghetti Monster is YHWH. At least in most contexts in which someone might say that, it's not true.

But there are statements in Paul, e.g. Acts 17, that suggest that anything you get right in false worship does reflect on what God is really like. Otherwise it's hard to see how he can say that the unknown god is God. It's a pretty minimal god that they were worshiping at that temple. Paul was willing to say that in some sense they were worshiping in ignorance the same being who has indeed revealed himself. But I think we can maintain some sense in which both the unknown god and the Flying Spaghetti Monster don't exist. I'm not sure how to work all that out, but I don't think there's any need to suppose a contradiction, as long as you insist that there are different senses in which you might say things like this. The question is what those senses are.

I'm hoping to put a post together that might deal with some of these issues, because I'm bothered by Paul's claims in Galatians that the heretics he was dealing with were following a different Jesus. There is no other Jesus, just as there's no other gospel, so what that means is that they were following a non-existent being. But the claims they were making were clearly about the historical Jesus. They were addressed to followers of the historical Jesus and involved claims that the guy they were following had said things contrary to Paul's gospel. I think these two issues get at the same problem.

Jeremy, I think Paul's unnamed god in Acts 17 is a reference to open theism. There are non-Christians, non-Muslims, non-Jews, who become convinced that there is some sort of higher power in the universe through their experience of common grace in the process of regeneration. In a theistic way, Muslims recognize that there is a god, generally. But they when they go further to the point of following Islam and worshipping Allah, they are not worshipping the Trinitarian God of the Bible. The Bible states that they have rejected God, as have unregenerate Jews. I think it is important that when folks of all pursuasions have a faulty/heretical image of God that we reject that and tell them that is NOT God - so that we can share Who God IS.

Lou, I'm not following. What does this have to do with open theism? Open theism is about God not knowing the future. Acts 17 is about people not knowing much about God.

Jeremy

Interesting post - highly relevant to the whole issue of religious pluralism.

I'm jumping in a bit late, but I just posted a few quick contrary thoughts here: http://trinities.org/blog/archives/283

Keep up the good work, Jeremy.

Dale

Can't believe I missed this post and discussion.

Open theism is about more than God not knowing the future. It more similar to the idea that some kind of a higher power sort got everything wound up at the get go, then stepped back and said have at it. In this mindset, god is unnamed - not "knowable." I believe that when folks are called out of their depravity, in the process they sort of come to believe generically that there must be a Something. But Muslims and specific religions have a name and identity for their God(s). I do not think that YHWH is just a word or label or brand. There is a transcendent realness and it is not what Islam teaches about God. IMHO.

Since Christians repudiate the Qur'an as an authentic revelation how then can Muslims be said to worship the same God when their forbears could not have had any unequivocal, and empirical, confirmatory evidence of what may previously existed as religious opinion or an abstract speculation. Furthermore, since the Qur'an is false, otherwise of course, the attribiutes of'Allah' would also be those of the Christian God, and worthy of worship too,(God hep us)there has been no revelatory evidence that there is one,and only - one God. They must therefore,in Christians eyes, be worshipping an illusion of God, and since there can be many illusions but only one God, the Christians worship God and the Muslims do not. Maybe not so ludicrous after all.

I don't consider The Da Vinci Code to be an authentic revelation, but it's impossible to claim that the references to God in it are to some being outside the Judeo-Christian tradition. It's talking about the God worshiped by Christians. It just has lots of false statements about God. So not being an authentic revelation isn't a problem for anything I've said. Lots of books aren't authentic revelation but still speak of God.

Richard Swinburne wrote a pretty good series of books on philosophical theology, one of which dealt with the attributes of God, called The Coherence of Theism. I've read most of the book, and I don't agree with everything he says. He gets some of the attributes of God wrong. The same is true of A.W. Tozer's Knowledge of the Holy. Any fallible account of significant length dealing with God, whether it purports to be revelation or not, is likely to have something wrong. The fact that a document that speaks of God gets some of its statements wrong, including attributes of God, does not mean it's not speaking of God.

If I wrote a book arguing that the God worshiped by the ancient Hebrews had a consort named Asherah and that the faithful Jews tried to worship her, while the unfaithful ones produced the Bible, I'd be wrong. There is no such being, and if there's any spiritual being standing behind the Canaanite goddess Asherah then it's not a divine being at all but a demon, an enemy of God rather than a consort. But such a book would clearly be referring to the actual God. Otherwise you'd have to be claiming that no one can ever say anything false about God. If I slip while praying and thank Jesus for sending his son, I'd be getting something wrong, but I'd be getting it wrong about Jesus and not some fictional guy who is the Son of God but who has a son. Someone who says such a thing and means it, if they intend to refer to the Jesus of Christianity, is also referring to him rather than some fictional being. They'd just be getting something important pretty wrong.

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