In my last post on this subject [see links to all the posts here], I said I was covering the first of two posts that have seriously challenged the thesis I've been defending about the God of Christianity and the God of Islam. This post looks at the second post, Who's Allah? by Kevin Courter.
Kevin's argument is much more difficult for the position I've been taking than any of the other arguments I've been responding to. I actually think it's devastating to the position as I've sometimes stated it, but it shows that taking the biblical data seriously requires a position that's neither exactly what I've stated nor what the other side is saying. I do think my position is revisable to deal with the text he points to, and I don't think the other side is revisable to deal with the texts I've mustered or the arguments I've put forward.
Kevin presents two biblical arguments. The first is from II Corinthians 11:4:
For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough. [ESV]
This way of speaking shows that Paul thinks someone who teaches a different gospel is teaching a different Jesus. Kevin also points to the discussions in I Corinthians 8 and 10 about eating meat sacrificed to idols. Paul speaks of such idols in two ways. At one point, he flat-out says that the idols are nothing, and there's nothing in principle wrong with eating meat sacrificed to non-existent beings (unless there are weak brothers or sisters around who would be led back into a life of idolatry if they saw mature believers doing that).On the other hand, Paul insists that there are demons standing behind them, and involvement in idolatry is involvement with demons. Kevin thinks that's a good reason to think false worship involves inadvertent demon-worship, and thus there must be some being Allah who is a demon rather than the word referring to God or not referring to any being. My argument assumed that the word 'Allah' either refers to God or does not refer to anything.
I'll come to the demon argument at the end. I think the more serious difficulty comes from the other issue, so I'll look at that first. I want to narrow my view down to its fundamental root. My original point in all this was twofold. One side of it is that you can speak of Muslims talking about God, and they do talk about God, the actual God that I believe in as a Christian. The other side of it is that they're getting it so wrong that it's wrong to speak of them as worshiping God if you mean a certain thing by that. I don't think any of what Kevin has said threatens either of those points, although I do think I need to modify how I put it to account for the two points he makes. There's a tension in scripture between (1) passages that speak of false worship as wrong worship of God and (2) passages that speak of false worship as not worship, false worship of God as not being about God, and false views of Jesus as not being about Jesus.