Is Anyone Reliable?

First the light show at the Vatican.

Then the statement that evangelism of Jews is out.

Now some of the Roman Catholic intelligentsia say that Muslims and Christians worship the same God (even though they gather on different days of the week and one prays in Jesus’ name, along with Mary). Francis Beckwith, former head of the Evangelical Theological Society, squishes:

So the fact that Christians may call God “Yahweh” and Muslims call God “Allah” makes no difference if both “Gods” have identical properties. In fact, what is known as classical theism was embraced by the greatest thinkers of the Abrahamic religions: St. Thomas Aquinas (Christian), Moses Maimonides (Jewish), and Avicenna (Muslim). Because, according to the classical theist, there can only in principle be one God, Christians, Jews, and Muslims who embrace classical theism must be worshipping the same God. It simply cannot be otherwise.

But doesn’t Christianity affirm that God is a Trinity while Muslims deny it? Wouldn’t this mean that they indeed worship different “Gods”? Not necessarily. Consider this example. Imagine that Fred believes that the evidence is convincing that Thomas Jefferson (TJ) sired several children with his slave Sally Hemings (SH), and thus Fred believes that TJ has the property of “being a father to several of SHs children.” On the other hand, suppose Bob does not find the evidence convincing and thus believes that TJ does not have the property of “being a father to several of SHs children.”

Would it follow from this that Fred and Bob do not believe that the Third President of the United States was the same man? Of course not.

Paul Moses at Commonweal writes that Wheaton College, in putting on administrative leave, Dr. Larycia Hawkins, has succumbed to anti-Muslim bigotry because Miroslav Volf has written (noting looking to a Protestant for support):

Muslims and Christians who embrace the normative traditions of their faith refer to the same object, to the same Being, when they pray, when they worship, when they talk about God. The referent is the same.

But it wasn’t so long ago that some Roman Catholics were saying that Islam was not a religion of peace (which would seem to make it a different religion from Christianity even though I demurred). Wasn’t it Joseph Pearce who wrote:

The fate of the liberals in the future Eurabia does not look good. May the God in whom they do not believe help them. And may he forgive my own irresistible sense of schadenfreude at the whole pathetic scenario. As for me, I’m with Mrs. Burrows against the world and all the fallacious “peace” it has to offer. With Shakespeare’s Mercutio, I end with a note of defiance to Islam and its liberal enemy: A plague a’ both houses!

And didn’t Fr. James Schall also highlight the distance between Islam and Christianity?

What has to be faced by everyone is not the ‘violence’ of Islam, but its truth. We may not ‘like’ a jihadist view of the Quran. But we denigrate the dignity of ISIS and other violent strains in both Sunni and Shiite branches of Islam that clearly see that their interpretation of Islam has legitimate roots in the Quran, in Islamic history and in the judgment of many authoritative commentators.

So I’m left wondering. Do Roman Catholics celebrate the victory of Christendom at the Battle of Lepanto or not?

P.S. And Jerry Falwell Jr. is beyond the pale?

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7 thoughts on “Is Anyone Reliable?

  1. What is the content of the “same God” statement? If it means that there is only one God, or even that all these religions recognize that fact, this is true, though not especially useful. If it means that the things they believe and say about the one God are equally true, that is neither true nor useful.

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  2. Or even more specifically, what does it mean to “worship” the same God? The God of Abraham said what it means to worship Him:

    I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, HOLY AND ACCEPTABLE to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but BE TRANSFORMED by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

    and, as DG likes to ‘splain:

    But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel…Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.

    Muslims do not participate in worship of the God of Abraham since they do not have this communion with God through Christ, nor are they holy and acceptable to God or being transformed.

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  3. http://blogs.thegospelcoalition.org/justintaylor/2011/09/13/tim-keller-explains-his-remark-on-the-exclusivity-of-christ/

    Todd Wilkin Issues) —The problem with the Jews was NOT that they “merely” rejected Jesus while retaining the worship of the true God (which is impossible). The problem is that they rejected Jesus precisely BECAUSE they reject the true faith of their fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Jesus says to them, If you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote of Me (John 5:46).

    There is no worship of the true God apart from faith in Jesus. Jews and Christians do not worship the same God. This is not hyperbole, this is cold, hard Biblical fact. With respect to Jesus, modern day Jews are little different than their New Testament counterparts. They reject him. However, as was also the case in the New Testament, when a Jew is brought to faith in Jesus, he is returned to the faith of the Old (and New) Testament and to worship of the true God.

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  4. Islam’s Allah and the God of Christianity are two different concepts; this is Religion 101. Beckwith’s analogy doesn’t work at all, especially theologically, but I’m not surprised, he’s an RC revert/repeat so he really doesn’t know what he’s talking about anyway.

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