What’s Your Name, Holy God, What’s Your Name?
All due apologies to Lynyrd Skynyrd. Just couldn’t resist that title.
Seems like the only blogging I do these days occurs when something I see on television angers me to the point of ranting. And, as usual, the culprit is the Hannity & Colmes show. There was a segment tonight about some Catholic kook bishop who said Christians should refer to God as “Allah”. The most polite description for my reaction to this would most likely be “disgustedly incredulous”.
There are two tacks I’ll be taking on this: the first will be in differentiating between the Christian God and the Muslim god. The second will be the implications of this and postmodern thought that is so rampant within mainstream Christianity these days.
The differences between the Judeo-Christian God and the Muslim god have been sufficiently addressed before by individuals far more qualified than myself. While I originally intended to synopsize the response to the question, I decided rather to reprint it (with potential annotations in red) since the referenced Question and Answer section is not available from the original authors at this time (it should be either here or referenced there at some point in the future). What follows is the Q&A section from the February 2000 newsletter published by The Berean Call:
Question [condensed to save space-full question will be posted on our website] (hopefully all this will be back up and running on their web site soon):
In response to [your] article I read on the internet [on someone else’s website], entitled “Is Allah, of the Muslim/Islam religion, the same God of the Bible?” I would like to make a few comments and ask some questions. Please give me chapter and verse from the Qur’an….If I do not hear from you I will assume you have no proof and are spreading lies about Islam.Answer: This has been discussed in these pages in the past. That Allah is not the God of the Bible is very clear. The biblical God is called Yahweh (or Jehovah) nearly 9,000 times. Yet Allah is not called by that name even once in the Koran. Why not, if Allah is the same God? God is also referred to as Elohim more than 2,500 times in the Bible, but again that word never appears for Allah in the Koran. Why? The God of the Bible is called “The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob/Israel” (Jacob’s name was changed by God to Israel later in life, so he is referred to by either name). He is the father of the Jews. The God of the Bible revealed himself to Moses at the burning bush by this name (“God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob/Israel”) and told Moses, “this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations” (Ex 3:1-16). If Allah is the God of the Bible, why is he never called by these names?
The God of the Bible tells us again and again that He is the God of the Jews. Many times He is called “the God of Israel.” Yet there is such hatred for Israel among Muslims! The Koran talks about Abraham and Ishmael, even claims they built the Ka’aba, but gives Isaac no prominence. The Bible mentions Isaac favorably and prominently more than 150 times. God very clearly says that His covenant is with Isaac, not with Ishmael (Gn 17:19-21), from whom the Arabs claim they are descended. The God of the Bible calls the Jews His chosen people. He loves them and gave the land of Israel to them as an heritage forever, as hundreds of verses in the Bible declare. Islam denies this basic biblical truth. The Jews are certainly not Allah’s chosen people! How can Allah be the God of the Bible, yet not choose the Jews? In your Koran, as you must know, Allah commands Muslims, “Take not the Jews and Christians as friends” (Surah 5:51, Al Hil-ali, v. 54, Jusuf ali), so Allah is not the God of the Christians either. In the hadith, Muhammad himself said, “The last hour will not come before the Muslims fight the Jews, and the Muslims kill them” (Mishkat al Masabih Sh. M. Ashraf, 1990, pp. 147, 721, 810-11, 1130, etc.). Islam’s god hates the Jews; the God of the Bible loves them as His chosen people! Allah is very clearly not Jehovah, Elohim, the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, the God of the Bible! The God of the Bible chose Jerusalem as His holy city. Forty times He calls Jerusalem “the city of David” and repeatedly He promises that the Messiah will be descended from David and will rule on David’s throne in Jerusalem over the whole world (2 Chr 6:6; 33:7; 2 Sm 7:16; Ps 89:3-29, etc.). Never does the Bible (or the God of the Bible) mention Mecca or Medina, but Jerusalem is mentioned more than 800 times. Yet Allah never mentions Jerusalem. How can this be if Allah is the God of the Bible? And how can the Muslims today claim Jerusalem as a holy city of Islam, when it isn’t even mentioned in the Koran? That recent claim comes from those who want to take that city from the Jews. That Allah has no son is further proof that He is not the God of the Bible, who definitely has a Son, as both the Old and New Testaments declare. Psalms 2 says, “Kiss the Son.” Referring to the God of the Bible, Solomon says, “What is his son’s name…?” (Prv 30:4). The angel Gabriel, whom Islam claims to honor, told the virgin Mary (Islam accepts the virgin birth of Jesus), “And, behold, thou shalt…bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be…called the Son of the Highest…the Son of God…and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David…” (Lk 1:31-35). That throne is in Jerusalem, not in Mecca. Muslims insist that the name “Allah” must be used in every language; it cannot be translated Dios in Spanish, Dieu in French, or God in English. Muslims thus treat “Allah” not as a generic word for God, but as the name of a particular god. In fact, Allah was the god of the Kuraish tribe centuries before Muhammad was born. You deny that he was the chief god in the Ka’aba, but you admit there were for centuries 360 idols in the Ka’aba and one of these was called Allah. What is Allah doing in a temple among 360 idols if he is the God of the Bible, who forbids idolatry? Why does Islam keep this idol temple, and why must Muslims to this day make a pilgrimage there? That Allah was the chief idol in the Ka’aba is documented history. Let me quote one of the greatest historians:
The desert Arab…feared and worshiped incalculable deities in stars and moons. …Now and then he offered human sacrifice; and here and there he worshiped sacred stones. The center of this stone worship was Mecca [with] the Ka’aba and its sacred Black Stone…in its southeast corner, five feet from the ground, just right for kissing….
Within the Ka’aba, in pre-Moslem days, were several idols representing gods. One was called Allah…three others were Allah’s daughters-al-Uzza, al-Lat, and Manah. We may judge the antiquity of this Arab pantheon from the mention of Al-il-Lat (Al-Lat) by Herodotus [fifth-century B.C. Greek historian] as a major Arabian deity. The Quraish [Muhammad’s tribe controlling Mecca] paved the way for monotheism by worshiping Allah as chief god; He was presented to the Meccans as the Lord of their soil, to Whom they must pay a tithe of their crops and the first-born of their herds. The Quraish, as alleged descendants of Abraham and Ishmael, appointed the priests and guardians of the shrine and managed its revenues (Will Durant, “The Story of Civilization,” IV: 160-61).
The Ka’aba still stands, without its idols, but with the Black Stone. The pilgrimage to the Ka’aba, to…kiss the sacred stone, to run between Safa and Marwa, and to climb Mount Arafa, was practiced by pious pagan Arabs for centuries before Muhammad. Why did your prophet keep, as part of Islam, these pagan rituals?
You say “Islam is the religion of Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus….” Do you think Adam, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, et al. journeyed to the idol temple, the Ka’aba, and kissed its Black Stone? Impossible! Not
one follower of the God of the Bible would ever have gone near the Ka’aba, because the God of the Bible forbids any association with idols; and you admit (as history tells us) that the Ka’aba was filled with idols before Muhammad destroyed them all. In history and the Bible, you will find no mention of Islam or any religion like it. How could you have Islam without the Koran and Muhammad? The only people who journeyed to the Ka’aba and kissed the Black Stone were pagan Arabs who worshiped one or more of the idols within and around it. Muhammad started a new religion called Islam to which Arabs, Persians, Egyptians, Turks and everyone else in the region had to convert at the point of the sword. They became Muslims, and there is no way you can say that Islam was the original religion of that or any other region. You ask me to explain, “The God of the Bible is love, an impossibility for Allah.” If Allah is a single being, as Muslims insist, then he cannot be love in and of himself,because he had no one to love until he created others; but the God of the Bible is love in and of Himself because He is three Persons but One God. Father, Son and Holy Spirit loved and communed with one another before men or angels were created. While the Jews know that Allah is not Jehovah, they try to say (as Muslims do for Allah) that Jehovah is a single being. If so, then why does the Bible refer to Him more than 2,500 times with the plural Elohim (gods)? Interestingly, however, always with the plural noun there is a singular verb. One cannot escape the plurality combined with singularity repeatedly used. The famous shema (Dt 6:4), the most fundamental saying about God for a Jew, declares, “Hear, O Israel: Jehovah our Elohim is one Jehovah.” Far from declaring that the God of the Bible is a singular being, the Hebrew word translated “one” is echad, which means a unity of several becoming one, as when God said the man and woman became “one [echad] flesh” (Gn 2:24); when many soldiers became “one [echad] troop” (2 Sm 2:25) or when two sticks became “one [echad] stick” (Ezk 37:17), etc. The Bible teaches that God’s very essence is love and says, “God is love” (1 Jn 4:8). This is not true of Allah. The Bible repeatedly speaks of God’s love for man and the love we must have for Him. But love is scarcely mentioned in the Koran. Not once is “love” listed in the index of the popular Marmaduke Pickthall translation of the Koran. Of Allah’s 99 attributes, love is not one. The Koran does say that Allah loves “the beneficent” (Surah 2:195), “the stedfast [and] those whose deeds are good” (Surah 3:146-48), and “those who battle for his cause” (Surah 61:4). But never does it say he loves all mankind, much less sinners; but the God of the Bible loves sinners, even those who hate Him. Allah is said to be merciful, but he does not show mercy to those who need it. The God of the Bible, however, is merciful to all, ready to forgive confessed sin. The first of the Ten Commandments is that we are to love the God of the Bible with our whole heart; but never does the Koran say a Muslim is to love Allah. You cannot love Allah, because he is unknowable. The God of the Bible can be known and repeatedly calls upon men to know Him; but the Koran says no one can know Allah because he is too great. In spite of being infinite, without beginning and end, and the Creator of the universe, the biblical God reveals himself so that men can know Him. Jesus himself said, “This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (Jn 17:3). Those who don’t know the God of the Bible are lost eternally. No one knows Allah. The Bible is filled with prophecies of the coming of Messiah Jesus, but there is not one such prophecy in the Koran for Jesus or Muhammad. In fact, the Koran was written after Muhammad came, so it could not prophesy his coming, but the Old Testament prophesied the coming of Jesus centuries and even thousands of years beforehand. The Jewish prophets in the Old Testament said the Messiah would be crucified and rise from the dead the third day. Jesus came at exactly the time prophesied and died for the sins of the world, as the Bible says over and over. But the Koran contradicts this and says He didn’t die on the cross at all, much less for our sins. The Bible says that the penalty for sin must be paid and that God himself had to come as a man to die for our sins. Allah did not do that. How does Allah save sinners? It would be unjust to forgive the guilty without the penalty being paid. Where does Allah explain the penalty? When and by whom was that penalty paid? If Allah forgives, how does he forgive? Allah simply refuses to forgive or forgives whom he will, but there is no consistent or just basis for either. No Muslim can be sure Allah will forgive him. As a Christian I know for certain that I have been forgiven all my sins and that I have eternal life as a free gift from God through the death and resurrection of Christ and that I will be in heaven-not by my good works, but by Christ paying the penalty for my sins. Allah is merciful to those who do good. The Bible says that none do good, all have sinned, and that God saves sinners if they believe in the Christ who died for them. You ask where Allah says in the Koran, “Let us make man in our image.” I don’t read Arabic so can’t find that exact place but I was told by an Arabic scholar that in the Arabic that is what it says. However, the God of the Bible said, “Let us make man in our image.” If Allah is the same God, why didn’t he say that? (the wording here is is a bit confusing, but the fact that Allah, who is described as a singular being, says this is yet another contradiction, betraying Muhammad’s cribbing from the Bible to start with)There are many contradictions within the Koran, and between the Bible and the Koran. Please refer to my book, A Cup of Trembling, which lists some of them. (this book seems to be unavailable; glad I got a copy while the getting was good 🙂 Refer to the author’s later work, Judgment Day)
Maybe you skipped through all that, but the jist of it is this: the God of the Judeo-Christian faith is NOT the god of Islam. They’re nothing alike.
However, this whole thing is indicative of the postmodernist thought processes trumpeted by the Emerging Church of today’s evangelical world, and it seems to even reach into Catholic circles. This is the spirit of ecumenism that has been sweeping Christiandom for many years, but accelerated drastically over the past twenty years. This is a matter of kumbahya religion…everybody’s beliefs of their God is equally valid and should not be disparaged, so we should be open to referring to our God by any name we desire, as long as we recognize Him. Or Her. Or Whatever.
Here’s a thought: Archie Andrews is the world’s most innocent playboy. He’s going out with Betty Cooper, but in the course of their date he refers to her as Veronica. How do you imagine Betty feels about this? She’s hurt, followed by resentment that damages her relationship with Archie. Think about Archie: did he intend to hurt her? No, but his saving grace is that he didn’t intend to call her by her rival’s name, either. Now, I’m not trying to equate God with comic book characters, but the fact is that He has revealed Himself to be a jealous God (Exodus 20:5) should indicate that He does not approve of people who, while claiming to be Christians, will not recognize Him appropriately! For an illustration of God’s attitude towards His people’s recognition of pagan gods instead of Him, I point you towardsread up on I Kings 18.
Poor old Archie’s in better shape than those who push this agenda, as his was an honest mistake, whereas this error is intentional. I don’t place much stock in Catholic theology in the first place, but for someone who’s supposed to be a bishop he’s mighty ignorant to say something this silly. Then again, he’s following in the tradition of everybody’s favorite pope, John Paul II, who’s basically opened dialog with Muslims under the erroneous assumption of sharing gods. Who knows, maybe he did…so much for papal infallibility.
There is a war on truth going on. It’s raged ever since the founding of the Church with varying intensity. Nowadays, it seems that error’s got the upper hand, and while it won’t win in the end, it’s going to drag a lot of clueless people down with it. Christians must be very careful when it comes to discernment and not swallowing everything they’re fed.