Keeping the blogosphere posted on the goings on of the world of submarines since late 2004... and mocking and belittling general foolishness wherever it may be found. Idaho's first and foremost submarine blog. (If you don't like something on this blog, please E-mail me; don't call me at home.)

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Maybe This Will Convince People That Some Idaho Christian Theocrats Don't Really Know Anything

The line between opinions and facts can sometimes be blurred, but there are some times when a statement is just an out-and-out lie. Such was the statement today from Bryan Fischer of the Idaho Values Alliance, who, in discussing the story of a misguided Dutch bishop, said this:
Further, from a theological standpoint, Muslims and Christians do not in fact worship the same God. Islam insists, quite emphatically, that God does not have a son. In fact, mosques often proudly display banners which read, “Allah has no son.”
This is the kind of uneducated B.S. that makes it impossible to have real discussions with some people. Muslims will all say they worship the God of Abraham, as will all Jews and most Christians. I know I do, but since Bryan Fischer says he doesn't worship the same God as Muslims, I'm not sure who he actually worships. Muslims, or Jews, or Mormons, or anyone else certainly don't need Bryan Fischer's permission to worship the One God of the universe. If he doesn't want to worship the God of Abraham, the God of Jacob, the Great I Am, Jehovah of the Old Testament, that's his right; it's not his right to try to take that away from other people without being held up to public ridicule as someone who actually knows very little about history or other cultures.

Why is it important to acknowledge that Muslims worship the same God as Christians and Jews? Because the people we're at war with right now are Muslims. (We're not at war with all Muslims, of course; some of them are our allies. But, all the people we are at war with are Muslims.) It's important for us to know our enemies -- and any effort to make the American people understand our enemies less is something I'll fight.

I expect Mr. Fischer to try to back away from this statement, and here's why: Fischer says the reason (and the only reason he gave) that he believes that Muslims don't worship the God of Abraham is because they say He doesn't have a Son. You know who else says that God doesn't have a Son? The Jews. Since Mr. Fischer and his ilk are always talking about a "Judeo-Christian heritage", he really can't be seen as trying to exclude Jews from his little group. For that reason, I expect him to change his website without mentioning it was changed (like he's done before); unfortunately for him, I've already taken a screenshot:

I look forward to seeing either of Mr. Fischer's regular defenders try to back him up on this one, especially with respect to his statement that those who don't recognize the Sonship of Jesus (including, by strong implication, the Jews) do not worship the God that we know and love.

Update 1625 16 August: Rabbi Daniel B. Fink of Congregation Ahavath Beth Israel in Boise had this to say about Mr. Fischer's post:
I’d like to offer a few thoughts in response to Bryan Fischer’s suggestion that Muslims do not worship the same God as Christians.
First, neither Jehovah nor Yaweh was or is or ever will be one of God’s names. Both of those terms come from a misreading of an unvocalized Hebrew word (consonants YHVH). All we know is that that name comes from the Hebrew verb “to be.” Others suggest that it is the sound of breathing; i.e. God is the very air that we breathe.
Second, to my knowledge, Judaism, Christianity and Islam all assert that God has many names rather than just one. So if someone wants to call God by the name “Allah” so be it. One might also use “The Merciful One” or “Creator” or scores of other names, in scores of other languages. No one has a monopoly on names of God.
And most importantly of all, Judaism and Christianity and Islam are all monotheistic faiths. All of us believe that there is only one God, who is the source of all things, present in all things. It follows, necessarily, that all monotheistic faiths worship the same God—since there is only one. We may have different views about what that one God asks of us (and we may disagree within our own traditions, too). But we all worship and serve the same God.
In this time of conflict, we should be looking to build bridges rather than creating chasms. People of faith such as Bryan Fischer should know better.
Thanks to Rabbi Dan for providing this statement to TSSBP; he's a man who actually uses facts. I'll see who else I might be able to get to weigh in on this one.

Update 2232 16 Aug: I wrote Mr. Fischer and asked him to explain how he felt Jews might differ from Muslims when it came to worshipping the same God as Christians even though both don't believe God has a son. He responded; here's what he said, presented without comment:
The Jews believe the same Old Testament prophecies about a promised Messiah that Christians do. I’ve talked to a number of even secular Jews who are still looking for a promised Messiah, and their expectation is based on the same prophecies Christians believe were fulfilled in Jesus.
So the Jews believe in a coming Messiah who is called the “Son” of God in Old Testament prophecies. They just don’t think Jesus is him. The difference between Christians and Jews is not whether God has or can have a Son, but who that Son is.
Muslims, on the other hand, are quite adamant that Allah does not and cannot have a Son. In their view, it is impossible for the true God to have a Son. If you insist to them that the true God does have a Son, they will be compelled to say “Then you are not worshipping the true God.”
Perhaps you should ask a Muslim whether he thinks he worships the same God Christians do. If he says Yes, then ask him if he believes that God has a Son. He will say No. If he says Christians are simply mistaken on this, but still worship the same God, then you might want to ask him why Islam insists that the only choices Christians have are to convert to Islam, submit to Islamic authority, or be killed. If they are worshipping the same God, why isn’t the Muslim approach to Christians one of live and let live? Why don’t they say, “That’s terrific that we and you worship the same God. Build all the churches you want in our Muslim countries, because, the truth is, we all worship the same God, and we’d be absolutely delighted for you to have as many Christian worship centers as you want in our land.”
Joel, I think if you talk to Muslims you are likely to find they are more dogmatic on these matters than Christians, unless they have been softened by prolonged exposure to Christian culture and its emphasis on tolerance and freedom of conscience.
In other words, if it’s true that we all worship the same God, and Muslims know this, why don’t they just start attending Christian churches instead of building their own mosques?
Update 1115 17 Aug: I contacted a notable Muslim here in Boise, Dr. Said Ahmed-Zaid -- an Engineering Professor at BSU; here's how he explained the Muslim belief that they, contrary to Mr. Fischer's opinion, do in fact worship the God of Abraham:
Muslims believe in one god who is the Creator of the Universe(s). Muslims call this deity "Allah" in Arabic. At our Friday sermons, we use the words God and Allah interchangeably. I believe that Allah is the only word in the Arabic language that is genderless. In other words, Allah is neither a male nor a female god.
God remains a mystery to the Muslim mind and His complete nature cannot be encapsulated with words. Muslims also use 99 other names to call upon God such as the Merciful, the Compassionate, the Forgiver, etc. The Quran clearly refers to this deity as the God of Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Ishmael, Jacob, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad. Arab Christians refer to God as Allah.
My next-door officemate at Boise State University is a Christian Copt from Egypt who calls God "Allah" in Arabic.
There is no theological issue as to the nature of God in Judaism and Islam. In Christianity, however, the nature of God is defined differently with the trinity concept.
To my knowledge, Unitarians, Jehovah witnesses, and Mormons have even different interpretations for the nature of God. Muslims are definitely unitarians in this respect. Allah (whom the Christians refer to as the Heavenly Father or Creator), Jesus (peace be upon him), and the Holy Spirit are three different and separate entities in Islam. All three are mentioned in the Quran. Many Muslims believe that Jesus prayed to God using the word "Father" as a term of endearment in much the same way any old man is called "father" in the Middle East.
In summary, Muslims believe that people of the Scripture (Jews, Christians, and Muslims) worship the same God, the God of Abraham. I am using Abraham as the Prophet of reference here because Moses and Jesus come from the lineage of Isaac whereas Muslims believe Muhammad comes from the lineage of Ishmael. It is the nature of God which is defined somewhat differently in Christianity than in Islam and Judaism.
So there you have it. Mr. Fischer says that he won't accept that Muslims believe in the same God as he does because of a difference in beliefs in one aspect of the total nature of God (specifically, can he have a Son). Jewish and Muslim leaders in Boise, on the other hand, are much more conciliatory, and base their belief that all three faiths worship the same God on history and facts.
I'm wondering if Mr. Fischer, deep down, has problems with some of us who believe ourselves to be Christians who may have a different view of the nature of God. Many evangelicals believe that Jesus and God are the same person; therefore, doesn't that also mean that these people believe that God doesn't have a Son (but rather came to Earth himself)? And what of the Mormon belief that God has an actual, physical, perfect body? Does Mr. Fischer believe that Mormons believe in the same God as he does? We'll see if he chooses to answer that question next.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I politely have to correct you on this, and I've never heard of Bryan Fischer before. The god Muslims worship is not the same. All you need to do is look at the Koran and see some of the things their god says. Not only are they contradictory with what God says, you can't even rightly imagine some of those pronouncments coming from God. God wouldn't reveal Himself in a directly contradictory manner to the Muslims, therefore they can't be the same.

The Dutch bishop was very misguided unless he was thinking along the lines of merely a translation of the word "God" from Arabic to English. As a Roman Catholic myself, I think the bishop was foolish.

8/16/2007 4:22 PM

Blogger Bubblehead said...

I don't suppose you'd care to provide any examples from the Koran that couldn't be matched with God's Word from the Old Testament that seems out of place compared to the New Testament, could you? Anyone who worships the One God, the creator of all things, is by definition worshipping God, no matter what you call Him. The fact that the Muslims say they are worshipping the God of Abraham only makes the case stronger.

For me, coming to an understanding that God's Gospel is perfect and unchanging despite the different emphases in the Old and New Testament was the way I began to more fully appreciate His infinite wisdom. Muslims pray to the God of Abraham -- does he not hear all of his children who pray to Him, no matter what Book they read from?

8/16/2007 4:38 PM

Blogger Sara E Anderson said...

Gee, why don't Christians start just worshipping in Mosques?

8/16/2007 11:47 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

@bubblehead (in response to your questions)

The New Testament doesn’t replace the Old, it fulfills it. There are plenty of examples in the Koran that contradict the Old & New Testaments. A chief consideration is that the God of Abraham is also the God of Israel, the God of the Jewish people, and is referred to as such on numerous occasions. God considered the Jews His chosen people. Allah hates the Jews as is strongly evidenced in the Koran.

Just because Muslims proclaim to worship one god, as do Christians and Jews, that does not mean that it is the same god being worshipped, especially when what their god revealed is so starkly contradictory to what was revealed to the Christians and the Jews. Logically, if God’s Word is true, then he cannot reveal himself in a directly contradictory manner to different groups of people. We must be talking about different gods if that is the case.

Respecting your last question, God hears everyone’s prayers, even those that are not knowingly directed to Him. And, there is no doubt that there are Muslims that are good people. My point is that we are not talking about the same deity here.

Here are some of the examples that you asked for:

"Take not the Jews and Christians as friends”
- 1 Surah 5:51, A1 Hi1-a1i, v. 54, Jusuf a1i

"The last hour will not come before the Muslims fight the Jews, and the Muslims kill them"
- Muhammed in the hadith (Mishkat al Masabih Sh. M. Ashraf, 1990, pp. 147, 721,810-11, 1130, etc.)

“slay the unbelievers wherever you find them”
- Qur’an 9:5

“Therefore, when ye meet the unbelievers in fight, smite at their necks; at length, when ye have thoroughly subdued them, bind a bond firmly on them”
- Qur’an 47:4

All of these are in stark contrast to Jesus’ teaching of praying for your enemies and for those that persecute you. They are also in stark contrast to the overall loving nature of God as revealed in the Old & New Testaments. To quote John Quincy Adams on Muhammad’s religion, “The essence of his doctrine was violence and lust: to exalt the brutal over the spiritual part of human nature.”

In the end, we can’t focus on the monotheistic similarity alone as evidence that we are talking about the same God. The content of a religion’s doctrine is monumentally important because it is the basis for one’s belief.

8/17/2007 12:28 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Could we get back to talking about submarines? Please?

8/17/2007 8:16 AM

Anonymous Shower Tech said...

From the quotes of the Koran it sounds to me like it was Muhammad that said them. In fact one of them even gives him credit ("The last hour will not come before the Muslims fight the Jews, and the Muslims kill them"
- Muhammad in the hadith (Mishkat al Masabih Sh. M. Ashraf, 1990, pp. 147, 721,810-11, 1130, etc.)

Having come to my faith later in my life and having read the Bible a couple of times. I don’t believe that Allah, God, I AM or what ever you would like to call ... hates anyone. I believe that Muhammad hated the Jews. Like many things in life the interpretation of Gods Word be it from The Koran, The Torah, or The Bible can lead people down paths that are unexpected and even wrong.

8/17/2007 8:55 AM

Blogger faustus37 said...

Well, first of all by definition a "hadith" is an oral tradition relating to the words and deeds of Muhammad. They are not part of the Quran and therefore non-canonical in Islamic philosophy.

Second, taking single snippets out of the Quran to prove a point is quite dubious (a certain Osama bin Laden does that a lot, too). For example, if ones reads all of Surah 5 instead of just the snip here, it becomes pretty clear the Quran holds the Torah and the Gospels in high regard, that Islam considers itself a direct descendant of Judaism and Christianity, and that Muslims are to hold Christians and Jews (the so-called "People of the Book") in higher regard than other non-Muslims, even if they're not supposed to be buddy-buddy with them.

Now, if an insurance agent from Twin Falls is poking holes like this after about 10 minutes of research on the Internet, these points can't seriously be considered religious scholarship in any sense, can they?

8/17/2007 1:53 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks very much for this Bubbles. You give us the opportunity to play which one is not like the others. Which one of these three men of the cloth is not like the others? Which one is vainly attempting to establish the supremacy of his religion? The purveyors of pride and hubris should spend more time here: Proverbs 16:18, 11:12 21:4 or Luke 18:9-14. And I'm referring specifically to this: "softened by prolonged exposure to Christian culture and its emphasis on tolerance and freedom of conscience." Some introspection and Bible study might save you Mr. Fisher. Certainly you are unencumbered by any knowledge of the history of western Europe.

And help me out here, Anon, with this statement: "the overall loving nature of God as revealed in the Old & New Testaments." For the sake of argument I buy the New Testament but, man, the God of the Old Testament rained down some pretty heavy fire, brimstone, plagues, floods, angels of death, child sacrifice, some serious non-loving stuff so serious Cecil B. DeMille had trouble with the censors. And I recall that Christians justified some major terror on Muslims and Jews for centuries based upon the New Testament. But this statement looked a lot like it was hard for you to make: "And, there is no doubt that there are Muslims that are good people." Having trouble thinking of any? Do you know any? Don't let your xenophobia color your thought process. Isn't it time to heal instead of festering these wounds?


8/17/2007 2:30 PM

Blogger Chap said...

As background, Hot Air's got a weekly Sunday analysis sura-by-sura of the Qur'an, and Salon's doing the same (arguably less usefully) with the King James Bible.

And Christopher Hitchens has a new book out, but perhaps that isn't the counsel you seek.

8/18/2007 1:14 AM

Anonymous jdm said...

Would you concede there may be a difference between saying that you worship the same God and actually worshiping the same God as the Jews and Christians? Is it possible they may be worshiping a false God, or an anti-Christ?
Jesus said "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me". John 14:6. Also in Acts 4:12: "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is no other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved".
It becomes clear by reading the New Testament that Muslim theology is completely incompatible with biblical Christian theology.
Also, using your own argument about God hearing all of his children, first off read John 8:37-47 regarding who God's children really are. Hint: Only the ones that believe on Jesus Christ. As far as God hearing, did God respect Cain's sacrifice? Wasn't Cain worshiping the same God as Abel? He was, but he wasn't coming to God in the correct manner so his sacrifice wasn't honored. The bible is completely full of examples of this: Nadab and Abihu, Korah, King Saul, King Uzziah, on and on. The only true way to God according to the New Testament is through Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God.

8/21/2007 8:34 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that you are the one who is misguided. You need to actually study Islam and the Koran before you go off on someone who understands theology better than you do. Get off of your high horse you putz.

8/26/2007 3:12 PM


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