Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Is the God of the Qur'an the God of the Bible?

Do Christians and Muslims worship the same God, but in different ways? There has been a lot of discussion of such questions, especially since 9/11.

Many have answered yes. In his book, Ecumenical Jihad, I think Peter Kreeft argues essentially that. In other words, both Christians and Muslims are theists and agree on a number of attributes God (or Allah) must have, being both infinite and in some sense personal, even if transcendent. Their understandings of God may not overlap entirely, but it's the same God, nonetheless, Whom they worship.

Other voices have been answering no. The Jewish radio talk show host, Michael Medved recently responded to the claim that Christian violence is comparable to Muslim terrorism by stating: "... no nations or prominent church groups promote or applaud violence in the name of Jesus, but several nations and many leading voices in Islam endorse violence in the name of Allah. Radical Islam stands alone among contemporary religious sects in suggesting that the slaughter of innocent women and children in suicide attacks will bring you closer to God."

This might suggest that the Christian understanding of God is different from that of radical Islam, and invites more explicitly a discipleship of love than Islam; but this still doesn't answer the question whether the God of Islam and Christianity is the same God.

Just today, however, Gerald R. McDermott published a piece, which the leftist pundits will likely tar and feather with accusations of hate speech: "No, the God of the Qur’an is Not the God of the Bible" (On the Square, June 4, 2013). Excerpts:
Yale theologian Miroslav Volf answers the question in a recent book (Allah: A Christian Response) with a nuanced but insistent Yes: Christians and Muslims do indeed worship the same God. In a review of Volf’s book, Baylor historian Thomas Kidd faults Volf for sidestepping the question of salvation—and therefore the question of true worship—and for not being critical enough in his evaluation of the identity of the God or gods of these two religions.

Kidd is quite right; indeed, there are deeper problems with Volf’s thesis. His argument for the identity of the Muslim and Christian Gods collapses under its own weight. Volf’s own logic underscores what the Qur’an itself suggests—that the God of the Qur’an is radically different from the God Christians worship.

... Even Muslim scholars recognize that none of [the] five verses [in the Qur'an referencing "love" in connection with God] constitutes a command to love God. In his 1960 study, The God of Justice: A Study in the Ethical Doctrine of the Qur’an, Muslim scholar Daud Rahbar insisted that “the Qur’an never enjoins love for God.”

... Another difficulty is that there simply is no command to love one’s neighbor in the Qur’an. One can talk about love for neighbor in the Islamic tradition, but not as something commanded by the God of the Qur’an....

... All this is not to say that no Muslims can be saved by the person and work of Jesus Christ. Nor is it to suggest that Muslims never make contact with the true God. For Scripture attests that God graciously reaches out to those who have faulty notions of him. But we have to conclude nonetheless that the God of the Qur’an is a very different God from the God of the Bible.
[Hat tip to E. Echeverria]


60 comments:








Michael F.

said...

Nostra Aetate 3 would seem to settle the question of whether Muslims in fact do worship the same God that Catholics worship:

"3. The Church regards with esteem also the Moslems. They adore the one God, living and subsisting in Himself; merciful and all- powerful, the Creator of heaven and earth,(5) who has spoken to men; they take pains to submit wholeheartedly to even His inscrutable decrees, just as Abraham, with whom the faith of Islam takes pleasure in linking itself, submitted to God."

http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_decl_19651028_nostra-aetate_en.html

But the Church is also careful to distinguish between Muslims and Islam. Islam is a false religion which was treated as a Christian heresy in earlier times.





Pertinacious Papist

said...

Good point, my friend. This would put Muslims at only a stone's throw from Protestants, whose religions were treated as Christian heresy in earlier times, and whose adherents are now esteemed as adoring not only the one God but also the divinity of His Son, Jesus Christ.

I guess I'm not sure how to understand the import of the distinction between "Muslims and Islam." If the good Muslim adores and submits to the one God of Abraham, is it by virtue of his false religion that he does so? Is the idea that, as in the case of the Protestant, the good Muslim has part of the picture right -- even if in the case of the Muslim, he may believe that God requires blowing up people and buildings?





Michael F.

said...

Phil, you write, "I guess I'm not sure how to understand the import of the distinction between "Muslims and Islam." If the good Muslim adores and submits to the one God of Abraham, is it by virtue of his false religion that he does so? Is the idea that, as in the case of the Protestant, the good Muslim has part of the picture right -- even if in the case of the Muslim, he may believe that God requires blowing up people and buildings?"

That would be my understanding, yes. I believe what the Church is saying is that Islam has *enough* of the picture right to at least lead the Muslim to recognize/worship God - although imperfectly. Islam is and cannot be salvific in the full sense of the term. However, it can play a role in at least leading one in the direction of Truth and away from greater errors like paganism and the complete error of atheism, etc.

I think the wording of LG 16 is very interesting here, too:

"the plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims: these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind's judge on the last day."

It's not an accident that LG says that Muslims "profess to hold" the faith of Abraham rather than simply saying that they "hold" it.








Ralph Roister-Doister

said...

I think there is a difference between worshipping one God and worshipping "the one God." Islam is undeniably monotheistic, but whether their god is the same as the God of Christianity, "living and subsisting in Himself; merciful and all-powerful, the Creator of heaven and earth" is problematic. In fact, it is the type of question I would consider a waste of time to try to answer. Disqualifying or not disqualifying Allah from the Christian conception of godhood makes no difference to anyone. What matter are the squalid prophets of Islam, from Mohammed on down, who demand in this strange god's name bloody corruption from their minions. Like communism, Islam is an instrument for the motivation of those who live in squalor -- or those who live in affluence and hate themselves for it. Herbert Marcuse and Frantz Fanon would have made fine mullahs.





I am not Spartacus

said...

Well, BCE, The Bestest Council Ever, taught that the Mahometans worship the same God we do. And then it counsels us to forget the past. No, seriously. That is the way it reads. Forget the past...

"The Church regards with esteem also the Moslems. They adore the one God, living and subsisting in Himself; merciful and all- powerful, the Creator of heaven and earth,(5) who has spoken to men; they take pains to submit wholeheartedly to even His inscrutable decrees, just as Abraham, with whom the faith of Islam takes pleasure in linking itself, submitted to God. Though they do not acknowledge Jesus as God, they revere Him as a prophet. They also honor Mary, His virgin Mother; at times they even call on her with devotion. In addition, they await the day of judgment when God will render their deserts to all those who have been raised up from the dead. Finally, they value the moral life and worship God especially through prayer, almsgiving and fasting.

Since in the course of centuries not a few quarrels and hostilities have arisen between Christians and Moslems, this sacred synod urges all to forget the past and to work sincerely for mutual understanding and to preserve as well as to promote together for the benefit of all mankind social justice and moral welfare, as well as peace and freedom."

And that footnote. THAT is a source for a radical Doctrinal declaration. Really? A line lifted out of a letter...

"Cf St. Gregory VII, letter XXI to Anzir (Nacir), King of Mauritania (Pl. 148, col. 450f.)"

Hmm, I seem to recall recently reading a thing or two about Pope St. Gregory VII. Oh yeah, it was in Dom Gueranger's, The Liturgical Year. Here is what I read;

And yet, Gregory was that Father of the Christian world who, from the very commencement of his pontificate, was full of the thought of driving the Mahometans out of Europe, and of delivering the Christians from the yoke of the Saracens. It was the inspiration taken up by his successors, and carried out under the name of the Crusades. In a letter addressed to all the faithful, our Saint thus speaks of the enemy of the Christian name, whom he describes as being at the very gates of Constantinople, committing every kind of outrage and cruelty....(writing to King Henry, the Great Pope continues in this vein)...At this moment fifty thousand men are preparing; and, if they can have me to head the expedition as leader and Pontiff, they are willing to march to battle against the enemies of God, and, with divine assistance, to go even to our Lord's sepulchre.

Gosh. That elderly, Pope Saint was unloving and not respectful of the dignity of others. He seems so unlike our ecumenical Popes since the beginning of BCE. He hardly sounds of the character who would think he might have someday been the source of the quite questionable doctrine that the Mahometans worship the same God as we do.

Who knows? Maybe there was a very good reason we were counseled by BCE to forget the past.

In any event,y'all know that the Mahometans teach that they worship the same God as we Catholics worship, right?

And so, wait...hold on, just a second. Nope. Nope. I must have been thinking about some other Faith because the false Faith of Mahomet has the putative Holy Book, the Koran, where Allah tells the Mahometans they do not worship the same God we do, so, maybe we Catholics might wanna rethink that whole we-worship-the-same-God thingy.

http://www.ahlesunnat.biz/main/holyquran109.htm





I am not Spartacus

said...

He who abdicated is not so enraptured by N.A. either:

http://unamsanctamcatholicam.blogspot.com/2012/10/pope-on-nostra-aetates-weakness.html





I am not Spartacus

said...

I consider this a letter of Diplomacy not a Source of Catholic Doctrine (it can not be found in Denzinger's text of the same name and the few entries about Pope Gregory the Great (pages 97-88 and a few lines of 99) offer not even a whisper that his letter to Anazir was considered by him to be doctrinal


Pope Saint Gregory the Great To ANAZIR, KING OF MAURETANIA, ON THE MAINTENANCE OF
FRIENDLY RELATIONS

Book III, 21, p. 287. No date.

Gregory . . . to Anazir, king of the province of Mauretania Sitifensis in Africa. [No greeting.]

Your Highness sent to us within a year a request that we would ordain the priest Servandus as bishop according to the Christian order. This we have taken pains to do, as your request seemed proper and of good promise. You also sent gifts to us, released some Christian captives out of regard for St. Peter, chief of the Apostles, and affection for us, and promised to release others. This good action was inspired in your heart by God, the creator of all things, without whom we can neither do nor think any good thing. He who lighteth every man that cometh into the world enlightened your mind in this purpose. For Almighty God, who desires that all men shall be saved and that none shall perish, approves nothing more highly in us than this: that a man love his fellow man next to his God and do nothing to him which he would not that others should do to himself.

This affection we and you owe to each other in a more peculiar way than to people of other races because we worship and confess the same God though in diverse forms and daily praise and adore him as the creator and ruler of this world. For, in the words of the Apostle, "He is our peace who hath made both one."

This grace granted to you by God is admired and praised by many of the Roman nobility who have learned from us of your benevolence and high qualities. Two of these, Alberic and Cencius, intimate friends of ours brought up with us from early youth at the Roman court, earnestly desiring to enjoy your friendship and to serve your interests here, are sending their messengers to you to let you know how highly they regard your prudence and high character and how greatly they desire and are able to be of service to you.

In recommending these messengers to Your Highness, we beg you to show them, out of regard for us and in return for the loyalty of the men aforesaid, the same respect which we desire always to show toward you and all who belong to you. For God knows our true regard for you to his glory and how truly we desire your prosperity and honor, both in this life and in the life to come, and how earnestly we pray both with our lips and with our heart that God himself, after the long journey of this life, may lead you into the bosom of the most holy patriarch Abraham.





JM

said...

Is Nostra Aetate considered a doctrinal constitution of the Catholic Church? And after (5) "who has spoken to men," what is this, a reference to the Old Testament or the Koran. If Moslems worship the one true God, I would have to posit Mormons do as well, for even if they have very much botched the attributes and Trinity, in application most Mormons go by the NT picture. All of which is to say, the Vatican II statements on religious/irreligious seem a reach, at best, boldly going where no theologian Catholic had gone before,





I am not Spartacus

said...

Dear JM All that was fallibly taught by V2 (all of the questionable and novel "doctrines") must be reconciled with the more than 2000 years of Catholic Tradition that preceded it.

So, other than what seems to me to be a diplomatic letter, and thus a dubious source, what are the other sources that can be cited to show how it is the Catholic Church has always taught that Mahometans worship the same God as do we Christian Catholics?





I am not Spartacus

said...

++++++++++++ begin quotes +++++++

Chapter 4. On the infallible teaching authority of the Roman pontiff

That apostolic primacy which the Roman pontiff possesses as successor of Peter, the prince of the apostles, includes also the supreme power of teaching.

This holy see has always maintained this,
the constant custom of the church demonstrates it, and the ecumenical councils, particularly those in which East and West met in the union of faith and charity, have declared it.

[councils]

So the fathers of the fourth council of Constantinople, following the footsteps of their predecessors, published this solemn profession of faith:

The first condition of salvation is to maintain the rule of the true faith. And since that saying of our lord Jesus Christ, You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church [55] , cannot fail of its effect, the words spoken are confirmed by their consequences. For in the apostolic see the catholic religion has always been preserved unblemished, and sacred doctrine been held in honour. Since it is our earnest desire to be in no way separated from this faith and doctrine, we hope that we may deserve to remain in that one communion which the apostolic see preaches, for in it is the whole and true strength of the christian religion [56] .

What is more, with the approval of the second council of Lyons, the Greeks made the following profession:

"The holy Roman church possesses the supreme and full primacy and principality over the whole catholic church. She truly and humbly acknowledges that she received this from the Lord himself in blessed Peter, the prince and chief of the apostles, whose successor the Roman pontiff is, together with the fullness of power. And since before all others she has the duty of defending the truth of the faith, so if any questions arise concerning the faith, it is by her judgment that they must be settled." [57]

Then there is the definition of the council of Florence:

"The Roman pontiff is the true vicar of Christ, the head of the whole church and the father and teacher of all Christians; and to him was committed in blessed Peter, by our lord Jesus Christ, the full power of tending, ruling and governing the whole church." [58]

[





I am not Spartacus

said...

Holy See]

To satisfy this pastoral office, our predecessors strove unwearyingly that the saving teaching of Christ should be spread among all the peoples of the world; and with equal care they made sure that it should be kept pure and uncontaminated wherever it was received.

[Custom]

It was for this reason that the bishops of the whole world, sometimes individually, sometimes gathered in synods, according to the long established custom of the churches and the pattern of ancient usage referred to this apostolic see those dangers especially which arose in matters concerning the faith. This was to ensure that any damage suffered by the faith should be repaired in that place above all where the faith can know no failing [59] .

[Holy See]

The Roman pontiffs, too, as the circumstances of the time or the state of affairs suggested,
sometimes by summoning ecumenical councils or
consulting the opinion of the churches scattered throughout the world, sometimes by special synods, sometimes by taking advantage of other useful means afforded by divine providence, defined as doctrines to be held those things which, by God's help, they knew to be in keeping with
sacred scripture and the apostolic traditions.
For the holy Spirit was promised to the successors of Peter not so that they might, by his revelation, make known some new doctrine, but that, by his assistance, they might religiously guard and faithfully expound the revelation or deposit of faith transmitted by the apostles.


Indeed, their apostolic teaching was
embraced by all the venerable fathers and
reverenced and followed by all the holy orthodox doctors, for they knew very well that this see of St. Peter always remains unblemished by any error, in accordance with the divine promise of our Lord and Saviour to the prince of his disciples: I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail; and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren [60] .

This gift of truth and never-failing faith was therefore divinely conferred on Peter and his successors in this see so that they might discharge their exalted office for the salvation of all, and so that the whole flock of Christ might be kept away by them from the poisonous food of error and be nourished with the sustenance of heavenly doctrine. Thus the tendency to schism is removed and the whole church is preserved in unity, and, resting on its foundation, can stand firm against the gates of hell.

But since in this very age when the salutary effectiveness of the apostolic office is most especially needed, not a few are to be found who disparage its authority, we judge it absolutely necessary to affirm solemnly the prerogative which the only-begotten Son of God was pleased to attach to the supreme pastoral office.

Therefore, faithfully adhering to the tradition received from the beginning of the christian faith,
to the glory of God our saviour, for the exaltation of the catholic religion and for the salvation of the christian people, with the approval of the sacred council, we teach and define as a divinely revealed dogma that when the Roman pontiff speaks EX CATHEDRA, that is, when, in the exercise of his office as shepherd and teacher of all Christians,
in virtue of his supreme apostolic authority,he defines a doctrine concerning faith or morals to be held by the whole church,he possesses, by the divine assistance promised to him in blessed Peter,
that infallibility which the divine Redeemer willed his church to enjoy in defining doctrine concerning faith or morals.

Therefore, such definitions of the Roman pontiff are of themselves, and not by the consent of the church, irreformable.

So then, should anyone, which God forbid, have the temerity to reject this definition of ours: let him be anathema.

+++++++++ end quotes+++++++++





I am not Spartacus

said...


I can see nothing in Vatican 1 that prohibits any Christian Catholic from faithfully asking whether or not that which appears to be novel doctrine has its origins in Catholic Tradition.

I do see an unhealthy Magisterial Positivism at work that presumes that whatever the Pope and Bishops in union with him teach must be accepted as Infallible and/or authoritative and that, to me at least, is a novelty in defense of doctrinal novelties.

There has been more'n one-half century since the bestest council ever wrapped-up and the Fathers participating it, and their successors, have had more than enough time to address the many questions and controversies it trailed in its wake and such answers have not been forthcoming.

It was for the good of the Church that Bishop Athanasius (Afghanistan as I recall) requested a new Syllabus for today but he who abdicated, long before the request was made, forswore the use and effectiveness of a Syllabus.

And so we muddle along in muddy waters....





Michael F.

said...

Nostra Aetate is not the only place to say such a thing in Vatican II. It's also in the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (Lumen Gentium) #16:

"the plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims: these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and **together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind's judge on the last day.**"

(Although, I think it's important to note the wording on LG on this - the council states that Muslims "profess to hold" the faith of Abraham rather than simply saying that they "hold" it - an important distinction again between the intention of Muslims vs. the objective reality of Islam as a religion).

I think we start to get onto dangerous ground when we dismiss the teaching of an ecumenical council.

Also, VII is not the first time such things have been said in the Church.

Quote:

For example, in the year 1076, four centuries after the expansion of Islam into Christian lands, Pope St. Gregory VII sought to establish bonds of peace with the Muslim king Anzir. The pontiff acknowledged differences while emphasizing what the two religions held in common, including adoration of the same God: “We believe in and confess one God, although in a different way, Who we praise and venerate daily as Creator of the ages and Ruler of the same world.”[3] More recently, yet indicative of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Catholic thought, the 1911 Catholic Encyclopedia states that “the God of Moses is no mere tribal deity. He is the Creator and Lord of the world.” It also affirms that “of Mohammedan Monotheism little need be said. The Allah of the Koran is practically one with the Jehovah of the Old Testament. . . . The influence of the Bible, particularly the Old Testament, on Mohammedan Monotheism is well known.” (End quote)

http://www.cuf.org/2007/09/faith-fact-muslims-and-the-one-god/

The rest of the article is worth reading as well. So, while neither of the above two sources are magisterial, strictly speaking, they do at least mitigate against the idea that what NA and LG stated were completely novel and unheard of previously.





Anon.

said...

It strikes me that the language of Lumen Gentium #16 ("the plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims ...") is, whether intentionally or not, deceptive in the way that the our Guidelines for Receiving Holy Communion in our church pew missals are deceptive.

The latter, in referring to non-Catholic Christians, begins thusly: "We welcome our fellow Christians to this celebration of the Eucharist as our brothers and sisters ..."

It sounds like a typically Anglican announcement opening the "Lord's Table" to anyone who wishes to come forward and receive.

It takes getting beyond first impressions to realize that if you're a Protestant, you're actually being dis-invited to the "Lord's Table."

Similarly here in Lumen Gentium #16, it sounds like Islam is being presented as a way of salvation independent of Christ and his Church. Only, here you would not only have to read TWICE through all of Lumen Gentium and probably ALL of the rest of the documents churned out by Vatican II, and you might STILL not know that you could be a Muslim and damned to hell.





I am not Spartacus

said...

Mahometans clearly do not worship the same God as do we and until the Magisterium definitely teaches that it does, a faithful Christian Catholic is allowed to question the questionable doctrine because it is far too imprecise to be considered binding.

At least 88 of the Conciliar Fathers voted NO on accepting this document (the numbers voting NO on other documents had higher numbers) and they were allowed to leave the council in full union with the Catholic Church and so what is sauce for the Magisterial Geese is sauce for us quackpots.

The Koran itself denies it worships the same God we do; Mahometan "doctrine" does not treat of God as a Father; it denies the Incarnation; it denies the Trinity; it accepts as God an infinite being who regularly contradicts his own self (abrogation); it has as its God a being who tells Mahometans that Jews and Christians are pigs and apes who ought be killed if they do not convert or submit to dhimmitude.

Owing to effete ecumenism, the universal solvent of Truth, one can read the intentionally vague claims of V2 in more than one way and the way far too many Christian Catholics read V2 has led to a praxis of indifferentism - an Indifferentism encouraged by the Assisi abominations and the Kissing of the Koran and endless and useless dialogue.

I doubt there are many alive who LOVE Holy Mother Church as much as I do but she has not taught definitively on this matter; not yet.

Is she does, I will happily recant and submit for that is THE proof one is Catholic - accepting Teachings contrary to his will and/or intelligence.





Michael F.

said...

"At least 88 of the Conciliar Fathers voted NO on accepting this document (the numbers voting NO on other documents had higher numbers) and they were allowed to leave the council in full union with the Catholic Church..."

I think its a mistake to make much of anything about the way in which magisterial documents come into existence - particular in an ecumenical council. It's a bit like the old saying: just eat the food, don't look back in the kitchen. The protections of the Holy Spirit work in spite of the limitations of the men at a council. How things come to be is irrelevant. What matters is the end result. And both NA and LG both teach that Muslims worship the same God that we do. I don't see any way around that without doing violence to the relevant texts. LG is a dogmatic constitution. so, I would still say you're on dangerous ground trying to find a way around that. And unless you know something I don't, we have no idea what those 88 Council Fathers believed *after* NA and LG were both promulgated and accepted by the council. Do you have something you can bring forward to support your assertion on that point?

Thanks.





Michael F.

said...

"The Koran itself denies it worships the same God we do; Mahometan "doctrine" does not treat of God as a Father; it denies the Incarnation; it denies the Trinity; it accepts as God an infinite being who regularly contradicts his own self (abrogation); it has as its God a being who tells Mahometans that Jews and Christians are pigs and apes who ought be killed if they do not convert or submit to dhimmitude."

I'm sure you could say the same thing in regard to many historical Jewish documents (claiming that we don't worship the same God). But neither Islam nor modern Judaism have the authority to speak for God. The Catholic Church has the authority, and she teaches in more than one place that we worship the same God as the Jews and Muslims. As far as I'm concerned, that settles the issue.

Jews deny the Trinity. They even deny that Jesus was the Christ. At least Muslims believe that much (although they don't believe he was crucified and rose from the dead).

http://www.islam-guide.com/ch3-10.htm


But their God is still the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. (Yes, there is a difference between Jews and Muslims but I don't want to digress too much.) Both Jews and Muslims are missing some important facts and understandings about God. But they've got enough right that the Church says we worship the same God.

In balance, I absolutely agree that Islam is a false religion. It has a good deal of truth, but it also has error. The same is true of modern Judaism in some ways.

The following is a high school level piece I wrote about Islam for the sake of those who mistakenly perceive Islam as more equivalent to and compatible with Christianity than it actually is. [One note - I would probably omit the last paragraph now were I to do it over now]:

http://www.scripturecatholic.com/islam_and_christianity.html





Pertinacious Papist

said...

Michael,

Why would you omit the last paragraph? The 666 numerology is my favourite part of your high school piece, even if it doesn't rise to Louis Farrakhan's level of stratospheric speculation! =)

On a more serious note, you write in your comment above:

"They [the Jews] even deny that Jesus was the Christ. At least Muslims believe that much."

Are you sure about that? I knew that Muslims accepted the Virgin Birth of Jesus, have a devotion the the Virgin Mary, regard Jesus as the greatest of their "prophets" (though not the last), and so forth. But I wasn't aware that they accepted Jesus as "the Christ" (or Messiah).

I suppose it could be that they accept this appellation but believe it has a different signification than either Jews or Christians would give it. (I didn't see any illumination on this subject in the linked page on what Muslims believe about Jesus.)

Pertinaciously, -- PP





Michael F.

said...

BTW - I just came across this: part II to follow --

http://www.ncregister.com/blog/steven-greydanus/god-quran-bible-1/





Michael F.

said...

Phil -

If the last paragraph is your favorite part, then perhaps I should have characterized it as a JUNIOR high level piece? ;-) I wrote that about 15-16 years ago - John Salza picked it up somewhere and I never asked him to remove it.

In regard to Muslims acknowledging Jesus as the Messiah - it was mentioned twice in the link I provided. It quoted from two surahs in the chapter entitled "Mary":

"(Remember) when the angels said, “O Mary, God gives you good news of a word from Him (God), whose name is the Messiah Jesus, son of Mary"

AND

"They said, “We killed the Messiah Jesus, son of Mary, the messenger of God.” They did not kill him, nor did they crucify him, but the likeness of him was put on another man.."

Again, it's been a while since I studied this. But my recollection is that they acknowledge Jesus as the Jewish Messiah and even expect him to return in judgment.

My recollection is that you are correct in regard to how they view the term "Messiah". Like so much of Islamic theology as it pertains to Christian things, it has its own, particular, heretical flavor. Yet, there is also truth in it.

I only had time to do a quick search, so pardon the citation of Wikipedia here, but it's not bad:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesus_in_Islam#Second_coming

I'm off to NY for a few days, so I may not be able to get back to this for a while.









I am not Spartacus

said...

The protections of the Holy Spirit work in spite of the limitations of the men at a council. How things come to be is irrelevant. What matters is the end result. And both NA and LG both teach that Muslims worship the same God that we do.

Dear Michael F. We know the putative teachings of N.A. are not binding because the Bishops voting not to accept it as a Teaching were allowed to leave the council in full union with the Catholic Church.

There were no Canons or Decrees of V2 to which the Conciliar Fathers were constrained to accept or face anathema.

Thus, it is misleading for you to write that conciliar proceedings are akin to what happens in the kitchen because in this instance, not insignificant numbers of the Chefs and Owners of this Ecumenical Restaurant refused to eat what they prepared but you demand that I swallow it whole.

You wrote about the end result and then you ignore the end result of scores of Fathers of the Council refusing to accept this teaching yet leaving the Council in full union with the Church.

IF this teaching was binding,the Conciliar Fathers would have had to accept the teachings BEFORE leaving the Council just as the few Conciliar Fathers who voted not to accept the Dogma of Papal Infallibility HAD to accept it BEFORE the end of the The First Vatican Council - and they did.





Pertinacious Papist

said...

Michael,

The quoted references didn't suggest the Muslim acceptance of Jesus as "Messiah," but your reference to their expectation of Jesus' "return in judgement" did jog my feeble memory.

I remember reading and reviewing a book some three years ago entitled "Cracks in the Crescent," by Hussein Hajji Wario, a Muslim convert to Christianity (review HERE). Wario, I recall, made that claim. I believe you were right. In fact, one of his claims -- and he would know (he used to be a religious instructor in a Muslim school) -- is that few Muslims actually know the high level of claims made for Jesus in Islam (much higher than those made for Mohammed), which are available only for those acquainted not only with the Qur'an, but also the Hadith, Seerah, Sunnah, and Fiqh.





Pertinacious Papist

said...

Here is a relevant paragraph from my own review, which I should have remembered (creeping senility):

By far the most interesting point that Wario discusses [in his book Cracks in the Crescent] is the "Jesus of Islam." Even though the Qur'an and Hadith depict Jesus in ways that are often grossly distorted, they inadvertently accord Him tremendous attributes that show His vast superiority to all the prophets mentioned in the Qur'an, including Muhammad — attributes including His sinlessness, that He would be a revelation and a mercy for mankind, and that He was uniquely protected (along with His mother, Mary, "chosen above the women of all nations") from Satan at birth. The Qur'an says that Jesus is a "word of Allah," and a "spirit" from Him who became flesh through the power of the Holy Spirit (the angel Gabriel in Islam). Miracles of Jesus are acknowledged, whereas no incontrovertible miracles are attributed to Muham­mad. This is not to deny the multitude of bizarre distortions in Islam concerning Jesus, but it certainly suffices to provoke wonder at how Muslims can believe that God would send Islam as a religion to abrogate and supplant Christianity, when, even by Islam's own account, the "prophet" who brought Christianity is superior in every respect.





I am not Spartacus

said...

Catholic arguments in support of N.A. reveal its weakness in the imprecision of its claims.

Just in the write-backs about this topic, we read how The Catholic Church teaches that Muslims worship the same God as we do.

But,it teaches no such thing; but, owing to the ecumenical seas in which the new theology swims, we are drowning in dubious claims too easily open to misinterpretation and misapplication.

Even were I to concede that Islam is monotheistic, its God is one who commands his followers to kill unbelievers and Allah is a God who changes; and, thus, by definition, not God.

The Third Person of The Blessed Trinity, God The Holy Ghost was indeed active at Vatican Two and the fact that the Conciliar fathers chose to act on a pastoral and not a dogmatic level is proof of one crucial component of the charism of the Holy Ghost - that He will not let the Catholic Church teach error





Michael F.

said...

Phil, you write, “The quoted references didn't suggest the Muslim acceptance of Jesus as "Messiah..”

I’m not sure I follow. The references I provided at that link came straight from the Quran. The Quran doesn’t say that Jesus (Isa) is the one “Christians” refer to as Messiah. It simply and factually identifies Jesus (Isa) as the “Messiah”.

Here are the surahs again, in slightly fuller context:

“The angels said to Mary: ‘God bids you rejoice in a Word from Him. **His name is the Messiah**, Jesus, son of Mary. He shall be noble in this world and in the world to come….” (The Family of Amram/The House of Imram 3:45-46)

AND

“They denied the truth an uttered a monstrous falsehood against Mary. They declared, ‘We have put to death the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary...” They did not kill him, nor did they crucify him, but they thought they did” (Women 4:157)

Both surahs above are from the N.J. Dawood translation, but I confirmed them with the Arberry translation and the Maulana Muhammad Ali translation as well.

Regardless, it seems we still agree that Islam recognizes Jesus as the Messiah (albeit in a distorted way). And that was an important paragraph regarding the witness that the Quran gives regarding the superiority of Jesus. I’d read others who had also mentioned this same thing. Interesting, isn’t it?





Michael F.

said...

@ I am not Spartacus, you write, “you demand that I swallow it whole.”

Where did I "demand" anything of you (or anyone else)?

You wrote, again, “We know the putative teachings of N.A. are not binding because the Bishops voting not to accept it [88 of them] as a Teaching were allowed to leave the council in full union with the Catholic Church.”

Please provide the following information/clarifications:

1) I asked if you had proof that those bishops left after Vatican II still not agreeing with Nostra Aetate but you didn’t reply. Do you? Or are you just assuming this? And do you have any evidence that any of them voted "no" specifically because of the specific statement we're discussing here about Muslims worshiping God?

2) As I previously mentioned, VII’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (Lumen Gentium) says the same thing about Muslims and God that NA says:

“the plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims: these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and **together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind's judge on the last day.**" (LG 16)

I see no reasonable way around what the council was saying here. And reportedly, the vote on Lumen Gentium was 2,151 to 5 (while NA was 2,2281 to 88).


3) I'm trying to understand your argument - are you saying that Catholics can feel free to ignore/disagree with any part of the teaching of an ecumenical council if even a single bishop didn't vote for it, or if all the bishops were not explicitly and specifically forced to accept it before the conclusion of the council or face anathema?

4) Did every other ecumenical council of the Church either receive completely unanimous approval by the bishops present or the bishops were forced to agree with what the council taught before leaving or face anathema?

5) Can you provide a magisterial teaching of equal or greater authority than Nostra Aetate and Lumen Gentium stating that Muslims to NOT worship the same God that we worship?





Pertinacious Papist

said...

The V-II documents are of various sorts. The strongest one finds are "Dogmatic Constitutions"; yet ALL of the documents, even those 'beneath' this level are to be accepted with some degree of respect and submission, even if they are far from being de fide.

Yet even the "Dogmatic Constitutions" are not formal definitions of doctrine. They resemble authoritative "essays" in which a large subject is treated in a generally organized way, with some parts that touch on previously defined dogmas and others that touch on issues far from defined.

As I've said elsewhere, I'm not sure how helpful a question is, such as "Do Catholics and Muslims worship the same God?" I've also said elsewhere that the answer could be "yes" or "no," depending on what one means. It stikes me that this sort of question may resemble the question, "Did Jesus die for all people?" or "Did Jesus redeem all people?" or "Did Jesus atone for all people?" -- questions about which there could be interminable debates, depending (again) on what exactly one means.

The V-II documents say what they say, and that's what we must deal with. Yet when people ask whether one "accepts" Vatican II (or Nostra Aetate, or Lumen Gentium or Verbum Dei, or Gaudium et Spes), I think clarity requires posing a counter-question: "What do you mean?" or "To which proposition, exactly, are you referring?"

This seems to me especially the case with a number of emphases and slogans that have issued from the ferment of the post-Conciliar era -- things like "dialogue," "ecumenism," etc. These are not defined dogmas capable of being expressed in definitive propositions. I wonder whether the same isn't true of some of the language in Lumen Gentium and "Nostra Aetate" about the role of non-Christian peoples in God's plan of redemption.

The language is capable of being interpreted without a hermeneutic of rupture from tradition. If there is any novelty in these documents, however, it may be that it sometimes SEEMS to take strenuous contortions and convolutions to do so. The danger of some of this language, it seems to me, is that it sometimes SEEMS to lend itself prima facie to a hermeneutic of rupture -- universalism, indifferentism, the idea that we all worship the same God so what's the fuss. Which, of course, is utterly untrue. But this is the danger.





Pertinacious Papist

said...

Hi Michael,

I appreciate the question. My statements were likely unclear. I grant you these suras from the Qur'an to refer to some sort of acknowledgement of Jesus as "Messiah" -- one who is anointed by God.

My response was prompted by the tacit assumption that if one were to ask a Muslim and a Catholic "In what sense to you accept Jesus as the Messiah?" one would get very different answers. So it again comes back to the issue of semantics and belief content, as well as the realities (or fantasies) to which those semantics and beliefs correspond.





I am not Spartacus

said...

V2 had as one of its results Pope Benedict XVI praying in a Blue Mosque , an action completely contrary to Catholic Tradition.

Of course, following V2 and its rupture with the past, nothing of this sort could be either cited as exemplary or encouraged in this age of effete ecumenism:

Begin Page 230


http://archive.org/stream/lifeofsaintfranc00cuthuoft#page/n7/mode/2up





I am not Spartacus

said...

I am not Spartacus, you write, “you demand that I swallow it whole.”

Where did I "demand" anything of you (or anyone else)?

You did not make that demand. I erred in assuming from the metaphoric context you used (kitchen etc) that you would understand what I was writing.

My error.

As to all else that I wrote I stand by it.

V2 did not issue any teachings that had to be accepted or one would be anathematised.

Vatican One, and previous Ecumenical Councils, are iteeming with such definitions and consequences for repudiating those decisions:


....So then, should anyone, which God forbid, have the temerity to reject this definition of ours: let him be anathema.

And, yes, scores of Bishops did leave V2 in full communion without having to accept all of its documents or do you suppose Bishops could later change their minds after a council was brought to a close?

The Second Vatican Council’s declarations on non-Christian religions and religious freedom do not contain “binding doctrinal content,” Cardinal Walter Brandmuller said at a press conference.

The retired president of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences...

Stating that the conciliar documents have differing degrees of authority, Cardinal Brandmuller said that “there is a huge difference between a great constitution and simple declarations.”

Strangely enough, the two most controversial documents [on religious liberty and relations with non-Christian religions] do not have a binding doctrinal content, so one can dialogue about them,"

Dear Mr. F. It is you who is in error for trying to dogmatise pastoralism





Michael F.

said...

Phil - thanks for your reply. As I mentioned earlier, I agree with you that Islam has a distorted understanding of Jesus as Messiah, just as they do of God (something that could even be said of the Jews of Jesus day, btw - including the Apostles - as well as Jews today). But they do recognize him as the "Messiah" (in an at least partially correct sense - in stark contrast to rabbinic Jews, btw, who completely reject Jesus as Messiah in *any* sense), and according to the twice-iterated teaching of an ecumenical council, they do worship the one God.

I'm sure we agree that for the sake of dialogue that seeks truth as the ultimate goal, it's just as important to recognize areas of commonality/agreement as it is to recognize areas of real difference. Either extreme is an error.

Some who have commented here seem to want to completely reject any real commonality on the issue of God - to the point of outright rejecting the doctrinal teaching of an ecumenical council.

I think it makes the most sense to accept the teaching of the council on this issue and then make sure to also clarify what it cannot mean, in order to protect against the "Kumbaya" errors.

I *think* we're pretty much in agreement there, yes?





Michael F.

said...

Phil, thanks also for the information on the submission and respect due VII. What you wrote on that issue jibes with my understanding as well and I think this is the most important thing.

However, you also expressed a personal view that was very similar to one you expressed on FB. There, you wrote, "I believe in the final analysis that the question is unhelpful and misleading, and that even the attempts to offer an answer on the part of some ecclesial documents, as well-intentioned as they may be, are not necessarily always helpful."
Perhaps I'm misunderstanding you, but I don't follow how it can ever be unhelpful to cite the most authoritative texts we have available on an important question like this - especially from an ecumenical council. In two separate documents promulgated by an ecumenical council, the Church consciously chose to teach that Muslims and Catholics worship the same God. This isn't a pastoral directive. It's a doctrinal teaching. As such, I'm also not sure I would agree that the question (of whether we worship the same God) is essentially unhelpful or misleading, either.

I can intuit of a number of reasons why it's important for us to know that we worship the same God. Certainly, one can reach erroneous or misleading conclusions based on that teaching (as you've aptly noted), but that's true of many such teachings about God, isn't it? As such, it seems to me that our task is to do what we’re doing here – clearing away erroneous conclusions and extrapolations from the actual, limited teaching itself.

Would you agree with that? Or am I still missing something?





I am not Spartacus

said...

In 1869, ( Bishop Edward Mary) Fitzgerald was summoned to Rome to attend the First Vatican Council. There, on July 18, 1870, the Arkansas prelate became a footnote in the history of Catholicism by being one of only two prelates in the universal church to vote against papal infallibility. (The only other negative vote came from a bishop in Sicily.) His non placet ("it does not please") vote was the first after 491 affirmations. When the tally ended, this large-framed Irishman walked up to altar at St. Peter’s and knelt before Pope Pius IX to announce his submission to the council’s decision. Fitzgerald had not been one of the leaders of the opposition, but he, along with three American archbishops and sixteen other Catholic prelates, had signed a document expressing doubts about the wisdom of the declaration of papal infallibility at that time. While most left by the time of the vote, Bishop Fitzgerald decided to stay and make his voice known. Fitzgerald related to a British priest, Father Peter Benoit, in 1875 that he did not go 6,000 miles to do any man’s bidding but to vote according to his conscience. Ten years later, Fitzgerald publicly defended his vote by maintaining that while he had always supported the doctrine, he nevertheless believed that such a declaration at that time would only hamper Catholic evangelism in the United States.

No such thing happened at V2 and Bishops voting no on accepting Documents were not later forced to accept the of face excommnication





Pertinacious Papist

said...

Hi Michael,

I appreciate your query and the spirit behind it. I have nothing really new or profound to say, and I wish I had more time to devote to it, really.

Some observations ... The most authoritative text we have of any kind is Holy Writ, in which we see our Lord, in Mark 4:31, compare the Kingdom of God to the mustard seed, which He calls the "smallest of seeds." Well, it's not. But Jesus is God. His words are divinely inspired. So what do we do with that? We have to interpret it. It's a parable, and one has to allow for rhetorical device, literary license, and so forth. But literally, it's false.

Likewise, the words of an Ecumenical Council are authoritative. They have God's Holy Spirit guiding them in some fashion or other, preserving them from expressly teaching error. Yet if Jesus can use a literally false statement to infallibly teach truth, I suppose it's possible for an Ecumenical Council to do the same.

What I'm saying, I guess, is that we need to recognize the human side of Councils, just as we need to recognize the human side of Scripture and the words of Jesus. This isn't to say they're fallible. They're not. But it's to realize that they require interpretation; and sometimes this isn't simple.





Pertinacious Papist

said...

Michael (continued ...)

Another thing we need, I think, is to deflate our view of the importance of Vatican II a bit. The importance of Vatican II looms large in our experience because of its relative proximity to us historically and because of the disastrous aftermath that followed it, about which we can debate all day whether that disaster is connected in some way with ambiguities lodged like "time bombs" (pace Michael Davies) within the texts themselves.

A long view of Church history reveals that Ecumenical Councils have, at best, a very checkered history. Some were out-and-out disasters, like the Fourth Council of Constantinople. The fact that the Holy Spirit confers "infallibility" often means more in terms of preserving from error than in accomplishing anything very positive. One could debate the yield of Vatican II in that regard.

In Dei Verbum, the text referencing "inerrancy" in Latin is ambiguous. The Latin has no commas, and the Abbott and Flannery translations place them differently with the result that the Abbott translation confers divine inerrancy only upon those portions of Scripture that reference "faith and morals," but not history, geography, genealogy, etc., unlike Flannery's.

So when I say that the question "Do Christians and Muslims worship the same God?" is unhelpful, and that Lumen Gentium's apparent claim that we do worship the same God isn't that helpful either, I'm not questioning the authority of the Council or the text, but it's helpfulness in view of its innate ambiguity. I understand what the words I read there mean on the face of the text. But I do not know what I'm supposed to conclude from reading them. What does "God" mean in that context? What does "worship" mean in that context? If the text appears in some way to suggest divine or ecclesial approval of Islamic worship, how readily will readers seek to reconcile this with previous declarations of Islam as a false religion and one used by the Evil One to divert peoples from the true path?

As you and I have both suggested, there are ways to interpret such a text without a hermeneutic of rupture. I'm just not sure (1) how helpful such statements are, or (2) how important they are in the hierarchy of truths proclaimed by the Church.

In St. Thomas Aquinas' Summa Theologiae, there is a section where the Angelic Doctor makes some hair-splitting distinctions to the effect that the Real Presence of Christ's Body and Blood in the consecrated Eucharist is "substantial" but not "physical" ("extensive"). He's making a technical philosophical point of some significance, perhaps; but it's not very high on my priority of texts to expose to seminarians. Why? Because the effect is often to induce them to question the "Real Presence" of Christ in the Eucharist and to substitute a quasi-Zwinglian notion of our Lord's presence as "symbolic."

I've gone on too long with analogies and comparisons. Not sure any of this helps clarify my "position" on the matter; but there it is.





Michael F.

said...

@ I am not Spartacus -

You write, “V2 had as one of its results Pope Benedict XVI praying in a Blue Mosque , an action completely contrary to Catholic Tradition.”

Completely contrary to Catholic Tradition – Big T? Not little “t”?

I would agree with the latter (little “t”), but not the former. Previously, you’ve (sometimes incorrectly, I believe), called certain teachings VII “pastoral”. Well, in this case, visiting and praying at a mosque may well be imprudent and scandalous from a pastoral/prudential standpoint. But I don’t see how a prudential decision like this can actually be heretical, per se (which “completely contrary to Catholic Tradition” - Big T - would necessarily imply). For all we know, he was praying for the conversion of Muslims.

You write, “V2 did not issue any teachings that had to be accepted or one would be anathematised.”

I understand that. But that wasn’t my point. My point is that your argument doesn’t provide a justification for treating the teaching of an ecumenical council - including part of which was iterated in a dogmatic constitution (Lumen Gentium) – as though it can just be ignored or dismissed by Catholics who make a personal judgment about its orthodoxy. But that’s exactly what you appear to be doing.

As Phil wrote above, “The V-II documents are of various sorts. The strongest one finds are "Dogmatic Constitutions"; yet ALL of the documents, even those 'beneath' this level are to be accepted with some degree of respect and submission, even if they are far from being de fide.”

I see no evidence that you “accept” them “with some degree of respect and submission.” In fact, you’re quite open about dismissing them and disrespecting them. So, while you present yourself as an extremely faithful Catholic, it seems to me that you’ve essentially appointed yourself as a magisterium of one - something that is not Catholic at all.

You write, “Stating that the conciliar documents have differing degrees of authority, Cardinal Brandmuller said that ‘there is a huge difference between a great constitution and simple declarations’ ‘Strangely enough, the two most controversial documents [on religious liberty and relations with non-Christian religions] do not have a binding doctrinal content, so one can dialogue about them.’ Dear Mr. F. It is you who is in error for trying to dogmatise pastoralism”

I’m not sure why you keep missing that the same teaching about Muslims worshiping the same God that we worship is also found in VII’s **Dogmatic Constitution on the Church** (Lumen Gentium - which was approved by a vote of 2,151 to 5, btw):
“The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims: these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and **together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind's judge on the last day.**" (LG 16)

I’m not sure how a factual, doctrinal teaching about a matter of faith related to the identity of God issued by an ecumenical council can be dismissed as mere “pastoralism”. Pastoralism involves making subjective, prudential judgments about how to apply and pass on doctrinal teaching regarding matters of faith and morals in different contexts. If you can show me how Lumen Gentium’s teaching that Muslims and Catholics worship the same God - the God Who is “mankind’s judge on the last day”, and Who is “merciful and all-powerful, the Creator of heaven and earth” – is not doctrinal but merely “pastoral”, I’m all ears.





Michael F.

said...

Thanks for your responses, Phil.
I understand if you don’t have time (or interest!) to get back to this, but I had a few thoughts about what you wrote. I’m working through some of this, too. As you know from my other writings (including Jewish issues), this area is one of particular interest for me. So I appreciate your willingness to patiently bat this around with me!


In regard to the comparison you made between the teaching of LG/NA on Muslims/God and Scripture on The Kingdom of God/mustard seed:

1) I don’t think what Jesus said about the mustard seed is “literally false” when one approaches it with charity. The following from John Sproule at Gordon Conwell seems well done to me, offering more than one plausible explanation. But I thought the last one the best of the alternatives:

http://faculty.gordon.edu/hu/bi/ted_hildebrandt/ntesources/ntarticles/GTJ-NT/Sproule-MatMustard-GTJ-80.pdf


2) Even if there were no way to save Jesus’s statement about the mustard seed from being “literally false” (as you put it), I don’t think that would be relevant to the case at hand because Jesus was clearly not intending to teach a technical scientific truth about seeds. He was teaching about the future growth of the Church from its extremely humble and small beginnings – and that was indeed literally true. Divino Afflante Spiritu 3 demonstrates the way the Church intends for us to maintain the complete inerrancy of Scripture in such cases:

“…with grave words did [Leo XIII] proclaim that there is no error whatsoever if the sacred writer, speaking of things of the physical order "went by what sensibly appeared”…speaking either "in figurative language, **or in terms which were commonly used at the time**, and which in many instances are in daily use at this day, even among the most eminent men of science." For "the sacred writers, or to speak more accurately…the Holy Spirit, Who spoke by them, **did not intend to teach men these things** - that is the essential nature of the things of the universe - things in no way profitable to salvation"; **which principle will apply to cognate sciences and especially to history…**


Conversely, it seems plain to me that the central point of the statements in question from LG and NA is precisely that Muslims and Catholics worship the same God – He and His identity weren’t mere parabolic props like the mustard seed. I also see no way to nuance those statements to mean something other than that Catholics and Muslims worship the same God. The council used a number of descriptors that made it plain to Whom they were referring: “the one God, living and subsisting in Himself; merciful and all- powerful, the Creator of heaven and earth, who has spoken to men” and “the one, merciful God, mankind's judge on the last day.”





Anonymous

said...

(Continued)

Phil, you write, “What I'm saying, I guess, is that we need to recognize the human side of Councils, just as we need to recognize the human side of Scripture and the words of Jesus. This isn't to say they're fallible. They're not. But it's to realize that they require interpretation; and sometimes this isn't simple.”

Maybe I’m missing something, but I think it is fairly simple. I think we’ve made the proper distinctions right here. The council said nothing about whether Muslims worship God correctly (we know they don’t) and whether their understanding of God is entirely correct (we know it’s not). But the council **did** clearly teach that the object of their worship is the very same God that we worship.

I think this doctrinal teaching helps Catholics understand something important about the nature of God. He is not “our God” alone. He is God, period.

I think Jeff Kantor expanded on this well on your FB page when he wrote the following. Quote:

If you click on the Common Word document or any of the Q and A scholar's texts with which the internet abounds, you will see that Muslims are taught to love God and neighbor as central tenets of Islam.

But why does that matter? Does the God that St Paul expects pagans to recognize or that Vatican One teaches can be recognized by reason alone count as God? Or not?

If that God is God is He suddenly not God if you worship Him? What if you get something wrong about Him? What if you don't know that He loves sinners?

I don't think the whole approach makes sense. It boils down to saying that only Christians rightly understand God, which is true as far as it goes…
But if Muslims don't believe in the same God, who does? Do those who think He just loves everyone and wouldn't hurt a fly? How about those who merely acknowledge Him as a philosophical reality and attempt to honor Him as they know Him?

A lot of people get a lot wrong about God. Including many Catholics, I am afraid.
What do you say when you hear a Muslim friend say, as I have done,

"Isn't God beautiful? I love Him SO much. He is so kind and merciful. It makes me happy just thinking about Him!"

Do you say, “Yes but we don't worship the same God, you know”?

Somehow that seems silly to me.

Don't misunderstand me. I have a LOT of problems with Islam. Muslims need to be Christian to fully understand the beauty and love of God.

But that is another question it seems to me.





Michael F.

said...

(continued)

You write, “Another thing we need, I think, is to deflate our view of the importance of Vatican II a bit.”

I’m not sure whom you mean by “we”. :-) It seems to me that one “I am not Spartacus” has a **very** deflated view of VII. ;-) Right now, I’m interested in the people involved in this discussion and the points being made right here. Were I discussing this with Sr. Heretica Indifferentia at the Center for Increased Gaia Knowledge and Coexistence, I’m sure I would make **very** different observations and arguments. LOL

You write, “The fact that the Holy Spirit confers "infallibility" often means more in terms of preserving from error than in accomplishing anything very positive.”

Agreed. But I see no way to preserve the statements from LG 16 and NA 3 from error without simultaneously agreeing at a minimum that Muslims and Catholics do, in fact, have the **same God** as the object of their worship - as the council put it: “the one God, living and subsisting in Himself; merciful and all- powerful, the Creator of heaven and earth, who has spoken to men” and “the one, merciful God, mankind's judge on the last day.” Is there any other god matching that description?

You write, “I'm not questioning the authority of the Council or the text, but it's helpfulness in view of its innate ambiguity. I understand what the words I read there mean on the face of the text. But I do not know what I'm supposed to conclude from reading them.

Again, I don’t find it really that ambiguous. I think it’s crystal clear that the God Muslims worship is the very same God that Catholics worship. And that’s an important thing to know in my opinion and in the opinion of the council Fathers.

You write, “What does ‘God’ mean in that context?”

I think this is the easiest one of all to answer. The council was very explicit on this point in NA and LG. The council identified God in this way: “the one God, living and subsisting in Himself; merciful and all- powerful, the Creator of heaven and earth, who has spoken to men” and “the one, merciful God, mankind's judge on the last day.”

I think it’s clear that we’re talking about I AM, here. Is there any other creator of heaven and earth who has spoken to men, merciful and all-powerful Who will judge all men on the last day?

You write, “what does ‘worship’ mean in that context?”

I don’t think this question is important. I don’t see where the council focused on the correctness of Muslim worship. It was focused on identifying the OBJECT of Muslim worship - the one an only “I Am”.

You write, “If the text appears in some way to suggest divine or ecclesial approval of Islamic worship, how readily will readers seek to reconcile this with previous declarations of Islam as a false religion and one used by the Evil One to divert peoples from the true path?”

I don’t see that it does suggest divine or ecclesial approval of Islamic worship – at least if we mean any suggestion that Islam is salvific or a legitimate alternative to Catholicism. Of course, VII must be read as an organic whole in continuity with itself and with the rest of Church teaching. As such, we know – for a fact – that VII cannot be teaching an approval of Islamic worship, as though it’s a legitimate alternative to Catholicism. However, I don’t think it would not be wrong to acknowledge that Islam does contain elements of truth that may lead one toward salvation, depending upon one’s previous status. For instance, is an atheist moving toward God (and hence toward salvation) if he embraces Islam? I would say yes. But is a Catholic who converts to Islam? Clearly, no. A Catholic would be moving away from God were he to embrace Islam.





Michael F.

said...

(continued)

You write, “As you and I have both suggested, there are ways to interpret such a text without a hermeneutic of rupture. I'm just not sure how helpful such statements are…”

Sure. But properly understood, I think they’re very helpful. I think (and it would seem that the Fathers of VII agreed because they saw fit to repeat the teaching twice) that it **is** important to remember that He is not “our God” alone. He is God, period. We just know Him and what He wants best.

I also think that truth is important as we interact and dialogue with Muslims. If we incorrectly approach them as pagans who don’t even worship the same God, then we will hamper any efforts at conversion. We will be insulting them and likely hardening them to what we have to say. Whether we hinder them from converting by the error of telling them that they’re fine right where they are (as “liberals” do) or by the error of telling them that they’re more wrong than they are – in fact, they don’t even worship God – we’re still wrong and undermining the work of the Holy Spirit.

Nostra Aetate, in particular, is very clear about it’s aims in that regard. And Lumen Gentium ties this teaching about God to the possibility of salvation for those who are not expressly Catholic while still being clear about the need of all men for Christ and His Church.

Sorry for the length of this, Phil, but this area is one of particular interest for me. Again, I appreciate your willingness to patiently bat this around with me! Please don’t feel that you have to respond at all, let alone at length. But f you have the time and interest, of course, I’m always appreciative of your insights and reactions.





Pertinacious Papist

said...

Hi Michael,

I very much appreciate your detailed and often insightful analysis of the issues, with which I find little if anything to disagree.

As to "ambiguity" in many of the Conciliar statements, we have this most lately on the authority of Cardinal Kasper, as noted HERE; but this is hardly new. A considerable treatment was offered by Ferrara and Woods in their book, The Great Fascade, which you may be familiar.

When I was at Westminster Seminary, Cornelius Van Til used to say repeatedly that a creed or confession represents an advancement over earlier 'symbols' of the Church only if it's statements are more precise, offering further refinement and clarification; not if they fall back on more encompassing generalizations. It seems to me that this is exactly what we see in some of the 'symbols' and statements of the Faith published over the last half-century in the Catholic Church. The Catechism of the Catholic Church is 'beautiful' in many ways. At first acquaintance, I thought it made good 'devotional reading'. But it's propositions are not always as precise as one would like. One has only to compare earlier creeds, encyclicals, and catechisms with more contemporary statements to see that there is a significant loss in precision. One has to puzzle and ponder over their meaning, occasionally.





Pertinacious Papist

said...

(continued ...)

The "deflation" of Vatican II is a notion I picked up from Fr. Zuhlsdorff (Fr. Z.), when he recently stated that in the long historical view of things, Vatican II will probably not loom particularly significant in terms of the actual content of its documents. It's another matter altogether to consider its significance as "event," however. That's what I meant.

You mentioned Jeff Kantor's statements and asked what one would say about a Muslim statement expressing love of God and neighbor. Just a couple of thoughts: One would agree prima facie, of course. But (1) I confess with embarrassment my suspicion about the permitted practice among Muslims of Taqiyya and Kitman -- lying by positive misstatement or by omission in order to prevail against the infidel, and (2) I remember reading somewhere recently (wish I remembered where) that Islam in practice teaches no obligation to love God as such; to submit, yes, but not to love, which perhaps seems impossibly anthropocentric, given the vastly distal sense of God's transcendence in Islam.

Peter Kreeft has a page or two at the beginning of his section on "comparative religion" in his book, Fundamentals of the Faith, where he lists a hierarchy of truths embraced by different religion. He starts with the fullness of truth in Catholicism, proceeds down through other forms of theistic and non-theistic religions until he gets to Satanism, or something of the sort somewhere near the bottom. It's a good point he's making; and one that supports what you're suggesting here. I have no problem with that.





Pertinacious Papist

said...

(continued ...)

I have already granted, in fact, that there is a sense in which everyone -- not merely the monotheists, but everyone, including the atheist and satanist -- is responding in one way or another to his Creator. At Calvin College, H. Evan Runner (a Dooyeweerdian and Vollenhovenian scholar) used to say that "life is religion," meaning by this that "religion" isn't confined to our cultic life of Sunday worship, but embraces the totality of our response to God, whether for good or ill.

I can accept that all creatures have the "same God" as their "object" in that sense, that they are responding on one way or other through every act of their earthly lives to the Creator who made them and wants to save them from the consequences of their sin.

Perhaps you're right that the emphasis of LG in the passage under discussion doesn't stress "worship" so much as the common "one God," at issue here. And your the detailed surgery you've performed on the text with your deft use of your scalpel persuades me that there might be some important lessons to be learned hear about how God is not "ours alone," and so forth.

Yet (1) I'm not sure these lessons weren't available in Church teaching and Scripture long before LG, and (2) I'm still not sure how helpful the language about worshipping the same God is, even if a doctrinally orthodox interpretation can be applied to it.

It just seems to me that the language suggests prima facie precisely the sort of latitudinarian "we're-all-on-the-same-path-to-heaven" indifferentism that has been the bane of the post-Conciliar era.

One may justifiably say that this is a problem exterior to the text -- simply a matter of reckless and cavalier interpretation in "the spirit of Vatican II." Yet in view of Van Til's statements at Westminster, I just don't find the language particularly helpful. Perhaps the conclusion should be that conciliar documents aren't intended for popular consumption? Perhaps one needs a canon lawyer's expertise, along with that of a good historical theologian, to properly interpret conciliar documents? But I am too much a friend of Mortimer J. Adler's view that philosophy and theology ought to be as much for the common man as for the experts to be quite comfortable with those suggestions.

God bless, PB





I am not Spartacus

said...

You write, “V2 had as one of its results Pope Benedict XVI praying in a Blue Mosque , an action completely contrary to Catholic Tradition.”

Completely contrary to Catholic Tradition – Big T? Not little “t”?

I would agree with the latter (little “t”), but not the former. Previously, you’ve (sometimes incorrectly, I believe), called certain teachings VII “pastoral”. Well, in this case, visiting and praying at a mosque may well be imprudent and scandalous from a pastoral/prudential standpoint. But I don’t see how a prudential decision like this can actually be heretical, per se (which “completely contrary to Catholic Tradition” - Big T - would necessarily imply). For all we know, he was praying for the conversion of Muslims.

< Mortalium Animos IS Tradition.

(Of course, when he was Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger declared that Mortalium Animos (and many other encyclicals) were essentially kaput according to his personal opinion but he had already taken a vow NOT to dismiss such encyclicals).

But, what are vows nowadays?

See this particular section of this lengthy online examination of the War Against Being. It exposes the indefensible act he committed in transgressing that and other encyclicals:

http://www.waragainstbeing.com/parti-article1


You write, “V2 did not issue any teachings that had to be accepted or one would be anathematised.”

I understand that. But that wasn’t my point. My point is that your argument doesn’t provide a justification for treating the teaching of an ecumenical council - including part of which was iterated in a dogmatic constitution (Lumen Gentium) – as though it can just be ignored or dismissed by Catholics who make a personal judgment about its orthodoxy. But that’s exactly what you appear to be doing.

I am not ignoring it, I am opposing it.

As Phil wrote above, “The V-II documents are of various sorts. The strongest one finds are "Dogmatic Constitutions"; yet ALL of the documents, even those 'beneath' this level are to be accepted with some degree of respect and submission, even if they are far from being de fide.”

I see no evidence that you “accept” them “with some degree of respect and submission.” I accept it was an ecumenical council and I accept its documents but I do not accept all of them as bindingIn fact, you’re quite open about dismissing them and disrespecting them.

So, while you present yourself as an extremely faithful Catholic, it seems to me that you’ve essentially appointed yourself as a magisterium of one - something that is not Catholic at all.

That is projection, Sir





I am not Spartacus

said...

Dear Michael F. It was NOT binding on the very Church Fathers who participated in the Council and voted NOT to accept the teachings so I do not see why it binds me. Such an idea seems to make sense to you; not me

You write, “Stating that the conciliar documents have differing degrees of authority, Cardinal Brandmuller said that ‘there is a huge difference between a great constitution and simple declarations’ ‘Strangely enough, the two most controversial documents [on religious liberty and relations with non-Christian religions] do not have a binding doctrinal content, so one can dialogue about them.’ Dear Mr. F. It is you who is in error for trying to dogmatise pastoralism”

OK, you just requoted my quote from Cardinal B; let's see if you respond to it

I’m not sure why you keep missing that the same teaching about Muslims worshiping the same God that we worship is also found in VII’s **Dogmatic Constitution on the Church** (Lumen Gentium - which was approved by a vote of 2,151 to 5, btw):
“The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims: these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and **together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind's judge on the last day.**" (LG 16)

I’m not sure how a factual, doctrinal teaching about a matter of faith related to the identity of God issued by an ecumenical council can be dismissed as mere “pastoralism”. Pastoralism involves making subjective, prudential judgments about how to apply and pass on doctrinal teaching regarding matters of faith and morals in different contexts. If you can show me how Lumen Gentium’s teaching that Muslims and Catholics worship the same God - the God Who is “mankind’s judge on the last day”, and Who is “merciful and all-powerful, the Creator of heaven and earth” – is not doctrinal but merely “pastoral”, I’m all ears.

Nope. You didn't deal at all with what Cardinal Brandmuller said. You just ignore what he said while insisting what is binding is that which he clearly said was not binding

IOW, it is you who is a magisterium of one.

P.S. I really doubt that Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger understood just how seriously he undermined the authority of the magisterium when he so dismissively cast into the dustbin of history so many teachings of the pre V Church.

What he did was a MONUMENTAL act of destruction.





I am not Spartacus

said...

In the first place amongst these there are the Muslims, who, professing to hold the faith of Abraham, along with us adore the one and merciful God, who on the last day will judge mankind

Dear Michael F. Muslims worship a monotheistic God, just like we do.

That is what L.G. teaches and so I accept it.

What I do not accept is your assertion that we worship the same God. Those words do not appear in any Document of Vatican Two.

I repudiate all of the words that I have written, here and elsewhere, that indicate otherwise.

I confess that I am often so much in love with arguing that I end-up writing words that I should never have written and I end-up writing words that conflict with words I have written at other times.

Frankly, most of these matters are way over my head and so the prudent and faithful thing to do is confess that with a religious submission of mind I accept everything that Vatican Two taught.

The odd thing if that I used to completely understand and believe what Fr Most ( I completely trust him) describes here:

http://www.ewtn.com/library/scriptur/4levels.txt

Hell, man, one-half of the time I am a mystery to my own self. I think I will just shut-up for a time and stop making an ass of my own self.





I am not Spartacus

said...

Oh, I meant to write religious submission of mind and will.

With that, I put on the veil of silence for a time.

Adios





Michael F.

said...

Hi Phil,

Thank you for your thoughtful and kind reply. I agree that we differ very little with one another on this. At this point, I'm just trying to hone my understanding and test it.

I think there's only one area in which we see things a bit differently. You write, "I have already granted, in fact, that there is a sense in which everyone -- not merely the monotheists, but everyone, including the atheist and satanist -- is responding in one way or another to his Creator."

I think VII goes beyond this very limited sense when it comes to Muslims and Jews, setting them apart from the others. You’ll notice that neither LG nor NA say atheists, Hindus, Buddhists et al adore and/or acknowledge the same God that we do. Only Jews and Muslims are singled out.

While I understand the very broad sense in which you mean that we all worship the same God, it seems to be legitimate to note that Jews and Muslims do actually, specifically, consciously and intentionally adore and acknowledge I AM (even though imperfectly). I don't see how the same can be said of atheists or pagans - and doubt it can be said even of Hindus or Buddhists.

Does that make sense to you? Again - if you don't have time, no worries. This has been very helpful.

God bless.





Michael F.

said...

@ I am not Spartacus:

You write, "What I do not accept is your assertion that we worship the same God. Those words do not appear in any Document of Vatican Two."

Unless you're trying to draw a distinction between worship and adoration, I don't see how you can say that.

Here's Lumen Gentium again:

"the plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims: these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and **together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind's judge on the last day.**"

Note: "together with us..."

Here's Nostra Aetate: "The Church regards with esteem also the Moslems. They adore the one God, living and subsisting in Himself; merciful and all- powerful, the Creator of heaven and earth,(5) who has spoken to men; they take pains to submit wholeheartedly to even His inscrutable decrees, just as Abraham, with whom the faith of Islam takes pleasure in linking itself, submitted to God."

Is there a differ god other than I Am who matches that description? And if not, then there is no way around the fact that the object of our worship and adoration and the object of Muslim worship and adoration is the same God.

++++++++++++

I didn't ignore what Cardinal Brandmuller said. I just pointed out that he didn't apply it to Lumen Gentium - a dogmatic constitution. If he didn't then why are you? And regardless, is Cardinal Branmuller the Pope? Was he teaching definitively? Then why are you putting so much weight on his opinion, as though it settles anything?

++++++++++++

You write, "I am not ignoring [the teaching of an ecumenical council]. I am opposing it"

And you missed that I didn't only say "ignoring" the teaching of an ecumenical council. I said, "My point is that your argument doesn’t provide a justification for treating the teaching of an ecumenical council - including part of which was iterated in a dogmatic constitution (Lumen Gentium) – as though it can just be ignored **or dismissed** by Catholics who make a personal judgment about its orthodoxy."

You've just confirmed that you're doing exactly what I noted in the second case. You, a mere layman of no particular status (just like me), are dismissing the teaching of an ecumenical council by making a personal judgment about it's orthodoxy.

That sounds very dangerous to me.

+++++++++

Look, you seem like a good, sincere guy. I'm not trying to come down on you. But some of the things you're writing don't seem authentically Catholic. I've deal with a few "uber-Catholics" who think they know better than Popes and Councils of the Church. IMO, that's a dangerous mind-set that leads to bad places. That's all I'm saying.

God bless you.







Michael F.

said...

@ I am Spartacus: I meant to respond to these two comments you made:

"Frankly, most of these matters are way over my head and so the prudent and faithful thing to do is confess that with a religious submission of mind I accept everything that Vatican Two taught."

Amen. I agree that this is a prudent and faithful course of action for anyone.

You continue: "Hell, man, one-half of the time I am a mystery to my own self. I think I will just shut-up for a time and stop making an ass of my own self."

:-) Well, I enjoyed the back and forth.

Peace, brother.





Pertinacious Papist

said...

Michael,

This may be a stickier wicket than it first appears.

In order to say that Muslims and Christians worship the same God, it seems the accent must be place on the object of worship, God, and not on the subjective understanding, since that's where the differences emerge (Muslims say we believe in three gods, while we insist we believe in One God, etc.) So we cover our bases by saying that although they worship the same God, their understanding is "imperfect."

If the focus is truly on the objective pole (God Himself), then I don't see why we can't say that the atheist is responding to God in all he does, even though he says he doesn't believe in God's existence at all. (If St. Paul is right in Romans 1, then there are no bona fide atheists anyway, but only people who think they're atheists, since they actually know that God exists from the thinks He has made but suppress that truth in their iniquity.)

So it seems that LG and NA are actually focusing as much on the subjective understanding as they are on the object of belief (God Himself); and so they're saying that the understanding of a self-professed monotheist more closely approaches the understanding of the Catholic, etc.

But then what does it mean to say that Muslims and
Christians "worship the same one God"? If the focus in on the subjective understanding of God, then why would the statement refer to "the same" God, and not "a similar" God? After all, they're excluding polytheistic pagans and atheists and animists, who couldn't be said to worship the "same" God, presumably.





Pertinacious Papist

said...

(continued ...)

But then, perhaps what is intended is not the subjective understanding of what and who God is, but the objective referent, "God Himself." But in that case, why exclude the pagan or animist? For that matter, why exclude the self-professed atheist, since (if St. Paul is right) we know there isn't such a thing anyway. Even the atheist is responding to God, though in enmity and by repressing the truth. Of course, that is not "worship"; we would say it's "rebellion," or that the atheist sets up some false god as a substitute, his own reason or will, or whatever, as an "idol" in place of God.

But then, if that's true, then why would we say that the Muslim worships the same God if there's the possibility of an idolatrous substitution of object of worship for the true God there-- say in the elevation of the Qur'an and Hadith above what we would call the true Revelation by God?

It seems to me we're on safest grounds saying something like this: Muslims and Christians both understand themselves as monotheists, who believe in a God who is infinite in His attributes and transcends His creation, but also immanent in revealing Himself in one way or another to those people He choses as His own.

Frankly, I wonder how God views the matter. I know that the Holy Spirit is not confined to the boundaries of formal Church membership, else there would never be any conversions. So it seems safe to assume that God hears and answers the prayers of those who truly seek Him in whatever way, from whatever quarter -- whether monotheist, animist, polytheist, pantheist, or atheist.

At the same time, I think it's safe to presume that there are those who do NOT sincerely seek God, whether outside the Church or even inside; for as C.S. Lewis once said, talking about man's search for God is a bit like talking about the mouse's search for the Cat.

Therefore, I find it difficult to know what to do with a blanked statement such as "Muslims and Christians worship the same one God." They do? All Muslims and all Christians? Sincerely and without repressing the truth in iniquity? The "same God"?

The propositions seems to die the death of a thousand qualifications.

But again, I grant all you've said about lessons to be drawn about "God" not being the monopoly of Christians. (But didn't we know that already?)





Michael F.

said...

Thanks for your thorough and generous response, Phil. I think I understand what you're getting at. I’m tired, but I’ll try to respond as best I can because I at least have a little free time right now.



You write, “So it seems that LG and NA are actually focusing as much on the subjective understanding as they are on the object of belief (God Himself); and so they're saying that the understanding of a self-professed monotheist more closely approaches the understanding of the Catholic”



I would phrase it somewhat differently. I would say that, according to the judgment of the council in NA and LG, the Muslim understanding of I Am is sufficiently correct (based on objective criteria) that Muslims are, in fact, directing their imperfect adoration and worship to I Am. Again, it seems to me that this is why the council took the step of listing key descriptors acknowledged by Muslims that objectively correctly identify I Am. Those explicit, objectively correct identifiers are: 1) I Am is God alone, there is no other; 2) He is the Creator of heaven and earth; 3) He is merciful and all-powerful; 4) He has spoken to men; 5) He is mankind’s judge on the last day. Again, these descriptors of I Am that Muslims acknowledge are all objectively correct.



Under this interpretation, the only “subjective” part would be the judgment of the council that Muslims acknowledge enough objectively correct identifiers in their understanding of I Am that the actual object of their worship and adoration is, in fact, I Am – and not a demon (1 Cor 10:20-22; Deut. 32:17; 2 Chron 11:15; Ps 95:5; Ps 106:37), not another creature (Rom. 1:25) and not nothing at all (Deut 32:21).

The council didn’t make such a judgment about Hindus, Buddhists, atheists, Wiccans, Satanists, et al.



You write, “But then what does it mean to say that Muslims and

Christians ‘worship the same one God’? If the focus is on the subjective understanding of God, then why would the statement refer to ‘the same’ God, and not ‘a similar’ God? After all, they're excluding polytheistic pagans and atheists and animists, who couldn't be said to worship the "same" God, presumably.”



Again, I don’t see it as a “subjective understanding of God”. I would say that based on **objective** criteria (the 5 identifiers the council listed in LG and NA), the council taught that Muslims are, in fact, acknowledging and adoring none other than I Am.



You write, “But then, perhaps what is intended is not the subjective understanding of what and who God is, but the objective referent, "God Himself." But in that case, why exclude the pagan or animist?”



I would say because neither pagans nor animists recognize enough objectively correct identifiers of I Am to state that the object of their worship is, in fact, I Am and not a demon (1 Cor 10:20-22; Deut. 32:17; 2 Chron 11:15; Ps 95:5; Ps 106:37), not another creature (Rom. 1:25) and not nothing at all (Deut 32:21). Again, the identifiers of I Am are not subjective. They’re objective, doctrinal facts. The only subjective element is the judgment of the Church - do Muslims recognize enough objective identifiers of I Am that they actually acknowledge and adore I Am (and not something or someone else)? It seems to me that NA and LG conclude that they do.


(continued)





Michael F.

said...

(continued from above)

You write, “for that matter, why exclude the self-professed atheist, since (if St. Paul is right) we know there isn't such a thing anyway. Even the atheist is responding to God, though in enmity and by repressing the truth. Of course, that is not "worship"; we would say it's "rebellion," or that the atheist sets up some false god as a substitute, his own reason or will, or whatever, as an "idol" in place of God.”



I'm not sure I'm understanding your point. The atheist is essentially different from the Muslim (and the Christian) because he intentionally rejects I Am. Unlike the Muslim, the atheist – by definition - has no intention at all to acknowledge, worship or adore Him.



You continue, “But then, if that's true, then why would we say that the Muslim worships the same God if there's the possibility of an idolatrous substitution of object of worship for the true God there-- say in the elevation of the Qur'an and Hadith above what we would call the true Revelation by God?”



I would say because 1) we know, for a fact, by definition, that atheists intend not to worship God. Not so in the case of Muslims; 2) I think this argument proves too much. Taken to its natural conclusion, it seems to me that one would have to similarly reject the contention that even Jews worship the same God we worship. One would arguably even have to reject the contention that Protestants worship the same God we worship. Wouldn’t one?



You write, “So it seems safe to assume that God hears and answers the prayers of those who truly seek Him in whatever way, from whatever quarter -- whether monotheist, animist, polytheist, pantheist, or atheist.



At the same time, I think it's safe to presume that there are those who do NOT sincerely seek God, whether outside the Church or even inside… Therefore, I find it difficult to know what to do with a blanked statement such as "Muslims and Christians worship the same one God." They do? All Muslims and all Christians? Sincerely and without repressing the truth in iniquity? The "same God"?”



I take the statements of NA and LG as meaning “normatively”, not universally, without exception. What I personally “do” with these statements is adjust my view of Muslims, acknowledging that they have more in common with me than I once thought (there was a time that I suspected that the actual object of their adoration and worship was of demonic origin) – and that we objectively worship one and the same God (as is true of Jews and Protesants). And that impacts the way I view Muslims in terms of relationship and evangelistic approach.



You write, "The proposition seems to die the death of a thousand qualifications."



I suppose there may be certain “advantages” to not being “encumbered” by the sharp, critical mind of a trained philosopher. LOL



I hope some of this is coherent. I need to get some sleep….





Pertinacious Papist

said...

Michael,

If I've read you correctly, what this comes down to is Islam having the "correct identifiers" in their understanding/interpretation of God -- namely 1) I Am is God alone, there is no other; 2) He is the Creator of heaven and earth; 3) He is merciful and all-powerful; 4) He has spoken to men; 5) He is mankind’s judge on the last day.

"Correct identifiers" may be "objective" criteria, but they're criteria for interpretations and understandings by human subjects. On the basis of these particular "correct identifiers," then, it seems one could say that from a Catholic perspective, the Muslims have a "somewhat similar" understanding of God, Whom you call the "I AM."

I don't questions that the V-II documents say what they appear to say. I'm just not utterly certain how one can infer from this -- from a few more or less "correct identifiers" and a somewhat similar conception of God as transcendent, as Creator, etc. -- that Muslims and Christians "worship the same God."

It's not simply a matter of the conceptual distance between Trinitarian theology and the Islamic unitarian conception of God and all the other differences between God as "Father" in a relationship with free will vs. an imponderable omnipotence in an utterly deterministic and fatalistic conception.

It's also the differences in the respective adherents' practice of their religion. As one news commentator recently contrasted the disposition of Muslims and Christians who enter more deeply into their respective faiths and wondered how one group could be consistently led over the past couple of decades to commit acts of terror, often blowing themselves up in the process, with the words "Allahu Akbar!" on their lips -- something he found unimaginable among those who grow in intimacy with Jesus' message of love and forgiveness.

Yet the religion of the terrorist is one in which we're meant to see ourselves mutually worshipping the same God. Existentially, it becomes rather twisted, though I grand that in theory it may work so long as one squints and basically says we have somewhat similar, but also very different, understandings of who God is.





Anonymous

said...

The prophecy tells about Ahmad; 'Servant of God' whom will war to correct the wrongs and bringing judgement based on the law of God. He will also liberate Arabia from worshiping molten images. Wilderness (desert), villages and cities will glorify God since then. As can be seen today, whole of Arabia are worshiping,praising God and singing words of God daily.

And we continue reading Isaiah 42:18 - 25; about Children of Israel, whom will still be deaf and blind neglecting the message brought by this 'Servant of God'.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

In Isaiah 42:1, it is not a coincidence upon seeing the writing of both אתמך (Atmc) אחמד (Ahmd). And the word before אתמך (Atmc), is עבדי (Abedi~My Servant). For indeed, It is indicating Ahmad; Abedallah (Ahmad; Servant of God).

Not to mention אתמך (Atmc) is a special term foretelling the coming of a righteous man and is used only ONCE throughout the entire Book. [could this be a copying error or an intended error?]

Children of Israel have been foretold upon the coming of Ahmad but sadly, only a few accepts.





Pertinacious Papist

said...

משרת (meh-sha-ret) is Hebrew for a male "servant." I don't have my Hebrew scriptures at hand to check the verse, but your reading (interpretation) seems tendentious and bizarre.

Can you please cite a commentary supporting your interpretation outside of the Islamic tradition?

If not, would you please link to an Islamic commentary available in English?

Thank you, PP





Pertinacious Papist

said...

Well, I found your source here:
http://hoshanarabbah.org/blog/2013/06/01/what-the-koran-really-says/ but that's not really helpful.

What we need is commentary that offers contextual interpretation.





Michael F.

said...

Phil,

You write, “it seems one could say that from a Catholic perspective, the Muslims have a "somewhat similar" understanding of God, Whom you call the "I AM."

Agreed. And when I write “I Am”, I am of course referring to the name God gave Himself (Exodus 3:14)- I used this name because specifically identifies the personal God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and may help avoid certain potential confusions when writing simply “God”.

And to what you wrote, I would add that the council conveyed that this understanding was similar enough that the God Muslims worship is, in fact, I Am (YHWH). (Again, normatively speaking)

As such, this is what I take from the council:

Muslims are objectively correct about several key identifiers of I Am.

These objectively correct identifiers are enough to for the council to conclude that the actual object of their worship and adoration is, in fact, I Am (YHWH).

The Muslim concept of **how to worship and adore I Am (YHWH)** has elements of truth and but also elements of error.

You write, “It's also the differences in the respective adherents' practice of their religion. As one news commentator recently contrasted the disposition of Muslims and Christians who enter more deeply into their respective faiths and wondered how one group could be consistently led over the past couple of decades to commit acts of terror, often blowing themselves up in the process, with the words "Allahu Akbar!" on their lips -- something he found unimaginable among those who grow in intimacy with Jesus' message of love and forgiveness.”

I feel the weight of this argument. However, I would answer:

1) I think it’s clear that most Muslims do not commit and agree with such terrorist acts.

2) In regard to the comparison with followers of Jesus, if one goes back a while, one can find all sorts of Christians invoking God and the Bible to justify atrocities ranging from slavery to anti-Semitism to atrocities committed in the Crusades.

It seems to me that the greatest difference between Islam and Christianity may be in the example of their greatest **prophet** - Jesus vs. Muhammad.

And I think this is why BXVI rightly asked whether there can be a true dialogue between Christianity and Islam. They may worship the same God (which is important to know, I think), but their concept of **how** to worship God and what God wants from us is seriously erroneous in some ways that may be very hard to eradicate because of the example of Muhammad.





Pertinacious Papist

said...

Michael,

First, I can give you this: When I'm discussing God with a non-Christian theist (Jew or Muslim), I'll assume a certain level of common understanding of God. I make this assumption for practical reasons as well as because of St. Paul's words in Romans 18ff. that "all men" know basic facts about God -- whatever they may say.

Second, I worried that you might bring up the crusades and examples of Christian atrocities, making the argument that there's enough sin to go around. I'll also give you that. Yet I would argue this: that in that part of the world that shares a Christian history, the argument against those abuses are made in the name of our Faith and Scripture. I'm not sure the same could be said of the Qur'an, in view of the Islamic hermeneutical principle that earlier statements of the Qur'an can be abrogated by later-written Suras.

Third, Hussein Wario argues in his aforementioned volume that most Muslims do not know their faith, much less the details of the Qur'an or Hadith. Hence, it's not clear to me that if groups of Muslims do condemn acts of terrorism (and I'd like to see and hear such condemnations; so far I haven't) that their reason is based on their faith as opposed to influences of Western liberalization.

Fourth, I agree that Islam assents to the key "identifiers" you mention. the Qur'an even insists that Islam accepts the Bible as well as the Qur'an (with predictable caveats). But this means, as you agree, that there are other identifiers to which they don't assent, such as the Incarnate Word made flesh.

Nathan Lawrence, a Torah-observant Christian, writes this in his discussion of what the Qur'an says about Jesus:

"Yeshua is not the son of God and not God (p. 10, Sura 2:110; pp. 59–60, Sura 4:59–60; pp. 60–61, Sura 4:9; p. 69, Sura 5:76; p. 114, Sura 9:30; p. 225, Sura 25:2). It is a lie to believe that Yeshua is the Son of God (p. 179, Sura 18:2–3). Yeshua was only a man (p. 318, Sura 43:59). These quotes from the Koran should serve as ample proof that Allah and YHVH Elohim of the Bible are not the same God."

So we're back to your statement that Islam has identified a sufficient number of key "identifiers" for us to agree with LG that we" worship the same God."

Which brings me back to concluding something like this: On that rather "thin" definition of God, I suppose I could agree. But naturally carrying a much "richer" notion of God in my mind and heart -- one that includes "Immanu-El" -- the statement cannot help but strike me as inadequate, to say the least, and possibly misleading.

Thanks for your thoughtful feedback.

Kind regards in Christ, PB