Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Same God?

A very good article, worth the read.

Do Catholics and Muslims Worship the Same God?

The author points out that linguistic identity does not mean God and Allah are one and the same. All we can conclude from this is that both Christianity and Islam are monotheistic religions.
The question is not answered by simple linguistic identity, as evidenced by St. Paul’s complaint to the Corinthians: “For if some one comes and preaches another Jesus than the one we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you submit to it readily enough” (2 Corinthians 11:4). The “other Jesus” that was being preached among the Corinthians was not a different person of the same name, but a view of Jesus of Nazareth that was so radically different from Paul’s that he termed it “another Jesus” altogether.

In the same way, it is possible that the Qur’an and Islamic tradition present a picture of God so radically different from that of the Bible and Catholic tradition that it would be difficult, if not impossible, to maintain the proposition that they are the same Being in both traditions, apart from some minor creedal differences.

The author says that much of the thinking along this line has been an outcome of the Second Vatican Council, a council that occurred during the 60's which was the era of tolerance and emphasis on "common ground".

Vatican II was a large-scale attempt to restore relationships that had been broken for centuries and build new bridges of trust where groups had been divided from the Church by centuries of mistrust, suspicion and outright conflict. Consequently it emphasized common ground rather than differences, unlike every ecumenical council that preceded it. No case, however, can be made that its statement about the shared adoration of the one and merciful God in any way mitigated the Church’s truth claim or sense of its own responsibility to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, any more than shared monotheism removes that responsibility in regard to Protestants or anyone else, for that responsibility is reiterated in the same passage.

And as Pope Benedict XVI has reminded us, Vatican II is not a super-council that supersedes all previous Church teaching; rather, its teachings must be understood in light of tradition. When it comes to Islam, the consistent focus in earlier statements about Islam is generally not on what Muslims believe, but on Islam as a heresy, and on the hostility of Muslims to Christians and Christianity.

So to take the statements of the Second Vatican Council as the directive in Catholic-Muslim relations is ignoring the time frame in which the Council took place. And that is risky, just as risky as it would be to assume that the resurgence of Islam in its present form is as non-threatening as the Islam of the 60's. Much has changed, and the militant worldview of today's Islamic nations cannot be met with the kind of tolerance that the hippy-worldview of the 60's advocated.

h/t Orwell's Picnic

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