Questions raised by Nostra aetate about the Christian God and Muslim Allah

Under another entry a commentator said:

It’s also about time that Catholics start repudiating those sections of Nostra Aetate referring to Muslims.

Let’s have a look at the relevant paragraph of Nostra aetate.

3. Ecclesia cum aestimatione quoque Muslimos respicit qui unicum Deum adorant, viventem et subsistentem, misericordem et omnipotentem, Creatorem caeli et terrae, homines allocutum, cuius occultis etiam decretis toto animo se submittere student, sicut Deo se submisit Abraham ad quem fides islamica libenter sese refert. Iesum, quem quidem ut Deum non agnoscunt, ut prophetam tamen venerantur, matremque eius virginalem honorant Mariam et aliquando eam devote etiam invocant. Diem insuper iudicii expectant cum Deus omnes homines resuscitatos remunerabit. Exinde vitam moralem aestimant et Deum maxime in oratione, eleemosynis et ieiunio colunt.

Quodsi in decursu saeculorum inter Christianos et Muslimos non paucae dissensiones et inimicitiae exortae sint, Sacrosancta Synodus omnes exhortatur, ut, praeterita obliviscentes, se ad comprehensionem mutuam sincere exerceant et pro omnibus hominibus iustitiam socialem, bona moralia necnon pacem et libertatem communiter tueantur et promoveant.

3. The Church regards with esteem (aestimatio: "an estimation of a thing according to its intrinsic worth") also the Moslems. They adore the one God, living and subsisting in Himself; merciful and all- powerful, the Creator of heaven and earth, 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 (tamen … ?) 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 (praeterita obliviscentes) 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.

I wonder if the English translation here, from the Vatican website, is a good reflection of the Latin.

My initial reading gave me the impression that the English is slightly rosier than the Latin.

Also, I wonder about a few things.

First, I wonder if we can truly – nay rather – reasonably "forget things that have occurred in the past".  On the face of it, that is not either wise or possible.  However, the intent of this is surely meant to be "not be embittered by what has happened in the past".  Fine.  But my initial comment stands: we cannot, should not, forget the past.  Rather, the past should be a spur and a check on our choices today.

Secondly, the document states that Muslims worship "the one, only God" (unicus Deus).

We often hear that Christians and Muslims (and Jews) worship the same God, the God of Abraham.

Is this indeed the case?

I don’t know enough about the Muslim understanding of God to be able to embrace that assertion without hesitation.

It would be helpful to have the help of some experts on Islam on this question.

I know that this is very complicated, and leaves us open to all sorts of bickering, but perhaps we could drill at this question a bit… calmly and intelligently.

I know, for example, that it is said that the God Muslims refer to as "Allah" (among the many other names) is personal, omnipotent, and is said to be compassionate.  There is some agreement (to what extent I am not sure) that the Muslim’s Allah is the same God that entered into a covenant with Abraham.  St. Augustine says that God is closer to us than we are to ourselves.  The Koran says that Allah is closer to us than our own jugular vein… which is an unsettling image.  

 

Christians obviously believe that God is Triune.  But, "O People of the Scripture! Do not speak lies against Allah, but speak the Truth. That Jesus Christ, son of Mary, was a messenger of Allah, and His Word, which He bestowed on Mary, and a spirit from Him. So believe in Allah and His messengers, and say not ‘Trinity.’ Desist! It is better for you. For Allah is one God." (An-Nisa 4:17)

Sometimes a contrast is made between the God of the Old and New Testament and Allah, who seems to act in a more "capricious" manner.  Christians tend to think of God in terms of Logos while, as I understand it, Muslims tend to think of Allah as "Will", which brings us back to the notion of "capricious", that such a God would not be bound even by his own word.   Certainly Pope Benedict raised some interesting questions at Regensburg, in 2006. 

Let’s see if we can have a discussion about some of these points without being boors.

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114 Responses to Questions raised by Nostra aetate about the Christian God and Muslim Allah

  1. Do Muslims themselves think they worship the same God that we Catholics worship?

  2. GodsGadfly says:

    Jimmy Akin once made an interesting analogy to Batman. Someone who knows “Batman” can address him as “Batman” and seek his help without really knowing that Batman *is* Bruce Wayne. Fair enough. Then there’s also C. S. Lewis’s argument represented by the Calormen (aka Muslim) “Emeth” in _The Last Battle_: that authentic worship and virtuous living applied to a false God “goes to Aslan,” just as false worship and evil committed in the name of God “go to Tash.”

    In any case, as for the Allah thing, the problem is that “Allah” is a title. Yes, “Allah” in Arabic is the equivalent of “God” in English, “Deus” in Latin and “Theos” in Greek. However, to say “we worship the same God because we apply the same title to our Gods” is a bit of a stretch. After all, that would mean that we also worship the same god as Zeus-worshippers because they also called him “Theos.”

  3. Sandra_in_Severn says:

    You know, I “felt” one way until I lived for awhile in a Muslim country, now I do believe differently. I no longer believe that all three “peoples of the Book” address the same deity, The Christians and Jews I am sure of, the last, not so much.

  4. kuritzo says:

    I have posted a long argument from reason as to why Muslims do in fact worship the same God as Catholics on Rorate Caeli in the past, and would rather not reproduce the whole thing here. http://rorate-caeli.blogspot.com/2009/06/roman-pilgrimage-of-sons-of-most-holy.html See the last two comments of the post.

    I would like to add a comment about the footnote to this paragraph of Nostra Aetate. The footnote references a letter of Pope Saint Gregory VII to Anzir, King of Mauritania, a muslim. The text is in the Patrologia 148, and is reproduced here:

    “Your highness wrote to us this year asking us to consecrate as bishop the
    priest Servandus according to Christian procedures. Since your request
    seemed right and very good, we were eager to comply. At the same time you
    sent us some presents and, in deference to St. Peter, Prince of the
    Apostles, and through love of us, you released some Christians who were held
    captive in your land, promising to release others in the future.

    God, the Creator of everything, without whom we could not do or think of
    anything good, clearly inspired you to do this generous act. He who
    enlightens every man coming into this world (John 1:9) gave you the idea.
    Almighty God, who wills that all should be saved and none lost, values above
    all else in us our love for our fellow man after the love which we owe to
    him, and that we should not do to others what we do not want done to
    ourselves (cf. Mt. 7:1-5).

    We, more than other peoples, should practice this virtue of love, that is,
    you and we together, who under a different form believe in and confess the one
    God whom we praise and worship every day as the Creator of the
    ages and Lord of this world.
    (nos et vos specialibus nobis quam caeteris gentibus debemus, qui unum Deum, licet diverso modo, credimus et confitemur, qui eum Creatorem saeculorum et gubernatorem hujus mundi quotidie laudamus et veneramur.) As the Apostle Paul said, ‘He is our peace,
    who made both one’ (cf. Eph. 2:14-16).

    God knows that we love you for the sake of his honour alone and that we wish
    you health and glory in this life and the next. We pray to him from the
    depth of our heart that after a long life he will give you the happiness of
    resting at Abraham’s side.” (Patrologia Latina, vol. 148, col. 450.)

    The Pope says “under a different form” in order to indicate that the Muslims
    are ignorant of God’s Triune nature. Nonetheless, this does not prevent him
    from saying that Catholics and Muslims believe in and adore together the one God.

    I think it is not helpful to try and determine whether muslims have the same, or even a similar idea about God as Catholics. The determination of the object of ones worship is not made on the basis of what one believes concerning that object; this is in fact true of all predications. If I say “Fr. Z is tall and skinny,” I may very well be mistaken in what I say, and mistaken in my own notion of what Fr. Z is like. Regardless of this, I am still speaking of Fr. Z, the author of this blog. Likewise, if a muslim says, “God is great, and highly to be praised!” he may be mistaken in his opinions about God, but he is nevertheless still speaking about the God who revealed himself to Abraham.

  5. spock says:

    I have worked with all kinds of people who follow the major religions in the world. And I do have esteem for them. I have esteem for those as human persons who follow God with the light of their conscience to the extent of their ability. If only we had more people like this in the world.

    The Quran verse that was pointed out above explicitly denies the Trinity. The Trinity is “what” God is. Also, our Lord is fully human as well as fully divine. That is “what” our Lord is. Muslims deny that as well. I point this out because Muslims in my experience will say that they worship the same God as the Christians. They may have similar doctrines in specific areas. They may have great adoration and devotion for their God, but it is difficult to see how it could be the same God. The concepts of the Trinity and our Lord’s fully human and divine nature were revealed and learned over time so the subsequent question would be: do they worship the same God as we do and it is simply that the Muslims’ understanding of God hasn’t gotten as far theologically as it has in the Christian understanding of God ?

    The problem with that is that Quran is supposed to be God’s final revelation. This final revelation explicitly denies a reality. This implies that the answer the above question is no. Truth can’t subsist in contradictions. If I have an apple in my hand and I say it is an orange, I am denying a realty. I might be a nice person, a good person, a caring person but I am denying a reality and I would be wrong. In the case of our Jewish brothers, since we both begin with the Old Testament, I think we could say we worship the same God. The issue is that the Jewish understanding of God in terms of “what” he is has not gone as far as it has with Catholics and Christians. But their understanding is a subset of the Christian understanding. That can’t be true with Muslims. Their understanding is not a subset. It is something “along side” or “adjacent” and therefore can’t evolve into a Christian understanding without denying their “dogma.”

    I would say that these discussions can be quite metastable. Like a ball at the top of a pyramid perfectly balanced but the smallest jolt could send it down. On one hand you want to keep the peace. Don’t want to see people suffer as a result of these conversations. On the other, you don’t want peoples’ faith to be so riddled with contradictions that believing in anything in particular is logically and practically impossible.

  6. Bos Mutissimus says:

    The fourth chapter of Hilaire Belloc’s _The Great Heresies_ might be helpful in this analysis. It is entitled, “The Great and Enduring Heresy of Mohammed.” Belloc’s thesis is that Mohammedanism is a heresy, but differs from previous heresies (viz., Arianism) in that it originated extrinsically from the Church. Often I’ve read that the gap between the Church and Moslems in monotheistic-recognition is that Islam does not acknowledge the Trinity. This is true, but Belloc maintains that that is not the prime difference: Islam’s prime theological error about the Deity is a denial of the Incarnation. The dismissal of the Trinity is then an _effect_ of this error.

    Lest anyone think Belloc was splitting hairs, remember that an important consequence of denying the Incarnation is the elimination of the priesthood and, of course, the sacramental system. As a result, Belloc observed that Islam bears a strong resemblance to Calvinism. Simplicity, or rather, over-simplification, of Catholic Doctrines seems to make up the nature of Islam. This over-simplification of God’s nature, even, then tends to reduce the perception of Him to “Will” (as opposed to “Love” or, in a Thomistic sense, “Pure Act”).

    Belloc’s chapter is available on EWTN’s library. Even if his ideas are not completely doctrinally sound, he sure gives some good insights to ponder.

    *******

    And we that sit in a sturdy youth / and still can drink strong ale / let us put it away to Infallible Truth / that always shall prevail!

  7. Robert Spencer, the noted author on Islam, was interviewed by Zenit in 2003. He had this to say:

    Q: How do you see the current and future state of Christian-Muslim relations? How have Pope John Paul II and the Second Vatican Council influenced the relationship between the Church and Islam?

    Spencer: Many believe that the Holy Father, by his kissing of the Koran, and Vatican II have taught that all religions worship the one true God to a greater or lesser degree, and that Muslims are included in the plan of salvation and thus should not be evangelized. This is in fact not the case.

    The Catechism, working from Vatican II’s “Nostra Aetate,” does say that, “the plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place among whom are the Muslims. These profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us adore one Merciful God, mankind’s judge in the last day.”

    This is a carefully worded statement. It does not actually say that Muslims believe in Abraham’s faith, but only that they profess to hold the faith of Abraham.

    Professing and possessing are two different things: Certainly there are many more Christians who profess Christ than there are people who actually live for him. Nowhere does the Catechism say that Muslims are not eligible for the salvation that is in Christ, or that the Gospel should not be preached to them.

  8. GJMama says:

    I think this idea of a common belief or faith between three “world religions” is very dangerous for a lot of people – what are the conclusions to be drawn by saying we do worship the same God? If we do (and how is that even possible), what does that mean for the salvation of souls? Do Muslims believe we worship the same God they do?

    I would like to encourage everyone to prayerfully reflect on the Athanasian Creed and then bring that reflection back to bear on this question.

    Nostra Aetate and certain actions of John Paul II have drastically undermined the ability of Catholics to preach the Gospel message in Muslim areas of the world. The Muslim youth tell the Catholic missionaries, “I don’t need to convert. Your pope loves me.”

  9. <<>>

    Father,

    This question is disturbing to my little ‘black and white” mind!
    Are we allowed to repudiate anything Vatican II and the popes actually promulgated?

    Aren’t we just stuck with it as Vox Dei?

    k.c.

  10. diesdomini says:

    Yes, they do worship the same God as we do. A Christian might say: “Muslims have a misconception of the God we worship, but yes, they have a misconception *of the God we worship.*”

    1. They revere the same prophets we do, and identify their God as the God who revealed Himself to Adam, Abraham, Moses, David, Mary, etc.
    2. They do not believe God is a Trinity, but neither do Jews, and we adamantly believe we worship the same God as the Jews. (The Muslim conception of God is inspired by the Jewish one).
    3. The term “Allah” is the Arabic word for “God,” and has been used by Arabic-speaking Jews and Christians since before Islam to the present day.
    4. The essential attributes of the God of Islam (unicity, omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence, mercy, transcendence) are correct.
    5. They believe our faith and scriptures are essentially valid.

    Again, they have a misconception of our God, but it is a misconception of OUR GOD.

  11. I wish the Catholics I know bore half the witness to their religion that the Muslims I know do. From a Catholic philosophical point of view, I think its safe to say that we believe in “Truth Mountain”. There is one pinnacle at the top (the Catholic Church, the Bride of Christ), and many others all along the way down, some higher up than others. The Catechism is actually brilliantly clear on this. Catholics -> Orthodox -> Nicene Protestants -> Jews -> Muslims -> everyone else to various degrees. The point is, before you hit “everyone else to varying degree’s”, all the other groups listed, some more confusedly than others, pray to the same God. Even without the fullness of revelation, I worry that many Muslims are going to make a lot Christians look bad come resurrection, but what do I know?

  12. GJMama says:

    I don’t believe in the same God the Jews do. I believe in Jesus. They don’t. Jesus is God.

    I think the term Judeo-Christian can refer to a commonly held set of morals or cultural practices, but certainly not a commonly held belief system.

    Again, I ask, where does all this rhetoric lead about beliefs and attributes? Are we doing what is necessary to save our souls???

    If Vatican II spoke the truth, you’re “stuck with it”. If Vatican II spoke untruths, than you’re not stuck with it at all.

  13. GodsGadfly says:

    One more thought: Karl Adam addresses this issue very well in _Spirit of Catholicism_ by distinguishing “theological truth” from “psychological truth”. In other words, as a matter of objective theology, modern day Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, etc., are “false religions” and/or worship “false Gods” in that they are untrue.
    On the other hand, from a subjective psychological perspective, many of the adherents of those religions think they *are* worshiping the true God, and if they sincerely believe that, and if they are worshiping Him with the best religious practice they can and observance of theological virtues, then, in fact, they *are* worshiping the True God, from a subjective perspective.

  14. DHippolito says:

    Fr. Z, I would suggest going to your local public or university library and seeing if it has a copy of the May 2004 edition of Commentary Magazine. It has the article I cite in other threads, “What Kind of Religion is Islam?” written by French-Catholic scholar Alain Besancon. It challenges a lot of the current suppositions Catholics make concerning Islam.

  15. DHippolito says:

    I’d also like to put some perspective on the ecumenical documents coming out of Vatican II.

    The vast majority of bishops who attended that council were Europeans who lived through WWII. More than a few lived through WWI. Two traumatic bloodlettings within one generation (especially on one continent) will motivate political and religious leaders to avoid a third. Since the Holocaust was a recent memory at the time, and since European Christianity encouraged anti-Semitism, I believe that the bishops tried to rectify the situation and reset at least Catholic thinking toward Jews though Nostra Aetate. In addressing the Jews, one could not ignore the Muslims, against whom much blood also was spilled.

  16. Joshua08 says:

    Here is another angle. It is manifest that Moslems do not in fact worship the true God. Leaving aside the object of their religious acts, what they do is not worship. Maybe, maybe they venerate imperfectly the true God. Note that kuritzo’s test does NOT say they worship, but venerate. In contemporary English worship, at least in American English, means what is given God alone, adoration, latria. They worship God, at best, the same way we worship saints, that is not worship in the modern sense, but veneration. And even then it is grossly defective

    Adoration requires sacrifice.

  17. Phil_NL says:

    The real can of worms is not so much if they worship God (even if they do, many islamic practices, from forced conversions to bible burnings to suicide bombings, to name a few, would be grossly offensive to God).

    It is the following: if their ‘revelation’ doesn’t come from God, where did it come from? Now that’s a sobering thought…

    Even more so since it touches not just upon their salvation, but also on our posture towards them. Even if they’d worship God, that doesn’t mean we can abide with the prescripts which originate elsewhere and are antithetcal towards Christian faith, freedom and decency. We’d still have to combat the many evils contained in their practices, which are firmly grounded in the quran and hence inseparable from islam.

    You shall know them by their fruits.

  18. Traductora says:

    Islam, like Mormonism’ is born of the syncretist “visions” of a poorly educated individual living in a religiously mixed environment. Mohammed took a bit from the Arianized Christianity circulating in his world, a bit from Jewish scripture and history, and a lot from pagan moon worshipping cults. Similarly, joseph Smith combined scraps of evangelical-style Christianity, bits of the Old Testament that Protestants liked, and doses of the spiritualism and interest in magic that was widespread in the 19th century. Both “prophets” put themselves squarely in the middle of the new religions’ and used them for violence and domination to acheive their earthly aims.

    So my feeling is that while there are inevitably traces of God in this syncretist cult, they are so transformed that as a whole, if Muslims worship the same God, it is only a fragment of Him and they only do so inadvertently.

    And then there is that part about “by their fruits you shall know them,” and the fruits of Islam have never been good.

  19. Kerry says:

    If men covered with black masks ever invade my church during the Mass, shouting Al-aah who(?) Ock-bar, it will confirm we do not worship the same God, and probably be the signal to return fire. (I am not in jest about this.)

  20. muckemdanno says:

    “I don’t know enough about the Muslim understanding of God to be able to embrace that assertion without hesitation.”

    Father Z., I’m not sure that any of us needs to ‘know enough about the Muslim understanding of God.’ Aren’t we supposed to accept with docility the teaching of the 2nd Vatican Council? Or, are we allowed to doubt it?

  21. muckemdanno: Nostra aetate doesn’t say enough. It is not the objective of that document to provide adequate theological answers to these questions.

    I don’t know what your faith does, but my faith seeks understanding.

  22. kuritzo posted the letter from Pope Gregory VII that I was going to quote.

    (Funny story… I found and supplied the Latin text of that letter to “Pope Michael” for his web site, since he was making a fuss about Nostra Aetate.)

    But I find it telling that NA does not have any source other than a non-magisterial letter of a single pope for its claim. NA is not a dogmatic text, and if it has based its judgment that Christians and Muslims worship the one true God on the mistaken opinion of a pope… surely, that doesn’t make the pope’s opinion true all of the sudden. I’m not saying Pope Gregory VII IS wrong, but that if he is, he doesn’t become right because Vatican II used his words to make a claim.

    I would say that Jews believe in the same God as Christians, but they don’t believe Him — that is, they don’t believe His revelation to them about His Son and His triune nature.

    I do not know for sure if Muslims believe in the same God. They are certainly mistaken about the God of Abraham though they claim Him to be their God. Others here have made good arguments about having the wrong idea about the right person (e.g. Fr. Z is tall Mexican). Whether these analogies apply perfectly… I cannot say.

  23. Supertradmum says:

    There are many books written by Robert Spencer and one with which he collaborated with a Muslim turned Christian, and in some of these books, it is clear that Allah is not the revealed God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, even setting aside the entire question of the Trinity. It is also clear in the Koran that Allah is not the God of the Judeo-Christian Revelation. I do not go with Belloc’s idea that Islam is a heresy, although I love Belloc’s writings. It seems to me that Mohammed had a vision which was not from God,and, indeed, some of his contemporaries said he had seen and listened to Satan. The religion is syncretic.

    The Koran makes it clear that Allah is not a personal God who loves and cares for each individual as a Father. To state that Allah is a Father as we have come to know God, is heretical for the Muslims. Allah is caring in a general way and in a remote state of complete separation from humans, to the point where there is not Beatific Vision, or union even in Heaven. Allah is also not immutable and does not have the attributes which we Christians attribute to the Almighty,again as we have come to understand the attributes, especially through the Scholastics, such as Beauty, Truth, Faithfulness, etc., especially those attributes revealed in the Old Covenant, again outside the Revelation of Christ in the New Covenant. The many names given to Allah, which include what we see at attributes, are not understood in the same manner as “incarnated” in the world, in Christ, or in Redemption. The Muslims who have converted share their stories online, and some have stated that the Christian God is very different than Allah, who not only changes his mind, but condemns Jews and Christians to horrible torture here and in the afterlife, just for being non-Muslims. Allah is, indeed, a vengeful god, as well as one who allows lying and other straying from the basic Ten Commandments when it suits him or his followers. The inconsistencies in the Koran, and in Allah’s character, are hopelessly defended by the idea of Abrogation.

    Abrogation means that Allah can change his will and contradict himself, causing the many contradictions in the Koran. Abrogation means that Allah can change an ayat, a given command or teaching, he has revealed and give a contradictory ayat, just because he is god. For centuries, Muslims have tried to explain this, without success. Indeed, Muslim scholars even today disagree as to the meanings of the ayats and the intention of Allah. “Hadith,” in Islam, both in what is called holy tradition,“hadith qudsi”, in addition to prophetic tradition, which is “hadith nabawi.” These traditions include commentary on the inconsistencies, sharia law and other things. Abrogation is part of the hadith tradition of understanding that Allah’s will, which is first, above all else, in the religion, can change because he is god. This is not our God.

    For the Muslim, the Koran itself is as Holy as the Body and Blood of Christ, and the holiest Koran is that written in Arabic. Allah apparently revealed the book in Arabic and wanted the book to remain sacred in that form. The form is chaotic and one must read it several times, with study, to understand the religion presented there. Some Muslims think it is wrong for a woman to read the Koran, as only her husband is supposed to teach her, but in western mosques, this idea is ignored.

    As to the Revelation of the Trinity, there is none in the Koran and the idea is abhorrent to the Muslim. Christ is a prophet, period. In the Koran and the hadith, there are contradictions regarding His birth and return, contradictions which Muslims scholars cover up by stating no one can understand Allah’s Will. Again, Allah does not want to be known.

    The fact of the Holy Spirit is completely ignored, as Islam is an extremely “materialistic” religion, with a materialistic world-view and a materialistic, even hedonistic heaven. The Five Pillars of Islam are particularly materialistic and emphasize actions rather than the interior life. A spiritual approach to religion does occur with some of the Sufis, a smaller group within Islam, which some of the Sunnis and Shi’ates see as a heretical interpretation of the Koran. It is ironic in Islam that although Allah asks for many actions of piety and devotion, he does not give of himself in any personal way, as he is all-knowing, all-wise and completely separated from humans forever.

    This is not the God of either the Old or New Testament.

    May I add, which I stated in another comment over a month ago, that the Muslims believe that the Koran is the real Bible and that the Jewish Torah and the Christian Bible are corrupted versions. Allah, apparently had to come to Mohammed to set the record straight on which verses were authentic. The Koran is not organized and can be frustrating to read, unless one is persistent. Of course, Revelation and chronology contradict this point of authenticity strongly.

  24. iakob the confessor says:

    With the Jews, we have a God of history, and it is indeed a divine reality with a very specific, defined history. While we have a quasi-abstraction with the revelation of God to Moses with the “I AM as I AM” (Exodus 3.14), still this is tied intimately to a historical lineage. “I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” (Ex. 3.6; cf. Dt. 6.10; 29.13; Mark 12.26) This would seem to indicate that we are speaking of a God who indentify with a people, not just any random association of man with the divine. So Islam, constructing a very different narrative, a very different history even given similar characters, is not a people with whom God has established covenant, itself a historical event that bears effect on the present. More to the point, God has revealed himself not as the God of Abraham, but of Abraham, Isaac and Jakob. He has not revealed himself as the God of Abraham and Ishmael.

    Now with the Christian revelation, we have two divergences with the divine in Islam; one historical and one philosophically. In one sense, we have a very Jewish understanding of history and covenant. God became man and dwelt among us. This was done in a very concrete way in a very specific time. There is a history, that we come engage God through. We must approach this man from the eastern regions of the Roman empire, some 2,000 years ago. It is through this man, that we engage God. And in his humanity, we find a new covenant, for it is his physical blood shed upon a very real cross that forges this new bond. Islam rejects the Incarnation, and thus, fails to approach that singular moment of Christ’s sacrifice, an act that every Catholic undertakes when they approach the sacrifice of the mass.

    Furthermore, we come to the point of abstraction. One could say, that while the concrete may have been lacking, the person searching for truth had some aspect of the divine that they were seeking. We believe in one God, one divine reality. Therefore, one is able to see in Plato’s dialogue about the transcendent unity of being as a prefiguring of what was revealed in the Judeo-Christian history. Similarly, Paul uses this tact when addressing the adherents to the “unknown god” taking one deity among many, and using it to point to the truth. Yet with Islam, we encounter a different problem. For Islam, there is no reason, no ?????, and thus, abstractions as to who God is fails to hold up. Furthermore, Islam, based as it is on a Semitic language, there are no ontological words, and thus, there can be no metaphysics, properly understood. Thus, it would appear that Islam cannot approach philosophically the same concept of God that Christianity and even the various phases of Judaism (cf. Philo, Maimonides, Buber) have.

  25. Supertradmum says:

    ps

    May I add that we do not “forget” the wars of the past in the Catholic Church, and, indeed, have two feast days dedicated to the Blessed Virgin’s intercession in wars against Islam. September 12th, the Siege of Vienna, celebrating the Holy Name of Mary, who was invoked (and, for those who do not know, Sept. 11th in the old calendar), and October 7th, the Feast of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary.

    Thankfully, we remember.

  26. Andrew says:

    All who worships God as God wants to be worshiped are drawn to union with God and with each other, and they wind up, ipso facto, on the same page, on the same road, in the same community. It is impossible for true worshippers to oppose each other because they all drink from the same fountain of faith, so to speak. Divisions are manmade, they are the work of false teachers and gullible followers. It is possible for Muslims to worship the same God as christians do, given, that there is a tendency in such a case, for union. But the bigger question is not “are we worshipping the same God?” but “are we indeed his followers”?

  27. Supertradmum says:

    Andrew,

    What you just wrote is simply not true. Those who want to worship God must find the True God, the Trinitarian God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. If one follows a false god, one will follow that god’s false utterings, morals, admonitions, devotions, liturgical rites, prayers, etc. Obviously, we cannot judge an individual’s interior disposition or even motivations, but we can, as rational beings, critique and indeed, judge a religion as true or false. As rational creatures, we must use discernment, study, and prayer in order to avoid deceit and in order to speak the truth.

    We are not necessarily on the same page as a devout Muslim. The word “faith” covers many hideous practices, including wife-beating, Jew-hating, and a view of heaven, among many things, which I do not share on any page. The Catholic religion is the one, true religion and it is the duty of all of us to share this gift with others, not accept irrationality or immorality just because these are part of a religious system. I suggest you read Dominus Iesus.

    We are a missionary Church for a reason. Christ said to us, in Mark 16 and Matthew 28 to preach the Gospel to all nations, and baptize in the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy
    Spirit. If God’s Son told us to do this, we cannot accept mere relativism in religion.

  28. Jordanes says:

    I think the point of Nostra Aetate wasn’t to insist that Muslims worship the same God that we do, but to delineate a few (or all?) of the beliefs Muslims have right about God. It’s about affirming what they have in common with us, what aspects of the Truth they already embrace, not about identifying them as “anonymous Christians” or some such nonsense.

    That said, if the Muslims do pray to Allah, there is only one God, and if a Muslim’s prayer is ever heard, its because the Blessed Trinity heard and answered it. That, however, isn’t addressed in this passage of Nostra Aetate.

    I think my reading of this passage is supported by the epistle of St. Gregory cited in the footnotes, in which the Pope observed that Christians and Muslims share a belief in one God who revealed Himself to Abraham. That doesn’t mean the Muslim Allah “is” the true God — that is, that the Muslim concept of God is entirely correct — just that they share something very important with us, which can be the grounds of mutual good will (which was the point of the Pope’s epistle, to entreat a Muslim leader to show kindness to Christians).

  29. Denis says:

    Muslims say, quite explicitly, and deliberately, “We do not worship a triune divinity.” How, then, can they be said to worship the same God that we Christians worship? Yes, I know, Jews also deny that God is triune, but there are already hints of God’s triune nature in the Old Testamen, starting with “Let us make man in our image,” in Genesis. The Jews affirm that they worship that God, the God of Genesis, who used the fist person plural, even though they don’t interpret correctly that bit of grammar. On the other hand, Muslims deny that the Old Testament is authoritative or truthful, and they also deny that God is triune. It’s hard to see how they can be understood as intending to worship the Triune God, while being confused about His nature.

  30. kgurries says:

    I think we are talking about the difference between “idolatry” and “heresy”. The former entails the worship of a false “god” (i.e., pagan worship of creatures) whereas the later entails a false conception of God (i.e., God is “personal”). Idolatry violates reason and the natural moral law whereas heresy contradicts what God has revealed to man about Himself.

    If Islam is a heresy then it would not be accurate to say that Muslims worship a false god (i.e., idolatry). It would be better to say that they have a false notion of God.

  31. Andrew says:

    Supertradmom:
    I am trying to move beyond labels to actual realities. I am not thinking in terms of “we” and “them”. Do you think that Christ said something to “us” in Mark 16, but not to “them”? You think the Bible was written for “us”? That’s pretty pompous, isn’t it? Divisions are the work of human rationalizations. People don’t think deep enough. If you want to be a missionary, first you have to believe that the “other” is capable of recognizing the truth, not by imposition, but by finding it within himself. Anyway, where did I say that “we are on the same page as muslims”? At least read what I said if you choose to disagree. When the Canaanite woman approached Jesus, did he say to her “oh, but your concept of God is different from mine?” Did St. Paul, who found some women praying by the river say to them: “hello girls, you have the wrong concept of God?” Did the eunuch reading Isaiah hear from Phillip “you’ve got the wrong concept of God?” Just because I’m a catholic it doesn’t follow that every opinion of mine is carrying a stamp of divine approval while all non-catholics are incapable of thinking straight.

  32. catholicmidwest says:

    “Do Muslims themselves think they worship the same God that we Catholics worship?”

    They say vehemently that they do. [I’ve worked with muslims who can’t shut up.] And then proceed to describe a God that bears no likeness to ours. I won’t listen to it. I’ve got work to do at work, and they don’t come to my house. By my choice.

  33. catholicmidwest says:

    kuritzo,

    The muslims who are so vociferous about their love of Allah, and who have impressed you as such lovers of God would slit your throat and hang you on the line upside down like a dead chicken just as easily as they would look at you. Wake up. This is the anniversary of the bombing of New York, Pennsylvania and the Pentagon. IF you can’t use your brain at least have consideration for the thousands of innocent people who died on that day.

  34. kgurries says:

    NA said: “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 (praeterita obliviscentes) 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.”
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++

    I think this is a prime example of the pastoral/prudential aspects of Vatican II at work. This is not really a Vatican II teaching (doctrine) — but a pastoral recommendation or “urging”. The prudential aspects can always be discussed in charity it seems to me…

  35. LaudemGloriae says:

    I had a similar conversation with a friend of mine who happens to be an exorcist. I told him that I had a copy of the Koran and that I had instructed my children to treat the book with respect as it was the Islamic holy book. My friend insisted that the book was not holy. I asserted that we in theory worshipped the same God. He pointed out that if Allah is God, and Allah deemed Mohammaed as his prophet, and said prophet communicates that Jesus is not God, then Chritianity is false. If we accept that Jesus is God, anyone asserting divine revelation that Jesus is not God is not in cummunication with God but rather the enemy of God.

    Why does this line of reason not also apply to Jews? God had/has a pre-existing covenent with the Jewish people. No such covenent exists with Muslims. Jews and Christians agree to the pentatuch. Muslims incorporate the stories of the pentatuch as retold in sections of their Koran, but the texts are inherently different. Jesus was a Jew and a testament to the holiness and divine validity of that faith.

    It is difficult (if not impossible) to say where error ends and worship of false gods begins. I am sure most Muslims are good and well-intentioned. However, I am increasinglyconvinced that Islam is more than mere schism within the family of God.

    Regardless, I try to rememeber that Islam is a newer religion originating some 500-600 years after Christ. If we reflect on how Christians were behaving 500-600 years ago (crusades, inquisitions, etc) we can gain a new perspective on the ebb and flow of belief systems over the centuries as they struggle toward the fullness of understand within their respective theologies.

    Bottom line: Father did exorcise more than a few disturbed souls from the demon identifying itself as “Allah”. Whether this indicates the “Allah” of Isalm, or a generic name for diety, or a culture perversion of a valid worship of the Judeo-Christian God, or a demonic blashephemy of God is beyond my wisdom.

  36. catholicmidwest says:

    Yes, see if you get them to discuss Daniel Pearl with you in charity. See if they can discuss the evils of 9-11 with you, kqurries. See if you can get them to discuss the planned mosque at 9-11 with you while you’re at it.

    Pastoral, my backside. Don’t be a sucker.

  37. catholicmidwest says:

    Laudem Gloriae,

    Primitive Christianity consisted of those Jews who believed that the Messiah had come (Christ). The remainder of the Jews didn’t recognize Christ as the Messiah. The old testament is essentially the same for both Christians & Jews, although for those who believed in Christ, it had come to fulfillment in Christ. The new testament is used only by Christians and not by Jews, since in essence it is the story of how the old testament has come to fulfillment by Christ.

    Islam is something entirely different again. It’s an ethnic bastardization to the message the Jews (the old testament) and bears very little resemblance to it. To put it simply, having an alternate religion was necessary for a people who couldn’t stand the prospect of the Jews being the chosen race, and not them.

    The Koran was written by a man in the 600s, a man who lived in a cave, pretended to have visions, married a widow for money and raised an army to kill thousands of people. Islam has always been propagated by the sword. It’s an evil and vile religion. People who follow Islam see themselves as slaves of a master God instead of children of the good one. Think about that. It should remind you of something.

    Get a good bible reference and some histories of christianity and islam and read them. You are lacking a lot of information.

  38. catholicmidwest says:

    The church surely should do a better job of teaching this stuff!!

  39. LaudemGloriae says:

    @catholicmidwest I think you misread my comments. We are in agreement. I regret if that is not clear from my post.

  40. catholicmidwest says:

    Sorry, Laudem Gloriae,

    Misread your rhetorical question:

    Why does this line of reason not also apply to Jews? a lot of Catholics don’t know the answers to these things and thereby lies a lot of our difficulties understanding what to do. The church needs to get busy teaching this stuff.

  41. Tantum Ergo says:

    GJMama,
    “I don’t believe in the same God the Jews do. I believe in Jesus. They don’t. Jesus is God.”

    Remember, Jesus said “Salvation is from the Jews.” He prayed to His Father, who was and is the Jews’ Father. He also said “The Father and I are one.” Remember, Jesus said “I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now.” God has revealed Himself in stages as His revelation could be accepted. Sure, Jesus is God, but He is God with the Jews’ Father, and the Holy Spirit. The Jews may not have the fullness of truth about God, but they certainly worship the same God we do. Christianity is the flowering and the fulfillment of the Jewish faith.

  42. ar_danziger says:

    Whether Muslims worship the God of Abraham or a false god is a question that I’ve never been able to resolve. Can we give it the standard Catholic theological answer: “both/and”?

    Objectively speaking, there is only one God in the entire universe. There can’t be some alternative, rival God named Allah just because some people believe he exists. On the other hand, idolatry is elevating anything that is not God into the place of God and giving it the worship that is due to God alone. Whether this is a false god in the original sense of the term (Baal, Zeus, etc.) or something like money, power, etc., it is an unjust misplacement of worship. Further, Jesus is clear on how we are to show our devotion to God. “If you love me, do what I command.”

    This raises what may be the opposite question for me. Are we Catholics guilty of idolatry those times when we think we’re worshiping God, but we are really letting other things get in His place? When we mistake the voice of our own desires for the voice of God, or when we operate from gross misconceptions about God’s character?

    We may confess the Nicene creed, but God can see into our hearts and weigh our actions, and He will be able to tell if we truly loved Him or not. So in some sense, this question is both absurd and extremely relevant at the same time.

  43. catholicmidwest says:

    Off topic, Ar danzinger.

    Tantum ergo, your first line is the best reply I’ve seen yet.

  44. catholicmidwest says:

    Sorry, Tantum ergo, your whole reply for why Jews and Christians are closer than Christians and Muslims.

  45. Athanasius says:

    Apart from the explicit Qur’anic rejection of the Trinity, is the fact that Muslims conceive the “one God” totally different from Christians with respect to his attributes. Mankind cannot know the love of God, nor have a relationship with him, the concept of Allah having a relationship with his creatures is a blasphemy in Islam, because it is seen as making an image, to them we’re putting our attributes on God.
    Thus Allah is only known by his will. He declares and men obey. Allah also predestines, so that for muslims it doesn’t matter if you keep the 5 pillars (Sha-hada, prayers, charity, fasting and hajj) you do not have a guarantee of heaven, only if you fight and die in the cause of Allah. Otherwise allah is cruel and capricious and decides which men will be infidels, which ones will go to hell and the few who will enjoy 72 hauris (young attractive arab virgins) and sodomize young boy servants as well in heaven.

    Compare that with the promises of our Blessed Redeemer and ask if that is the same God.

  46. skellmeyer says:

    When you argue that Muslims don’t worship the same God (and I think that argument can be made), you have to be careful not to use arguments that would ALSO cut out the Jews.

    For instance, we can’t say that the Incarnation is the testing point, because the Jews don’t believe in that either.

    We can’t say the Trinity is the testing point, because the Jews don’t believe in that either.

    I think Supertradmom has it dead on right – if you want to argue that Muslims don’t worship the Judeo-Christian God, you have to focus on the fact that for Muslims:
    * God can change
    * God is the Greatest of Deceivers
    * God’s Own revelation of Himself, The Old and New Testaments, are corrupted

    The first two definitely put the Muslim understanding of God outside the pale of Judeo-Christian belief.

    Now, that having been said, the Muslims also believe God is all-powerful, all-merciful, all-just, etc., so they have SOME understanding of what God’s attributes have to be, even if they don’t have all.

    If this were a Venn diagram with two interlocking 360-degree circles, I’d say the Muslim understanding is about 200 degrees off a full-flush match. They’re better off than the pagans, the Hindus, the Buddhists, etc., but worse than the Jews and our separated brethren.

    When I teach on this, I use the math analogy of a continuum:
    * Pagans, Hindus, Buddhists understand addition subtraction. Some even get multiplication and division.
    * Muslims understand up through algebra.
    * Jews understand up through geometry.
    * Separated Christians understand up through trigonometry.
    * Catholics are the only ones who understand calculus (the study of infinities) and higher. The Orthodox have single-variant down pat. Roman Catholics can do the dreaded Diffy-Q (shout out to the engineers) without breaking a sweat.

  47. Supertradmum says:

    Athanasius and skellmeyer,

    Thanks, as I was beginning to think no one read my necessarily long answer. I think some people desire there to be some overlaps for the sake of discussion with the Muslims or for the sake of missionary work, but despite our good intentions, we must see the Islamic faith for what it is-a poorly constructed man-made, syncretic and violent religion with many inconsistencies, including a god, who may be called the God of Abraham, but is not.

  48. catholicmidwest says:

    Interesting that you should use math as an analogy, skellmeyer. The whole ancient algebra thing is one of the topics that ardent muslims just cannot shut up about. They think they invented everything like Al Gore. Their “great and illustrious culture,” my backsides. Most of them live in hovels and idealize living in tents. Many marry first cousins, some against their wills, and the incidence of certain kinds of birth defects is higher than average as a result. Many of them live in violence and anger endemically.

    I won’t listen to any of this “great muslim culture” crap. I’ve worked with a few of these folks. They can be something else.

  49. I think there’s a whole field of theology and philosophy waiting to be explored here, but my own opinion is thus:

    Since there only exists one true God, all who profess belief in a single deity in fact do believe in this one true God. This holds true for Christians, Jews, Muslims, Jehova’s witnesses, Zoroastrianists, and even certain Hindus and other pagans.

    What differs is people’s perceptions of the deity. Indeed, these perceptions may vary considerably even among individual adherents of the same religions. Do liberal, pro-abortion, new-agey Catholics really believe in the same God as their conservative, pro-free market, pro-authoritarian counterparts?

    However, rather than comparing attitudes of individual believers, I think it is most helpful to consider the perceptions held by the consensus of theologians that are broadly considered orthodox within the different religions. In doing this, it is clear that “Islam”, considered as an axiological system, holds a substantially different perception of the one true God than does “Christianity”. “Judaism” (understood in its contemporary sense) might be a little closer to “Christianity” – though remember that “Judaism” also rejects the most fundamental “Christian” teaching on the nature of God, i.e. the Trinity.

  50. catholicmidwest says:

    Gideon,

    What is, is. Perception has rather little to do with it.

  51. Supertradmum says:

    catholicmidwest,

    Thanks for answering. Perception leads to a relativistic view of religions and not an objective view.

    Gideon,

    All “religions” have doctrines, codes, rituals, prayers, piety, devotions, etc. which mean something. Allah in the Koran is a clear “personality”, albeit a changeable one and one hard to pin down. His will is to be obeyed at all times, anywhere in the world. The Koran teaches a billion plus people how to live and how to hate. These states are not perceptions, but hotly held core beliefs.

  52. catholicmidwest says:

    And there’s nothing abstract about this “how to hate.” Violence is violence and dead is dead.

    This is the anniversary of the day that thousands of people died in an attack on New York.

  53. Andrew says:

    catholicmidwest:

    “What is, is. Perception has rather little to do with it.”

    Perception has to do everything with the person perceiving, which includes every human being alive, and the question of perception is the subject of this thread.

  54. catholicmidwest says:

    Andrew,
    Perception is not God. God either is the Muslim God or he is the Christian God. The descriptions given for each of them are mutually exclusive, you understand. Perhaps you don’t know what those descriptions are. Do your homework.

    Besides, the Christian God didn’t tell any of us to fly 2 planes into the world trade centers in NYC and kill thousands of people minding their own business. He’s not going to tell us that because he’s not the muslim god, small g-pagan god, you should notice.

  55. catholicmidwest says:

    Interestingly, I think perception is a “god” for some people, even some so-called Catholic people. How sad!

  56. catholicmidwest says:

    Nevertheless, God is who He is and that’s independent of what you might think of Him. He was here before you were.

  57. Bornacatholic says:

    The God of Muhammed is not only capable of contradicting his his own Commands – he did.

    (Muslim apologists invented the word “NAKSH” (Abrogation) to explain how it is the violent Suras cancel out the peaceful Suras in the Koran).

    The God of Muhammed is not in any sense at all a Father nor is any individual Muslim a child of God. Theirs is a Master-Slave relationship.

    For those of you who think Islam has been “hijacked,” I will post the same question Robert Spencer asked in, “Islam Unveiled:”

    Is Osama bin Laden a sinner and thus no fit representative of Islam? Which teachings of Islam has he violated?

    Please cite the Koran because the plain and simple truth is that Bin Laden is a faithful Muslim who has actualised the putative Commands of Allah as recorded in the Koran.

    When anyone, especially our Dhimmi Politicians, Priests, Prelates, and Pundits, tell you “they” are “hijacking Islam,” ask them to specifically cite, from the Koran, just how “They” are hijacking it.

    Jihadists, like Bin Laden, are the most faithful acolytes of that dreadful “religion.”

  58. Joshua08 says:

    supertradmum,

    Just a minor correction. Holy Name of Mary in on the 12th of September in the old calendar as well as the new. Formerly (Before, I believe, St. Pius X’s reforms) it was on the Sunday within the Octave of the Nativity of Mary. The Battle ended on that Sunday (which was also the 12th).

  59. Supertradmum says:

    Joshua08,

    Sorry, I did not mean the feast, I meant the battle, which has originally been stated in history as fought on September 11th. I think it went overnight, but historians sometimes put it on the 11th. The original holy feast was moved around more than once as seen in the Catholic Encyclopedia online. The Islamists get upset about the battle, not so much the feast, but they are aware it is on our calendar, as in the Holy Rosary feast. And a good thing, too.

    Bornagaincatholic,

    Did you see my long explanation on abrogation above? If any one thing shows that Allah is not the Father of the Trinity, this one fact is it. But, thanks for bringing it up again, as it is a crucial point.

  60. Supertradmum says:

    opps, I have you as bornagain, borncatholic, no trespass into evangelicalism implied.

  61. catholicmidwest says:

    This was one of the more interesting things coming out of September 11th, 2001. The US Government immediately started going through calendars to find the important battle dates for both cultures. Remember those reports?

    This is because this whole dispute is very old and we have to pay attention to these things. Our culture has moved on and this may be the farthest thing from many Westerner’s minds. But WE WILL BURY YOU and the anniversaries of famous battles are very important to muslims. This is the timetable and motive from which they work. They’ve been trying to take over the west for more than a thousand years and they’re still trying. Bastards.

  62. GodsGadfly says:

    Mr. Skellmeyer,

    Why is it necessary to reject arguments against Islam that also preclude Judaism?

  63. relee54 says:

    After just reading Robert Spencer’s excellent book titled “The Truth About Muhammad: Founder of the World’s Most Intolerant Religion”, it is clear to me that Muslims do not worship the same God as Christians. Muslims deny the divinity of Jesus Christ. Besides, what type of a god would tell one of his supposed prophets that is OK to take up over a dozen wives, including his own daughter-in-law, or marry a prepubescent nine year old girl?

    I would highly recommend this book to anyone who wants a better understanding of Islam. It is well written, solidly documented, and an easy read. This book should be read by every American to gain a better understanding of what an insidious enemy Western civilization is facing in the battle against the Islamic fundamentalist extremists whose goal is to destroy our Christian culture. Before you fall for the main stream media propaganda about Islam, read this book and get the straight facts!

  64. Supertradmum says:

    Reading Galatians today, I was reminded that St. Paul refers to us as “sons” of God, not as “slaves”. Paul’s analogy of the son of Sarah, being the chosen one, the promised son of Abraham, is in contrast to the son of Hagar, the slave of Sarah, a son born out of natural desire for a child. Isaac, the son of the promise, is one of the ancestors of Christ. Many of the Muslims state that their ancestry, that is, spiritually, is from Ishmael, the outcast, the son of the slave. Although Paul is referring to the old covenant as opposed to the new,that is, those who follow the Law as opposed to those who have faith in Christ, the analogy fits here as well in application to the Muslims.

    Interestingly enough, most Muslims see themselves, because of the Koran and the hadith, as the “slaves of Allah” and not the “sons of God”, which we are. Another reason, although stated above with less detail, why Allah is not our God the Father, we understanding the First Person as He is-our Loving Father by adoption, and Creator, as well as the Father of the Second Person.

  65. jlmorrell says:

    In my opinion, this entire conversation is yet more proof that many of the documents of Vatican II have been an utter failure. Why, after 45 years, are we still arguing about their meaning. What the Church has always needed is clarity regarding its doctrines, not the ambiguity and confusion that followed the close of Vatican II.

    However, using the hermeneutic of continuity, it seems that we must interpret these ambiguous documents (Nostra aetate, Dignitatis humanae, etc) in the most traditional way possible (which precludes most of the interpretations we’ve heard these past decades).

    And, I agree with others here that citing a non-magesterial letter from one pope is pretty shaky support from tradition as far as Nostra aetate goes.

  66. jlmorrell says:

    “Jimmy Akin once made an interesting analogy to Batman. Someone who knows ‘Batman’ can address him as ‘Batman’ and seek his help without really knowing that Batman is Bruce Wayne”

    It seems to me that this would only apply to the old testament prophets, since the reality of the Triune God was not yet revealed (to stay with the analogy, the fact that Bruce Wayne is Batman was still hidden to all). The old testament Jews, therefore, believed all that God had revealed about Himself. However, now we know that God is triune (Batman’s true identity revealed), and the Jews and Muslims willfully reject this truth. In my reasoning over the topic, this is where my main difficulty lies when people assert that Catholics and Muslims worship the same God.

  67. Jordanes says:

    GodsGadfly asked: Why is it necessary to reject arguments against Islam that also preclude Judaism?

    Because the Jews still accept the divinely-revealed Old Testament as received from the God who spoke to their fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and who revealed Himself to and through Moses and the Prophets — that is the deity they invoke, to whom they direct their worship. Suggesting that the Jews do not worship the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (something never asserted in New Testament, by the way) would be to suggest that some other deity or entity inspired the Old Testament and revealed Himself to the patriarchs. The Jews do not know God as they, and all men, should know Him, but they are not idolaters nor Satanists.

    jlmorrell said: It seems to me that this would only apply to the old testament prophets, since the reality of the Triune God was not yet revealed (to stay with the analogy, the fact that Bruce Wayne is Batman was still hidden to all). The old testament Jews, therefore, believed all that God had revealed about Himself. However, now we know that God is triune (Batman’s true identity revealed), and the Jews and Muslims willfully reject this truth.

    We cannot say that all Jews and Muslims wilfully reject this truth. Most of them are probably either vincibly or invincibly ignorant of it, and none of them have supernatural faith, without which it is impossible to believe in the Incarnation and the Trinity. Anyway, to use the Batman analogy, refusing to accept, or finding one’s self unconvinced, that Bruce Wayne is telling the truth about being Batman is not the same thing as refusing to believe that Batman exists and refusing to pick up the Bat phone or shine the Bat signal to call for his help, nor the same thing as calling on a criminal who is impersonating Batman instead of calling on the real Batman. This is why the Catholic Church places Jews and Muslims in a different, superior category to polytheists or Buddhisms or animists or atheists.

  68. jlmorrell says:

    “We cannot say that all Jews and Muslims wilfully reject this truth”
    Jordanes

    Does not Nostra aetate refer to the Jewish and Muslim religions, properly speaking? I assume it is speaking of believing and practicing Jews and Muslims – those who assent intellectually to the claims of their religion. It seems to me that insofar as they are “good” Jews and Muslims they actively reject the truth, which has been revealed to the world thru the Catholic Church, of the Triune God.

  69. Supertradmum says:

    Jordanes,

    Be careful with the statement that the Catholic Church places the Muslims in a “different, superior category”. This is simply not true. If you look at the wording of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the writers are very clear by not stating what is true about their faith, but about what the Muslims profess is true. 841 The Church’s relationship with the Muslims. “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.”

    This is not in anyway stating that their faith is correct or revealed, but merely that they “profess” to hold the faith of Abraham. The reference to one, merciful and judge is vague enough to include some passages of the Koran, but does not go so far as to equate the religion of Revelation with that of a person. Of course, everyone is in God’s plan for salvation, but whether they are saved or not is not stated either.

    As to the Jews, the only other Revealed Religion besides Christianity, there is a special relationship. This relationship is seen in the New Testament Epistles as well as in the Catechism.

    “Those who have not yet received the Gospel are related to the People of God in various ways.”325

    The relationship of the Church with the Jewish People. When she delves into her own mystery, the Church, the People of God in the New Covenant, discovers her link with the Jewish People,326 “the first to hear the Word of God.”327 The Jewish faith, unlike other non-Christian religions, is already a response to God’s revelation in the Old Covenant. To the Jews “belong the sonship, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises; to them belong the patriarchs, and of their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ”,328 “for the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable.”329

    840 And when one considers the future, God’s People of the Old Covenant and the new People of God tend towards similar goals: expectation of the coming (or the return) of the Messiah. But one awaits the return of the Messiah who died and rose from the dead and is recognized as Lord and Son of God; the other awaits the coming of a Messiah, whose features remain hidden till the end of time; and the latter waiting is accompanied by the drama of not knowing or of misunderstanding Christ Jesus.

    One cannot equate the Revelation to the Jews with the man-made religion of Islam. I do not see any hierarchy with regards to Islam, as the wording is too vague and purposefully so, except for
    in the first place”, which merely points to monotheism. If you see a hierarchy in the listing at this point in the Catechism, it is simply a categorizing of belief in one God and not in the quality of the religion itself. No other statement or details are given because Catholics cannot agree with the Muslims on the nature of God and Allah, who besides sharing the least qualities as given, are completely different. Of course, the Jews are part of our own heritage and faith, and as God revealed Himself to them for our purpose, to prepare us for Christ, the reference is more significant. The language of religion should be careful and here it is.

  70. robtbrown says:

    skellmeyer,

    You failed to mention that every branch of math you mention uses Arabic numbers.

  71. Supertradmum says:

    jlmorrell,

    Great comment, as there is no “invincible ignorance” anymore in Western Culture, as the Gospel is heard around that world. One either rejects the Truth, or accepts Him, and grace is a great mystery. How in this world of instant communication, with every Father of the Church and Gospel online can we say that there is invincible ignorance, except for those isolated and very poor who have no access to knowledge, who are in the Third World? We must be careful not to fall into the trap of denying free will among all of those who choose another faith system besides Christianity. We are a missionary Church and we must share “the Good News”, as I hope we do here, for example.

    The Scriptures are also quite clear that the Jews will finally recognize Christ, but only after a time of blindness. Here is St. Paul in Romans 11:
    For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in (to the Church). And so all Israel (of the last times) shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob”

  72. Denis says:

    I’m having a hard time with the claim that the Moslems’ “allah” is basically our God under a different description–a Bruce Wayne to our Batman, to use the Akin analogy. And it’s not just the trinity issue. The Moslems’ Allah commands many acts that seem to be quite evil. And it’s the Moslems who take the Koran most seriously, and who follow its prescriptions most carefully who are most inclined to do such things. The cultures that are most faithfully Moslem seem to be the most troubled in that respect. Perhaps Allah is more like the Riddler or the Joker than like Bruce Wayne.

  73. Geremia says:

    I thought the Trinity could only be properly worshiped within the Catholic Church. Wasn’t there an ex cathedra type statement to this effect in the Church’s history?

    Also:

    all the gods of the Gentiles are devils (Psalm 95:5)

    Muslims aren’t gentiles? And St. Francis of Assisi considered Allah a devil when he said to a Muslim (Englebert 178-179):

    We have come to preach faith in Jesus Christ to you, that you will renounce Mohammad, that wicked slave of the devil.

    I struggle with Nostra Ætate so much that I sometimes just dismiss it as erroneous because it is not a dogmatic declaration. Is that okay for a faithful Catholic to do?

  74. catholicmidwest says:

    robtbrown,
    That’s only because the concept of number went through the middle east on its way from Greece to Europe and a few things were added. But for the most part, the knowledge was warehoused in typical middle eastern style. It was purchased and brought back to Europe, where it was translated and started to develop again around 1100-1200 AD.

  75. catholicmidwest says:

    robtbrown,
    The same thing happened to all of it: philosophy, Aristotelian science and logic, and mathematics. This is why Euclid disappeared from European knowledge and then reappeared at the university at Paris, for instance.

  76. Tom Ryan says:

    worship the same God?

    Fulton Sheen said yes if the question is Who?; but..
    No if the question is What?

    Like the Calvinists who share so many of their misconceptions, Muslims have an utterly different notion of the nature of God than we do.

  77. Be careful when arguing that Christians don’t describe themselves as God’s slaves. Every time the Latin says “servus” or “famulus” or even “ancilla”, you’re talking about servants, and usually the slave type of servant. Even for someone of high rank, it was polite Biblically to call yourself the slave of someone you were asking for a favor.

    Now, there’s a lot of softening of this, because an ancient Hebrew slave had a lot of rights, and was either someone who’d soon become free or someone who’d freely chosen to remain part of the household; and because even sons and daughters of the household had to obey the master of the household with obedience somewhat comparable to being a servant/slave. But that’s still part of standard Christian vocabulary.

    It’s the addition of being called sons and daughters, and co-heirs, that is significant.

  78. Supertradmum says:

    catholicmidwest,

    Thanks for pointing out the yet-another-myth of Islamic superiority. Those who get their history from A and E. or the History Channel, or the Discovery Channel would be surprised to know that indeed, the Islamists did not have all the texts of Aristotle to understand what was really being written, that the commentaries were not only incomplete, but faulty, and it was Roman, and Jewish scholars, before Islam, and St. Thomas Aquinas after, who clarified and extended Aristotle for the West and for the East. The only reason Aristotle took so long to be considered by the Church was that he was popular with the pagans, which is one reason why St. Augustine was a Platonist. Plato is a monotheist, whereas Aristotle is a true pagan in belief. The Islamist interpretations did not care about this pagan bent. However, they, including Averroes, lived in a Christian society and were, believe it or not, more Christian than Islamic in culture and scholarship. But, they were not the first to make commentaries (Boethius, for example). Indeed, Aquinas gives credit to Averroes, but moves far beyond him. It is fairer to say that Averroes was more of a pagan philosopher than Islamic, as he was so secular.

    Logic, math, etc. were created and developed at least 1,000 years before Mohamed. Archimedes, Euclid, etc. predate Islam by centuries. Logic started as discipline with Plato and Aristotle and his Academy and promulgated across the world under Aristotle, who taught Alexander the Great. Libraries existed all around the Mediterranean. Boethius had translated the logic texts of Aristotle and these were known and promulgated. The West re-discovered these subjects anew, but many of the texts were in Benedictine Monasteries and had been saved from the ravages of the Muslims,who destroyed many scrolls, or used them for scrap paper. The entire works of Aristotle were kept and used in the Byzantine
    Empire, which is hardly ever noted. That Averroes was such a genius is true, but his work was hampered by not having all the texts and having only Arabic translations and not the original Greek texts. Few of his works survived after he died. He also wrote on sharia law and attempted to bridge Islam with Greek philosophy. His ideas were ultimately rejected by the Muslims as dangerous, even though he tried to show that Aristotelian thought supported the Koran. However, it is fair to say that Averroes was more secular, and even more pagan, that Islamic, which is why he was banished.

    Revisionist history downplays, on purpose, the Western heritage from Greece and Rome, and emphasizes secondary texts from the Orient or Mid-East. This is an agenda decision to appeal to the minorities, and to undermine both the Greco-Roman tradition and the Catholic Culture. The first universities were founded by the Catholics, and the first schools teaching liberal arts, the trivium and quadrivium, after the fall of Rome, were Catholic schools and seminaries-such as the reformation under St. Anselm. I have studied and given lectures on the continuity of the Roman system through the Catholic Church and the safeguarding of Classical texts by the Benedictines after the onslaught of the barbarians. Aristotelian commentaries were known in the sixth century, two-hundred years before Mohamed and long before Averroes. Even though his works sparked new interest in Greek philosophy, classical education is a Western invention and even considering the great Averroes, without the universities and especially the Dominicans, there would be no continuity of Aristotelian thought.

    There are two recent books which challenge the stance of Averroes as any founder of modern, secular thought.

  79. Supertradmum says:

    Suburbanbanshee

    Description is not definition, as I am trying to teach my students this very week. We are the sons and daughters of God, not His slaves, unless we choose to enter into a different, more servile relationship, as some saints have done. St. Paul is very clear on this point, as is Christ Himself-
    “You are my friends,
    if you do what I command you.
    I shall not call you servants any more,
    because a servant does not know his master’s business;
    I call you friends,
    because I have made known to you everything I have learnt from my Father.
    You did not choose me: no, I chose you;
    and I commissioned you to go out and to bear fruit,
    fruit that will last;
    and then the Father will give you anything you ask him in my name.
    What I command you is to love one another.” John 15:9 – 17 .

    The Muslim does not believe this at all and considers our familiarity with God a horrible heresy.

  80. catholicmidwest says:

    Bravo, Supertradmom. I did my philosophy work at a good public university with an honest instructor and what you say is true. During the dark ages, some of the great works were lost, some were burnt in the great fires of Alexandria, some were kept by middle easterners as curiosities, but some were hidden til they could once again be used.

    There was some work done in mathematics during this hiatus because it was neutral enough for the muslims, although not so much was done with the rest of the Greek & Roman heritage. The pursuit of knowledge was reborn in Europe after the end of the first millennium and Aquinas was one of the leading scholars in this endeavor, even though much controversy was made over the pagan sources of some of the works.

  81. catholicmidwest says:

    What are the titles of the recent books which challenge Averroes? I’m interested.

  82. Robert says:

    Paragraph 841 of the Catechism reads:

    The Church’s relationship with the Muslims. “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.” [330]

    Footnote 330 takes you to Lumen gentium 16 (and Nostra Aetate 3, but it seems obvious that the quote comes from Lumen gentium 16)
    — quote —
    But the plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator. In the first place amongst these there are the Mohamedans, 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.
    — end quote —

  83. Supertradmum says:

    Robert,

    See my comment on this above.

    catholicmidwest,

    Can you read French?

  84. catholicmidwest says:

    It’s necessary to know some history to understand how this can be, Robert. Islam is an ethnic corruption of the Jewish faith BECAUSE although the natives of the Arabian peninsula are descendants of the same biblical father (Abraham) as the Jews through siblings (specifically Isaac & Ishmael), and they would have known of Jewish scripture and known of the “Creator,” they could not accept a religion within which they were not the chosen people. They hate the Jews with a nearly supernatural hatred and this is the reason why. This hatred has led to a parallel religion and a parallel but corrupt account of the nature of God.

  85. catholicmidwest says:

    No, supertradmom. Are those books available only in French?

  86. Supertradmum says:

    to my knowledge, yes…I shall watch and see if they get translated.

  87. catholicmidwest says:

    Excellent, thank you.

  88. Bornacatholic says:

    Dear Supertradmum. Thanks for calling my attention to your excellent commentary on abrogation. I missed it the first time.

    It is one, of many, aspects of that dreadful religion that are not only illogical but patently absurd.

    There is also the matter of The Satanic Verses. The Koran is reputed to be the actual words of God but it is also admitted that Satan spoke some of those words attributed to Allah.

    That being the case, how IS one to know which words were spoken by God and which words were spoken by Satan?

    Like others above, I have read Robert Spencer’s books and Bat Ye’or is indespensible.

    I recommend Christians read these sites daily:

    http://www.andrewbostom.org/blog/

    http://hesperado.blogspot.com/

    http://www.jihadwatch.org/

  89. robtbrown says:

    Great comment, as there is no “invincible ignorance” anymore in Western Culture, as the Gospel is heard around that world. One either rejects the Truth, or accepts Him, and grace is a great mystery. How in this world of instant communication, with every Father of the Church and Gospel online can we say that there is invincible ignorance, except for those isolated and very poor who have no access to knowledge, who are in the Third World? We must be careful not to fall into the trap of denying free will among all of those who choose another faith system besides Christianity. We are a missionary Church and we must share “the Good News”, as I hope we do here, for example.
    Comment by Supertradmum

    Invincible ignorance is not merely someone not having heard the argument. It is also someone lacking the capability of accepting it. For example, it can refer to anti-Catholic hang-ups, instilled by family or environment.

  90. Supertradmum says:

    robtbrown,

    As adults, are we not responsible for getting rid of those “hang-ups”? It seems to me in the age of over-psychology, there is even less an excuse for ignorance, especially in the middle-class, where there are less church-goers than among the poor or lower middle classes. A sign of maturation is taking responsibility for one’s mental as well as physical health. The lack of capability to accept something may be physical, such as a congenital mental challenge, in which case there is no culpability. Laziness, worldliness, habitual sin, and individualism seem to be the order of the day, at least in the West, and increasingly in the East, where the old religions have passed away with the generation before, for example, Mao, and other dictators forced even Buddhism underground. That Christianity seems to be growing in Africa and even China, although we have no real statistics, seems to point to the fact that the Gospel is being promulgated.

    Grace abounds, if one wants grace. And we as Catholics need to speak and to lead and to love those around us so that they accept this grace.

  91. catholicmidwest says:

    Actually, robtbrown, the whole anti-catholic hangup from traditional sources business is probably not all that dramatic anymore. People pretty much do whatever they want, get married in the park and tell off grandpa and all that. It’s more that:

    a) most people don’t really have an impetus to go looking for the Catholic church. We don’t look like the answer to anything to many of them anymore and moreover, they think they’re fine the way they are even though life gives them a hell of a time day to day.

    b) and if they do get close enough to have a look, we have our own sit-up-in-bed-and-scream nightmares that are distinctively catholic. See the list in my previous post.

    To put it succinctly, we don’t give people enough reason to come in and then STAY IN. Thus 1 in 10 Americans is an ex-catholic. If we have a big problem with American converts to Islam, Catholics will be partly responsible. We have got to get our stuff together, and if that means getting a few things resolutely done to get past this period in church history and get on with the future, then so be it.

    In the middle east, jlMorrell, you must realize people do not have the ability to know anything about christians at all. It is illegal to have a church or a bible or talk about christianity, under threats of death. So essentially, people there ARE robbed of their free will, since even if they want something else, they don’t know of anything else to want. They are stuck. Period.

  92. Apparently there’s some serious difference in the Greek between “doulos” (usually meaning just a plain ol’ slave) and “oiketes” (a servant in the house, often not a slave). And of course we’re supposed to serve God freely and out of love, not like a slave who’s gotta do it.

    But “servant” is still an important Christian image, and Jesus Himself is such. You can’t just sweep it under the rug or denigrate it (especially when we pray in such terms at every Mass, and particularly for the dead).

    It’s like how Muslims call Mohammed the “Perfect Man”. You can refute that in various ways, but you can’t denigrate the very idea, because Jesus is the Perfect Man and Mary the Perfect Woman. Like most of their images and theological ideas, Muslims got that from Christianity/Judaism.

    All I’m saying is — we don’t stand our theological ground by cutting the ground out from under our own feet.

  93. Alice says:

    Suburbanbanshee,
    There’s also St. Louis de Montfort’s True Devotion to Mary in which one consecrates oneself as a slave of Jesus through Mary. It’s been years since I read True Devotion (the devotion doesn’t appeal to me) but I’m pretty sure de Montfort makes a point that those who consecrate themselves are merely slaves, not even servants.

  94. Jason Keener says:

    I think the case can be made that Muslims do not, in fact, worship the true Christian God. The essence of the Christian God is that “God is Love” and that God is a community of persons or a Trinity. The Christian God’s love is so great and personal that God became man to redeem us. It would seem to me that because the Muslims are so mistaken about the fundamental essence of God’s nature that Muslim worship cannot be said to be objectively authentic worship. True worship in an objective sense would seem to necessitate a human person making a real response to God in faith based on how God has TRULY and FULLY revealed Himself. We cannot just make up our own concept of God, accept one or two attributes of God, offer a prayer, and expect that to be true worship.

    One also wonders how authentic the worship of the Jewish People is today in an objective sense because Jews, like Muslims, reject God for Who He truly is. The Jews did offer true worship to God in the Old Testament as God had revealed Himself in stages up to that point. Unfortunately, the Jews were unable to accept God’s definitive Revelation of Himself as Love in Jesus Christ. Knowing that the Jews reject God for Who He truly and fully is, how can their worship be objectively true?

    Subjectively, many Muslims and Jews act in good faith by offering what they believe is authentic worship. I think the True Christian God sees and even rewards the Muslims and Jews who act in good faith by offering what they believe to be authentic worship.

    Lastly, I think the orientation of the Church in the post-Vatican II era has been entirely too naive in recognizing how pernicious the errors are of the Muslims, Jews, and even Protestants.

  95. catholicmidwest says:

    Suburbanbanshee,

    You may like to think of yourself as a slave, but the fact is the Lord Himself encouraged us to call God our father. We don’t scrape and grovel and whine hopelessly; we’re not supposed to. Now, it is true that there is this devotional small-t tradition, sort of an Eastern European-like thing, that encourages people to act like victims and slaves. Some of that is devotional; some of it is pretty pathological if you want to know the truth. You’re not supposed to grovel and whine and act like that; it’s not Christian. Rather, you’re supposed to love God with all your heart, and your neighbor as yourself, and simply do what God asks you as shown in Church teaching and scripture. Almost everybody has enough trouble just getting the basics done well.

  96. catholicmidwest says:

    Jason,

    Many, but not all, Jews are strangely disconnected from the religious portions of their heritage, at least in the US. “Jewish” is often just a cultural or dispositional designation.

    Many Jews were led to question everything by the Holocaust, and for many, that echoes of that horror have not yet passed.

  97. catholicmidwest says:

    PS Jason, think of it as the dark night of all dark nights, and you might have an idea what it might have been like for them. Christians in the Western 1st world have never experienced anything like this.

  98. Jason Keener says:

    catholicmidwest,

    I don’t think I see how your comments are related to our discussion. My point was that when any person who practices the Jewish religion offers worship to God, it is not an authentic act of true worship in an objective sense. The religion of Judaism, which rejects Christ, has a seriously deficient understanding of God’s nature and His work in Salvation History. How can a Jewish person offer a true act of worship to a God whose nature and work that Jewish person fundamentally misunderstands or rejects? There is more to God than His oneness and His fatherhood. God is a community of persons or a Trinity. God is love. For an act of worship to be true, the person must reverence God for everything that God is and has revealed, not just for one or two attributes.

    It is probably not politically correct to say this, but it is an objectively evil act to offer God worship according to Muslim or Jewish practices because those religions sanction acts of worship that God has either replaced or never called for in the first place. Christ founded one Church to offer Him true worship, the Catholic Church. Subjectively, however, not all Jews or Muslims are morally culpable for practicing their false religions because they simply do not understand the absolute necessity of worshipping God according to the rites of the Catholic Church. Many Jews and Muslims act in good faith when they practice what are essentially false religions.

  99. robtbrown says:

    As adults, are we not responsible for getting rid of those “hang-ups”?

    Of course, we are. That’s why the moral distinction between invincible and vincible ignorance exists. Ignorance is not merely a lack of information, but it can also be an inability to comprehend the information.

    It seems to me in the age of over-psychology, there is even less an excuse for ignorance, especially in the middle-class, where there are less church-goers than among the poor or lower middle classes. A sign of maturation is taking responsibility for one’s mental as well as physical health. The lack of capability to accept something may be physical, such as a congenital mental challenge, in which case there is no culpability. Laziness, worldliness, habitual sin, and individualism seem to be the order of the day, at least in the West, and increasingly in the East, where the old religions have passed away with the generation before, for example, Mao, and other dictators forced even Buddhism underground. That Christianity seems to be growing in Africa and even China, although we have no real statistics, seems to point to the fact that the Gospel is being promulgated.

    You seem to want to define all ignorance as vincible.

    The distinction has nothing to do with modern psychology. You just need to understand what St Thomas means by habitus (here operative rather than entitative),

    Grace abounds, if one wants grace.

    Grace is the first principle of every supernatural act. Thus it is grace that causes us to want grace.

    And we as Catholics need to speak and to lead and to love those around us so that they accept this grace.
    Comment by Supertradmum

    See above.

  100. mibethda says:

    It is interesting to note that John of Damascus – St. John Damascene – regarded Islam as essentially a Christological heresy overlaying a pagan foundation. In ‘de Haeresibus’ he contends that Mohammed was heavily influenced by Arianism ( some, however, in reliance upon other sources, suggest that the influences were Nestorian). This last of the Eastern Fathers was in a unique position to understand and appraise early Moslem beliefs: he was born in 655, in Damascus, less than 20 years after its capture by the Arabs from the Byzantines, and at the time that it served as the capital of the Caliphate; his grandfather, formerly a high ranking official in the administration of the Emperor, Heraclius, served the Caliphate as a leading tax administrator after the capture of the Syrian province; St. John’s father served in the administration of the Umayyad Caliph, Muawiyah, and St. John was schooled with and under the Moslems of the court as well as with the Greeks (Christians); he, himself, served the Caliph, Abd al-Malik, as first counsellor or Protosymbulus prior to his retreat from public life to a monastery. He thus provides an unrivaled window into Islam in the generation after the death of Mohammed – most of whose early followers were then only recently literate.

  101. robtbrown says:

    Actually, robtbrown, the whole anti-catholic hangup from traditional sources business is probably not all that dramatic anymore. People pretty much do whatever they want, get married in the park and tell off grandpa and all that. It’s more that:
    Comment by catholicmidwest

    Of course, people doing whatever they want is part of the anti-Catholic hangup, which is of course even found in many US Catholics.

  102. catholicmidwest says:

    Jason,
    The Jews are our forebears in faith. Since the coming of Christ, it is true that their faith is incomplete. I agree that it would be very problemmatic for a Catholic to worship as a Jew because it would imply a denial of the divinity of Christ, yes.
    I also agree that a Jew or a Muslim, or for that matter a Hindu, could worship in good faith it he didn’t know any better. However, that wouldn’t make that Jew, Muslim or Hindu right about what he was worshipping. He would be worshipping in partial truth at best.
    I think we’re in general agreement.

  103. catholicmidwest says:

    There is a general principle and that is that some religions are farther from us than others. Judaism is the closest. Then Islam, then others. There is a very large gulf between Judaism and Islam as you go out away from Christianity, however. Muslims are wrong about many, many things.

  104. catholicmidwest says:

    robtbrown,
    This may be difficult for a cradle catholic to comprehend, but most of the world does not reference every act to the catholic church. When it comes to the catholic church, most of the world is quite oblivious. Really.

  105. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    What does the relevant paragraph of ‘Nostra aetate’ really say? I note there is no reference to the Koran, or to Mohammed. It states things about “Muslimos”, I presume by this intending both self-described and properly so called. It also names “fides islamica”. What may we, or may we not, conclude, about the interrelations of those human beings called “Muslimos” behaving in a certain way, and this “fides islamica”? For example, “Abraham ad quem fides islamica libenter sese refert” but “Muslimos […]unicum Deum adorant{…]cuius etiam decretis toto animo se submittere student, sicut Deo se submisit Abraham”.

  106. robtbrown says:

    This may be difficult for a cradle catholic to comprehend, but most of the world does not reference every act to the catholic church. When it comes to the catholic church, most of the world is quite oblivious. Really.
    Comment by catholicmidwest

    Why would you assume I’m a cradle Catholic? I’m not.

    And I think you missed my point, which is that the do-whatever-you-want ideology exists both in Catholics and in non-Catholics.

  107. robtbrown says:

    One other point: By anti-Catholic I am referring not merely to overt attitudes against the Church but implicitly against Church teaching.

  108. robtbrown says:

    I think the case can be made that Muslims do not, in fact, worship the true Christian God. The essence of the Christian God is that “God is Love” and that God is a community of persons or a Trinity. The Christian God’s love is so great and personal that God became man to redeem us. It would seem to me that because the Muslims are so mistaken about the fundamental essence of God’s nature that Muslim worship cannot be said to be objectively authentic worship. True worship in an objective sense would seem to necessitate a human person making a real response to God in faith based on how God has TRULY and FULLY revealed Himself. We cannot just make up our own concept of God, accept one or two attributes of God, offer a prayer, and expect that to be true worship.
    Comment by Jason Keener

    I do not think that the phrase “God is Love” is necessarily Trinitarian. For example, St Thomas references that phrase in his tract on the One God.

    And I am not fond of the communion of persons theology of the Trinity. I much prefer the approach of St Thomas and St Augustine.

  109. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    In ‘Les saints païens de l’ancien testament’ (1956), Jean Daniélou makes much of the precise details of Hebrews 11:5-6, esp. about the need to believe that God exists (estin) and becomes a rewarder to those who seek Him (tois ekzetousin). He explains this as what is necessary for those who have not known the revelation of Abraham and Jesus. This reminds me (though I have not tried to check the ref.) of what I recall St. Thomas Aquinas says about the universe, that without revelation, it would be impossible to decide between whether the universe had existed eternally or had a beginning.

    All this ties in with thinking that ‘Nostra aetate’ attributes to the “Muslimos” knowledge that “Deum” “viventem et subsistentem, misericordem et omnipotentem, Creatorem caeli et terrae, homines allocutum”, that it says that they have knowledge explicitly (and, I take it, exclusively) deriving from revelation. But, if so, it does not say anything about how they come by this knowledge.

    This would, for instance, presumably, in some particulars, be putting them closer to the fullness of truth, in “unicum Deum adorant […] Creatorem caeli et terrae” than Arius, who wrote to Eusebius of Nicomedia that “the Son is not uncreated […] He came to be by God’s will and counsel before all times and ages, fully God, but brought forth […] the Son has a beginning” as a sort of uniquely first-created creator, even though (paradoxically? – like those Jews who have not yet recognized Him) the “Muslimos […] Iesum, quem quidem ut Deum non agnoscunt”.

    ‘Nostra Aetate’ not only says “Deo se submisit Abraham” but seems carefully to distinguish “decretis toto animo se submittere student, sicut Deo se submisit Abraham”. What is the scope or the exact meaning of “decretis […] se submittere student”? E.g., does this imply in the fullest sense of “submittere” either ‘Deo se submittunt’ or ‘Deo se non submittunt’ “sicut Abraham…”? Does it quietly leave open the possibility of objectively failing “se submittere” “decretis” and variously erroneously “se submittere” to what are not ‘decreti Dei’?

    There has been some discussion in earlier comments re. ‘latria': do “adorant” and “colunt” have any specific implications of ‘less than the latria due’, or do they leave it open, or should the form of ‘adorare’ here be seen as having the weight of “adoramus Te” in the Gloria?

    Might the litotes of “non paucae” suggest not only the monstrous numerousness of the “dissensiones et inimicitiae” but faith and hope that ‘Deus misericors et omnipotens’ not only can but will by His wondrous and wonder-working gracious love make them as ‘pauca’?

    Are there any (likely) Biblical or liturgical echoes in “praeterita obliviscentes”?

  110. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Father,

    You have quoted Sura 4:17 from the Koran (in I know not which translation). Louis Gardet OP (who knew Arabic, as I do not!) wrote in ‘Connaître l’Islam’ (1958) that none of a certain number of Koran texts regarded by Moslem apologists as ‘refuting’ Christian dogmas about the Holy Trinity and the Incarnation, if these are examined carefully one by one, contains an adequate expression of any Christian doctrines. Rather, they in fact reject what are heretical teachings regarding Christian doctrines and not any formulation of the true faith. The first example he gives is the one you quote, but he translates “Speak not of Three […]”. As far as I can discover, whoever chose “Trinity” for the translation you quote was not be slavishly accurate!

    For instance, Mohammed Marmaduke Pickthall (in “the first English translation of the Koran by an Englishman who is a Muslim”) also gives “say not ‘Three'”. In what appears to be the only other text referring to “three”, he gives, “They surely disbelieve who say: Lo! Allah is the third of three” (5:73) while other translations have “one of three” (e.g., N.J. Dawood; J.H. Kramers).

    Gardet also notes 5: 116, translating, “O Jesus, son of Mary, are you the one who has said to the people: regard us, myself and my mother, as gods under God?” Pickthall ends this “two gods beside Allah” while Dawood has “gods beside Allah” and Kramers “gods outside of Allah”.

    Gardet sees this as directed against the “Meccan pantheon, the sons and daughters of the highest God worshipped in the old Ka’ba” adding that in this way there came to be a taboo on the expression ‘son of God’.

    Gardet does not discuss how the Koran got it right, here, but obviously Mary is not a goddess, Jesus is not ‘beside’, ‘outside’, or ‘under’ God as, for example, Arius took Him to be, or Nestorius seems to have taken His humanity to be, and tritheism is equally a heresy (I have talked with someone who was convinced that ‘philosophical theology’ on its own could not arrive at anything ‘better’ than tritheism!). And of course (to shift to some other Semitic languages) El was, as “creator of creatures”, not merely the head of a pantheon of gods, not married to Asherah – nor were they together the parents of 70 gods, as is asserted in tablets from a temple archive discovered in Ugarit (I rely here on Cyrus Gordon, “Adventures in the Nearest East’ [third, revised ed.]).

  111. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    The only plausible verbal source I have found so far for “praeterita obliviscentes” is a partial one, Philippians 3:14: “quae quidem retro sunt oblivsicens […]”. (Does anyone know any searchable Vulgate translations or concordances fro the Vulgate on-line?)

  112. Lisa Graas says:

    Father, I wish I would have seen this at the time that you posted it. I posted this a while back at NewsReal and would love to know your thoughts.

    What Vatican II Did and Did Not Say about Muslims, Christians and Jews
    http://tinyurl.com/2498ubq

  113. CPKS says:

    Things are (logically) identical if they are indiscernible as to their essential properties. Logically, if x is identical with y, and y non-identical with z, it follows that x is not identical with z. Easy so far.

    The ancients believed that Hesperus and Phosphorus were different stars. Later, people discovered that they are one and the same heavenly body, (commonly called “Venus” today), seen under different aspects. So what the ancients perceived, when they thought they were perceiving Hesperus (or Phosphorus) was in fact Venus. Formerly, their description of Hesperus would have included the essential ingredient that this object was non-identical with Phosphorus. So, in one (useless) sense, Hesperus (non-identical with Phosphorus) was necessarily non-identical with Venus (which is identical with Phosphorus). And we can ask the question: was Hesperus a false (non-existent) star?

    I am afraid that this logical issue needs to be sorted out before anything worthwhile can be said theologically.