Christ / Culture / August 15, 2007

God, Allah – What’s in a Name?

Just when you think the pursuit of religious pluralism cannot get any stranger, you read this headline: Bishop Urges Christian to Call God ‘Allah’. According to the article:

Catholic churches in the Netherlands should use the name Allah for God to ease tensions between Muslims and Christians, says a Dutch bishop.

Tiny Muskens, the bishop of Breda, told the Dutch TV program “Network” Monday night he believes God doesn’t mind what he is called, Radio Netherlands Worldwide reported.

The Almighty is above such “discussion and bickering,” he insisted.

Should Christians be willing to call God ‘Allah’ for the sake of easing tensions? The answer is a definitive no. Why?

  1. While the Koran presents Allah as a single deity, the Bible presents God as a Trinity – One God in three persons, co-equal, co-eternal, and co-existing as Father, Son, and Spirit. Therefore, Allah is not God.
  2. While the Koran presents Allah as God and Mohammed as his prophet, the Bible declares that true and living God has not just spoken by the true prophets but now also by His son (Heb. 1:3). Therefore, Allah is not God.
  3. While the Koran presents Allah as a transcendent God who is distant from His people, the Bible portrays God both in His transcendence as well as His immanence – He who became flesh to dwell among us (John 1:14). Therefore, Allah is not God.

When you try to use the term ‘Allah’ as a substitute for the biblical portrayal of God the Father, it fails because of the literary and theological  baggage that it carries with it. Allah is not the God of the Bible. And the quest for reconciliation between Christians and Muslims will not be found in the change of a name but in the power of the blood of Christ.

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1 Comment

Aug 19, 2007

This story, more than any other this past week, had me wondering where some people get off opening their mouths. This man is a bishop so it’s only fair to assume he knows a thing or two about theology. That being the case, he’s left with even more cake on his face than if a layperson who doesn’t know the first thing about Islamic theology (or Christian theology for that matter) had blessed us with this soundbite.

Doubly upsetting is the continuing placation of the Islamic world. This is the kind of suicidal hyper-tolerance that Mark Steyn writes about in “America Alone.” Everyone seems to be sleepwalking while the Muslim world slowly terrifies them into obedience. Frederick Hess was exactly right Tuesday on National Review Online when he said that the problem with this breed of tolerance is that it rewards zealotry.

However, we cannot afford to tolerate this sort of rubbish. What the bishop proposes is hostile to the gospel. You got it nailed Philip when you point out that the god of the Qu’ran is not the God of the Bible, he’s not even cut from the same mold. Calling God “Allah” is not an issue of mere translation here. By suggesting any such thing you broadcast to the world that you’re glib, afraid, and uninterested in truth.

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