Maverick philosopher on whether Muslims worship the same God

Maverick Philosopher has addressed the question of whether Muslims and Christians worship the same God.  The question, you’ll recall is whether both believe in the same God, but group understands Him incorrectly, or whether they worship two different beings, one of whom does not really exist.  Basically, MP thinks it comes down to what we mean by “God”, i.e. how reference is established.  If the Christian means “the unique being who fits the following description:  omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent, created the world ex nihilo, and is triune” and the Muslim means “the unique being who fits the following description:  omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent, created the world ex nihilo and is unitarian”, then, no, the Muslim and Christian are not talking about the same being.  They’re talking about different beings, (at least) one of whom doesn’t exist.  On the other hand, if by “God” we refer to a cause–“whatever it was that caused my mystical experience” or “whatever it was that communicated with Moses”, then Christians and Muslims may be referring to the same being.

I think there are serious problems with both of these possibilities.  Identifying God by some particular experience seems wrong.  Suppose Moses’ experience was actually caused by a chemical imbalance in his brain or by clever extraterrestrials.  We wouldn’t call the brain disfunction or the aliens “God”; we would rather say that Moses was mistaken in thinking that God was talking to him.  I prefer the first theory, that reference to God is mediated by a concept.  However, I don’t think “triune” or “unitarian” are part of that concept.  “God is three persons” seems like a synthetic, not an analytic proposition to me.  I wouldn’t imagine that I could tease out the Trinity just from my definition of God.  This is not to say that God is not necessarily triune.  But what we have is not God’s essence, but a concept that we know doesn’t capture that essence completely.  So things that are necessarily true by God’s essence may not be necessarily true by our definition of Him.  The definition of God I would think would be something more vague, like “the source and plenitude of being”.  “Who created God?” and “What if human beings are more perfect than God?” are nonsense; someone who said them would betray that they don’t understand what we mean by “God”.  “God is not triune” is heretical, but not nonsensical.  So I restate my claim that Christians and Muslims do worship the same God.

37 Responses

  1. The noted Yale theologian Miroslav Volf has recently published a book addressing this very question – “Allah: A Christian Response” – in which he thoroughly examines the question and arrives at a conclusion in complete agreement with your own. Having read the book, I find his argument persuasive on its own terms, although obviously not every Christian exclusivist will be convinced. His book nevertheless serves as a watershed challenge that Christian exclusivists must come to terms with if they are to honestly persist in their exclusivity.

  2. Have you considered this possibility?

    http://www.amnation.com/vfr/archives/018533.html

  3. Also – this (which had a hug impact on me)

    http://www.ewtn.com/library/HOMELIBR/HERESY4.TXT

  4. By ‘hug’ I of course mean ‘huge’… (blush)

  5. One of my rules is that if your argument to prove that Islam and Christianity don’t worship the same God also works to prove that Christianity and Judaism don’t worship the same God — why then, something must have gone wrong with your argument.

    Because, of course, the apostles would have been horrified by the idea that they were turning away from the God of the Jews. It’s not a strictly philosophical reductio ad absurdem (I suppose it’s got a historical or even ecclesiological premise), but that doesn’t make it invalid.

    So I have to reject the unitarian/triune distinction. I am more hesitant to reject Vallicella’s idea that it brings up deep philosophical issues about reference; there may be something in that.

  6. I rather fancy Wittgenstein was right, when he said the word “God” functions as the answer to the question, “Why is there something, rather than nothing”

    Now, both “God” and “nothing” are completely unimaginable – If we try to imagine nothing, we tend to smuggle in ideas of empty space (which is not nothing), not to mention the idea of ourselves, as observers.

    We cannot imagine multi-dimensional space, either, but we can make self-consistent propositions about it (if we are fairly good at algebra)

    This fits well with the Christian tradition of apophatic theology

  7. There is such a thing as being too subtle, too scholastic…

    What would the great Christian Fathers have thought about this question any time from c650? What would the Byzantines have thought? The Crusaders? I don’t think they would have needed to resort to philosophical arguments. It’s a no-brainer!

    The point is historical. Islam rose in a context of already existing, already established Christianity – defined against Christianity; and then substantially conquered the Christian heartlands and then a lot else of Christendom. Did these early Christians regard Muslims as worshipping ‘the same’ God – but in a different way?

    It would have seemed to them more like the triumph of the opposite.

    Surely early Christians – being devout and holy, unlike ourselves – would know better than us?

    We should not rely much on our puny powers of reasoning especially when they contradict the consensus of the best minds of the past ages of faith.

    *

    As Seraphim Rose explains, the ‘Antichrist’ need differ only slightly from Christ, in just one respect perhaps.

    *

    (Pascal is clear on this, too. )

  8. This does not seem to fit with the earlier Belloc link you posted, considering Islam as a heresy. Insofar as Islam is a heretical variant of Christianity, it worships the One God, though wrongly.

    As a matter of historical fact, the Christians at the time *did* frequently regard the Muslims as a bunch of weird heretics out of the desert, and Muhammad as a heresiarch. I believe this was more common among the Byzantines, who had more direct experience: Western Christians, with less information, got ideas like Muslims worshipping Muhammad, or Apollyon (from Revelation), or Termagant (origin obscure).

  9. I think you misunderstand heresy if you think it necessarily remains essentially a part of that which is derives from – a heresy is merely a lineal descendant: like all mammals are presumed to be lineal descendents of a common ancestor.

    Any Christian heresy which denies the divinity of Christ is not Christian, surely? That’s the end of the matter.

    And all religions have innumerable *similarities*, yet there only need be a single difference to distinguish them.

    Also any religion which denies that God is Love (and Love the primary virtue) is not Christian – that one difference suffices.

    I feel strongly that this business of looking for common ground with Islam is a dangerous, indeed *deadly*, snare for contemporary Christians – certainly for such feeble Christians as we moderns are. Meanwhile Christian persecution is teh worst for many decades – it is possible that (after some 2000 years) the Copts may be slaughtered/ forced from Egypt entirely in the next few years (or months).

    Such philosophical discussions can go on and on until terminated by external events, as they surely will be – we need to ask ourselves why we engage in them. That they are ‘interesting’ topics is not good enough. This is a temptation.

  10. In reply to Craig’s post and Dr. Charlton’s most recent post:

    The question of whether Muslims and Christians worship the same God is entirely on the Christian side. Muslims are quite satisfied that they do:

    “Do not dispute with the People of the Book [e.g. Jews, Christians] save in the fairer manner, except for those of them that do wrong; and say, ‘We believe in what has been sent down to us, and what has been sent down to you; our God and your God is One, and to Him we have surrendered.'” (Qur’an 29:46)

    “And thou wilt surely find the nearest of them in love to the believers are those who say ‘We are Christians’; that, because some of them are priests and monks, and they wax not proud.” (Qur’an 5:82)

    “Surely they that believe, and those of Jewry, and the Christians, and those Sabaeans, whoso believes in God and the Last Day, and works righteousness – their wage awaits them with their Lord, and no fear shall be on them; neither shall they sorrow.” (Qur’an 2:62; 5:69)

    An aspect of the Christian view of Islam that is rarely directly voiced, but which is in fact historically dominant is the early and largely persistent conviction, from the Christian perspective, that Islam shouldn’t exist. The rise of Islam in the sixth century disrupted Christianity theologically by challenging the understood role of Christ as the universal and decisive act of God in sacred history, in relation to which the Jewish prophets were largely preparatory. It further disrupted Christianity politically through its rapid spread in the Christian East. Perceived in Christian categories, Islam was understood as a species of Christian heresy and Muhammad as a false prophet or Antichrist. The notion of understanding Islam on its own terms simply did not pertain.

    There is a near exact parallel to this situation, one rarely noticed but lying very close at hand: that of early Christians with respect to the Jews. In the Jewish understanding, Christ was a false Messiah, and Christianity mounted upon a theological error, one that claimed the mantle of religious authority from the Jews themselves. Further, Christianity was gradually growing in power and was to eventually become a mortal threat. In the view of the Jews of antiquity, Christianity shouldn’t exist. And yet, just as Christianity has stubbornly existed for Jews, so Islam has stubbornly existed for Christians. In such a parallel, Christians are neatly placed, as it were, in Muslim shoes and may be subjected to precisely analogous arguments as those used by Christians against Muslims.

    Let me conclude with reference to a recent article by Reza Shah-Kazemi, “The Prophet of Islam and the Monks of Christendom” (http://www.theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/the_prophet_of_islam_and_the_monks_of_christendom/0018642) on a particular point of early historical intersection between Islam and Christianity worth reflecting upon: the charter of protection and privileges drafted by Muhammad on behalf of the monks of St. Catherine’s on Sinai, the oldest continuously inhabited Christian monastic settlement (http://st-katherine.net/en/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=20&Itemid=65)

  11. Dr. Charlon and I seem to have posted simultaneously, so I wanted to briefly touch upon two points made by him in his most recent post: the question of similarity between religions and the question of Divine Love in Islam. A strong argument could be made that no other tradition is as close to Christianity as Islam, as has been developed, for instance, in the Islamic scholar Richard Bullient’s book “The Case for Islamo-Christian Civilization”. The same has been recognized in large measure by Papal authority as well: para 841 of the “Catechism of the Catholic Church” asserts:

    “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.”

    Similarly, the third section of the pontifical declaration “Nostra Aetate” (On the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions) of Pope Paul VI asserts:

    “The Church regards with esteem also the Moslems. They adore the one God, living and subsisting in Himself; merciful and all-powerful, the Creator of heaven and earth, who has spoken to men; they take pains to submit wholeheartedly to even His inscrutable decrees, just as Abraham, with whom the faith of Islam takes pleasure in linking itself, submitted to God. Though they do not acknowledge Jesus as God, they revere Him as a prophet. They also honor Mary, His virgin Mother; at times they even call on her with devotion. In addition, they await the day of judgment when God will render their deserts to all those who have been raised up from the dead. Finally, they value the moral life and worship God especially through prayer, almsgiving and fasting. Since in the course of centuries not a few quarrels and hostilities have arisen between Christians and Moslems, this sacred synod urges all to forget the past and to work sincerely for mutual understanding and to preserve as well as to promote together for the benefit of all mankind social justice and moral welfare, as well as peace and freedom.”

    If Islam is to be rejected on the basis of dissimilarity with Christianity, then, by the same argument, every other tradition – including Judaism – must also be rejected. Yet this is rarely the argument heard: rather, Islam is uniquely and most vociferously rejected, despite of its close similarity.

    Regarding the question of love in Islam, the notion in some Christian discourse that Islam is bereft in witnessing to the Love of God is largely misplaced. While the more natural and commonplace reference within Islam is to the Divine Mercy and Compassion, such passages as “He loves them and they love Him” (Qur’an 5:54) are touchstones of the tradition that have been continuously commented, meditated and prayed upon by generations of Muslims.

    The alienating, externalized view of Islam from the perspective of the West, while perfectly understandable, frequently results in a polemical caricature unrecognizable from a point of reference within the tradition itself. As an example, the noted Islamic scholar William Chittick, a foremost authority on the spiritual and intellectual aspects of the Islamic tradition, was recently invited to blog on Islam on a popular website (www.huffingtonpost.com/william-c-chittick-phd), resulting in a number of very accessible introductory posts (earliest entries at bottom) on the nature and self-understanding of the Islamic tradition. The portrait drawn is fully at odds with the opinion of Islam too often encountered – who knew that Islam was a religion of love? – but his presentation is perfectly in keeping with the spiritual, theological and philosophic resources of the tradition, with which he is intimately familiar.

    Turning to the human side of the question of love, and to conclude, a recent major development in dialogue – “A Common Word Between Us and You” (www.acommonword.com) – a large-scale mutual exploration between Christian and Islamic scholars and religious authorities, specifically addresses the shared commandments of love of God and love of neighbor central to the two traditions.

  12. A few disorganized responses — sorry; lack of time:

    bgc: By saying Islam is (or may be considered) a Christian heresy, I don’t mean to say Islam is part of Christianity. FWIW, I personally call Islam a “spin-off religion”: there has been at least one other that was historically important (Manichaeism, now extinct) and some of the more outre modern offshoots will probably go the same way if they last long enough (I’m thinking of the Mormons in particular).
    However, different religions can worship the same God; again, cf Christianity and Judaism.

    Peter S.: The analogy Islam : Christianity as Christianity : Judaism is one that I’ve seen fairly often. It isn’t bad sociology, but it’s bad history and (from *both* sides) worse theology.

    I have no hesitation at all in declaring that Islam *shouldn’t* exist. Understanding it “on its own terms” doesn’t foreclose that conclusion.

    It is not true that “Islam is uniquely and most vociferously rejected” by Christianity: all other religious traditions are also rejected where they conflict.* On the rare occasions when Christians actually hear about, say, Hindus trying to fit Christianity into a polytheistic or pantheistic context, they get rejected too. There probably is more intensity to the rejection of Islam, for the obvious reason that Islam has been attacking Christianity, regularly if not relentlessly, for 1400 years.

    (* There is a partial exception for Judaism which would take me too far afield.)

  13. Bonald, I have to ask, What is the value to you of maintaining that Christianity and Islam worship the same God? As a Catholic Christian, is it not your duty to believe what Bible, creeds, tradition (or Tradition) and authoritative teachers hold: that the true and living God is triune, and the god of Islam is not? Does this not settle the issue?

  14. Hello Alan,

    As you’ve guessed, I do have motives for maintaining this. They are three:

    1) To forestall the “one god more” objection of atheists. Admit a plurality of possible Gods, and it does seem arbitrary to believe in one and reject the others.
    2) To defend the doctrine of divine simplicity, as I’ve explained before.
    3) To buttress my rhetorical claim that conservatives are defending the “consensus of all mankind“. I like to emphasize commonalities across traditions, so that the liberals are the ones who end up looking like the oddballs.

  15. In reply to Mr. Roebuck’s post, I would note, as per my immediately preceding post and its accompanying quotes from the Catechism and Nostra Aetate, that the Catholic magisterium asserts precisely that Muslims acknowledge and worship the one God and Creator – this is exactly contrary to his claim. Further, Miroslav Volf, referenced in my first post, deals at length with the specific and highly curtailed nature of the Islamic critique of Christian Trinitarianism – which is less black and white than often polemically portrayed – and I would recommend again perusal of the book in question. Finally, the precise understanding of Trinitarian doctrine is often simplified in Christian polemic, as it is here. As a point of contrast, St. Gregory Palamas, a pivotal authority in the Orthodox Church, asserts: “We worship one true and perfect God in three true and perfect Persons – not a threefold God, far from it – but a simple God.” Credo in unum Deum.

  16. I’m getting a better fix on your position, but I need more information.

    What qualifiers would you add to your basic statement that “Moslems and Christians worship the same God.”? Since Islam is different from Christianity, some qualifiers are necessary, it seems to me.

    Also, what are some of the non-obvious practical applications of your position? Would you say, for example, that we ought to feel some sort of kinship with Moslems?

  17. Peter S., I ask you what I asked Bonald: What are the practical implications of your position, that it is at least to be entertained as a possibility that “Moslems worship the same God that we do.”? If they do worship our God, what follows from that?

    Unless your goal is ecumenism and/or syncretism, I fail to see what good can come from the assertion that members of a significantly different and highly adversarial religion worship the same God we do.

  18. The question posed would seem a misconstrual. The matter of whether Christians and Muslims worship the same God is – like other matters pertaining to the question of an objective truth – simply not one to be determined on the basis of practical implications. Must the goal be either ecumenism or syncretism? Might not a clearer understanding of the nature of things – that is to say, objective truth – be a suitable goal of such an endeavor? In practice, I find that very few Christian polemicists have any real depth of understanding of Islam, and often little of Christianity. The inverse statement on the Muslim side of course holds as well.

  19. I wouldn’t imagine that I could tease out the Trinity just from my definition of God.

    Doesn’t St Anselm claim to do this?

  20. Peter S:

    Ideas have consequences, and I am asking you to identify the consequences of your idea.

    Here’s my position: (Small-o) orthodox Christians have always held that the one true and living God is a Trinity of Persons. Islam holds that God is not a trinity of persons. Therefore these two gods are not the same god, but rather one is the God Who exists and the other is a god who does not exist.

    If you are implying that the traditional understanding of trinitarian theism is somehow questionable or ambiguous, I reject it. Rejection of the classical doctrine of the Trinity is based on a refusal of some persons to believe what the Bible plainly teaches: that Jesus is God, as are the Father and the Holy Spirit. Christian authorities that foster doubt on this point are wrong (and sinful) to do so, if not outright heretics.

    If a person is heterodox or heretical (or even just plain pagan), I can understand him entertaining the possibility that Christians and Moslems worship the same God. But if you are orthodox, I cannot understand how you can hold this belief. Which leads to my next point:

    When an otherwise-solid person as Bonald claims to believe something that seems obviously false, I want more information: What exactly does he mean? What qualifications, if any, does he add? What are the implications of his belief?

    I also repeat my question to you: What is the value of claiming that two religions that make contradictory claims about God and that have a long tradition of conflict (mainly initiated by Moslems) are really worshiping the same God? Truth is not the only important issue here.

  21. A fascinating attempt in this regard is Richard of St. Victor, who argued that interpersonal love is a necessary part of a supremely perfect being, and from there to the Trinity.

    I don’t know if I buy it.

  22. A Christian would say that Jews and Muslims worship the true God, but their understanding of Him is imperfect, that their errors have no true divine authorization, and that their religions are not salvific in themselves (although God may use them in the salvation of souls, e.g. through the truths they do contain and the virtues they foster).

    Kinship is relative. Christians should feel that we are closer to (practicing) Jews and Muslims than to Buddhists or atheists. We should take heart, when Western civilization makes us feel like isolated freaks, that there’s this whole other civilization that agrees with us on many contentious issues. On the other hand, it’s well known that kin can fight, especially when there’s an inheritance under dispute.

    This issue should probably be kept separate from our earlier debate about whether Islam or liberalism is the greater threat. Muslims may worship the true God and be the greatest threat to the West today. Or they may worship an idol and be nothing but a nuisance.

  23. Bonald,

    Thanks for clarifying your position.

    Would it not be correct to say that worshipping God according to a false understanding of Him is not really worshipping Him?

    I acknowledge that your position that we should feel closer to Moslems than to secular western liberals has integrity. In some ways, we are more like Moslems that like western atheists. But I don’t think “closeness” is the correct word, especially since hostility to non-Moslems is explicitly taught in Islam. Members of other non-Christian religions may feel hostility toward Christians, but Islam is the only religion in which this hostility takes the form of explicit, developed doctrine. They started the conflict by not just disagreeing with us, and not just by wanting us to become Moslems, but by initiating armed conflict.

    Also, could this feeling of something like kinship cause you to regard Islam as less of a threat than you would if you did not have that feeling?

  24. It is quite likely that my sense of kinsihp with Muslims colors my perception of how big a threat they are, just as a sense of total alienness would color my perception.

    Regarding false understandings, I would say that it depends on the type of error. I accepted Maverick Philosopher’s theory of reference mediated by defining concept, but my idea of the defining concept of God is a lot looser than his (or rather, what he takes to be the Christian and Muslim definitions to be). Someone who thinks that God is made of matter or is held in existence by some superior being has so missed the concept of God that we should say that he’s talking about some other (probably fictitious) being. Islam and Judaism are an entirely different matter. This is not to deny the extreme hostility both of these rival faiths have for Christians and Christianity.

  25. Again, I find this notion of putting the matter of practical implications above that of truth per se to be strange in a matter such as this, if not indeed “heterodox” in a broader philosophical sense. Presumably you are not seriously suggesting the deliberate embrace of falsehood – a Platonic “noble lie”, as it were – in order to achieve the desired consequences? The alternative question then comes into play: what are the unanticipated consequences of choosing a possible falsehood over truth? As for Trinitarian doctrine, to simply assert that God is a Trinity of Persons without further clarification is to reify, and thereby falsify, the Trinity. The prosopa are “faces” and not “entities”; God is, first and foremost, one God and not three – the “being” of God is simple and unified: this is the general orthodox position, in respect of which Palamas is perfectly representative. As for the distinction of understandings between Christian Trinitarianism and Islamic “Unitarianism” necessitating a rejection of the Islamic God as false, I would refer you back to Craig’s first post above, as well as Boland’s other statements, which address this sufficiently. More generally, regarding the same matter, I would refer you once again to the recent work of Miroslav Volf, which engages this matter thoroughly.

  26. Alan Roebuck

    Do Jews worship the God of Abraham? Do Muslims?

    If they do, then “God” has an ostensive definition for Christians, Muslims and Jews alike – “Not the God of the philosophers,” as Pascal says, “but the God of Arbaham and Isaac and Jacob.”

    In that case, all three have a concept of God that is real, not notional and their worship of Him is not misdirected, however impoverished, or distorted its elaboration, in contrast to the Deist, whose “God” really is an Ens Rationis

  27. Peter S.,

    I don’t think the statements made here sufficiently support the notion of the two Gods being the same. I think that these statements consist of philosophical speculations being used to obscure or even deny the basic reality of Moslem and Christian theologies being radically different in spite of some similarities.

    You appear to be saying to saying that the general understanding of Trinitarianism held by theologically conservative Christians is mistaken. If this is your position, I reject it, and I deny that even the most learned of thinkers and books are correct in supporting it.

  28. Again, to put the matter as “two Gods being the same” is already to miss the point. There is one God: again, Credo in unum Deum. I think Boland covers this quite well and would again refer you to what he has said. If one wants to pursue the claim that Muslims have an imperfect or distorted understanding of God or are imperfect in their worship of Him, that is a different matter. I don’t mean to be impolite, but to reply to your comment on Trinitarianism, I, in turn, find your rejection unrepresentative of the tradition, theologically distortive and ultimately uninteresting. And that, I suspect, is that.

  29. Just to clarify, the “faces” don’t mean “appearances”–that would be modalism. It means “relations”, i.e. “facing toward…” God is certainly one Being/essence/substance, possessed whole and complete by each of the three Persons. I just don’t want anybody to think we’re creeping towards unitarianism here. Thank you for your thoughtful comments here, Peter S.

  30. The account describing St. Paul on Mars HIll in Act 17 seems to suggest that at least he believed the pagans were worshipping God without a correct understanding of Him. Even if we grant that Paul didn’t mean they were actually worshipping Him (his use of the word worship was merely rhetorical, or something like that), it is difficult to argue that the person they were referencing in their “worship” was a different person than the Christian God, at least in St. Paul’s thinking, for he says “What therefore you worship, without knowing it, that I preach to you” (v. 23), i.e., whom the pagans were worshipping and whom Paul was about to declare to them are one and the same.

  31. One basic objection I have to saying “Moslems and Christians worship the same God” is that the phrase “worship the same God” has connotations of a deep fellowship between the two groups. At least it does to ordinary people. “Worshiping the same God” is not just a technical question of philosophy and theology, it also has do to with kinship between groups.

    And temporarily putting aside the question of whether it is philosophically proper to identify Jehovah with Allah, I think it is wrong to assert kinship between us and the Moslems, fundamentally on account of their hostility to us.

    Indeed, this hostility is not just the natural human response to the differences we perceive. Every non-Christian religion has a certain degree of “hostility” to us simply because we’re different from them. But Islam is the only religion I’m aware of whose very scriptures record their god commanding eternal hostility to all unbelievers. Islam is the religion most hostile to us, and by a wide margin.

    I acknowledge that the Islamic system has its own integrity, and that pious Moslems affirm some of the most important positions we hold against the liberals, e.g., theism, anti-feminism, anti-homosexualism, etc. But these do not offset the essential Moslem hostility to us. No other religion is commanded by their god to make war on us.

    Michael Paterson-Seymour asks me if I think the Jews worship the same God we do. As I said above, this question is not answered on purely philosophical/theological grounds. Judaism is an exceptional case because the Old Testament Jews were certainly worshiping the one true God, according to their understanding of Him. But when Messiah came, the Jews had to decide if they acknowledged Him, and those that did not, like the non-messianic Jews of today, fell into error. But because current Judaism is the most correct of all the false religions, because the Jews acknowledge a large part of the authentic Scriptures, and because today’s Jews are not commanded by their God to make war on us, I can affirm that Jews worship the same God we do, but with serious errors in their beliefs.

    Peter S. chided me for placing practical considerations above considerations of truth. I don’t think that’s what I’m doing. Philosophers are famous for their disagreements, and philosophy can easily go off the rails if not informed by a commitment to basic principles. All reasoning must ultimately be based on propositions that are believed true but are not proved, at least not in the ordinary sense of the word “proved.” These basic axioms must be validated in other ways; for example, by their being the words of God, by their mutual consistency, by their agreement with intuition, or to a certain extent by their value to us.

    In the present case, the classical notion of the Trinity of God is a basic principle. It seems to me to be an open-and-shut case that Trinity cannot be the same as non-Trinity, and that Christianity teaches Trinity and Islam teaches non-Trinity. Therefore any philosophical speculation that casts doubt on this point must be mistaken, even if we cannot identify exactly where the mistake occurs. It also seems to me that a desire to bring Jehovah and Allah together (a desire apparently held by some in this discussion) reflects a lack of proper Christian piety.

    Bottom line: I can respect the position that Islam and Christianity have significant agreement on important matters. I can even have limited respect for the claim that we worship the same God, IF it is made with an eye to securing other goods, such as forestalling atheists’ objections or gaining allies against liberalism. (This is largely Bonald’s position, I think.) But the claim itself must be rejected.

  32. Although I think I agree with Bonald on the factual point, Mr Roebuck’s point also seems to have something going for it. One can choose to express a truth in many different ways, and prudence may dictate one over another. One of the many things Catholic Traditionalists are tense about in the post-VII period is the shift from “Protestant Heretics” to “separated brethren.” You can (and should, I think) interpret these phrases to mean the same thing, but they have a pretty different ring, and they conduce to different attitudes and behaviors. Similarly, the change in the Good Friday prayer for the conversion of the Jews seems to me to have no substantial content—i.e. that the prayer means exactly what it always meant. But the atmospherics are very different.

    Whether these changes are good or bad is a prudential question.

  33. […] the god of Islam is also the god of Christianity and/or Judaism, you may wish to read the debate, Maverick philosopher on whether Muslims worship the same God.  When one considers that the arguments for the identification for this shared deity are presented […]

  34. […] Christianity and/or Judaism, you may wish to read the debate at Throne & Altar entitled “Maverick Philosopher on whether Muslims worship the same God.” When one considers that the arguments for the identification for this shared deity are […]

  35. […] Christianity and/or Judaism, you may wish to read the debate at Throne & Altar entitled “Maverick Philosopher on whether Muslims worship the same God.” When one considers that the arguments for the identification for this shared deity are […]

  36. […] Christianity and/or Judaism, you may wish to read the debate at Throne & Altar entitled “Maverick Philosopher on whether Muslims worship the same God.” When one considers that the arguments for the identification for this shared deity are […]

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