Monday, August 20, 2007

Call God Allah?

In the Sunday Poughkeepsie Journal I read in Kathleen Parker’s column (page 11A, August 19) about a Dutch Catholic bishop who suggested that we all start referring to God as Allah. He believes it would ease tensions with Muslims. What a ridiculous statement!

I’m sorry, but when I see such ignorance and naiveté from somebody in a responsible position, I can’t help but get incensed. I can see such a suggestion coming from a far left liberal Protestant, but a Catholic bishop? I wonder what the pope is going to do with this bozo.

What’s scary about such a suggestion is that its goal is to appease Muslims at the expense of Christianity. Now there is nothing wrong with the word “Allah” if you are Arabic-speaking. It is the Arabic word for God, and Arabic language Christian Bibles use the word “Allah” where our English language Bibles say “God.” But to suggest that non-Arabic speakers call God “Allah” is to put Islam above Christianity, saying, in effect, Allah is superior to God, and ipso facto, superior to Jesus Christ. Where does that leave Christianity, which is based on the uniqueness of Jesus who died for our sins?

Moreover, the Islamic concept of Allah is quite different from the Christian concept of God. As Ms. Parker pointed out in her column, Christianity and Islam are both monotheistic religions (along with Judaism) but they don’t necessarily worship the same God. So for non-Arabic speaking Christians to start using Allah is to essentially buy into the Islamic understanding of Allah and to deny the traditional Christian belief in the Triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In the Qur’an Islam specifically rejects the Trinitarian understanding of the godhead (Sura 4:168-173).

Typically Westerners are naïve when it comes to enemies they don’t know or understand, and Bishop Muskens is a good example of this. Chamberlain took an appeasement approach with Hitler, and it led to the conquest of most of the continent by the Nazis. Appeasement doesn’t work, especially when you are dealing with fanatics whose sole reason for being is terrorism, conquest, violence, and power. Simplistic and naïve solutions won’t work because you are dealing with fanatics whose lives are devoted to destruction of the western way of life, who are coming from a position the God is on their side, who keep looking back to history to justify their aggression, and who are convinced their way is far superior. That is a dangerous combination, and compromising our own faith will do nothing except help their cause.

Perhaps we Christians should repent and turn back to GOD, the God we have been abandoning to our own detriment. Listen to what 2 Chronicles 7:14 tells us:

If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. NRSV

If we turn back to our God, then God will be with us. If we don’t, then we may find ourselves in some sort of Babylonian captivity just as the people of Judah experienced because of their unfaithfulness.

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