TRANSCRIPT & COMMON GROUND archives back to July 2007
The Same God?
By Cal Thomas
Tribune Media Services
Whatever else his critics say of him, no one can fault President Bush for
failing to go the extra mile in his efforts to show that neither he, nor the
United States, is opposed to the Islamic faith, or to Muslim nations.
Last week, the president and Mrs. Bush hosted their seventh Iftaar Dinner,
the celebration that breaks the Muslim fast during Ramadan. Immediately
after 9/11, the president visited a Washington, D.C., mosque and proclaimed
Islam a ³religion of peace.² He has frequently said that terrorists are not
real Muslims, anymore than people who proclaim to be Christian and engage in
violence are genuine Christians.
The president is the most openly evangelical Christian and faithful
churchgoer since Jimmy Carter. And the evangelical community has mostly
embraced him and twice voted for him in overwhelming numbers. But that
constituency is likely to be troubled over something the president said in
an interview with Al Arabiya television. In an official transcript released
by the White House, the president said, ³ŠI believe in an almighty God, and
I believe that all the world, whether they be Muslim, Christian, or any
other religion, prays to the same God.² Later in the interview, the
president repeated his statement: ³I believe there is a universal God. I
believe the God that the Muslim prays to is the same God that I pray to.
After all, we all came from Abraham. I believe in that universality.²
To paraphrase a remark often attributed to the late Sen. Daniel Patrick
Moynihan, everyone is entitled to his or her own faith, but everyone is not
entitled to define the central doctrines of that faith. The doctrines of
what is called Christianity not only stand in stark contrast to Islam, they
also teach something contrary to what the president says he believes.
It is one thing to try to reach out to moderate and sincerely peaceful
Muslims. It is quite another to say the claims of your own faith are of no
greater importance than the often contradictory claims of another faith. If
we all worship the same God, the president should answer the call of Iranian
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Osama bin Laden, convert to Islam and no
longer be a target of their wrath. What difference would it make if we all
worship the same God?
Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry (carm.org) has created a useful
chart that shows the conflicting claims of classic Christian belief and
Muslim doctrines. It is worth studying whatever one¹s faith.
The central doctrine of the Christian faith is that God sent His Son, Jesus
Christ, to die for sinners and by repenting of sin and accepting Christ as
Savior, one is ³saved² and is guaranteed a home in Heaven. Muslims do not
believe God had a son and, therefore, no atonement for sin is necessary.
Muslims believe simply telling God one is sorry and repenting of sin is
enough, if one also lives up to the five ³pillars² of Islam. Furthermore,
according to Muslims, Jesus did not die on a cross (as Christians believe);
instead, God allowed Judas to look like Jesus and it was Judas who was
Evangelical Christians believe the Bible is God¹s Word and is without error
in the original manuscripts. Muslims respect the word of the prophets, but
claim the Bible has been corrupted (mostly by Jews) and is only correct
insofar as it agrees with the Koran.
God calls himself ³I Am² and says He is one, but with three personalities.
Muslims believe God¹s name is Allah and reject the Trinity.
How can the president say that we all worship the same God when Muslims deny
the divinity of Jesus, whom the president accepts as the One through whom
all must pass for salvation? Do both political parties have the same
beliefs? Are all baseball teams equal (clearly not, because only two will go
to the World Series)?
The president can be commended for sincerely reaching out to Muslims, but he
should not be commended for watering down his beliefs and the doctrines of
his professed faith in order to do so. That¹s universalism. There are
³churches² that believe in universalism, his Methodist church does not. No
Christian who believes the Bible believes in universalism. And No Muslim who
believes the Koran does either.
President Bush is wrong ‹ dangerously wrong ‹ in proclaiming that all
religions worship the same God.
(Direct all MAIL for Cal Thomas to: Tribune Media Services, 2225 Kenmore
Ave., Suite 114, Buffalo, N.Y. 14207. Readers may also e-mail Cal Thomas at
(c) 2007 TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.
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