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COLUMN archives back to April 26, 1999

TRANSCRIPT & COMMON GROUND archives back to July 2007

The Same God?

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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

crucified.


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

tmseditors@tribune.com.


(c) 2007 TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.

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