Doctrine is only the drawing of the bow; application is hitting the mark. —Thomas Manton
Christian media is reporting on President Bush’s recent assertion that all gods are the same. While it is unfortunate that the president would express this belief, bible-believing Christians should not be shocked; I believe many so-called Christians hold a universal view of God and religion (all religions are essentially the same and every living person is saved by one method or another).
Here’s the quote:
“Well, first of all, I 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. That’s what I believe. I believe that Islam is a great religion that preaches peace. And I believe people who murder the innocent to achieve political objectives aren’t religious people, whether they be a Christian who does that – we had a person blow up our – blow up a federal building in Oklahoma City who professed to be a Christian, but that’s not a Christian act to kill innocent people.
“And I just simply don’t subscribe to the idea that murdering innocent men, women and children – particularly Muslim men, women and children in the Middle East – is an act of somebody who is a religious person.
In his efforts to be politically correct, Bush makes a mockery of both Christians and Americans. Ask a Muslim to agree with Bush’s statement that their god, Allah, is the same god all other religions worship.
The teachings of Mohammed may be summarized in five doctrines:
(1) Allah is the one true God. (2) Allah has sent many prophets, including Moses and Jesus, but Mohammed is the last and greatest of all. (3) The Koran is the supreme religious book, taking priority over the Law, the Psalms, and the Injil (Evangel) of Jesus. (4) There are many intermediate beings (angels) between God and us, some of whom are good and others are evil. (5) Each man’s deeds will be weighed on a balance to determine if he will go to heaven or hell in the resurrection. The way to gain salvation includes reciting the Shahadah several times a day (“There is no God but Allah; and Mohammed is his prophet.”), prayer five times a day, a month of fasting each year, almsgiving, and a pilgrimage to Mecca. [Norman L. Geisler and Ronald M. Brooks, When Skeptics Ask (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1990), 130.]
Will a Muslim who repeats several times a day “There is no God but Allah; and Mohammed is his prophet” agree with President Bush’s theology?
Unfortunately, while Muslims would violently disagree with Bush’s theology, many Christians would not. In an era when theological absolutes make many Americans uncomfortable, it is far easier to agree that all religions are essentially the same. Again, this only plays into the Islamic worldview that Americans are weak, double-minded fools.
Is Allah the God of the Bible? Robert Morey observes that “there is a general consensus among Islamic scholars that Allah was a pagan deity before Islam developed. He was only one god among a pantheon of 360 gods worshipped by the Arabs. Even if he was at times viewed as a ‘high god’, this does not mean he was the one true God.” [Morey, Robert A., Winning the War Against Radical Islam (Orange, CA: Christian Scholars Press, 2002), 13.]
He then cites several sources to support this statement:
“The name Allah, as the Qur˒an itself is witness, was well known in pre-Islamic Arabia. Indeed, both it and its feminine form, Allat, are found not infrequently among the theophorous names in inscriptions from North Africa.” [Arthur Jeffrey, ed., Islam: Muhammad and His Religion, (New York: The Liberal Arts Press, 1958), p. 85.]
“Allah is a proper name, applicable only to their [the Arabs’] peculiar God.” [Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, 1:326.]
“Allah is a pre-Islamic name…” [Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, 1:117.]
“Allah is found…in Arabic inscriptions prior to Islam.”[Encyclopedia Britannica, 1:643.]
“The Arabs, before the time of Muhammad, accepted and worshipped, after a fashion, a supreme god called Allah.”[Encyclopedia of Islam, eds. Houtsma, Arnold, Basset, Hartman (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1913), 1:302.]
“Allah was known to the pre-Islamic Arabs; he was one of the Meccan deities.” [Encyclopedia of Islam, ed. Gibb, 1:406.]
“Ilah…appears in pre-Islamic poetry.… By frequency of usage, al-ilah was contracted to allah, frequently attested to in pre-Islamic poetry.” [Encyclopedia of Islam, eds. Lewis, Menage, Pellat, Schacht (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1971), 11:1093.]
“The name Allah goes back before Muhammed.” [The Facts on File: Encyclopedia of World Mythology and Legend, ed. Anthony Mercatante (New York, The Facts on File, 1983), 1:41.]
From a Christian perspective, the first question one should ask is “what does the Bible say about this issue?”
Exodus 20:5 “You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me.”
Exodus 34:14 “(for you shall worship no other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God),”
Deut. 4:24 “For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.”
Deut. 6:15 “for the Lord your God in your midst is a jealous God, lest the anger of the Lord your God be kindled against you, and he destroy you from off the face of the earth.”
The God of the Bible is in no way associated with the Allah, or any other god of this world. On this, both Muslims and Christians would agree. Yet, this is the message secularists would like us believe. A core belief in their worldview is diversity and their mantra is “we are all the same; we are all different; and truth is in the eye of the beholder.”
The Apostle Paul summarized the heart of man so eloquently:
21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.
24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves,25because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. [Romans 1:21-25]
Welcome to America.
Given my history with and around Independent Baptist (IB), this article posed an interesting question. As any IB Survivor knows, “essential” doctrine is anything your pastor says is essential. How many IB churches have “KJV Only” written into their church doctrinal statements? (Answer: too many.) How many IB churches insist that “doctrinal purity” demands they separate from other Christian brothers and sisters who hold to a strict biblical theology yet do not support many of the lifestyle standards (i.e. legalism) demanded by IB churches? (Answer: too many.)
Writer Paul Lamey offers some insight into what is considered “essential” doctrine. Lamey quotes Mark Dever’s simple test:
A Fourfold Test for Doctrine
- How clear is it in Scripture?
- How clear do others think it is in Scripture? (Especially those that you respect as teachers of God’s word).
- How near is it to the Gospel? (Or how near are its implications to the gospel itself?).
- What would the affects be doctrinally and practically if we allowed disagreement in this area?
To read the expanded article, click here.