Exploring the interplay between ortho-doxy (right belief) and ortho-praxy (right action)...

...and encouraging a life where these intertwined thoughts and deeds simply happen... by default.

27 November 2006

fighting over the god of abraham? (11-28-06)

U2 rocked Mt. Albert Stadium this past Friday.

In addition to providing exhilarating entertainment and much more, Bono - to the surprise of none - beat his drum of anti-poverty and world peace. Noble indeed. At one point, Bono donned a white bandana with the word 'Coexist' in black letters. The Crescent moon of Islam, the Jewish Star of David, and the Christian Cross in place of the 'C', 'X' and 'T'.

The idea is obvious and wonderful: These three world religions ought to be able to exist together without murdering each other. From the horrific Crusades involving all three, to the Nazi extermination of Jews (and others) in the name of Christ, to the more recent acts of terrorism by Muslim fundamentalists, the world has seen more than enough violence in the name of religion. To advocate peace is undeniably a good and desperately needed cause.

During this part of the concert, Bono pointed out that Jews, Christians and Muslims all claim Abraham as a father-figure and are happy to call themselves 'Sons of Abraham'. One phrase he used to drive this home was "Jesus. Jew. Mohammed. It's true."

The reaction from some of the Christian community has been quite interesting. Some see Bono as equating the three faiths, and others defend him as merely trying to advocate peace and using their common ground with Abraham to do so. At any rate, the following question has resurfaced in many conversations: Do Jews, Christians and Muslims worship the same God?

I'd like to answer the question with another: Do Christians, Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses worship the same Jesus? Whether we like it or not, the answer to these questions is both Yes and No.

On one hand, we can point to the basic, general things the faiths have in common. Jews, Christians and Muslims all share the same principles of monotheism (all 3 believe in One God), election (all 3 believe that God chooses a people to be His own) and eschatology (all 3 believe in a future hope of eternal life with God).

On the other hand, we can point to the many more ways in which they are different. The number of different beliefs is too many to list here, so I'll just focus on the one that is not only the biggest, but the most important - Jesus.

Jews believe Jesus was a good prophet and teacher, but far from Messiah, and anything but Lord of the Universe. Muslims believe that Jesus was 'a messiah' that will return to earth again, but don't see him as 'the Messiah' and certainly not as God incarnate.

The Christian faith centers on Jesus. He is the One Lord; of the One people of God; who have the One glorious hope of resurrection.

One of the great things about serving Jesus is that he doesn't ever ask us to kill in the name of religion. Though there are differences between Judaism, Islam and Christianity which will always separate us spiritually, we should have no problem coexisting with them physically.

I'll close by quoting the end of a discussion Jesus had with the Pharisees of his time.

"Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad." Then the Jews said to Him, "You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?" Jesus said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM." - John 8:56-58

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

A thought that comes to my mind after reading your article comes from I John 4: 1-3

1) Beloved Believe (not) every spirit, but try the sprits whether they are of God: Because many false prophets are gone out into the world.

2) Hereby know ye the Holy Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth (not) that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is (not) of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.

3) Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because Greather is He(JESUS) Who lives in you, than he that is in the world.

To me the main focus is on the spirit of anti-christ. Any religion or person who does that is proclaiming a spirit of anti-christ, in denying that Jesus came in the flesh and denies Him as The Son of God.

Also, in John 8:21 and 24 Jesus said to the unsaved, unbelieving religious Jews of His time:

John 8:21
Then said Jesus again unto them, I go My way, and ye shall seek Me, and shall die in your sins; whither I go, ye cannot come.

John 8: 24

I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye Believe not that I am HE, ye shall die in your sins.

So to me in the verses 21 and 24 of The Gospel of John shows that the Jews need to come to Saving Faith in Yeshua Jesus as much as the Gentiles. Because Hell is a real place, and everyone will (not) go to Heaven. (Ye shall die in your sins sounds pretty powerful and scary to me- nevertheless real.

That's why God The Father showed such awesome Mercy by sending His (only) one and Perfect Son to be willing to take the punishment for our sins which we all deserved, and to make a way for all peoples to be Saved.

II Peter 3: 9

The Lord is not slack concerning His Promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to usward, not willing or not wanting that nay should perish, but that (all) should come to Repentance.

But, still, even so, God gives us (all) a choice to choose for ourselves, whether we will accept or reject Jesus as our own personal Saviour from sin or not. He will never force us.

John 1:12

But as many as received Him, to them gave He Power to become the sons of God, even to them who Believe on His Name.

Again, Jesus says in Revelation 3:20

Behold, I stand at the door, and knock; if any man hear My Voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me.

The choice is ours whether we go to Hell or Heaven, and WHO we put our Trust in for our Salvation.

CHOOSE JESUS-- not only Saviour, but SOON coming KING.

Time is of the essence and time is very short. He's coming back again SOON! Are (you) ready?

Revelation 22: 20... surely I (Jesus) come quckly!

Revelations 22: 7

Behold I (Jesus) come quickly....!!!

Matthew 24: 27

For as the lightning cometh out of the East, and shineth even unto the West; so shall also the Coming of The Son of Man be!!!!

Choose Yeshua Jesus NOW while God's Door of Salvation is still open!!!

dale said...

Thanks for the comment...

Considering the priority given to the confession that Jesus is 'come in the flesh', I suggest that 1 John (or at least this part...) is written to challenge and warn against the Gnostic/Pagan 'Jesus'. The Gnostic community seems to have wanted to 'add' Jesus to their list of god/goddesses... In Greek/Roman thought, any 'god' that 'put on flesh' (think John 1 - by same author!) would instantly become corrupted... So, that Gnostic 'Jesus' would have been not the historical, biblical, real Jesus, but a fake, Greek, metaphysical Jesus, etc. John tags this belief as exactly what it was (and is...) - anti-Christ. Not so much un-belief, but anti-belief - so to speak.

In this sense, where contradictory teachings about Jesus are seen in Judaism and/or Islam, they can be indeed seen as being in the 'spirit of antichrist'...

For Jews to teach that Jesus was not the Messiah(the Christ), for example, is (quite obviously!) an 'anti-christ' teaching. It's a little more confusing with Islam, because they believe that Jesus was 'one of the Messiahs'. However, while Islamic teaching may not be 'antichrist' in the same sense as the Jewish denial of Jesus' Messiah-ship, I think it's correct to call their other teachings as 'spiritually anti-christ', because they make Jesus out to be someone other than who He is.

Regarding the rest of your comment, I offer these thoughts...

I do believe God is a personal God, but I fear we've become too individualistic in our thinking. For example, the phrase 'personal Saviour' is extra-biblical.

Also, your reference to Rev. 3, in context is not about salvation, but fellowship with God. It is framed within a warning to a church, not an individual. It is not saying, "open the door of your 'heart' so I can come in and you will be saved...", rather it is saying to the Laodicean church that their works are 'lukewarm', they have grown arrogant and they are un-aware of their spiritual poverty. They need to repent of this and turn to God afresh.

Just a few thoughts...

Take care...

-d-

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