On God and gods

A new year but still an old theological debate. By the time I wrote this many had already taken the task of answering this question and thank God, more people need to speak up about this. But it is going around so I will still add my two cents. Of recent the question “Don’t we all just worship the same God? The Jews, Christians and all their denominations and what about the Muslims? Isn’t it all the same God of Abraham? Aren’t we just looking from different vantage points reading slightly different descriptions? Haven’t you seen that tolerance and co-exist bumper sticker with all the world religions represented on it? Geez! Are we all approaching the same God who just seems to give different and conflicting marching orders to different peoples? Well with the rise of Radical Islam this is a good question to ask.This is not simply the case of Christians trying to be different for differences sake, these truths have gravitas, they carry meaning. As a famous person once said, ideas have consequences.

Well let’s look at it. Let’s get Biblical a moment. The word of God gives testimony about what we are supposed to believe, this is why we place such weight to what is written. This is why even the Qur’an calls Christians people of the book. So what does that book say? The Bible records for us the character and nature of God. It says:35.

The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. John 3:35,36

Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.” John 13:20

He who has the Son (Jesus) has the father, he who does not have the son does not have the father. 1 John 5:12

No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also. 1 John 2:23

This is even foretold in the Old Testament.
13. I saw in the night visions,and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man,and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion,which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.  Daniel 7

This is why Jesus frequently refers to himself as the Son of Man. In other words there is a sense in which the Jews are approaching the right God but attempting to worship him wrongly. But can this be said the Islam? Does simply the idea that Isaac and Ishmael shared a Father in Abraham mean that a religion that rose literally hundreds of years later that pays lip service to that God mean anything? Well I think we have to seriously look at what the teachings say? How is God described what does he ask of his people? And finally, this is the linchpin, what do they say about Jesus?

This is the issue. If they acknowledge that Jesus is the Christ, the messiah come into the world, God’s own son that shares nature with the Father then they are true, if not they are Antichrist. This is an explicit teaching of the Bible. No blogger can change this even if it wins friends and influences people. As creatures we have to come to God on his terms.

If God condescended and humbled himself to take on the form of a human being in order to testify that he himself had the keys to death and eternal life and that nobody could approach his father, who he is himself one with, then apart from his known message and offer of redemption, are we really being intellectually and theologically honest in arguing that another religion that is hostile to that  truth is the same thing?

If we have one math book that teaches that 1+1=2 and we have another math book that teaches that 1+1=3 then they cannot both be reliably teaching the same thing. Even if we were attending a conference on math solidarity and peace among mathematicians. I would hope that there would be enough integrity in the room for someone to stand up and say we have crossed over from math into silliness.

The Bible is explicit. Paul specifically makes the case that even if it was an angel was to appear to you and were to preach to you another gospel that they should be accursed. Why? Because it would be messing with the very revelation from God himself, the very revelation that teaches how to have peace with God. In other words God is not going to contradict himself and confuse his people, but perhaps his enemies will…

Go and read Islamic history. This is exactly the story of how it happened. An angel from “god” appeared and gave new and conflicting testimony. A good follower of the God of Abraham would have recognized the revelation as new and quite different and thus not from the true God. They already had other books not included in the cannon. A good follower of Christ would have further asked and what do you say about Jesus? Is he Lord and God? Well the answer is clear from the Qur’an, No! He was just another prophet from (same god?) of which now Muhammad is greater.

The Bible records Jesus saying of himself from the Gospel of John:”I am the way the truth and life no one comes to the Father but by me.” “I am the resurrection and the life.” “I am the gate, whoever enters through me will have eternal life.”and to prevent the idea of two Gods Jesus says of himself “I and the Father are one.” This is how we get the idea of trinity along with the Holy Spirit, 3 in 1. These are exclusive Christian truths that no Jew or Muslim will claim or stand for. We have to consider theology here. If Jesus was just another one in line of people who at one time or another was privileged enough to speak on behalf of god for a bit, he really is no better than Moses, Isaiah , Jonah or perhaps even Mohammad. Jesus really should not be saying the kinds of things he said. We shouldn’t be revering him the way we do and we should surely stop writing songs about the guy.

But God is a jealous God who will not share his glory with another. The writer of Hebrews writes:

The Son is the radiance of his glory and the representation of his essence, and he sustains all things by his powerful word, and so when he had accomplished cleansing for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. 4 Thus he became so far better than the angels as he has inherited a name superior to theirs. For to which of the angels did God ever say, “You are my son, today I have begotten you”? Or again, “I will be to him a father,and he shall be to me a son”? And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says, “Let all God’s angels worship him.”“He makes his angels winds and his ministers a flame of fire.”But of the Son he says,“Your throne, O God, is forever and ever the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom.

So Jesus is quite different from other men. Jesus is quite different even to the angels who owe him worship. This is not another prophet in line of the prophets. This man is God’s own Son who claims worship for himself. Jews recognized this which is why they put him on the cross. The Qu’ran cannot and will not claim this, in fact neither will the Jews. Listen to what the Apostle Paul says of him in Colossians 1:

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. In him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell,and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

If we want peace with our fellow man we need more than a bumper sticker understanding, we have to follow it to the source which is a man Jesus, we do not however pretend all our gods are the same. This is why Jesus came, anybody can use the word god and fill in the meaning. Hinduism literally has millions of them, our planets are Roman Gods fashioned after the Greek gods and Zeus, who was that thunder guy? We have lots of gods in our history, we are not short on gods. Just because someone in your ancestry has a common relative does not mean your gods are the same, especially with conflicting revelation.

This is why all the many denominations of Christianity share confessions and creeds. We hold that Jesus is the only begotten Son and that he and the Father are both one.  The spirit proceeds from them, their is one God with three persons we have a holy trinity. We have certain confessions that demarcate faith in God or something else. If we have these confessions in common so we can disagree on baptism and liturgy and music. This is why the counter argument that certain theologians also had different gods because they worship differently does not work. We have church history and heretic councils when their gods were actually different and wouldn’t you know it, it was about the theology.

If we agree, we can have many flavors on a Sunday morning as long as we honor Jesus Christ as Lord. When not? Well this is why Mormonism is considered a cult to Christians, they do not share the belief that Jesus is the unique and only begotten Son of God in the flesh worthy of all our worship. Interestingly enough their revelation was also given by an angel of which we were already warned about. This is why people who say they want Jesus or God but don’t like theology unfortunately do not understand how it works. Jesus gave us specific testimony that we either accept or reject. The Father (God) sent Jesus because he does care and specifically want us to believe and act in a certain way, it does matter. People will always create other ways to god and even gods themselves but the Father only recognizes the way of his Son. Certain things can never be denied or else we have 1+1=3 and only silly people will agree to live in such nonsense.

Jesus says I am the way the truth and the life no one can come to the father but by me. There is no other prophet who gives aid. This is why even Jews need the Gospel. This is why Christians who know their Bibles will never agree to a statement that we all worship the same god, it is not to be petty, it is not to be belligerent, it is because it is not a simply a question of method but of who is actually on the other end of those prayers.

Let’s stop arguing for solidarity when there is none, but gain a little understanding. Instead read the Bible and see who it is we actually are seeking or not. Find out who it is you are reaching for as Michelangelo painted. Because there are many gods out there, but there is only one true God. Maybe we should find out who he is.

thanks

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