Join 3,572 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Our God can beat up your God
November 24, 2003 1:26 PM   Subscribe

Alhamdullah. "I do say that freedom is the Almighty's gift to every person," the president replied. "I also condition it by saying freedom is not America's gift to the world. It's much greater than that, of course. And I believe we worship the same god." Apparently, this is causing no small amount of controversy in the Christian God-believing circles. I was always under the impression that it was commonly accepted that Jews, Christians, and Muslims were all working for the same Guy. So, Bush finally says something that's not completely stupid, and he gets all kind of hell for it. Great.
posted by majcher (55 comments total)

 
This sort of nonsense reminds me of the Woody Allen line. When someone reminded him that Einstein once said that "god does not play dice with th4e universe," Allen remarked, "No. He plays hide and seek."
posted by Postroad at 1:31 PM on November 24, 2003


Bush and Religion in the same thread? Uh-oh.

*dons helmet for impending shitstorm*
posted by jonmc at 1:32 PM on November 24, 2003


Here comes the pain.
posted by dazed_one at 1:36 PM on November 24, 2003


So, Bush finally says something that's not completely stupid,

No, I would say this was even more stupid than usual in that it is (1) politically stupid, alienating his hardest-core supporters and (2) contradictory to what he was taught in Sunday School (the one he started attending when he first wanted to run for office... he looked silly enough in that class full of eight-year olds, and now we realize he wasn't even paying attention!)

/ridicule
posted by wendell at 1:39 PM on November 24, 2003


Quoting from the article:

The Rev. Ted Haggard, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, also issued a statement contradicting Bush.

"The Christian God encourages freedom, love, forgiveness, prosperity and health. The Muslim god appears to value the opposite. The personalities of each god are evident in the cultures, civilizations and dispositions of the peoples that serve them. Muhammad's central message was submission; Jesus' central message was love. They seem to be very different personalities," Haggard said.


Yikes. I think its especially interesting how the Washington Post has chosen to punctuate this quote - note the capital G in Christian God but the lower-case G in the phrase 'Muslim god'. I wonder if that's straight out of the press release.....
posted by anastasiav at 1:43 PM on November 24, 2003


Goddamned religious people are completely shit-house insane.

An interesting theological debate!
posted by xmutex at 1:49 PM on November 24, 2003


Religious feelings are expressed differently in different cultures.

However, as a Catholic I follow the only religion founded by a Man without Sin. Jesus Christ was not merely a prophet, He was the Son of God, so that's why it's hard for Christians to accept that all religions were equally revealed. Of course Christians, Jews and Muslims share values like monotheism, charity etc, but the mystery of Revelation and the Grace of Christ's Passion and resurrection are very specific concepts that, imho, exclude the possibility that all religious beliefs could be seen as equal.
posted by 111 at 1:53 PM on November 24, 2003


You were expecting some kind of reasoned, rational dialogue from the God bullies? you might start by trying to convince them that the planet is more than 6,000 years old.
posted by 2sheets at 1:54 PM on November 24, 2003


Let's analyze that expression, "Worship the same god."

1. If there is truly a god, and there's truly only one god, then everybody who worships god necessarily worships the same god.

2. If there truly is a god corresponding to the christian faith, but one can worship a different god, then there necessarily must be more than one god. (interesting interpretation of "thou shall have no other gods before me" would hold that god himself is implying that other gods exist)

3. If there are no gods at all, then it is all spooky crap anyway

So if someone is offended by the "we all worship the same god" meme, then they either believe that there are no gods and are just pissed about the break from traditional partisanship (#3), recognize that there really are other gods besides theirs, and just resent the competition (#2), or they understand that the idea must be true since there is only one god, but think the "other guys" aren't doing the worship part right.
posted by yesster at 1:57 PM on November 24, 2003


See-
"but the mystery of Revelation and the Grace of Christ's Passion and resurrection are very specific concepts that, imho, exclude the possibility that all religious beliefs could be seen as equal."

Translation - "my god is better than yours. You worship a false god".

111, I have an great investment opportunity for you involving the transfer of funds from a Nigerian bank account.
posted by 2sheets at 1:58 PM on November 24, 2003


Personally I think since 9/11 Bush has said a lot of great things about religion-- especially given the kind of awful, divisive, and theologically incorrect things some of his most passionate supporters have said (see anastsiav's post above, for just one example of hundreds).

It was very important directly after 9/11 that Bush visted Mosques, spoke about the similarities between the monotheistic religions, hosted a Ramadan dinner, etc. While the world did not notice or care about these gestures, American Muslims did. While they may not by and large agree with his policies in the Muslim world, with polls indicating that Muslims will not support Bush in 2003 they way they did in 2000, American Muslims will tell you that Bush's general support and tolerance after 9/11 was a good thing.
posted by cell divide at 1:58 PM on November 24, 2003


111: Sure, there are parts of your religion that exclude other religions from being the "one true way", just as there are parts of Islam and Judaism that exclude Catholicism. I think what the whole "we worship the same god" movement/argument is about isn't so much that these religions are all equal paths to salvation, but rather that their common origin gives their followers a basis for mutual respect and coexistence. And isn't that what everyone really wants, anyway?
posted by samw at 2:06 PM on November 24, 2003


111, it's an interesting debate, one that I have with myself sometimes. I wonder, what would you say to someone who believes strongly in the teachings of Jesus, but not in the concept of the trinity or Jesus being the literal "Son" of God?

Jesus himself seems to have preached a message that encouraged people to see God in everything, and not necessarily be blown away by special concepts and mysteries. Furthermore, does Jesus himself delve into the details about being God's son, or is that something devised by those who attempted to explain Jesus' life to future believers?

I guess what I'm getting at is the idea that if one accepts Jesus as a prophet, isn't that enough within the realm that Jesus himself created? Or is it necessary to understand and agree with the man-made concepts used to explain the importance of Jesus?
posted by cell divide at 2:07 PM on November 24, 2003


111, User of the Year.
posted by xmutex at 2:14 PM on November 24, 2003


Um, cell divide, Jesus makes it pretty clear that he believes himself to be the son of God. Not only does he make direct references to being God's son, he describes himself using prophecies telling about the coming of the son of God. So it's hardly a "man-made concept" that came afterwards. Jesus' status of as the son of God is a key part of his teachings. This leaves you with 3 possibilities. Jesus was insane, Jesus was a fraud, or Jesus is the son of God. As a Christian I pick option 3. But it's somewhat illogical to say he was a prophet. He's either a liar or a nut, and therefore no prophet, or he's truthful, and therefore the son of God.

Getting back towards topic, the issue of whether Christians, Jews, and Muslims worship the same God is a bit thorny. Obviously, they both refer to the same idea, namely the worship of the God of Abraham. The problem is, when you have vast differences in how different religions perceive that God, is it the same God, really? In fact, if we agree that Christians and Muslims don't worship the same God, the debate doesn't end there. Do Baptists and Episcopalians worship the same God? How about moderate Muslims versus die-hard Fundamentalists? Or Hasidic vs. Reform Jews? There's always going to be a point at which you're going to have to arbitrarily decide that two faiths are too different to be talking about the same divine entity.
posted by unreason at 2:20 PM on November 24, 2003


"And I believe we worship the same god"

Interesting. Bush thinks the rest of the world prostrates and grovels before the corporate bottom line, his one true god.

Ooops...sorry about my capitalizations there (kudos to 111!)...I meant "prostrates and grovels before the Corporate Bottom Line, His One True God."
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 2:29 PM on November 24, 2003


So was everyone doomed to burn eternally in hell before Jesus was born? Seems like the universe and god were around long before Jesus came down.
posted by botono9 at 2:43 PM on November 24, 2003


"Or is it necessary to understand and agree with the man-made concepts used to explain the importance of Jesus?"

Have you stopped beating your wife yet?

i.e.: way to ask a loaded question, to answer it at all is to grant your statement that the concepts are man-made, a statement that no sincerely religious person would stipulate to.

Anyways.

I don't think this statement was stupid at all. It's right in line with Islamic theology, so to the extent that it's not immediately discounted in the Arab world because they're just more lies from the devil, it might get him a little influence. As for pissing off the Christian right, I'm sure they'll put aside piddling theological missteps in favor of a man that signs "defense of marriage" acts.

Yesster - come on, that's just silly. Muslims are not worshipping a trinitarian god and Catholics are not worshipping a unitarian god. Clearly if one is right, then the other is wrong, and the adherents of the wrong one are worshipping something that does not exist. Further, the trinitarian/unitarian distinction is hardly arbitrary.

Basically, here's how you make the distinction. Did the sects split on differences over the definition of god? Then they're probably not worshipping the same thing. Otherwise, they are worshipping the same thing, but disagree as to how best to go about it.

On preview: gee fold, you're so witty and insightful, truly your piercing insight and ability to ever even once talk about anything other than your like, obviously correct, duh, it's so obvious and anyone that disagrees is either evil or an idiot, axe-grinding worldview really adds alot to the place. What do you do all day, anyways? Alternate between screaming your rage at the walls, sobbing insensate on the floor, and posting comments to various blogs?
posted by kavasa at 2:45 PM on November 24, 2003


Seems like the universe and god were around long before Jesus came down.

Actually, according to most theology (and backed up by some comments Jesus made) Jesus coexisted with God from the beginning. His earthly life as a human was not the beginning of his actual existence, according to the Bible, at least.
posted by unreason at 2:50 PM on November 24, 2003


He should know.
posted by homunculus at 3:08 PM on November 24, 2003


Incidentally, that's "Alhamdullilah"

If you don't believe me, believe Google. 4410 results versus 393.
posted by scarabic at 3:11 PM on November 24, 2003


I think what the whole "we worship the same god" movement/argument is about isn't so much that these religions are all equal paths to salvation, but rather that their common origin gives their followers a basis for mutual respect and coexistence. And isn't that what everyone really wants, anyway?

All the mutual respect and coexistence in the world doesn't change the fact that a significant number of Christian fundies believe everyone other than followers of Jesus will burn in hell. I'm not even sure what "mutual respect" means in that context.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 3:17 PM on November 24, 2003


Translation - "my god is better than yours. You worship a false god".

111, I have an great investment opportunity for you involving the transfer of funds from a Nigerian bank account.
posted by 2sheets at 3:58 PM CST on November 24

111 told you his opinion regarding his religion which was part of the post. You don't seem to have one, so leave 111's alone. Alls your comment reflected was: I have a larger pointing finger than 111. Sorry, but knocking someone down so you can feel right is wrong.
posted by thomcatspike at 3:24 PM on November 24, 2003


One of the foundations for the Islamic belief is that Muhammad was the final prophet because the two prior religions of the book (Jewish and Christanity) messed up over time. They warped the message wrong. The main arguement why Christainity was wrong was that Jesus was thought of as the Son of God when in reality he was a prophet.

The whole "Christian God is love" is utter bullshit. Islam means submission to God's will. God is loving and compassionate and wonderful. You submit to God's glory and grace. How is this different for the Christian arguement where one talks about "knowing Jesus" or being "saved?" You are saved and you know Jesus (and the Christian God) because you submit to their teachings and beliefs. Muslims submit to Allah.

Christainity was suppose to replace the Jewish faith and Islam was suppose to replace them both. But God's will is all the matters and it is he who will decide how the universe will run, who will enter paradise, etc.

of course, that's if you believe in a god, or allah, or zesus, or jupiter, or ....

on preview: nice catch about the type face. I wonder if that is straight from the memo....
posted by Stynxno at 3:35 PM on November 24, 2003


unreason, what I meant was that while Jesus does indeed say he is the Son of God, he doesn't explain or expound on what that might actually mean. The trinity, the importance of God sending his only begotten son (the idea of being a truly 'begotten' son, for that matter), and other concepts relating to Jesus being the "Son of God" are all concepts that came about not by Jesus' direct teachings, but by people explaining Jesus to other generations. In other words, Jesus said he was the Son of God, but he didn't really delve into the details, leaving one the ability to interpret that in a variety of ways.

As for Kavasa, I think you and I would differ severely over the concept of a "sincerely religious" person. There are a great many Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Islamic and other thinkers who believe very strongly in God but believe institutions such as the Church/Temple and various applications of concepts and dogma are impediments to true religious knowledge. I would postulate that in the histroy of humanity, a great many more "sincerely religious" people have argued against or with most man-made (or man-described, if you prefer) aspects of theology than have accepted them at face value.
posted by cell divide at 3:53 PM on November 24, 2003


Good point, stynxno - I was kind of shocked to read that quote and find an evangelical claiming the christian god (my capitalization should even things out) does not demand submission. Is that what he's saying? Certainly sounds like a change in policy to me.
posted by Jimbob at 3:56 PM on November 24, 2003


Jesus quite clearly states that he was sent to this world to save people from their sins, and to be a sacrifice, which are the key concepts. I don't really want to get off track and turn this into a theological debate rather than a discussion on the similarity of religions, but if you look at what he said, and look up the context of the scriptures he quoted, he's actually pretty blunt about who He is.
posted by unreason at 4:08 PM on November 24, 2003


Incidentally, cell divide, we're illustrating our own point here, in a way.

Let's say you practice a belief system that looks upon Jesus as a good man. And I have one that looks upon him as the son of God. Do the two of us have the same belief system? It's sometimes difficult to know where to draw the line.
posted by unreason at 4:26 PM on November 24, 2003


unreason, I guess that's really the heart of what I'm getting at, although I would substitute "a good man" for "a divinely inspired man, son of God in a allegorical sense" in terms of the argument I was advancing.

I think in terms of belief systems, the word you use above, the answer would be "no," but in terms of us worshipping the same God, the answer would be yes. 10 years of Catholic school had the (perhaps strange?) effect of convincing me that Jesus' message was broad and powerful enough to encompass many different faiths, even if they aren't Christian and don't look at God the same way as Christians do. In that sense I think Jesus own description of what God is and what God does is the most powerful reasoning behind that argument.
posted by cell divide at 4:38 PM on November 24, 2003


I think it's natural in a way that Catholic school would have that effect. When you grow up in a fairly constant religious environment, and see both the good and the bad of that one point of view, you eventually start to think about other beliefs, and compare them to your own.
posted by unreason at 4:48 PM on November 24, 2003


Of course it's the same god--the differences come after...it's when you get into the Jesus/Mohammed stuff that problems arise. Muslims are very clear on that point, and the Christian bible includes the Old Testament, no? This actually was a pretty smart statement by Bush (that's definitely the first time i've ever said that). And I think it's clear that there are other gods, too--it's in one of the ten commandments for a start--but all 3 of these religions share the same god (which actually is a pretty good testimony for him/her/it) And don't all 3 religions share the idea that we are all god's children?
posted by amberglow at 5:02 PM on November 24, 2003


I'm sure they'll put aside piddling theological missteps in favor of a man that signs "defense of marriage" acts.

Worked for Clinton...
posted by inpHilltr8r at 5:34 PM on November 24, 2003


Christian scholars sometimes offer the logic that the bible can be interpreted very literally, because, if you allow that it is indeed the word of God, in essence, then you have to imagine that God guided its development, editing, etc. in such a way that would result in a perfect document.

This is a hilarious argument, since there is enough splintering in the Judeo/Muslim/Christian tradition to plunge our entire world into turmoil at present. What perfect development are they talking about?

It obviously DIDN'T make it straight from God's mouth to our ears, in any form, if millions of people on all sides are all equally convinced that their mututally-exclusive beliefs are the ONLY TRUE WAY. Wake up, friends. It's overwhelmingly likely that no one has all the mysteries of God and the spirit worked out to a T.

I'm sure every mushroom-worshiping tribe from the paleolithic era thought their religion was the only true one too. Do you have any idea how damned you are for not worshipping the Holy Shittake???

Ohhhm... holy shittake... Ohhhmmm... I bask in your grace....
posted by scarabic at 5:42 PM on November 24, 2003


Indeed, scarabic. If the (insert holy book of your choice) was truly the literal word of god, one could read it and, from the book alone, know how to "practice" the religion. This is impossible.

Try giving a copy of the Bible to your Shittakeites, tell them to read it and get back to you in a month on what they think it takes to be a "Christian". They would probably initially come away with a lot of ideas about growing beards and not eating certain animals, and they would be confused about the contradiction between Thou Shalt Not Kill, and the large list of crimes punishable by death. Having read the New Testament, the religion they come out practicing certainly wouldn't look like any modern form of Christianity. They would want to know why Paul gets so much of a say about things when Jesus is the one who's supposed to be the son of god. And I'm quite sure that when they get through Revelations they'll be convinced it was all a joke.

Despite fundamentalists of all persuasions claiming the "literal" truth of the bible, all three Abrahamic religions as practiced today are influenced 95% by the thoughts and directions of mortal humans.
posted by Jimbob at 6:10 PM on November 24, 2003


Just so we're clear: you do understand that Landover Baptist is a parody site, right?
posted by SPrintF at 6:36 PM on November 24, 2003


name one major religion that interprets the bible in a literal way.
posted by sgt.serenity at 6:57 PM on November 24, 2003


sgt: they don't. They just say they do.
posted by Jimbob at 7:05 PM on November 24, 2003


The extremity of the theolgical debate this post has spawned seems bizarre to me.

I dislike GW Bush's policies to the extreme, but I have to respect his statement in question.

All I can say is: The release of human brain growth factor (which mediates the growth of neurons and neuronal connections) is triggered by 1) social interaction, 2) learning, 3) travel (among the major factors) . So the position of a US president is a "perfect storm" for the release of incredible amounts of human brain growth factor.

Meaning - Mr Bush's brain, much like the Grinch's heart, has been growing lately. Let's hope it keeps on growing.
posted by troutfishing at 8:24 PM on November 24, 2003


quick! everyone join hands and sing! Fa Hoo Dor Ay, Fa Hoo Dor Ay... : >
posted by amberglow at 8:36 PM on November 24, 2003


ambeglow - good song. Fa Hoo Dor Ay, Fa Hoo Dor Ay...!
posted by troutfishing at 8:51 PM on November 24, 2003


ot: speaking of the great and mighty Seuss
posted by amberglow at 9:01 PM on November 24, 2003


yesster - you're missing out on some important outcomes.

1. They can't admit their god is a mad god, thus creating different and contradicting messages, rules, religions. See Gnosticism for more info.

2. They can't admit their god is a limited god.

3. They can't admit to deism.

4. They can't admit to atheism, if they can't accept the above.

Lots of cognitive dissonence to go around, kids.

Saying 'we all worship the same god' is empty PC monotheism. Its a good way to keep the crowd happy, well excepts for the skeptics and pantheists.

"Religion is what the common people see as true, the wise people see as false, and the rulers see as useful"
--Lucius Annaeus Seneca
posted by skallas at 9:30 PM on November 24, 2003


What would Supply Side Jesus do?
posted by homunculus at 9:34 PM on November 24, 2003


>I'm sure every mushroom-worshiping tribe from the paleolithic era thought their religion was the only true one too.

Of course, and at the time it probably helped keep early humans banded together and increase tribal lore and knowledge, but in the post-scientific world there is no real need for religion other than comfort lies.

Disagree all you want, but when political leaders purposely ignore the differences between religions like Bush did its condescending and fractures religious solidarity. Imagine if an average Xtian decided to call his god Allah for a year. Would his churchmates think its just fine or would they have serious concerns about who he is worshipping and about his 'eternal fate?' I'm sure 99% of the time its the latter.
posted by skallas at 9:34 PM on November 24, 2003


Ohhhm... holy shittake... Ohhhmmm... I bask in your grace....
posted by homunculus at 9:54 PM on November 24, 2003


Heh... are you people still banging on about this God chap?

</Buddhist>
posted by Blue Stone at 2:58 AM on November 25, 2003


I don't think it's ignoring the differences so much as recognizing a common element, skallas--and call it condescending or pc if you like, but it's actually true, and a valuable thing to remember.
posted by amberglow at 4:54 AM on November 25, 2003


I think the only way to guarantee that whatever particular religion you choose is the right one is to make one up yourself.

on that note, perhaps some of you would be interested in joining my new christian denomination? I may have told y'all about it before...it's called "sweetism." basically you get to do what you want and you still get to go to heaven. everyone gets to go to heaven regardless of whether they believe in sweetism or not so you don't have to worry about handing out tracts or telling it from the mountain or anything. if you were a bad person and the people already in heaven take issue with you, then they can vote you out, at which point you don't go to hell but just cease to be aware for all eternity.

the only catch is that you can't watch reality tv shows. there's no negative consequences to doing so, I'm just asking you not to as a favor between prophet and disciple.
posted by mcsweetie at 5:44 AM on November 25, 2003


if you take away the christian part and do some snazzy magic tricks, i'm in, mcsweet ; >
posted by amberglow at 6:03 AM on November 25, 2003


all this time I have been a sweetist and didn't know it. wow.

Forgive me father, for I have watched Queer Eye. And lo, I have giggled at Carson's quips. Will I ever be redeemed?
posted by whatnot at 6:49 AM on November 25, 2003


In other news, Mr. Bush - in an unusual and bizzarely abortive quip - told members of the Iraqi General Assembly :

"America has brought you freedom and.....let me tell you about freedom. Someone once said, 'Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose'......er, I mean 'having the choice to choose' "

posted by troutfishing at 7:20 AM on November 25, 2003


John 14:2

In My Father's House are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you.
posted by y2karl at 7:25 AM on November 25, 2003


yrkarl - I think John doth protest overmuch.
posted by troutfishing at 8:01 AM on November 25, 2003


if you take away the christian part and do some snazzy magic tricks, i'm in, mcsweet ; >

JESUS ok fine! but only because I owe you one! (???)

all this time I have been a sweetist and didn't know it. wow.

cool! it's always a blast to run into a fellow sweetist.

Will I ever be redeemed?

no
posted by mcsweetie at 1:39 PM on November 25, 2003


A muslim perspective on the Trinity.

One God. One love.

Feel the love y'all.

Eid Mubarak,

Mossy
posted by Mossy at 2:31 PM on November 25, 2003


« Older Lost Lives...   |   The 1911 Encyclopedia,... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments