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One's God Or One God?
December 2, 2003 3:38 AM   Subscribe

One Nation Under God(s): George W.Bush unwittingly restarted an old theological debate. Is the God that the Jews, Christians and Muslims worship the same God? Or to be more accurate; notwithstanding the different forms of worship and beliefs, is it the same God in different guises? Fundamentalists in all three monotheistic faiths tend to disagree. For other believers - to ruthlessly simplify - God is necessarily one. Either way it's still a fascinating question (possibly not only for religious folk) and has important consequences in an increasingly divided and antagonistic world. What's it be? One God or one's God?
posted by MiguelCardoso (107 comments total)

 
*puts on asbestos suit*

I believe that the Christians and Jews worship the same one, and that the Muslims' Allah is someone/something else.
posted by konolia at 3:46 AM on December 2, 2003


I believe it's all the same God, however believing in the same god doesn't mean that people have to like each other. For example take Protestants and Catholics, I'm pretty sure all sides will agree it is the same God, but that hasn't stopped violence and bloodshed in the past.

The true question of course is what God thinks about it: which religion is the right one?
posted by sebas at 4:07 AM on December 2, 2003


How about "No God."

<bored all ready>
posted by Blue Stone at 4:12 AM on December 2, 2003


And what you have to keep in mind is that all the books and stories related to these gods are a few thousand years old, went through a few translations and are mostly a written down version of stories told from generation to generation. It's not a recipe for accurate storytelling.
posted by sebas at 4:13 AM on December 2, 2003


I believe that the Christians and Jews worship the same one, and that the Muslims' Allah is someone/something else.

What you "believe" is irrelevant. The fact is that Allah is the Arabic word for "the God," which is used by both Arabic-speaking Christians and Muslims to refer to their respective deities.
posted by jonp72 at 4:14 AM on December 2, 2003


"What you believe" is ultimately the most relevant. All that we know or can know about god or God or Allah or Jaweh or any of his/her/its thousand names is filtered through human minds. In other words, beliefs. Atheism is a belief as are all the funamentalisms and so on. The question is, What are we gonna do about it? Or is it even relevant to talk about "we"?
posted by donfactor at 4:23 AM on December 2, 2003


i believe that engaging seriously in this sort of debate is prima facie evidence of mental illness.
posted by quonsar at 4:27 AM on December 2, 2003


What you believe is almost certainly that there is no god God or that yours is the only true God and that the others are all heathens.

Yeah, it's an oversimplification, but that's what this game is about, right?
posted by twine42 at 4:30 AM on December 2, 2003


besides, anyone can clearly see, it's the one same god, who suffers from multiple personality disorder brought on by early childhood ritual sexual abuse.
posted by quonsar at 4:31 AM on December 2, 2003


One world, one people, one ring God to rule them all.
posted by nofundy at 4:53 AM on December 2, 2003


"What you believe" about other people is ultimately what's standing in the way of gaining actual understanding.
posted by Space Coyote at 4:55 AM on December 2, 2003


Now my opinion would be irrelevant, since as a non-monotheist, I think the whole question is pointless. But I am interested in why people think the way they do.

So what about it, konolia? Is this an opinion or an article of faith? And is there anything biblical behind it?
posted by anewc2 at 5:00 AM on December 2, 2003


"allah" is pretty obviously a cognate of "eloha" (aka: "elohim" of OT fame), so I'd say yeah.
posted by RavinDave at 5:11 AM on December 2, 2003


It's completely unfalsifiable whether the metaphysical being worshipped by Christians and Jews is the same metaphysical being worshipped by Muslims. However, there are statements made about Muslim theology in this forum, which are completely false. Muslims themselves believe that their god is exactly the same god as the deity worshipped by Jews and Christians:

And dispute ye not with the People of the Book, except with means better (than mere disputation), unless it be with those of them who inflict wrong (and injury): but say, 'We believe in the revelation which has come down to us and in that which came down to you; Our Allah and your Allah is one; and it is to Him we bow (in Islam). (XXIX: The Spider: 46)

The use of "Allah" in this passage shows that Allah is a generic term for a deity, not a proper name. In addition the "Our Allah and your Allah is one" indicates that Muslims believe they share the same god with Christians and Jews, but Christian and Jews merely worship that god in the wrong way. I'm not a Muslim by any means. I just think it's fair that we represent people's beliefs accurately.
posted by jonp72 at 5:14 AM on December 2, 2003


The true question of course is what God thinks about it: which religion is the right one?

Well said, sebas. Though (if further proof were needed you're probably right) I believe that God, as the creator and, in that horridly modern but useful word, enabler of everything and everyone (and specially of free will), judges everyone not according to their religious beliefs but according to their behaviour towards each other. I'm sure a well-meaning and ethical atheist or satanist ranks far higher than a fundamentalist cretin who ill-treats, hates or feels superior to fellow human beings - however observant the believer might be.

Different beliefs, like political opinions, are God's way of allowing everyone to live their own life and choose their own principles. The only thing that matters is trying to be good towards others - strangers, specially - by realizing that we're all the same and nobody, prima facie, is better than anyone else.

It's all about acts, not words or beliefs. I'm an Orthodox Jew and we're constantly reminded that, although we ended up by being "chosen", God first asked everyone else. To no avail. We were the last resort, as no one else would accept or even countenance all that was asked. In any case, all monotheistic religions are "sons of Abraham" - but that is a detail. If you believe in all all-poweful God, even monotheism is a detail.

Religion is like a favourite colour or piece of music. "Your favourite band sucks" applies entirely. God gave us infinite variety - including the variety where God had nothing to do with it.

In other words, the Commandments make sense - whether or not you believe in God. Hillel's summary - don't do to others what you'd dislike others to do to you - says it all. And applies to all. Whether we're able to follow it or not, allowing for our frequent lapses, is what really matters.

Imho, of course!
posted by MiguelCardoso at 5:20 AM on December 2, 2003


[from Miggy's link:]
Jerald F. Dirks, The Cross & The Crescent
. . . with the single exception that the Hebrew uses the plural of respect, "Al-Ilahi", for which "Allah" is a contraction, and "El-Elohim", the Hebrew translated as "God" in the English version of the Old Testament, are absolutely identical terms in two closely related languages. -- p.178

Clearly, the roots of the delusion are shared.
posted by dash_slot- at 5:22 AM on December 2, 2003


What if God announces at the last minute that he's a Zoroastrian and that 99.99999% of the world is going to Hell for not believing the true faith?
posted by jonp72 at 5:28 AM on December 2, 2003


If I believed in gods, I would agree with Miguel.

As I don't, I will know think of clever ways to mock him and his beliefs.
posted by signal at 5:31 AM on December 2, 2003


I'm down with Quonsar.
The whole thing seems insane to me. "Is my abstract concept of an omniscient being the same guy as yours?"

It's lightly horrifying to me that people treat this like a serious issue. Nothing beats religion for robbing my faith in humanity.
posted by Leonard at 5:37 AM on December 2, 2003


Religion is like a favourite colour or piece of music.

I await the deaths of millions in the wars that are yet to erupt between those who disagree on the artistic merits of Boyz 2 Men.

Religion has been and continues to be a force for evil unrivaled in its bodycount on our little dirtball. I'll have none of it, personally, but if yours is untribal, then, hell, you're welcome to your beliefs.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:43 AM on December 2, 2003


I can't think of anything more meaningless than people lining up in this thread to state "I believe they're the same" or "I believe they're different." Surely you have some reason for believing one way or another—share those with us! (Some, to be fair, have presented a case, linguistic or otherwise.)

Religion is like a favourite colour or piece of music. "Your favourite band sucks" applies entirely.

So what's the point? Favorite color is a relatively meaningless, relatively transient product of my relatively transient particular neuronal structure; it shares no boundary with truth. Do we sit around trying to convince other people that they should worship aquamarine with us? It's trivial, surely. Some people act as though their beliefs in and of themselves are important and fascinating (and valid!) and so feel no need to explain or justify them; this reeks of narcissism to me.
posted by rushmc at 5:54 AM on December 2, 2003


Don't forget that Jesus is a prophet of Allah in the Koran, and is mentioned more times than Mohammed (or so I am led to believe). Near-Eastern monotheist religions share the same historical roots, in any case.
posted by nthdegx at 5:56 AM on December 2, 2003


The only thing we know for sure about this issue is that all three gods are very very bad at communicating and very very good at inspiring prejustice and violance. This would tend to make me think it's really the same God. Otherwise one would stand out (since all three claim to be the one trtue God). That is, how can a false God (something simply made up) be as presuassive as the real God? If one can't differenciate then it must be the same God.
posted by y6y6y6 at 6:03 AM on December 2, 2003


rush: miguel's point, I think, was that which particular brand of religion you choose is irrelevant ("a relatively meaningless, relatively transient product of my relatively transient particular neuronal structure"), and that people will (or should) be judged based on their actions towards other people.
posted by signal at 6:03 AM on December 2, 2003


I think the real question is, does it actually matter whether they believe in the same God or not?

Pop culture tends to say, "Hey, man, we're all the same," but meanwhile, Jews, Muslims, Christians, etc., all have fundamentally different beliefs and doctrine. There's nothing intrinsically wrong with being different. The point of diversity should be to embrace and accept differences, not to try to prove that everyone's the same.

Yeesh.
posted by oissubke at 6:10 AM on December 2, 2003


"you will know them by their fruit, for an evil tree cannot bear good fruit; and a good tree cannot bear evil fruit"

based solely on this, it appears that all of the major religions of the earth have been won over by Satan . . . Jesus warned us about this, too . . . something about how the angel of darkness can make himself appear as an angel of light . . .

So, yes, the religions all serve one god, and his name is Satan.

Their fruits show this to be so.
posted by yesster at 6:14 AM on December 2, 2003


Did you know that God's name is ERIS, and that He is a girl?
posted by signal at 6:17 AM on December 2, 2003


IF YOU DON'T SEE THE FNORD IT CAN'T EAT YOU, DON'T SEE THE FNORD, DON'T SEE THE FNORD . . .
posted by monju_bosatsu at 6:24 AM on December 2, 2003


Seems to me the problem lies in anthropomorphizing God. We may say we are created in his image, but we spend an awful lot of effort and shed an awful lot of blood casting him in ours
posted by ElvisJesus at 6:24 AM on December 2, 2003


Do peo-le still take this nonsense seriously? I still believe in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy, but god I gave up when I discovered he short changed me on good parking places in Provicetown, Cape Cod.
posted by Postroad at 6:29 AM on December 2, 2003


rushmc: If it all (almost, as conversions are a rarity) depends on which culture you're born into, then my point stands. If one believes in one God, surely the place you where born or the education you received is irrelevant. Variety is the spice of life and non-belief is just as varied as belief.

One could even argue that atheists in Christian-influenced cultures, knowing little about Judaism or Islam, are specifically non-Christian atheists.

Judaism, I'd argue, is different inasmuch as it's non-proselytizing, i.e. discourages evangelism and even easy conversion. An important part of the Torah is that all human beings, whether Jewish or not, have the same place in life and the after-life - they need only follow the Noachide laws.

Which basically correspond to basic morality and are really easy to follow, btw.

The problem with Christianity and Islam, for the Jews, is that they seek to convert and discriminate between those that follow the faith and don't.

In any case, the Noachide laws have been integrated into the civil, secular rule of law anywhere.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 6:29 AM on December 2, 2003


I see this thread has not been skallased, I await with baiting breath.
posted by johnnyboy at 6:32 AM on December 2, 2003


I await with baiting breath - posted by johnnyboy

In any case, the Noachide laws have been integrated into the civil, secular rule of law anywhere....

The Children of Noah are the Gentiles[it says here], comprising the seventy [count them"] nations of the world. They are commanded [by whom?] concerning the Seven Universal Laws, also known as the Seven Laws of the Children of Noah or the Seven Noahide Laws.
These Seven Universal Laws pertain to:
1. Avodah Zarah: Prohibition on idolatry. [Madonna's of any flavour better watch out!]
2. Birchat HaShem: Prohibition on blasphemy and cursing the Name of G-d. [Christ!! I'm done for]
3. Shefichat Damim: Prohibition on murder. [Golden rule applies here, so, I'll buy it!]
4. Gezel: Prohibition on robbery and theft. [Ditto]
5. Gilui Arayot: Prohibition on immorality and forbidden sexual relations. [Ahh, now see, here we can interpret till the cows come home by themselves...]
6. Ever Min HaChay: Prohibition on removing and eating a limb from a live animal. [Hmm...specific, isn't it? Still, just because I don't wanna eat any part of a live animal, doesnt mean another culture - like the Masai, say - finds it immoral. Tough one that.]
7. Dinim: Requirement to establish a justice system and courts of law to enforce the other 6 laws. [The rule of law. I never knew it was a Jewish invention. Hang on - "to enforce the other 6 laws"... is this mainly or only for ecclesiastical laws then? I can't be fined for a parking violation? Good. Dem religious judges can be damn harsh y'know...]
posted by dash_slot- at 6:56 AM on December 2, 2003


How about "No God."

YES! Germs are awesome.
posted by mcsweetie at 7:02 AM on December 2, 2003


This is what I remember from back when I studed this, and correct me if I am wrong:

All three worship the same god---the god of Abraham; the Garden of Eden dude. Let's call him Bob.

All three worship Bob, but what explains their differences is which prophets they listen to.

Jews listen to Moses, the first prophet, for their interpretation of Bob's message, but recognize Jesus as a second (lesser) prophet.

Christians listen to Jesus for their understanding of Bob, who they believe to be the son of God, but recognize Moses as a prophet.

Muslims listen to Mohammed for their beliefs about Bob. They recognize two lesser prophets: Moses and Jesus.

So the dispute between the religions is not over Bob, but who to listen to as the explainer of Bob.

It's isn't a question of which god to believe in; it's which prophet to believe.
posted by Seth at 7:07 AM on December 2, 2003


The Blind Men and the Elephant by John Godfrey Saxe.

"And so these men of Indostan disputed loud and long,
Each in his own opinion exceeding stiff and strong,
Though each was partly in the right, and all were in the wrong!"


It's the same God. It is Man's perception that is in error. God's never wrong. The fault belongs to each of us; Muslim, Christian and Jew alike.

I have faith in God. I place no faith in Man's perception of God. That includes my own perception.

"Imagine there's no countries, it isnt hard to do,
Nothing to kill or die for, no religion too..."

posted by ZachsMind at 7:08 AM on December 2, 2003


Seth: "Let's call him Bob..."

"...Bob and Jesus are on the same side. They're just not playing quite the same game."
- Rev. Ivan Stang
posted by ZachsMind at 7:11 AM on December 2, 2003


But my Jewish friends dont think that Jesus has arrived yet do they? And isn't Jesus himself one third of a God (trinity) for my christian friends? If this is the case, then in theory atleast, my Jewish and Christian friends can not possibly have the same God!!!

Seth: Muslims do not consider Jesus, Moses and any other prophets from the time of Adam to be any lesser than Muhammad. Muslims consider Muhammad to be the final prophet though.
posted by adnanbwp at 7:12 AM on December 2, 2003


Your 'jewish friends' as you described them do believe that Jesus existed, but they do not believe he was the Messiah. Some accept that he was a prophet. There are even some who call themselves "jews for Jesus" but that's just another way of saying jewish converts to the Christian faith.

It should also be pointed out that for some jews, being a jew is more than just a religion. It's a culture and a heritage. Judaism is not so much into conversion as Christians and (to a slightly lesser extent) Muslims are. True jews are born into the faith. They welcome converts to Judaism, but they do not overtly push their beliefs. Evangelism and Mission work is largely a Christian effort. Among Muslims I've only noticed extremist organizations actively recruit people to their cause. There may be exceptions of course, but in my observations, moderate religious interests tend to provide and encourage religious tolerance. It's the more extreme zealots in all three faiths which cause consternation.

The crux appears to be Abraham. All three faiths believe in Abraham, but he had two sons and one son's descendants involved one faith, and the other son involved the other son. I can't remember which is which off the top of my head, but all three faiths agree that Moses was a prophet.
posted by ZachsMind at 7:25 AM on December 2, 2003


"the other son involved the other son..."

Uhm... I meant the other son involves the other faith. The caffeine hasn't kicked in yet this morning.
posted by ZachsMind at 7:26 AM on December 2, 2003


Are double posts really the same post, just on different days?
posted by majcher at 7:28 AM on December 2, 2003


i think we should just bomb them all
posted by 11235813 at 7:40 AM on December 2, 2003


What does a dyslectic agnostic do?
He wonders if there is a dog.

But seriously, folks - discussions are a tool, ideally a tool to use reason and logical arguments to reach a conclusion.
Unfortunately, the concept of religion lies outside of logic and reason, hence all discussions about religion are futile.

If I really wanted to know what Jews, Muslims or Xtians believe, I'd just ask any one of them. But I don't, so I won't.
posted by spazzm at 7:46 AM on December 2, 2003


Bombing has already been tried, as have other forms of genocide. Religions are at least as stubborn as insects. You can't destroy them. Maybe some scientist could develop some kind of repellant in spray form? That'd be useful when they come knocking on my door giving away pamphlets.
posted by ZachsMind at 7:48 AM on December 2, 2003


I was just about to say that, majcher : >
Or maybe God (who's the same one for all 3) wants us to discuss it again?
posted by amberglow at 7:51 AM on December 2, 2003


Can't we just skip the pointless debate, and move straight on to the killing of each other?
posted by Blue Stone at 7:56 AM on December 2, 2003


miguel's point, I think, was that which particular brand of religion you choose is irrelevant

Then why choose? And why do the adherents of the different religions themselves disagree with you so strongly?
posted by rushmc at 8:10 AM on December 2, 2003


I think all religions are the same - the manifestation of a very primitive instinct to be part of a 'flock', and to absolve oneself of a certain amount of personal responsibility for ones situation.

But the basic teachings of all major world religions (fuck not with thy neighbour) are pretty sensible and probably a good thing for people to learn. The tendancy for unscrupulous leaders to invoke God in their personal crusades is always what's caused problems.

So assuming people need to follow, and will do what they are told - what could replace religion and do a better job?
posted by cell at 8:12 AM on December 2, 2003


If it all (almost, as conversions are a rarity) depends on which culture you're born into

With this assumption, you are admitting a hugely random component of belief. I understand that you then go on to say that it's precisely because of this random element that one should not be penalized for one's choice of religion, but it would perhaps be even more fundamental to question the choice itself if its very compellingness is based so largely upon randomness.

One could even argue that atheists in Christian-influenced cultures, knowing little about Judaism or Islam, are specifically non-Christian atheists.

Not if one accepts the original premise that all three religions are variations on the same fundamental theme.

Judaism, I'd argue, is different inasmuch as it's non-proselytizing, i.e. discourages evangelism and even easy conversion. An important part of the Torah is that all human beings, whether Jewish or not, have the same place in life and the after-life - they need only follow the Noachide laws.

Then why is marrying outside the faith such a big issue in Judaism (or at least among many of its practitioners)?
posted by rushmc at 8:15 AM on December 2, 2003


rushmc:
why choose?

Most people don't, in fact, choose a religion. The ones who do choose do it for their own personal reasons, I suspect. You'd have to ask them.

why do the adherents of the different religions themselves disagree with you so strongly?

Because they believe themselves to be in posession of the One Only Truth.

why is marrying outside the faith such a big issue in Judaism?

Not wanting new converts obviously does not preclude people from not wanting to lose the correligionaries they already have.
posted by signal at 8:30 AM on December 2, 2003


rush, you're forgetting the fact that very few tribes of any kind want their children to marry members of other tribes, whether it's religious, ethnic, or racial. Marrying out is a big deal to all tribes. (We do talk about it a lot tho, bec. there are so few of us jews in the world)
posted by amberglow at 8:52 AM on December 2, 2003


The crux appears to be Abraham. All three faiths believe in Abraham, but he had two sons and one son's descendants involved one faith, and the other son involved the other son.

This is correct. The Jewish Abraham had among his children two sons, Ishmael, who was born to his wife's Egyptian handmaiden Hagar, and Isaac, who was born to Abraham's wife Sarah. The story can be found in Genesis chapter 20, and judging from a quick Google search, it's also in the Torah and in the Koran. So I don't know why any Muslim, Jew or Christian would believe that they worship different Gods, since it's in all their scriptures.
posted by orange swan at 9:00 AM on December 2, 2003


The Jewish Abraham had among his children two sons, Ishmael, who was born to his wife's Egyptian handmaiden Hagar, and Isaac, who was born to Abraham's wife Sarah. The story can be found in Genesis chapter 20, and judging from a quick Google search, it's also in the Torah and in the Koran. So I don't know why any Muslim, Jew or Christian would believe that they worship different Gods, since it's in all their scriptures.

Ah, but you see, Abraham was a very common name at the time, as were Sarah, Hagar and Isaac.
posted by PigAlien at 9:09 AM on December 2, 2003


Boy there must be a Jesus Christ, this subject is being resurrected.
posted by thomcatspike at 9:14 AM on December 2, 2003


Miguel: "... don't do to others what you'd dislike others to do to you - says it all."

Really? So if I'm a masochist, I can abuse you without fear of reproach?
posted by mikhail at 9:15 AM on December 2, 2003


One of these days, a MetaFilter debate is going to resolve an issue once and for all. I'm sure of it.
posted by oissubke at 9:16 AM on December 2, 2003


gods suck
posted by yesster at 9:18 AM on December 2, 2003


The Jewish Abraham had among his children two sons, Ishmael, who was born to his wife's Egyptian handmaiden Hagar, and Isaac, who was born to Abraham's wife Sarah. The story can be found in Genesis chapter 20, and judging from a quick Google search, it's also in the Torah and in the Koran. So I don't know why any Muslim, Jew or Christian would believe that they worship different Gods, since it's in all their scriptures.

Ishmael - son of Abraham - was not born to Abraham's wife, but to her servant.

This is in the book that tells us not to commit adultery....

This would be hypocrisy to me, were I a believer. Surely it's hypocrisy to Christians, Jews & Muslims?
posted by dash_slot- at 9:37 AM on December 2, 2003


wasn't Sarah unable to have kids, so she sent him to Hagar, and then afterwards, was able to get pregnant herself or god made her fertile or something? (kinda like what happens with people who adopt bec. they can't have their own, and then are able to have their own)
posted by amberglow at 9:43 AM on December 2, 2003


Adultery in the Torah is only sleeping with a married woman. Not hypocrisy, just sexist. :)

My Orthodox Jewish teachers beleived that the Muslims worshiped the same God as we did, but that the Christian concept of the Trinity was a little too close to idol worship for them.
posted by callmejay at 9:46 AM on December 2, 2003


Oh, that's OK then. It's 'Absolutely No Adultery*' (Some Exceptions Apply) *Definitions available on request. I never saw the small print before... (",)
posted by dash_slot- at 9:49 AM on December 2, 2003


1. All gods are the same to the extent that they don't exist.
Having a discussion over whether these non-existent entities are the same or different, is like arguing over whether Spider-man can kick the shit out of Batman.

2. Even if gods existed, they wouldn't be half as cool as "Bob".

3. Yes, Batman gets to keep the utility belt.
posted by Reverend Mykeru at 9:57 AM on December 2, 2003


Who the fuck cares? I mean, seriously?

Isn't it more of an issue that our leaders, who profess to love Jesus Christ, pervert his teachings by waging war and ignoring poverty? Is this not a complete and total paradox, much like using Allah to justify blowing yourself up and taking a city bus or shopping mall with you?

You can't profess to love your supreme being and ignore it at the same time. That's just stupidity. That's your head being so far up your ass that it comes out the other side.

Atheists aren't perfect, but at least we're damn consistent.
posted by PrinceValium at 9:58 AM on December 2, 2003


The real question here, of course, is:

Is Spiderman wearing his regular suit or the alien, sentient one?
posted by signal at 10:07 AM on December 2, 2003


PV for President!!
posted by dash_slot- at 10:15 AM on December 2, 2003


And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.

Isaiah 2:3-4 (KJV)


Put that into your crack pipe and smoke it, Dubya.
posted by PrinceValium at 10:28 AM on December 2, 2003


The Gospel according to Zappa
posted by ElvisJesus at 10:43 AM on December 2, 2003


the Christian concept of the Trinity was a little too close to idol worship for them.
The Trinity: God the Father, God the Holy Spirit, God the Son, Jesus Christ. Where is the idol worshipping? Praying and bowing to a statue, Mother Marry, and or reliving JC's crucifixion every Sunday, that I could see.
PS, notice outside the USA: a Christian person may= one whom attends a Catholic Church. In the USA: a Christian person may= one whom believes in Jesus Christ.
posted by thomcatspike at 10:58 AM on December 2, 2003


My Christian neighbors here in central Texas believe that I am doomed to eternal damnation because I do not believeth that Christ is the son of God. I wish that journalist would have asked Bush if all Muslims are going to hell since they do not believe in the divinity of Christ. This is one of the central tenets of the Christian faith and surely the most divisive. How do you think Bush would have answered?
posted by ALvard at 11:22 AM on December 2, 2003


PS, notice outside the USA: a Christian person may= one whom attends a Catholic Church. In the USA: a Christian person may= one whom believes in Jesus Christ.

tcs, are you saying that in the US, catholics do not believe in Christ? surely, in the usa - as anywhere - a christian person must believe in JC (not may)?
posted by dash_slot- at 11:23 AM on December 2, 2003


dash, it's just that people here separate Catholics and Christians (the Christians want to distance themselves or something?)
posted by amberglow at 11:27 AM on December 2, 2003


You more or less need the congitive dissonance of God being all mono-theistic Gods or you'll have to admit one of the following:

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

This is a double post btw.
posted by skallas at 11:29 AM on December 2, 2003


Oops. How embarrassing. It is a double post - and, not only that, almost identical to majcher's. Apologies to all. :(
posted by MiguelCardoso at 11:55 AM on December 2, 2003


Thank you amberglow. The perception doesnt make it very logical, tho - I mean, if one accepts the definition of christian as "one who believes in the divinity of christ" (or words to that effect), then surely catholics are a subset of christians, not a different set.

secondly, dear ole tcs and his original way with our language,
this quote is ambiguous: "In the USA: a Christian person may = one whom believes in Jesus Christ." Even with your qualification above, amberglow, this statement makes it seem like tcs is under the impression that for us christians, belief in christ is optional!

Converting the soft "may" to a hard "must" merely turns the sentence into my definition of christian, (above). See what I mean?
posted by dash_slot- at 12:03 PM on December 2, 2003


Spider-Man would totally kick Batman's ass any day, because Spidey is an actual superhero with super powers, and Batman is just a disturbed rich guy with neat toys.
posted by majcher at 12:13 PM on December 2, 2003


dash_slot, it never uses the word "adultery." It talks about coveting your neighbor's wife. Pretty un-ambigous, that. There's plenty of hypocrisy around, but your example is a bad one.
posted by callmejay at 12:19 PM on December 2, 2003


And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.

Isaiah 2:3-4 (KJV)


Put that into your crack pipe and smoke it, Dubya.
posted by PrinceValium at 1:28 PM EST on December 2



You may be interested to read Joel 3:9-10 :

"Proclaim ye this among the Gentiles; prepare war, wake up the mighty men, let all the men of war draw near; let them come up: Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruninghooks into spears: let the weak say, I am strong."

To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.
posted by konolia at 12:24 PM on December 2, 2003


It's usage, dash--I usually refer to them separately. While Catholics came first and Christianity grew out of it (Luther, etc), Christians don't answer to Rome, or ever publicly join with Catholics in anything (as far as i've seen), and many "media Christians" (falwell, graham, bob jones univ., etc) denigrate Catholicism. There's a distancing from Catholics and Catholicism that many Christians do here that may be different from other countries. But I should let a Christian explain : >

also, Batman would win, precisely because of the dark, disturbedness of him
posted by amberglow at 12:26 PM on December 2, 2003


callmejay:
Really? What is the 'it' you are referring to? The bible, or the Torah?

Is 'covetting' a more or less serious offence, or sin, than adultery?

amberglow:
I understand the usage. It reminds me of the way that UK/England/Britain are used interchangeably by many americans. Common usage does not change reality - catholics are clearly christian. The english are clearly british. But not all (christians/british) are (catholic/english) - even if most are (in a global sense, this is true).
posted by dash_slot- at 12:57 PM on December 2, 2003


tcs, are you saying that in the US, catholics do not believe in Christ?
(the Christians want to distance themselves or something?)

dash & amber. Never discussing a denomination or an actual church, saying "I'm a Christian" European assumption was that I belonged/attended the Catholic Church. The same also happens in the USA with Jews. I point it out showing how the world may think. I should probably say I'm an Orthodox Christian so there is no confusion.

In the UK are both a Protestant and a Catholic considered a Christian?
posted by thomcatspike at 1:03 PM on December 2, 2003


catholics are clearly christian. The english are clearly british. But not all (christians/british) are (catholic/english) Ok.
posted by thomcatspike at 1:09 PM on December 2, 2003


In the UK are both a Protestant and a Catholic considered a Christian?

I would say so, yes.
posted by dash_slot- at 1:22 PM on December 2, 2003


tcs - that's only by non-catholics - american catholics think of themselves as christian, i also think it's only by evangelical christians, but, not being an anglican or whatever I can't really say. i have evangelical irish relatives (don't ask) and they don't consider catholics christians.

i think it's a way to put catholics down, and say they are heretical, etc.
posted by goneill at 2:01 PM on December 2, 2003


I just say that technically Christians, Jews, and Islams worship the same God, but it doesn't matter because he doesn't exist.

Doesn't win over the family at the holidays, though, I tell you what.
posted by nath at 2:22 PM on December 2, 2003


No, Jesus Is My Personal Savior.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 2:40 PM on December 2, 2003


it's just that people here separate Catholics and Christians

I've never heard of Catholics being considered non-Christian. The Catholic/Christian distinction you are making is one I have always seen as Catholic/Protestant, where both are subsets of Christianity.

Perhaps you are thinking of the term "born-again Christian?"
posted by rushmc at 4:18 PM on December 2, 2003


[comic book store guy mode on]

Even The 60 Year Old "Dark Knight Returns" Batman Could Kick Spideys Ass. Batman Is Like A Fusion Of Bruce Lee & Sherlock Holmes. If He Cant Beat Your Ass With His White Tiger Kung-Fu He Will Sure Get Ya With His Cunning Intellect.

[comic book store guy mode off]

Oh Cheeseburgers & loneliness... What A Dangerous Combination ;/

BTW SUCKKKKAHHHHHS
This Is My 50th Comment Post Extravaganza

BOO-YAH!
posted by Dreamghost at 4:48 PM on December 2, 2003


I believe the working definition of "Christian" is one who professes belief in the teachings of Christ, regardless of whether he/she seems to follow them or not. If we accept this definition the fact that someone who claims to be a Christian says someone else is not Christian is really irrelevant. Anyone can claim the title if they profess belief, and certification by others is not necessary.
posted by orange swan at 5:11 PM on December 2, 2003


I've never heard of Catholics being considered non-Christian.
Separating Catholics and Christians is not the same as considering either of them non-Christian. In American public discourse, and in private life, Catholics are spoken of as "Catholics," and "Christians" is a term that means a member of all the other kinds of Christianity excluding Catholicism (except for Mormons, i think). We've gotten better at clearly delineating who's what, but still use the catch-all term (see the "Christian nation" post on the front page right now--that's not referring to evangelicals or any one sect but an encompassing "Christianity" that doesn't include Catholics)

--and on preview what orange swan said too (except when people use the term they rarely if ever speaking in a catholic sense) ; >

waves at Dreamghost : >
posted by amberglow at 5:17 PM on December 2, 2003


(except for Mormons, i think).

I can vouch for that. Lots of people are willing to consider Catholics as being Christian, bu they draw the line with us. :-)
posted by oissubke at 5:50 PM on December 2, 2003


i was thinking of you when i said that too, oissubke : >
do you guys want to be lumped in with all the other Christians?
posted by amberglow at 5:52 PM on December 2, 2003


I can't speak for everyone, but it seems to me that most just don't care. It's a semantic issue. There's not that much of a point in debating whether someone should include someone else in their definition of a word. When a Christian says "you're not a Christian," what is typically meant is "I'm Christian, and I have different beliefs than you do, ergo you must not be Christian."

Given a choice of checkboxes, I'd pick "Christian" over "Other (Specify)". But I'm not going to waste hours of inevitably pointless debate trying to convince someone whom I have no chance of convincing. Why bother? :-)

Besides, arguing about religion (or semantics, for that matter) does have certain similarities to the Special Olympics....
posted by oissubke at 8:08 PM on December 2, 2003


Spider-Man would totally kick Batman's ass any day, because Spidey is an actual superhero with super powers, and Batman is just a disturbed rich guy with neat toys.

You're a gentleman and a scholar, majcher. Thanks for the leeway - it was an outrageously double post but there were a lot of comments worth saving here.

posted by MiguelCardoso at 9:04 PM on December 2, 2003


I absolutely refuse to get sucked into yet another religion comment, but I have to chime in on the Batman thing.

Batman wins, because he's Batman. Sentient suit or not, Batman always has a way to beat you - even if you're Superman (who, I think we all can agree, would kick Spidey's scrawny ass without really even thinking about it). That's just the way it is.

Hmm, maybe this is a religion comment after all.
posted by yhbc at 9:47 PM on December 2, 2003


Why is it that the most fervent, self-assured and unwavering statements in this thread are all from people claiming to be far too enlightened to believe in God?

(just an observation, my alleged beliefs at this moment not entering into it.)
posted by Space Coyote at 10:40 PM on December 2, 2003


How could Batman possibly beat Superman, you paint-sniffing neocon dirtball?
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 12:40 AM on December 3, 2003


thanks for the definition dash, I feel the veil of ignorance being lifted from my eyes. However I meant baiting as opposed to baited.
posted by johnnyboy at 1:58 AM on December 3, 2003


Can we sort out the whole Santa Claus thing next, please? If there's only one of him, how come there are so many different names for him, and so many differing accounts of his appearance, origins, and modus operandi? In fact, some folk even differ about his/her gender. And don't even think about starting the whole 'real/not real' debate, or we'll be here until, um, christmas.
posted by chrid at 3:56 AM on December 3, 2003


In American public discourse, and in private life, Catholics are spoken of as "Catholics," and "Christians" is a term that means a member of all the other kinds of Christianity excluding Catholicism

Again, I've never seen this, so YMMV. In my experience, Catholics are spoken of as "Catholics," Methodists are spoken of as "Methodists," Baptists as "Baptists," and they are collectively referred to as "Christians."

Forget Spiderman/Batman. The interesting question has always been who would win a footrace: Superman or the Flash (there have been at least 4 different comics attempting to answer this question).

Touche, chrid.
posted by rushmc at 5:38 AM on December 3, 2003


Superman has never struck me as being particularly intelligent. I think Batman could take him down.
posted by oissubke at 5:50 AM on December 3, 2003


And the new Batman is Christian Bale, who once played Jesus in a mini-series. So yes, Batman and Jesus are the same God.
posted by Summer at 6:32 AM on December 3, 2003


.....who happens to look like Christian Bale, which almost makes me want to convert.
posted by Summer at 6:33 AM on December 3, 2003


who happens to look like Christian Bale, which almost makes me want to convert

- not convent.
posted by johnnyboy at 8:14 AM on December 3, 2003


How could Batman possibly beat Superman, you paint-sniffing neocon dirtball?

Is Superman a liberal and Batman a reactionary? Is it the butler; the unrelenting "broken windows" policy; the materialism? These nuances escape us furriners. Please, Ignatius, let me know! I'd love to see a right-left spectrum of super heroes. Fwiw, I dislike Batman and am a strictly non-Nietzschian Superman fan.

Is Superboy gay?
posted by MiguelCardoso at 8:28 AM on December 3, 2003


I have begun to suspect of late that the money which appeared under my pillow whenever I lost a tooth as a young lad was not, in fact, left there by any sort of rabbit or hare, fluffy-tailed or non-fluffy-tailed, and was, rather, craftily placed in said position by either my mother or father or, most likely, by both in a concerted attempt to trick me.
I will keep you informed as new information surfaces to clarify this shocking revelation.
posted by signal at 3:30 PM on December 3, 2003


Is Superboy gay?
Well, he's really too dull, but there's homoeroticism galore on Smallville.

Batman is tho, miguel (that whole "young ward" thing was just a cover) ; >

and signal, remind me to tell you about who really gives you presents during the holidays...
posted by amberglow at 3:37 PM on December 3, 2003


So to sum up the thread:
"Jesus was a black man. No, Jesus was Batman. No, that was Bruce Wayne"

Ignatius: Batman could beat Superman by exploiting his weaknesses, particularly his reticence to kill and his vulnerability to kryptonite, as in 'The Dark Knight Returns'.

Personally I would suggest that both Superman and Batman are reactionary, their only difference being that Superman allows himself to be used as a tool of a national system while Batman enforces his own brand of law, which perhaps puts Superman ahead slightly, but in the end, has either achieved real system change?
posted by biffa at 5:01 AM on December 4, 2003


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