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Different Abrahamic Gods

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How many Abrahamic Gods are there?

Rick Warren, the evangelical megapastor with an irenic bone in his body, has for years engaged in seriously friendly relations with the Muslim community living in his Southern California subdivision. But a recent article about this in the Orange County Register disturbed some of his Southern Baptist co-religionists by stating that he has "embarked on an effort to heal divisions between evangelical Christians and Muslims by partnering with Southern California mosques and proposing a set of theological principles that includes acknowledging that Christians and Muslims worship the same God." So Warren, concerned as always to protect his right flank, has sent an interview to the SBC's Ed Stetzer sayiing it ain't so.

QUESTION: Do people of other religions worship the same God as Christians?

WARREN: Of course not. Christians have a view of God that is unique. We believe Jesus is God! We believe God is a Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Not 3 separate gods but one God. No other faith believes Jesus is God. My God is Jesus. The belief in God as a Trinity is the foundational difference between Christians and everyone else. There are 2.1 billion people who call themselves Christians... whether Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, Pentecostal, or Evangelical... and they all have the doctrine of the Trinity in common. Hindus, Muslims, Jehovah's Witnesses, Christian Science, Unitarians, and everyone else do not accept what Jesus taught about the Trinity.

Perhaps it was an oversight that Warren did not include the Mormons among the non-trinitarian "everyone else." But I'm more interested in the Jews. Certainly they do not accept "what Jesus taught about the Trinity." So it would seem that, as Warren understands it, Jews and Christians worship different Gods.

This makes some theological sense but it also leads in some odd directions. Thus: Christians worship the God of Abraham. So far as the Bible tells us, however, Abraham knew nothing of the Trinity. So even as they worship the God of Abraham, Christians do not worship the God that Abraham worshiped. And given that Jesus was a Jew who worshiped as a Jew, I've got to believe that Jesus too worshiped a different God than the God the Christians worship. Of course, Muslims also worship the God of Abraham, but like Jews, they do not embrace the unique view of God that trinitarian Christians have. Evidently, then, Jews and Muslims worship the same God, though in different ways. Kind of like evangelicals and Catholics. Unitarians are in with the Jews and Muslims, Mormons not so much.

When evangelicals seek "what Jesus taught about the Trinity," they tend to turn to John 14:26: "But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you." Whether that equates to the formula agreed on by the Nicene fathers may be debated, but more liberal types are likely to cite verse 2 of the same chapter as signalling a more inclusive version of the faith: "In my Father’s house are many mansions." For my part, I don't think there would have been the same outcry in Southern Baptist circles had Warren been quoted as claiming that Christians and Jews worship the same God. If Judeo-Christian is good and Chrislamist is bad, it's more for cultural than theological reasons. It all depends on who you think should live in the mansions.

Beliefs: Interfaith
Tags: abrahamic religions, rick warren

Comments

  1. The problem may be more one of semantics than of substance. We believe in one God, the father almighty, etc, includes the phrase “one God.” Whether that God meets Unitarian views or Trinitarian views is a matter of interpretation of the characteristics of that one God. It is the same God, just a different spin about that God.

    I do not think any self-labelled Jew, Christian, or Muslim thinks there is more than one god, with different religions for each such god or at least a half dozen of them, and my God is bigger and badder and gooder than the other five. There is only one God, and all people who worship a seems-to-them transcendental all-powerful entity are worshipping the same God. We just have lots of different understandings about that God, different understandings of what that God is like, and of what that God’s interactions with humans have been.

  2. Should have said “bigger and badder and better” so as to have 3 b’s.

  3. I don’t think it’s semantics so much as the difference between identifying different views of God versus identifying different Gods. Which do you do when you worship?

  4. I’m one of Jehovah’s Witnesses and we are Christian. The first century Christians (who were taught by Jesus himself) didn’t believe in a trinity. They knew that Jesus was Jehovah’s son. The trinity doctrine didn’t come about until the 300’s at the Nicean Creed….look it up…:-)
    Jesus is my Saviour but Jehovah is my GOD….and yes, he is the GOD of Abraham.

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