The Same God?

Jeffrey Weiss, at CNN Belief Blog, has a post up today about the “do we worship the same God?” question — that is: Do Jews, Christians and Muslims believe in the same God, or is their faith oriented to the same object, even if they understand and worship that God differently?

What do you think? Why?

The “same God” question is one theologians have hammered at for as long as there have been enough religions for the query to make sense.

The question is hardly academic, though. In fact, a number of politicians, religious leaders and scholars have expressed hope in recent years that a convincing answer on the God question might dampen the violence committed in His name.

Last year, for example, Yale Divinity School theologian Miroslav Volf edited a book titled “Do We Worship the Same God? Jews, Christians, and Muslims in Dialogue.”

In the introduction, Volf explained why the title question matters:

“To ask: ‘Do we have a common God?’ is, among other things, to worry: ‘Can we live together?’ That’s why whether or not a given community worships the same god as does another community has always been a crucial cultural and political question and not just a theological one.”

On the other hand, there’s CNN Belief Blog contributor and Boston University religion professor Stephen Prothero. His book on this subject is titled “God Is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions That Run The World.”

Prothero writes:

“For more than a generation we have followed scholars and sages down the rabbit hole into a fantasy world where all gods are one … In fact this naive theological groupthink – call it Godthink – has made the world more dangerous by blinding us to the clash of religions that threaten us worldwide.”

In the world of politics, President George W. Bush asserted the unity side of the argument more than once in the years after the 9/111 attacks – often as a way to deflect accusations that America was at war with Islam.

Bush told Al Arabiya television, “I believe there is a universal God. I believe the God that the Muslim prays to is the same God that I pray to. After all, we all came from Abraham. I believe in that universality.”

Pope John Paul II drew from the same rhetorical well several times.

“We believe in the same God, the one God, the living God, the God who created the world and brings his creatures to their perfection,” he first said in a speech to Muslims in Morocco in 1985.

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  • Stephen W

    Do christians even follow the same God as one another?

    Which I guess is a way of saying, is the God we follow defined by our core theological beliefs or by how we view his character?

  • As we have this conversation — we probably need to distinguish between God as God and our conceptions of God. As Volf suggests — if Christians say that they don’t worship the same God as the Jews, then what do we do with Jesus. If we say we worship the same God as the Jews, who don’t embrace the Trinity — then how do we exclude Muslims? These aren’t easy questions to answer — but if all three faiths affirm the God of Abraham, then can we not say that at least in some fashion we do worship the same God.

  • Joel Frederick

    I was thinking the same thing

  • Andrew Dowling

    I believe the conceptions of God among sects calling themselves Christian can be so radically different as to make the larger question setting up false dividing lines. We forget that just as Christianity has such diversity, Judaism and Islam within themselves have groups with very different God conceptions . . .there are sometimes more similarities across religious lines than within depending on the groups we’re talking about.

  • Gotta go with Prothero on this one. I read his book about a year and a half ago and he hit it the nail right on the head: Statements that disregard the differences in religion do not do justice to the different teachings of each religion. There are different conceptions of G/god(s) in every religion, so to flatten them out is eventually to a disservice to many religions.

    Is God Trinitarian? If we say yes, then we lean in the Christian thought. If we say no, that excludes historical orthodox Christianity. We cannot affirm and deny certain theological ideas without differences occurring.

  • scotmcknight

    Andrew, in bigger perspective this is little more than variations on a similar theme, and not a different God. Yes, the God of some liberals and some fundamentalists differ dramatically, but among classic orthodox a Christian view and a Jewish view and a Muslim view are seriously at odds while those within the fold of Christian orthodox are variations of the same.

  • scotmcknight

    I agree…

  • linji

    Perhaps the question is not whether we believe in the same God –

    Jas. 2:19: You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.

    Perhaps we should wonder who is being worshipped:

    John 4:21d-24 a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know;we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

  • nickgill


    One of your commenters quoted John 4, and I wonder if the kind of thinking that Jesus discusses there plays into our current situations as well?

    “You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know.” Are modern Jews and Muslims in the same position that the Samaritans were in the 1st century? Those who have submitted to the Messiah, and to the God Jesus reveals in himself — do they “worship what they know” while those who reject Jesus as Messiah may still worship the God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, but “worship what they do not know” because they reject His self-revelation in Christ?

  • scotmcknight

    Nick, Yes, a fair and useful analogy…

  • Andrew Dowling

    Among what a people profess, yes. But actions/’fruits’ (which spring forth from how one conceives of God) beats out verbal professions any day of the week in my opinion. Things like the meaning of the Trinity or the Davidic Messiahship (is that a word?) I contend aren’t really items of everyday focus for the majority of Christians or Jews, for example. The more basic questions (what is the nature of God or Godly justice? What moral framework do I follow to imitate God/receive His grace?) are far more fundamental to how people live out their lives. While I do believe there is a difference whether or not one makes their framework to be Jesus (I still am a Christian) I don’t think that profession is necessarily the dividing line for those aforementioned basic issues. For example, I see more similarities between fundamentalist Calvinists and variations of Islam than I do with some other branches of Christianity. That it claims the cross and Jesus doesn’t automatically put it on the same ‘team’ with other Christians.

  • scotmcknight

    The issue of the post is about profession.

  • Tom F.

    As both Volf and Prothero suggest, the question is as much sociological as it is theological. Theologically, I’m with Prothero, but sociologically I’m with Volf.

    I can’t help but notice that the answer to the sociological question (Can we live together?) seems to drive the theological question. Is that the best way to do theology?

  • I think we’ve fairly well proven, as a species, that it isn’t “the best way to do theology”. Christians have the parable of “the mote in your brother’s eye and the plank in your own”, which leads to the Protestant (and Muslim!) declaration that “no man stands between another and God”. If we, individually and collectively, believe that, then it follows that while we feel a spiritual and moral obligation to share our beliefs with others, we have the practical (and also moral) obligation to understand that they feel the same way about us. Therefore, absent the kind of literal, neutral proof as to who’s “right” that would render faith of all sorts utterly meaningless, our best way forward is undoubtedly to learn to live together. We agree on the things we can; discuss the things we’re not sure of our mutual positions on; and agree to disagree on the rest pending (later) arbitration by a Higher Power.

    The alternative is an endless neo-Crusade that goes back and forth, tearing down any sort of civilisation and civility that may once have existed until we’re just bouncing the rubble over and over again. And I strongly doubt whether that’s consistent with anyone’s theology.

  • Same God.

    I read God is Not One; really good book. (Really informative; I knew very little about the Yoruba religion before reading it.) Even so: I consider the differing Christian, Jewish, and Muslim ideas of God simply that, differing ideas about the same being. We Christians see God through the lens of Jesus. They see him through other lenses—and if Jesus is right, it means they see him wrong. But looking through the wrong lens doesn’t mean you’re looking at a different guy.

  • Ladye Rachel Howell

    I work in Christian ministry in rural Africa in an area that is predominantly folk-Islam, and while I am very well aware that a lot of people disagree about this and do not wish to offend them, I generally believe on an academic level that the three Abrahamic religions are worshiping the same God (which is, of course, a whole discussion in itself).

    However, on a Kingdom level, I also believe that if you randomly question 10 different adherents from each of those three religions, it’s possible that you’ll come up with 30 different gods for 30 different people, if you’re talking about what/who they’re actually adoring in the hearts, what stories they’re living by, what drives their passions an their daily choices (money, power, other people’s opinions, religious rule following, nationalism, consumerism, etc.)

    And while the academic discussions are important, I tend to think the Kingdom-level ones matter more. “Faith” is different that “Religion,” and it’s very helpful to clarify which is being discussed.

    My thoughts on this have also been shaped by a paragraph in C.S. Lewis’ The Last Battle where Aslan has a conversation with a Calormene soldier who has served the evil god Tash his whole life. Aslan basically says that whatever good, kind, and beautiful thing you did in the name of Tash you truly did in service to Me, even if you did not know it. All evil deeds are done in service to Tash, even though some might say they’re doing them in service to Aslan, and all good deeds are done in service to Aslan, even if the doers do them in the name of some other God.

    Which, for all the admiration Lewis gets from Evangelicals, doesn’t sound very Evangelical!

    I do not wish to communicate that I think it doesn’t matter what we think or believe – I think it matters a lot, and the beautiful truths that Jesus came to invite people into God’s New Kingdom and that in Jesus’ death and resurrection God defeated sin, death, and satan so that we may also be resurrected someday to join Him in the New Heavens and New Earth are why I live where I live and do what I do. The truths or lies we believe in our heads matter, and can help or harm us a lot.

    But I would generally say that someone who is living a Kingdom life of loving God and neighbor is following the God Jesus came to show us, even if the details are different.

  • Amanda B.

    In Luke 10:16, Jesus declares “He who rejects Me rejects Him who sent Me”. All throughout the book of John, Jesus clashes with the Jewish religious leaders, claiming divine status and flatly informing them that they have never known God (John 8 in particular).

    That sounds like pretty exclusive stuff to me. If receiving Jesus means receiving God the Father, and if knowing God the Father means you also know Jesus for who He claims to be, then I don’t see how Christians can conclude that religions which diminish and/or reject Jesus can be talking about/praying to/worshiping the same God as us.

    This is complicated with Judaism in that Christians are only Christians because the Jews have received their Messiah, and Gentiles have also been grafted into and made partakers of the promises to Israel. Our salvation, Jew and Gentile alike, is summed up in the Jewish Messiah who fulfills in Himself every promise Yahweh made to Israel in the Old Testament. All Christians serve and worship Yahweh, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

    But Jesus’ words in the book of John seem to pretty starkly claim that, with His revelation in the flesh, the only way to truly know or serve Yahweh is through Him. In fact, He is one with God the Father and equal to Him.

    This leaves us with two alternatives: Either 1) Christians are erroneously worshiping Jesus as God, but since Jesus isn’t God, we are by definition not worshiping the true God; or 2) Jesus IS God, in which case, people who do not worship Him are by definition not worshiping the true God.

    Either the knowledge of God really hinges on Jesus, or it doesn’t. If it doesn’t, the most basic claims of Christianity are undermined, and we have no business making any sort of claims about who God is.

  • I do appreciate what Miroslav Volf looked to point out in his recent book, Allah: A Christian Response. He argued that, at its basic foundation, Christians and do Muslims do believe in the one true God. But his goal isn’t soteriological (who’s “in” and who’s “out”). His goal is somewhat socio-political in trying to help Christians & Muslims co-habitate next to one another in a global world.

    He also points out that, though the Samaritans had some pretty non-orthodox beliefs about God, Jesus still said to the woman at the well: You Samaritans worship what you do not know;we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews (John 4:22). I think this an important passage to reflect upon. Jesus made a significant statement to a group of people who had some pretty off-base understandings of God. Also, Volf argues that, if Muslims understood correctly the monotheistic view of Christians and Christians understood correctly the arguments of Muslims against what they believe is a non-monotheistic view, we’d really see the foundational compatibility. Of course, Volf recognises we separate in our views of Jesus Christ. But I think it interesting the path he takes to build towards an opportunity of collaborating with Muslims in our world today.

    Scot, I know you did a review of Volf’s work and I can’t remember all your conclusions. But I still think his book provides some helpful things to ponder.

  • David Westfall

    Perhaps the “do we worship the same God?” question should not be dealt with merely in terms of whether or not the “god” in question is the same. If that’s all we do, then we have failed even to address the question of *what worship is*. Islam and Christianity have two fundamentally different understandings of this, though perhaps you would never know it from looking at a lot of Christian churches in the U.S., especially of the protestant variety. For Christians, worship itself is a participation in the Son’s communion with the Father in the Spirit—it is an act of God, incorporating us into his trinitarian life through his Spirit and Word dwelling in our midst. We are given Jesus of Nazareth *himself* to be, in his actual person, our worship and fellowship with God, and we ought not to conceive of our worship apart from this.

    I suppose that leaves the issue unresolved in a lot of ways. (We could ask now, “Is it possible for a Muslim unknowingly to share in the Son’s communion with the Father when he prays to Allah?” and similar questions with regard to “anonymous Christianity.”) But I don’t think it is unimportant, at any rate. It is because the Christian faith has a unique understanding of who God is that it also construes worship as an utterly unique activity. I don’t think we can get at the question of whether or not two religions worship the same god if we deal only with one side of the question (the “god side”).

  • attytjj466

    I believe there is one God. The three religions of the book at least agree and start there. It is common ground that should allow us to live and work and raise our families together in peace and respect. But I also agree that the differences are significant and important and it diminishes them all to flatten that out. What the one true God does with the differences, how God responds to the different prayers and worship and belief I do not know. I hold to the proclaimation that Jesus is The Way, The Truth, and The Life and no one comes to the Father but through Him.

  • KentonS

    Luke 10 also makes a Samaritan an example of someone who has eternal life – someone who “gets it” even though Samaritans did not have “right theology” (read “orthodoxy”). John 8 makes a Samaritan reference too. Jesus is accused of being a Samaritan, and rather than respond with “No, Samaritans don’t have correct beliefs”, he says “whoever obeys my word will never taste death.”

    In other words, Jesus’ own words pretty much fly in the face of the idea that all that matters is having a certain religious identity/belief system.

    That could make for a third alternative: Jesus IS God, but the point isn’t whether or not you worship the true God or don’t. The point is that when you see the guy beaten up on the side of the road you go bandage his wounds and take him to the inn.

  • KentonS


  • Andrew Dowling

    Really? Jews, Muslims and Christians all profess the Abrahamic God although they clearly profess differences from that point on. I don’t think anyone is debating that.

  • Andrew Dowling

    “And while the academic discussions are important, I tend to think the
    Kingdom-level ones matter more. “Faith” is different that “Religion,”
    and it’s very helpful to clarify which is being discussed.”


  • Andrew Dowling

    What Kenton said, but also I would recommend reading some higher criticism on John’s Gospel (Raymond Brown is the strongest IMO). Those “exclusionary statements” cited in John must be understood within the context they were being written in and the particular theology which developed in the Johaninine community.

  • Marshall

    We all live in the one and the same Cosmos, so if you think God’s personality is expressed through his Creation (… if it isn’t too pantheistic or deist to think so …), then all the Nations that are seeking truth converge somewhere. That is to say, all are more or less in error. That isn’t at all to say that any way at looking at things is equivalent or just as “good”, just to say that no one knows the mind of God, no not one. Which is certainly is not to say that we should refrain from promoting our way of looking at things vigorously. From speaking out of the truth we see.

    If you DON’T think God’s personality is expressed through the Cosmos, each is free to beat their brass into whatever shape they like. Some of those shapes can be pretty different, probably not even compatible with themselves. Un-natural.

  • Ton_Chrysoprase

    I am yet to meet two Christinas who believe in the same God (as in “do not hold views about that God that are not mutually exclusive”). Actually, I met plenty of Christians who professed faiths in multiple mutually exclusive gods within a 5 minute conversation.

  • Well put. And I would further argue that the doctrinal and other differences between different Christian (and Jewish, and Muslim) sects mean that we’re all looking through “other lenses”. We’ve got so many lenses, similar and not so similar to one another, that it’s almost meaningless to talk about a “right” lens except as a statement of personal faith.

    I, for instance, have numerous differences with many (most?) of my coreligionists. But agreeing on what’s essentially important, and agreeing that we agree enough on those principles, should keep us from each others’ throats, figuratively or otherwise, and let us have (reasonably, given the subject matter) rational discussions about our differences. Scaling that attitude out might well be helpful.

    If you take the viewpoint that faith is the relationship you have with God as you understand Him to be, and religion is a framework you use to build community with others whose faith is sufficiently similar to your own that you can gain strength and comfort from each other, then religion ceases to be a coercive force at all; it is “merely” the “lens” you and your faith community are sharing with one another.

    Or, to put it even more bluntly, “traditional” religion is the original top-down hierarchical phenomenon, whereas faith is inherently a bottom-up, believer-outward aggregational phenomenon.

  • Amanda B.

    I think it’s important to note in these examples that Samaritans were stigmatized for their ancestry at least as much as for their religion. Jewish/Samaritan conflict in the Gospels is not purely a religious commentary.

    My reading of John 10 is that the parable of the Samaritan is specifically answering the question, “Who is my neighbor?” In this parable, Jesus shows what being a neighbor means, and makes it explicit that this cannot be an insular, I-look-after-only-my-own-peeps thing. He doesn’t comment on the Samaritan’s understanding or worship of God–whether to refute it or to exonerate it–because that’s not the point of the parable. The point is that “loving your neighbor” means caring for others, even those who fall into a group that you have been culturally conditioned to be hostile towards.

    Eternal life is not tied only to emulating the Good Samaritan, but to “‘Lov[ing] the Lord Your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind'”. This brings us right back around to the question of whether or not the Samaritan is “loving God”, the same God whom Jesus claims both to honor and to be. Jesus’ parable doesn’t address this.

    In John 8, the Pharisees try to accuse Jesus’ character by saying “You are a Samaritan and have a demon.” Jesus responds, “I do not have a demon; but I honor my Father”. Either He is disregarding the Samaritan accusation entirely, because it is both untrue and unimportant (Jesus is not hung up on defending His lineage), or His answer to it is to clarify “I honor my Father”. In the latter case He would actually be making a negative statement about the Samaritans’ religion. I suspect, but cannot prove, that the former is more likely.

    When He says, “If anyone keeps…” it doesn’t seem to me that he is making any sort of comment on Samaritan theology/salvation. To me, it backs up the idea that a religion which doesn’t accept Jesus cannot be “close enough” as far as the God issue is concerned. Jesus ties eternal life to keeping His words, and His words include a lot more than treating other people well (although that is an absolutely necessary component).


    To take a bit of a side note and return to the point of the article–answering “Yes, we’re all really talking about the same God” is supposed to provide us with grounds to live together peacefully. For Christians, this should be a moot point. We are to love our neighbor–which, as Jesus makes clear, crosses racial and religious lines. We are to love our enemies, which includes the most extreme and ugly representatives of any given religion or philosophy (including our own). It is possible to disagree with someone and still love them genuinely and deeply, demonstrating it by going out of our way to serve them. It’s not only possible, but God requires it of us.

  • Amanda B.

    I’ll look into it. But to me, the question is still pretty simple: are these claims true, or aren’t they? If the claims are untrue–whether Jesus is just wrong, or His followers exaggerated what He really meant–then everything I understand about Christianity is desperately wrong, because my understanding of Christianity centers on Jesus being truly divine and being the only means of access to the real God. If the claims are true, then my earlier point stands.

  • KentonS

    Thanks for responding. I especially like what you say here below the dashes.

    I think your comments above the dashes may be an attempt to read the text through the evangelical lens we’ve been given. In other words, you’re finding a way to read the texts that support your theology and dismiss any reading that undermines it, even though it may be valid. Looking at your reply to Andrew, perhaps you’re afraid that if the Samaritan is not only ethically different but religiously different – and that Jesus was playing on that – then everything you understand about Christianity might be desperately wrong?

    I get it. Reading the gospels as “inclusive” rather than “exclusive” really does change everything, but it changes it for the better.

    Grace to you Amanda.

  • Andrew Dowling

    Amanda, I do wish and hope that you don’t see it as so black and white. 1st century scribes wern’t writing the Gospels as pure fiction but not pure history either; if John the evangelist places words on the mouth of Jesus that Jesus didn’t actually utter, he’s not trying to deceive the reader . . .he’s painting a portrait of Jesus that reflects what Jesus meant to him and his community. And Jesus can be the ultimate access to God without non-believers burning in hell.

  • Amanda B.

    I’m not addressing burning in hell or not. I’m actually not even addressing whether or not John put the words in Jesus’ mouth. I’m addressing whether or not the Christian God can be truly spoken of or worshiped apart from Jesus. If John’s claims are accurate, then the answer is no. If John’s claims are mistaken, then that seems to undermine some foundational credal stuff.

  • Amanda B.

    As best as I can tell, I was, in fact, honestly looking at that passage to see if it commented on the Samaritan’s eternal life. That was not a question I had ever asked about the text, so I was looking to see what it said, and sincerely trying not to let my presuppositions color it.

    Looking at the structure of the conversation, Jesus affirms eternal life as being tied to loving God AND to loving one’s neighbor. The Samaritan parable is not an elaboration on eternal life, but is explicitly a response to the question, “Who is my neighbor?” He is upheld as an example of neighborly love (and thus, he does indeed “get it”, in ways that prejudiced religious people of the time didn’t), but Jesus makes no comment on his relation to the true God.

    It seems to me like it’s a stretch of the text to assume things about whether the Samaritan loves the true God or not (a necessary condition of eternal life). It’s definite that he was ethnically different than Jesus’ audience, and extremely likely that he was religiously different. I only brought up the ethnic angle at the beginning to point out that we are missing part of the picture if we *only* see the religious angle, and also to point out the complexity of the struggle Jews would have to really treat Samaritans as “neighbors”.

    I don’t find the Samaritan’s religion threatening, whether or not he would inherit eternal life. It’s just that this is not the point Jesus said He was making, and it’s not even one he explicitly addresses (particularly considering that this Samaritan is a fictional character).

    I do believe that the gospel is wildly inclusive. It is equally open to Jew and Gentile. It elevates every nationality, gender, and social status into equal dignity, honor, and position in the Kingdom of God. But it seems very clear to me that the authors of the New Testament hinge all of the gospel on Jesus, and uphold Him as the definitive revelation of the knowledge of God on the earth.

    I’m not afraid of the gospel being inclusive, or of myself being proven wrong. I’ve been corrected on many things in my faith journey already, and I have no doubt there is much more to come. But it seems to me that Jesus is clear about receiving Him as a necessary prerequisite to really knowing God.

    And I do want to stress that by “receiving Him”, I’m referring to the Luke 10 language. I’m not talking about the “sinner’s prayer” (which I actually have major issues with), heaven and hell (which I am seriously reevaluating), or even to error-free doctrine (because no one has that).

    But I do contend that I don’t believe the Gospels leave room to reject Jesus and still have God. My understanding is that Christianity, in the broadest sense possible (not just the evangelical wing of it), depends on the identity of Jesus and the necessity of knowing God through Him.

    Thank you as well for your responses. Grace to you also. 🙂

  • KentonS

    Excellent! Keep growing, keep reevalutating, keep stretching. If you find your expanding view of God’s grace hitting a wall, know that that wall isn’t Jesus. It might be Christianity – even in the broadest sense possible – but it isn’t Jesus. Jesus even showed grace and forgiveness on the cross. Even to those who didn’t know what they were doing.

  • Rick

    “But I do contend that I don’t believe the Gospels leave room to reject Jesus and still have God. My understanding is that Christianity, in the broadest sense possible (not just the evangelical wing of it), depends on the identity of Jesus and the necessity of knowing God through Him.”

  • Andrew Dowling

    So what is rejecting Jesus? Does that hinge on a conversion to Christianity? If you were born in Sudan, and learn about Christianity in school but never deconvert from your native religion/Islam, do you remain forever detached from God? If yes, is that contingent on age? Babies? Did a 10 year Buddhist girl who gets killed by a landmine never know God?

    I don’t ask this to be snarky . . I’m sincerely curious.

  • Amanda B.

    Rejecting Jesus is–well, rejecting Jesus. It’s when you’re confronted with His message, His claims, His representation of God, and decide that He is wrong, or of lesser authority than any other witness.

    If you believe He is right, you follow Him. So yes, I do believe Christianity is necessary.

    To never learn about the true God is to not know Him, by very definition. But that is a different topic than the main point of this article.

  • Rev. Mark Smith

    I can accept that Christians and Jews worship the same God, since Jesus is the God of Abraham come in the flesh. However, it’s absurd to contend that Muslims worship the same God as Christians and Jews. Simply because Muslims can trace their lineage back to Abraham via Ishmael doesn’t in anyway imply that the three great religions share the same God. God may have blessed Ishmael, but only for Abraham’s sake. Isaac is the son of promise, and it is from Isaac that Christians and Jews make their connection with God. Besides, there is no need to make statements about worshiping the same God in order to be civil, considerate, kind, and loving toward one another. For that we only need look to the fact that all people are created in the image of God.

  • seba

    In Tora (I can’t remember where) there is statement that God let people worship him according to their capabilities, I don’t understand why it wouldn’t stand today, in biblical times jews were proselytizing too so they could say “your faith is wrong, you dont worship same as we do, therefore you will burn unless you affirm our uniqueness and superiority”