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.