A few weeks ago, I bookmarked an article that I saw at RightWingNews.com. The author, John Hawkins, asserts that if you are not worshiping Christianity's God, you may as well be bowing down to the proverbial 'golden calf'. Witness:
Christians and Jews worship the same God. Everybody else is either an atheist, agnostic, or following a false religion.And how many different incarnations of the Bible are there? Right.
This is not something arbitrary I just made up on the fly; it's what you believe if you believe in the Bible.
But, even more bothersome is the initial premise of this argument. "Christians and Jews worship the same God." Really?
Check out this chart, via ReligionFacts.com (click to super-size):
If you focus your attention on the various points about Jesus, you'll find that Christianity and Islam have some very similar views.... yes, Islam.
Under "virgin birth", both Christianity and Islam share the idea that Jesus was born to the virgin Mary. Also, under "second coming of Jesus", both Christianity and Islam are again in agreement: both are affirmed, while Judaism denies the second coming.
While Judaism believes that Jesus was a false prophet, Islam tends to lend more credence to the message of Jesus, believing that he was a true prophet of God. This belief is much closer to the Christian belief that Jesus was the son of God.
Any Christian who is worth their word will tell you that Christianity, in essence, is built on the teaching of Jesus. Oh sure, there are still the old "fire-and-brimstone" types of churches who make it their goal to scare their parishoners into obedience (I'm looking at you, Westboro Baptists). But for the most part Christianity is just that, a "Christ-centered" religion.
To make the assertion that Christians and Jews worship the exact same same God (and everyone else is wrong) is stupid. Plain and simple.
There are stark differences between the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament (angry, full of wrath versus loving, full of forgiveness). Having been raised in a Christian home, I have struggled with this religious dichotomy for years and someday I will explore this internal conflict in a separate post. But, to me, Christianity and Judaism share as much in common as Christianity and Islam -- at least from a religious dogma perspective.
Fundamentalists from both religions would likely claim heresy on my part for that type of thinking, but that does not make it untrue.
I think that Mr. Hawkins' school-of-thought is part of the reason that there is so much hate directed at Muslims in America. Granted, September 11th was a terrible day for Islamic Public Relations in our country, but it has been proven time and time again that most Muslim-Americans are decent, hard-working, law-abiding citizens who love our country. These folks were hurt just as much as any other American on that awful day (in fact, I'd argue that they were hurt even more since the terrorists were attacking in the name of their religion).
But I digress...
Look, obviously Mr. Hawkins is free to have his opinion. However, in my opinion, he is way off base. I think that if he, and other Christians like him, would show a little bit of compassion and (at the very least) tolerance for other religions, our country -- nay -- the world would be a better and more peaceful place.
Peace. Compassion. A couple of novel ideas that were endorsed by Christianity's main man. Unfortunately, there are too many Christians who forget this...