I wish to express my most profound respect for Paul Olsen’s response to my letter and the continuation of our public discourse on religion and politics, as well as the issue of the nature of the God of Islam and Christianity. These issues are related, as much misunderstanding, fear and misinformation play into the hands of those who promote hate and division in our world.
Allow me to quote one whom many of the readers here in Johnston County will respect. Former president George W. Bush said, while speaking on Al Arabiya television: “I believe there is a universal God. I believe the God that the Muslim prays to is the same God I pray to. After all, we all came from Abraham. I believe in that universality.”
Indeed, Jews, Christians and Muslims all trace their faith origins to the Biblical character named Abraham. Believe it or not, we are all one big, not so happy family.
J. Scott Bridges, associate professor of world religions and Islamic studies at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary recently wrote, concerning linguistics: “The Arabic word for God, Allah, is closely related to the Semitic cognates El and Elohim in Hebrew and Ela in Aramaic (the language Jesus spoke). Indeed, Christians need only to look to the original languages of the Scriptures themselves for evidence of this. In Daniel 2:28, one can see that ‘God’ in Aramaic is closely related to El in Hebrew and Allah in Arabic. The relationship of these cognates to Allah in Arabic is even more apparent when looking at the addition of the definite article to ‘God’ as in the phrase ‘the living God’ in Daniel 6: 26. Thus, if Western Christians remain unconvinced by the historical precedent for the use of Allah by Arabic-speaking Christians, hopefully understanding these linguistic connections will help allay any fears over using Allah in Arabic to refer to the God of the Bible.”
I might add that if you want to study the actions of an angry, vengeful, jealous God, read the Old Testament.
This brings me to the issue of understanding Christian Dominionism, which I do not sense Mr. Olsen has yet to grasp. This is not about acts of lawless violence, as he referenced the Democratic official who pronounced the verdict of guilty before a jury trial.
Christian Dominionism seeks to make biblical, Old Testament laws the official laws of the United States, thus making the United States, in essence, a type of theocracy in which Christian Dominionists have the real power and the three branches of government are there to enforce such. (Take a close look at the presidential candidate Ted Cruz. The “apple does not fall far from the tree.”)
Christian principles are one thing. Forcing them on all U.S. citizens is quite another. The acts of putting to death gays and lesbians, as advocated by the most radical Christian Dominionists, would be carried out by the state, you and me, execution style, as it would be the law of the land enforced by state and federal laws. The same would be true for adulterers, etc.
The church should not be regulated by the state, nor should the church regulate the state. A free church in a free state is the ideal. However, when it comes to taxing the church, when churches distribute, in mass, materials for one political party and that party’s candidate for president of the United States, those churches have crossed a line and should lose their tax-exempt status.