Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Forget About "Hitler's Pope"
Meet "mohammed's bishop"

Pray to Allah, Dutch bishop suggests
Amsterdam, Aug. 14, 2007 (CWNews.com) - A Dutch Catholic bishop has suggested that Christians should refer to God as "Allah" to promote better relations with Muslims. Bishop Martinus "Tiny" Muskens of Breda told the "Network" television show that "God doesn't really care how we address Him." (Gee, then why not let the Greeks refer to The Almighty as Zeus; the Italians, Jupiter; the Scandinavians, Odin; the Micronesians, Lowa, etc?)

Pointing out that "Allah" is a term already used by Christians who speak Arabic, Bishop Muskens said that humans are needlessly divided over such terminology. God, the bishop said, is above such "bickering." The Dutch bishop admitted that his suggestion was not likely to gain widespread acceptance. But he predicted that within a century or two, Dutch Catholics would be addressing prayers to "Allah." (Forget about "a century or two". At the rate moslems are taking over Holland, count on EVERYONE in that nation calling the Almighty "allah" in a decade or two. And don't count on many of them being Catholics, either.)

Bishop Muskens has a history of creating occasional controversy within the Church. He has broken with Vatican leadership to endorse the use of condoms as a means of preventing the spread of AIDS, and in 2006 he traveled to Uganda to endorse the work of a group called Stop AIDS Now, which emphasized condom distribution. (What a guy.)

Even among Arab Christians, it's been accepted to refer to The Almighty as "Allah", even though "allah" is also the pagan Arab name for the moon god. One can only surmise that "Allah" was forced into the lexicon of Arab Christians by the moslems. Admittedly, I'm not Biblical scholar, nor am I a translator of ancient Middle Eastern languages... but I have found that the ancient Palestinian Aramaic (pre-moslem) word for God was 'El raba' = 'Great God'. Not quite "allah", is it?

If anyone has any more specific information on the pre-moslem Arabic word for God, it would be appriciated if you would pass it along.

8 Comments:

Blogger Helen said...

Dear Caveman;

Not being of Arab descent I have no idea what the Arab's word for God is. However I am a Catholic who wouldn't even THINK of adressing Him as "allah". "allah" and it's "prophet" mohammed belong to the evil one.

5:40 PM  
Blogger Athanasius contra mundo said...

It sounds to me like the bishop is starved for attention!

12:41 AM  
Blogger Paul, just this guy, you know? said...

Given his enthusiasm for prayer in foreign languages, I'm sure that Summorum Pontificam will be fully and freely implemented in his diocese, yes?

Or it is only Arabic, and not Latin, that he loves so much? Is it only muslims, and not Catholics, he wants to please?

5:50 AM  
Blogger Bruce said...

I wonder what the bishop thinks of calling God "Deus"!

Meanwhile, I think "Allah" literally means "the" (al) "God" (ilah) in Arabic. "Ilah" is similar to Hebrew "El" or "Elohim" which are used as names for God. It also seems to have been applied to one of the pagan gods of Mecca. But similarly, "deus", the generic word for God was applied to the pagan Roman gods. [Interestingly, as you point out the early Christians rejected "Juppiter", a proper name, as inappropriate even though etymologically the name originally could be broken down into Indo-European "dyuus" (shinning, heavenly, divine) + "pater" (father). Few people would have recognized that in Roman times, though.]

But, since "Allah" can be a generic "the God," it would seem legitimate for speakers of ARABIC. And that, I think is an important point. Why do Dutch Catholics need an Arabic word for God? Even if Arab Christians use the word "Allah," why should non-Arabic speaking Dutch Christians use an Arabic word to call upon God when they are speaking Dutch? They will not think of the etymology whereby "Allah" means "the God". "Allah" for non-Arabic speakers would seem to be God's proper name just as you find Christians today who think Jesus' last name was Christ.
Does the bishop believe that Muslims will be so moved by Christian use of "Allah" that they will give up their false teachings? If he does, I would applaud his desire for conversions even if it is quite simple-minded.

To use "Allah" as a name of God is bound to create immense confusion for all. It might even cause anger among the Muslims.

Finally, to use "Allah" seems to be an attempt to identify the god Muslims worship with the true God revealed on Mount Sinai and fully in Jesus Christ. But, the Muslim conception of God is a conscious rejection of the teachings of Christ about God. Therefore, it is intentionally an incomplete understanding of God. And although statistics seem to suggest that large numbers of the Dutch do already reject the Triune God, the bishops imprudent suggestion does not seem likely to stop this trend.

10:35 AM  
Blogger Kasia said...

OK, here's what my reaction was when I saw this last night:

I sat stunned for about 20 seconds. I literally saw red. After the 20 seconds or so elapsed, I was able to gain enough self-control back to sputter furiously: "In a pig's ear!!!" (Unintentionally apt choice of words, I know.)

Now, as I've thought about it, I think we can come up with a fair trade. I'll consider calling God "Allah" when Muslims start calling Jesus "Savior" instead of "Prophet". I mean, they're just words, right? :-p

Now, I don't know much about Arabic or pre-Muslim Middle Eastern linguistics. However, if I spoke Arabic and was in a conversation in Arabic with an Arabic speaker, I would certainly use the word "Allah" to mean "God". Because in modern Arabic, "Allah" does mean "God." But the same holds true for other languages: I would say "Gott" in a conversation in German with a German speaker; I would say "Dieu" to a French speaker if we were conversing in French.

And I have to say to Bp. Moskens: Duh, of course you used "Allah" for "God" at Masses in Indonesia. Because in Indonesian, "Allah" is the word for "God"! Mass in the vernacular, after all...even if that word isn't native to their language...

11:04 AM  
Blogger Dad29 said...

According to another blog, the very same Bishop recommends rubbers to fight AIDS.

12:07 PM  
Blogger Dr. Peter H. Wright said...

I wonder what this bishop's reaction is to "Summorum Pontificum" ?

12:44 PM  
Blogger Dymphna said...

And why don't we just cut own heads off while we're at it? With bishops like this....

7:23 PM  

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