The Case for God – Part 3

In the previous installment I discussed the concept of Trinity to explain how it undermines the divinity of God according to Christianity, thus making the application of the name Allah for a such God an overkill and not appropriate for the actual meaning of Allah.

As mentioned in the previous installment, too, I find the argument that Allah is the common denominator for God in this region a joke. The common denominator in the Indo-Malay speaking world would be Tuhan instead of Allah. However, Allah is the term that is inside the Quran for as long as time can remember. I cannot say the same for the Bible as it no longer reflects the Old Testament. Anyhow, you cannot find the name Allah inside the Old Testament. Just a Hebrew name that does not even resemble both the Arabic and Roman spelling of Allah. Even so, Elohim as called by the Jews, refers to The God that has no Son, nor an equivalent called the Holy Spirit. Mind you, even the Jews are totally against the concept of deifying a human being. I am sure my wife’s Iban relatives who are Christian would understand the term “Tuhan” without any problem since Bahasa Malaysia is derived from the Malay language, and the term for God in Malay is Tuhan.

We have seen the subtle tactics of missionaries of those days in the first installment and how their modus operandi is now refined by present-day missionaries. This blogger had had the opportunity to meet up with Muslims proselytized during the month of Ramadhan of 2012 and was told of the very fine and subtle methods used to proselytize Muslims in Malaysia. Back in the late 19th and early 20th century, the Malay people were not only bombarded with the Malay Bible, but also Christian publications in Malay such as Buletin Ariffin, Cermin Mata, Sahabat and Warta Melayu. Little has changed, but made only better. Recently, Johor’s Department of Islamic Affairs, together with the Home Ministry, confiscated 250 Christian literature in the Malay language. Imagine these books having titles such as Kaabah, Mengenal Rasul and Wahyu Illahi. With the state of Johor having around 58 percent Muslims, 2 percent Christians, and 40 percent other religions, who were these Malay literature targeting? Ibans? Christians? Chinese? Read more about the attempt to proselytize Muslims in BigDog’s post.

So, what about the use of Allah by Christians in Indonesia, Egypt etc.?

Tell me how good has that been for Indonesia and Egypt? How well do the Muslims and Christians get along in those countries? The very reason we do not have beheading of Christians in Kelantan or lynching of Muslims in Sarawak is because we do not step on each others toes.

But I guess, for the purpose of gaining support and diverting the attention of voters from issues currently plaguing the DAP so close tot the next general elections, Lim Guan Eng raised the “use of Allah in Bible” issue again. And the Muslims in the Pakatan Rakyat chose to keep quiet about it except for the MP for Parit Buntar, Mujahid Yusof Rawa who questioned Guan Eng’s motive. I suppose for most PR Muslims, it is okay for Muslims to be proselytize as long as they get to wrestle power from the present government. To cloud the vision of their supporters from their internal issues of corruption, cronyism and nepotism, they decided to rally the support of the mostly Chinese Christians by raising the Allah issue again, knowing very well it would somehow hurt the relationship between UMNO and the Christians within the Barisan Nasional. I hope no fool would fall for this treachery.

What is the purpose of using the name Allah in Bibles, having a Malay Bible, and Christian publications in Malay if not to proselytize the Muslims? With all due respect to my Christian friends, why hasn’t the Vatican been using Allah or Elohim? Why do they stick to the name they know? And what is the most familiar term for God here in Malaysia if not Tuhan?

Like I mentioned in the first instalment. I am called John, and wherever I go, I will still be called John. No one in Germany would call me Johann, no Arab would call me Yahya, no one in Sweden would call me Jan or Jon. So, if your common denominator is Tuhan, call as it is. Not adopt from some other language. Or else, I would question why aren’t you calling God “Deus.” Please don’t fall for the politics of hate propagated by those who are irresponsible.

We have been living together, respecting each other for more than five decades peacefully except for one dark moment in 1969. Let us not let the political ambition of some to destroy the peace and prosperity that we have maintained for so long.

May I remind the Christians, in particular the Catholics about what is mentioned in the Catholic Encyclopedia about Allah:

Let it be noted that although Allah is an Arabic term, it is used by all Moslems, whatever be their language, as the name of God

If you still cannot see that, then there will soon be trouble in this peaceful nation. So, who is not respecting who?

The Case for God – Part 2

In the previous installment we see the difference in how Christianity was spread throughout the Indo-Malay world. In this installment, we discuss the concept of Trinity and why some Christians now continue to reject it.

Allah The One God

Since Allah is the common denominator to refer to God in the Arabic-speaking world, why is it then a problem for Malay Muslims to accept its use in the Malaysian Bibles?

First of all, the common denominator for God in the Indo-Malay speaking world is Tuhan, not Allah.   Like mentioned in paragraphs above, the general Christian world believes in the Trinity where God is the Father, God is the Son, and God is the Holy Spirit.  Muslims have a problem here thinking that this is all about polytheism, but really in technical terms it is not.  But neither is it monotheism as the Jews and Muslims hold on to.  In the Trinity concept, while God is all those three persons, the Father is NOT the Son or the Holy Spirit; the Son is NOT the Father or the Holy Spirit; neither the Holy Spirit is the other two.  It is the concept of one deity in three persons.

The problem with Muslim scholars in Malaysia is that their studies are so focused on Islam that they fail at comparative religious studies and often make opinions based on what they think is being practiced in other religions.  How many other Muslims read the Bible to know that after the publishing of the King James Bible in 1611, there have been other versions including the “new version”, the “children version”, and the “American version” (I’ll call them KJV in short)? How many know of the various changes made to God’s words in the Bible that appears in the KJV of today?

Mind you, the KJV was translated and printed by Thomas Nelson Publishers.  In 1969, the publishers was purchased by Sam Moore, who started by selling Bibles door-to-door to finance his pursuit of a medical degree.  He vowed to make Thomas Nelson the leading publisher of Bibles again. In 1976, he initiated the creation of the new Bible translation calling it the New King James Version (NKJV) that propelled Thomas Nelson back to the number one spot.

Hence, the NKJV Bible is more a human dogma than a collection of divine words.  Some versions has had the word “He” changed to “It” to accommodate a politically-correct gender-unbiased view.  Personally, I would use “It” to refer either to things that are not alive, or to beings other than the human.  The Quran, on the other hand, has never been changed, and the divinity of its content unquestioned.

The concept of Trinity was also alien to some Christians.  It was during the First Council of Nicea in 325AD , the first ecumenical council of the Church that was convened by the Roman Emperor, Constantine I, that an attempt to get the Christian world to agree on the divinity of Jesus Christ.  The main topic was to discuss the teachings of a Christian presbyter in Egypt called Arius, who focused on Godhead, which emphasized the Father’s divinity over the Son.  He endorsed the following doctrine:

  1. That the Son, or the Word (Logos) and the Father were not of the same essence (ousia);
  2. That the Son was a created being (ktisma);
  3. That the worlds were created through the Word, then he must have existed before all time;
  4. However, the Word did not exist, before he was begotten by the Father.

For his belief, and for refusing to sign the Creed and accepting the divinity of Christ, Arius and two other Church leaders were banished, prompting others to sign.  One must remember that Emperor Constantine I was never a baptized Christian until he was on his deathbed and the word ecumenical means world, in reference to the Roman Empire dominating what they saw was the world to them.

The Arian church lives on in some parts of the world, notably in the Eastern Christianity domain, the Oriental Orthodox.  Due to the differences, the Church of Rome and the Orthodox Church were no longer in communion, although rivalry between the two have all but diminished since the Great Schism, but the latter still rejects the dogmatic definition published by the Pope, or by an ecumenical council, and also rejects the Council of Chalcedon.

The introduction of  the Filioque by the Western Church into the Latin version of the Nicene Creed without holding a council or gaining consent from the Eastern Churches contributed greatly to this schism. The Filioque is a phrase that states the Holy Spirit as proceeding from “the Father and the Son”, while the Eastern Churches have always held on to the fact that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father, and has the same status as the Son.

As such, God the Father in this concept does not qualify itself to be interpreted as Allah to be used in the Bible. God, as portrayed in the Trinity concept, does not stand, and cannot stand alone.  The concept of God as a Supreme Being that exists even before time does not seem to hold true when it comes to the Christian interpretation of God, and although the Jews, Christians and Muslims are people of the book, only the Christians have created God as an image, whereas, especially in Islam, God is beyond human comprehension.  Simply put, if you think that it is impossible to imagine God, even that imagination and thought come after His creation and is still nowhere near describing Allah.  Both the Jews and the Muslims reject the hypostasis nature of God as projected by the Christians.

Therefore, in my humble opinion, and without prejudice to my Christian friends, God the Father should be Tuhan Bapak; God the Son should be Tuhan Anak; and God the Holy Spirit should be Tuhan Ruhul Kudus.

In my next installment, we will have a look at the common denominator and what has become of it, and what I think of this whole issue.