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.

The Case for God

I am called John.

John F SeaDemon.

I may be called Yahya or Yahya Shaitan al-Bahri  if I were in an Arab country somewhere, but I doubt John F Kennedy would have been called Yahya F Kennedy had he gone to Saudi Arabia or even Egypt.  In fact, he would still be called Jack…or John.  But for some Christians in Malaysia, especially in the Peninsula Malaysia, God is called Allah. Maybe it is time for me to address the Logos behind the Theos in this theological subject.

The Language behind Allah

There has been many attempts at explaining the origin of the name Allah, and the similarity the name has to the Jewish word, Elohim (Elochim).  Allah is derived from two distinct Arabic words: Al (The), and Ilah (God), to describe the Supreme Being, the One God, and the word Allah, in Arabic takes a masculine form.

The Hebrew equivalent would be Eloah.  However, Eloah is the female word for God.  In order for the name to have a masculine form, the name Eloah is given a plural form, -im, making it masculine.

However, the Catholic Encyclopedia does not recognise Elohim as the Hebrew word for the God of Israel, but says that it could have been referred to an earlier polytheistic culture’s deity.

In Arabic, a female form of Allah would be Al-Lat.  Interestingly, Al-Lat during pre-Islamic times refers to one of three goddesses (female) whose shrine and temple was built in the city of Taif in Saudi Arabia.  She was a daughter of the Supreme God, Allah, along with her sisters Manat and al-Uzza.  Here you can see that even polytheistic pre-Islamic Arabs had a Supreme God called Allah.  Hence, if you ask me, an equivalent of Al-Lat in Hebrew would be Eloah, and not The One Supreme God. You can clearly see the difference between Elohim and Allah. While the former had to undergo a gender transformation, the Arabic word Allah is free of grammatical structure and corrupted meanings.

Of course, Christians in Malaysia argue that Allah is a common denominator for God for both Arab Christians and Muslims.  We’ll come back to that in a while.

The Local History behind Allah

Let us remember one thing.  Malaya (Peninsula Malaysia) was never colonised as a whole by the British, save for Penang, Malacca, and Singapore, while Sabah and Sarawak came under direct British colonial rule. Penang was acquired through a deal to lease the island made between the British East India Company and the Sultan of Kedah; Malacca was acquired from the Dutch through the Treaty of Bencoolen; and Singapore was included in the Treaty of Bencoolen by making the severely weakened Dutch to not object to the British occupation of Singapore.  The people of these three places, together with Sabah and Sarawak, became British subjects.

Through treaties with the Sultans on the Peninsula, the British helped administer the State of the respective Sultans, while the Sultans remained as the supreme head of these sovereign states.  The administration of Islam came under the purview of the respective Sultans as the protectors of the state’s religion.

So, why does Indonesia have Bibles that use the word Allah to describe God?

Unlike Malaya, Indonesia was a nation of conquered people.  Hello! Remember the Dutch?  When Douglas MacArthur met Emperor Hirohito, he purposely stood next to the Emperor to show the Japanese people that the Emperor was not a demi-God.  Victors get to do as they please, and this is probably the same case as the Ladang Rakyat issue in Kelantan.  The Dutch conquered parts of Indonesia beginning in 1595, and as part of its attempt to call the Malay diaspora in Indonesia to Christianity, the Book of Matthew was translated into the Indonesian language in 1629; and where the Dutch set foot, other religions were formally prohibited although Chinese temples as well as mosques remained in existence.

Missionaries, too, made headway in Sabah and Sarawak, converting the populace to Christianity.  Sir Stamford Raffles recommended to Rev. Thomas Raffles (Buitenzorg, 10th February 1815, Mss. Eur. F.202/6) that Borneo be given vigorous campaigns by the missionaries as “the island is inhabited by a race scarcely emerged from Barbarism.”

This does not mean that the Malays were free from attempts to proselytize them.  In fact, Raffles, in a letter to his cousin in 1815 mentioned how “Religion and laws are so united” in Muslim dominated areas that the introduction of Christian beliefs will bring about “much mischief, much bitterness of heart and contention”.

Raffles contended that Christianity must be packaged in a new form and be conveyed to the Muslim majority through a gradual approach. The “pagans”, on the other hand, required no stratagems.  His methods include the establishment of missionary schools where the Malays are taught to read and write in their own language.  Then he set up printers to publish books in Malay.  Missionaries were largely responsible for this effort with the help of local agents, and the most famous of these agents was a chap called Abdullah Abdul Kadir who is better known as Munshi (Teacher) Abdullah.  He and other Munshis taught Christian missionaries the Malay language.  His role went beyond that and became the first Muslim in South East Asia to translate the Bible into the Malay language, that he became the target of his contemporaries who called him Abdullah Paderi (Pastor Abdullah) among other things.

It is interesting to note, however, that Raffles never once attempted to convert Malays in the Federated and Unfederated Malay States where the Sultans rule and guard the interest of the religion of Islam.  This is because it would be foolhardy to anger the Sultans whom the British had a treaty with, by undermining the sanctity of Islam by converting their subjects.  In the case of Raffles, he only focused his efforts on those who are British subjects.

Here we see the subtle tactics of the Christian missionaries during Raffles’s times, and the Malay lackeys who colluded with them.  We can see the similarities in events of nowadays.  But the above is also why we have Allah in the Bibles of Indonesia and Sabah and Sarawak, but not in Peninsula Malaysia.

In the next installment I will discuss on how the concept of Trinity came about and why it was opposed by some Christians, and about Allah as the common denominator for God in the Arab-speaking world.

Rebuttal: Con Air

I refer to an article in The Star dated 25th September 2012 implying that I exposed Dato Taufik Omar as the person who had loaned the said private jet to Anwar.

I hope that the respected newspaper had read my blog posting that only mentioned Dato Taufik is said to be the operator, or owner, or agent of the aircraft, and that he should come forth to clear the air to the masses on the situation.

John F SeaDemon
25th September 2012
10.02AM

Con Air

Much has been said about Anwar Ibrahim’s flight to Labuan using a private jet, that even Khairy Jamaluddin’s questioned Anwar’s reason for using the private jet – which was because flight connections to Labuan is poor, a bull I refuse to believe because being in the offshore industry, Labuan is among my usual destinations.

According to the Gerakan’s Youth Chief, Anwar claimed that the use of the private jet was made available by a friend who expects nothing in return, while Anwar’s lieutenant and fellow passenger, Tian Chua, claims that it was chartered from the owner. Who’s telling the truth remains unclear at press time.

The aircraft in question, a Dassault Mystere Falcon 900, registration N990BB is registered to an American company, but has been operating out of Subang since at least February of 2012. In 1995, the cost of operating such aircraft per flight hour was USD9700., which makes you wonder why would one want to foot such a bill out of goodwill?

The aircraft is registered to Wells Fargo Bank Northwest as its trustee, but reliable sources in Subang (remember, I have an aviation background, too!) tell me that the operator, or owner, or agent for the aircraft in Malaysia is one Dato Mohamad Taufik bin Haji Omar, Chairman of LD Sports Sdn Bhd, President of the Malaysian Judo Association.

In order to clear this con air, I strongly urge Dato Taufik to come forth and explain to the masses.

Let us await his response.