It seems that some things never go away, and the running battle over whether Christians and Muslims worship the same God is one of those. The day I picked to take on this subject is deliberate: it’s the feast of St. John the Evangelist, which is also one of the great holidays of Masonry.
As I’ve noted before, Masonry runs deep in both sides of my family, especially my father’s. Yet, in part because of the secret nature of the Lodge, Masonry’s influence on the way Americans look at things is consistently overlooked. This is a subject where Masonry has had a very significant impact. So, on their holiday, I think it proper to take it on.
Let me begin by going back to an earlier post where I look at the running attempt by Malaysian Muslims (you heard it right) to suppress Christian usage of the word “Allah” for God:
In this country, it’s “politically correct” to assume that a) both Christians and Muslims worship the same god and b) by extension, it’s permissible to call him by names common to both religions. This is the line encouraged by CAIR and other groups. However, I have seen this attacked in Muslim literature as Masonic, not Islāmic. Evidently that, in a roundabout way, is the position of the Muslim protesters in Malaysia.
The court, on a factual basis, is correct. Christians in Muslim countries (especially Arab ones, but also in places such as Indonesia) routinely refer to God as Allah and this is reflected in Biblical translations. Conversely all English “interpretations” of the Qur’an before the last century translated the Arabic Allah as “God.” It was left to Marmaduke Pickthall to transliterate the term “Allah” because, in his opinion, “there is no corresponding word in English.” Evidently he felt that the Christian and Islamic conceptions of God were so different that different names were necessary.
Having set that up, let’s turn to the Lodge. Masons often defend themselves by saying “We don’t believe that,” but that’s the Masonic way: take a position and then hide it behind the secret ritual and deny it. (Perhaps that explains the game of bluff of American politics, but that’s another post…) But Masonry has two underlying tenets that anyone who is honest about the subject will admit:
- All religions are the same, have the same goal and ultimately lead to the same god.
- The Lodge offers a way to the “Great Architect of the Universe” that transcends all the other religions, via good works.
The first is falsifiable by a casual examination of different religions. We cannot worship the same god when the number is different, i.e. polytheistic Hinduism, non-theistic Confucianism, Buddhism which can go either way, etc.. Islam, as a monotheistic religion, is a little more complicated, but we’ll get to that. The second basically makes Masonry a religion in its own right, something it has worked hard to deny for many years.
A culture which has been permeated by the first proposition–and American culture certainly has–is vulnerable to confusion based on the first point. If both religions are monotheistic, then they must worship the same god, and thus both will get us to “heaven”, right? It’s little wonder that Christian leaders are so quick to differentiate two “Gods” in a culture soaked with this kind of thinking.
But such a concern is really unnecessary. The easiest way to explain this is to look back on all the years that the European Christians and the Muslims fought via the Crusades, the reconquest of Spain, the Ottoman conflicts, etc. Islam was portrayed in Europe as a Christian heresy, as any reader of Dante is aware of. Christians were called “infidels” not because they were atheists or worshipped a different God but because they rejected the revelation that Mohammed received. In both cases, access to God was as important as the existence of God himself; both sides took as axiomatic that bad access led to bad eternal consequences.
The problem with pushing the “two Gods” idea is that it not only undermines the concept of monotheism; it opens the door for other interlopers such as the Lodge to make inroads, and as we see they’ve already done a good job in that regards.
Access is really the key issue here. Christian–and Islāmic leaders for that matter–should stop and consider things carefully before they take positions that are antithetical to the ones they’re supposed to hold.