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Malaysian Allah Controversy Shows God Isn’t Universal

Christians zealots justify their use of the U.S. federal government to promote the worship of their deity, God, by claiming that God is not a uniquely Christian deity, but is a name that applies to all religion. Thus, they argue that the phrase “In God We Trust” on government currency is not an establishment of Christian religion, but only an establishment of religion in general.

Even if this argument is accepted, the God currency remains unconstitutional, as the First Amendment forbids any establishment of religion through government, not just the promotion of one religion in particular. For the sake of argument, however, let’s put that point aside for the moment, and focus on the zealots’ claim that God is a universal deity.

The fundamental problem with the zealots’ claim is that it requires a particular theological belief: That whenever non-Christians talk about a powerful deity, such as Jehovah or Allah, Vishnu or Manitou, what they’re really talking about is the Christian’s character of God. People who argue this line claim that all these deities are really the same thing, that Allah is just another name for God, for instance.

For centuries, Christians have used this argument in order to convince members of non-Christian religions to convert. In parts of Malaysia, for instance, Catholics have encouraged Muslims to covert by using the name Allah to refer to God.

If Muslims truly believed that God and Allah are the same thing, they wouldn’t have a problem with the Catholic approach. Instead, a large number of Malaysian Muslims are engaged in vigorous protest against the Catholic attempt to equate Allah and God.

Tens of thousands of Malaysian Muslims have signed onto a protest against the use of the word Allah by Christians to refer to the Christian deity God, following a court ruling in the country that seeks to prevent the Catholic Church from using the term “Allah”.

At issue is the belief of many Muslims that the deity God worshipped by Christians cannot possibly be the same deity as Allah, as Islamic theology declares that Allah is one deity, and that there is no other deity other than Allah. Many Muslims perceive Christians as engaging in the worship of two, perhaps three separate deities, depending on the Christian sect and its beliefs.

There are many Muslims who accept the equation of God and Allah, and don’t object to non-Muslims using the term “Allah” to refer to the Christian God. However, the point still remains that the equation of Allah and God is a belief accepted by only some Muslims who adopt a particular version of Islam. Many Muslims reject that the name “God” has any place in their religion, and that the name “Allah” has any place in other religions.

“God” is not a deity that all religious people worship. It’s a particular character that only some religious people accept. So, the use of “God” in articles of government-established religious worship such as the phrase “In God We Trust” does not meet the standard of promotion of religion in general. When our government uses the word “God”, it’s taking sides in favor of some religious beliefs, against other religious beliefs. Even if we accept, in spite of the First Amendment, that government establishment of religion in general is okay, the Malaysian dispute illustrates why the word “God” cannot be part of such a general religious establishment.

5 thoughts on “Malaysian Allah Controversy Shows God Isn’t Universal”

  1. SCL Johnann says:

    Does the Word of God approve of addressing God as “Allah”?

    We acknowledge that Allah has been used in Bahasa Malaysia/ Indonesia Bible for hundreds of years, but it does not mean that God approve of its use for Him. Does the Word of God tell us not to use Allah for God? Of course you cannot find a single commandment in the Bible that says: “You shall not use Allah to address your God,” but there are principles in the Word of God that tell us God does not like to be called Allah.

    Principles in God’s precious Word make His Word relevant and applicable today. Let us look at an example of a principle. Where does it say in the Bible one must not be late for worshipping God on the Lord’s Day? If a church is gathered to the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord Himself is present in their midst, though unseen. He says, in Matthew 18.29: “For where two or three are gathered together in (Greek eis, unto) My Name, there am I (or, I AM) in the midst of them.” The Lord Himself set an example of punctuality: “And when the hour was come, He sat down, and the twelve apostles with Him.” (Luke 22.14) That is a principle on punctuality.

    The Bible says the Lord Jesus Christ is God Who “became flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only Begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” (John’s Gospel 1.14) Those who do not believe that He was God manifest in flesh do not know God at all. The Lord answered those who doubted He was God, “Ye neither know Me, nor My Father: if ye had known Me, ye should have known My Father also.” (John 8.19) So the God Who is mentioned in the Bible is not the God of other people’s religions or beliefs, because they do not believe and receive the Lord Jesus Christ as their God and Saviour. This is an important distinction.

    Are there principles in the Word of God that tell us we cannot address God as Allah or any other names that people use to address their gods? For example, the Chinese call their gods or deities “shen,” [?] and this shen is also used in the Chinese Bible for God. Is it right? See the article posted on Scribd: “The God of the Bible is a Chinese god.” (…/The-God-of-the-Bible-is-a-Chinese-god) There are principles in the Word of God that tell us God should not be addressed as Allah.

    The principle of hallowing God’s Name
    God does want His people to distinguish and differentiate Him from what other people worship in their religions. In Matthew 6.9 and Luke 11.2, the Lord wants His people to hallow God’s Name: “Hallowed be Thy Name.”
    The word “hallowed” comes from the Greek hagiazo meaning “to make holy” (from hagios, “holy”), signifies to set apart for God, to sanctify, to make a person or thing the opposite of koinos, ‘common;’ it is translated “Hallowed,” with reference to the Name of God the Father in the Lord’s Prayer, Matthew 6.9; Luke11.2.” (Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words) The Chinese pray to the Chinese gods and call them shen, why should believers of God and the Lord Jesus Christ call Him shen as those who worship Chinese gods? They are not hallowing Him. They are making Him common with the Chinese gods! They are bringing God down to the level of the Chinese gods and making Him god! The Muslims consider Allah as the supreme divine name which they consider as unique for their creator. It does not hallow God’s Name to use Allah for Him in Bahasa Malaysia/Indonesia Bible. It should use another name, perhaps, the name Tuhan. Those who translated the Bahasa Malaysia/Indonesia Bible long ago did not know of this principle in the Word of God. Had they known, they would not have used Allah for God.

    2. The principle of sanctifying God
    God does want us to set Him apart, or distinguish Him from gods. Look at the following scriptures:

    Thus will I magnify Myself, and sanctify Myself; and I will be known in the eyes of many nations, and they shall know that I am the LORD. (Ezekiel 38.23)

    Sanctify the LORD of hosts Himself; and let Him be your fear, and let Him be your dread. (Isaiah 8:.13)

    The word “sanctify” comes from the Hebrew k?dhash and is equivalent to the New Testament Greek verb hagia?z?. According to the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, k?dhash has the “underlying idea of the separateness of holy nature or holy use,” that is, the setting apart for God only. Where is the ‘separateness’ or setting God apart from Allah when the name is used by Muslims and by those who are God’s people?

    3. God is profaned
    Let it be known the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ is neither the Allah in Islam nor the shen in Chinese religions. Let this distinction be made in the Bible, in writing, singing, prayer and worship. Without this distinction, God is profaned, common with other gods and religions. In the Hebrew Old Testament, “profane” comes from the Hebrew chalal, and has the sense of “for common use” (The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia). We can apply this principle to pronouns for God. Note that we begin the pronouns for God (He, Him, His, Thy, etc) with a capital letter for distinction to show they do not refer to man. And God is not man.

  2. F.G. Fitzer says:

    Yes, yes, yes, but I just found a memo from God. It reads:

    To: The Human Race
    Subject: Holy Books

    Holy Books are best used for blowing noses.

    P.S.: I like to be referred to as “Fred”. “God” and “Allah” are too formal.

    That pretty much undermines all of your arguments, SCL Johnann. This memo is more up to date than your Bible. It was sent out just last Friday.

    1. SCL Johann says:

      Your memo offends those whose Holy Books you say “are best used for blowing noses.”

      You are dead wrong if you consider the Bible as one of the Holy Books. It is more than a Holy Book. It is the Living Word of God. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God,” (2 Timothy 3.16), that is, “all of Scripture reveals God.” The Lord Jesus Christ says, “Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures.” (Matthew 22.29)

      In that day the Word of God shall judge you, whether you believe it or not. “But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.” (Matthew 12.36,37) Take heed.

      1. Jim says:

        Your prolific use of the letter E offends me.

        The ol’ The Bible is the Living Word of God because it Says So in the Bible. Round and round we go!

        1. SCL Johann says:

          Yeah, too, in your reply.

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