Last month, I wrote a post on Pope Francis inviting Muslim and Jewish leaders to pray to God together with Christians. Recently, I’ve come across a post on Patheos entitled Muslim Prayers in the Vatican…Shock Horror?!!? Written by Fr. Dwight Longenecker, it attempts to lighten some of the shock that came out in response to the news (even from clear thinking Roman Catholics). After some explanation, the author explains what really unfolded at the Vatican meeting (the words of the article are in purple). Fr. Longenecker writes, in an attempt to explain why letting Muslims worship under the auspices of the pope isn’t such a bad thing:
In other words, this is a time for some Muslims, Jews and Christians to meet together for a time of prayer each in their own traditions.
Critics will say this is a subtle distinction, but it is in the subtle distinctions that true discernment lies. Others will complain that we have yet another example of the Pope’s defenders having to scurry to explain away something he should not be doing.
The explanations are only necessary because of the ignorance of the press who are sensationalizing what is a low key spiritual event.
Bottom line: The Pope is meeting with two world leaders to pray together for peace. This is part of his role as the premier spiritual leader in the world.
There’s another problem however, many people are uneasy at the idea that Muslims, Jews and Christians pray to the same God. While we may find Muslim extremism to be repellent and we may have a gut level dislike of Islam it is still necessary to consider the question of who they pray to.
So think it through: First of all, there is only one God. Then there are demons who masquerade as gods, goddesses and demi-gods.
You can therefore only worship either the one God–Creator of All Things or you worship demons.
Islam is not a pagan religion. It is a Christian heresy. It formed in Christian lands and is a legalistic oversimplification of Christianity. The closest comparison we have in our culture to Islam is the Mormon religion. Both are heretical offshoots of Christianity. They therefore worship the same God we do–albeit in a defective way.
I was utterly flabbergasted when I read this, and could not believe the error that was being presented in defense of permitting Muslims to pray under Vatican authority.
Firstly, we are told that Islam was “formed in Christian lands” – in actuality, Islam was founded in predominantly pagan Arabia. It was true that there were Jewish and Christian Arabs present in the region; some of these were even among Muhammad’s in-laws. It was also true that some Arabs were picking up on monotheism. However, the governments, merchants, and majority religions of the Arabian peninsula were pagan. They worshiped idols. They engaged in polytheism. The fact is, Islam was founded outside of Christian lands, not inside.
Secondly, we are told that Islam is a “legalistic oversimplification of Christianity.” This is actually an oversimplification of Islam. While it would require a longer post to explain, suffice to say Islam is a conglomeration of local religions and Arabic practices, mixed with legalism and peppered with Judeo-Christian names and concepts. Many Christian concepts such as covenants, atonement, sins, and the very role of Christ, are wildly different. In short, it is as much a “Christian heresy” as Baha’i is a Muslim heresy.
Thirdly, we are told that the “closest comparison we have in our culture to Islam is the Mormon religion.” This makes me ponder if Fr. Longenecker is aware of Mormon theology itself: Mormonism is, at its heart, a polytheistic religion. If anything, it is closer to the pagan religions Muhammad condemned than it is orthodox Christianity. This is not even considering that it is erroneous (as we already outlined) to say both Mormons and Islam are “heretical offshoots of Christianity.”
Fourthly, the author states that Muslims “worship the same God we do-albeit in a defective way.” I would like to know what our definition of “defective” is. The Allah of Islam condemns the Trinity as a damnable heresy (S. 5:73-74), supposedly quotes Jesus himself as saying he never told anyone to worship him as God (S. 5:116-117), and completely denies the historic, Biblical account of the crucifixion (S. 4:157-158). To say Islam worships the same God in a “defective way” is akin to saying Adolf Hitler handled relations with minority communities in a “defective way.” God is not the author of contradiction, and would not teach contradictory doctrines – ergo, either Muhammad truly heard from the true God, and God is the author of contradiction, or Muhammad heard from false spirits, and taught the worship of a false deity.
Islam is a false religion. Muslims worship a false god. Worship of false gods is worship of demons. Muslims worship demons. QED.
While Pope Francis himself may not partake in any Muslim prayers, his permission for Muslims to come and pray and to pray alongside with Christian prayers not only puts him at odds with Decree 25 of the Ecumenical Council of Vienne (see my post here), but is simply permitting the worship of a false deity to occur under his direction. As I said in the previous blog post on this subject, peace is a noble endeavor, and tolerance between two groups is likewise a noble endeavor…however, what Pope Francis is doing is not only unbiblical in its presupposition, but in its execution as well. This attempt to soften it only makes it worse, because it continues to present the false teaching of the Second Vatican Council (Nostra Aetate; 3) as well as the Roman Catholic Catechism (841) that Muslims worship the same god as Christians. As politically incorrect it might be to say such a thing, it simply isn’t true, and to try to argue otherwise is to compartmentalize historical and doctrinal facts.