Posted by: Christine Johnson | September 17, 2006

God is not Great. God is GOOD.

Drew over at the Shrine of the Holy Whapping has a most beautiful post about the differences in how Christians see God and Muslims see Allah. (Yes, I know that Allah is the Arabic word for God, but you know what I mean.)

Here’s a sample, but I recommend that you go read the whole thing.
It occurred to me the other day that the Christian God is not “Great.” To say that God is Great (“Allahu Akbhar”) is NOT, as it is in Islam, the central tenet of our religion.

The Christian God is **Good**. He is the True, the Good, and the Beautiful, as it were. God is not “Great,” however; not great in that solely transcendant, utterly inscrutible, and stainlessly reverenced manner of greatness which Islam claims for Allah.

And Goodness can take on the form of Good Friday and a death on the Cross. The Crucifixion, and the theology and spirituality of the Cross, is what Islam so desperately needs. Because Allah is “Great” and can suffer no dishonor, no harm, Allah’s prophets, likewise, can suffer no dishonor. This is why the Muslims are uber-sensitive about Mohammed. It is also why the Muslims abhor the idea that Jesus Christ was Crucified: they believe Jesus Christ existed as some manner of prophet, and because Christ was a prophet, could absolutely not have suffered the ignomity of the Cross.

However, we “lift high the Cross,” promclaming “Christ crucified, foolishness to the Gentiles and a stumbling block for the Jews.” (1 Cor 1:23) In Jesus Christ, we see that God is Love (Deus Est Caritas), for in Jesus Christ the Divine Son is absolutely poured out for us, as an icon of the inner life of the Trinity (that the Son proceeds from the Father in the love of the Holy Spirit, One God), and also as a testimony of God’s absolute love for us.

The Christian God can, and does, suffer ignomity, dishonor, and shame for the sake of love in the person of Jesus Christ. Muslims, rather, are quite insistent that God is not Love; Allah is Great, and if in Allah’s determination Allah saves some human souls, it is less out of love than mercy. Whatever the motive, Allah is not constituted by love. But the Christian God IS, in His essence, Love: that is what the doctrine of the Trinity summarizes, that the One God fully exists (the Father), fully knows Himself (Logos or the Son), and fully loves His Infinite Goodness (the Holy Spirit). The Christian God IS love, not simply “loving,” and therefore can relate to humanity only through Love. The Christian God not only can therefore, when He takes on human flesh, suffer dishonor and shame, but for the sake of loving a human race which does not respect love, God must suffer the ignomity of unrequited love.

This is really a beautiful and thoughtful post. Please be sure to read the whole thing.


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