My pastor emailed me this morning and offered a pushback of his own concerning my assertion that Christians and all Jews don’t necessarily worship the same God. His basic premise was that Jews who deny that Jesus is the Son of God and do not believe that God is Trinity know in part and thus do worship the true God, just not in fullness (my paraphrase). He and asked how I’d respond to that line of reasoning. Here’s the gist of what I said:
At the foot of Sinai the Israelites gave their gold to Aaron and had him fashion them a statue of a calf. They called that calf YHWH. They said that the calf led them out of Egypt. They proceeded to worship the calf whom they called YHWH. Were they worshipping YHWH? Maybe in part because they got the name right? Or maybe not at all because YHWH has to be worshipped in spirit and in truth.
Did they get a pass for being confused? Or did YHWH want to kill them for their idolatry. The nature of idolatry is worshipping something *other than* the true God. The Jews who have denied Jesus have denied the Father. No different than Muslims who claim to worship the one God of Abraham. So I don’t see a way of saying that they do worship the same God. I see them as worshipping a golden calf that they appended God’s name to. They worship something *other than* the God we worship.
At about 6:20 in the above video Brant Pitre says that the feeding of the multitude account in the Gospels would remind first century Jewish readers of Moses. I’m not denying that but he said, “If you’re a first century Jew and you have a prophet who takes out a great crowd into the wilderness and feeds them with bread, who’s that gonna make you think of?”
I can see why Moses might be the connection that someone makes, but why not think of God instead? It was “the LORD, the God of Israel [who said]: ‘Let my people go, so that they may hold a festival to me in the wilderness'” (Exod 5:1 cf. 7:16). It was the LORD who parted the Red Sea so that Israel could pass through on dry land (Exod 14:21) into the desert. It was the LORD who rained down bread from heaven (Exod 16:4).
So yes, Moses was a type of Christ, I agree. And it is easy to make the association with Moses. But I think it’s just as easy to make the association with the LORD, and perhaps even more appropriate. As Sigurd Grindheim pointed out in a couple of books (reviewed here & here) a few years back, Jews certainly had messianic expectations, but they were primarily waiting for God to come into his kingdom.
I just pulled the trigger on James Dunn’s Neither Jew Nor Greek: A Contested Identity, which is the third (and final?) volume in his Christianity in the Making series. I had a $30 Amazon gift card burning a hole in my pocket and I had to order my nephew a birthday gift so I killed two birds with one book as the saying goes.
Earlier today on Twitter Mike Aubrey offered a friendly pushback to my post about Christians and Muslims worshipping the same God. I’ve just learned that a gentleman named Gavin on a blog called Otagosh has offered the same pushback. Basically, they’ve both responded that if Christians and Muslims don’t worship the same God then neither do Christians and Jews.
My response is to ask, which Jews? I have zero qualms about saying that Jews who have rejected Jesus as Messiah and deny the Trinity don’t worship the same God as Christians. But not all Jews fall into this group. Christianity was originally a Jewish movement. It’s founder is a Jew. It’s earliest adherents were Jews. It’s Scriptures were written by Jews.
But the early Jews who accepted Jesus as Messiah and wrote about the unique relationship shared between Father, Son, and Spirit were opposed by other Jews. An anti-Jesus Jewish movement grew in the same soil as this pro-Jesus Jewish movement. Both movements grew alongside one another and one became Christianity while the other retained the moniker of Judaism.
My point is, there are Messianic Jews, Jews for Jesus, Jewish Christians, and a host of other Jews who do indeed worship the same God that the Gentiles who have been grafted into Israel’s covenant worship. The Church is the “one new man” composed of Jew and Gentile alike, united in its worship of the one true God. But then there are plenty of Jews who don’t worship this God and we shouldn’t be afraid to say so.
On the flip side, I’m not familiar with any Muslims for Jesus or Muslim Christians. A denial of basic Christian tenets is foundational to their belief and worship of Allah. Their Scriptures say quite plainly that they don’t worship the Son or even believe him to be Son. Ours says that a denial of Jesus as Son is a denial of his Father as well, hence, I stand by my original answer to the question and add a qualified answer when switching the terms.
I meant to post this yesterday but I got held up at work. I think it was roughly 2005 or 2006 when I became interested in the academic study of the Bible and related literature. I had been a believer for a few years at this point but until then my library consisted of a KJV and an NIV. I’d read both voraciously, which was great (I miss those days!), but there came a point when I needed to supplement my study of the Bible in English.
The first two resources I got my hands on were the New Oxford Annotated Apocrypha, 3rd ed. and Sir Lancelot Charles Lee Brenton’s translation of the Septuagint, which was a diglot containing both the Greek text alongside Brenton’s translation. I procured both books from Walmart and this was my entry into a deeper study of the Scriptures.
I still have that Septuagint, and while I mostly consult my Rahlfs-Hanhart edition these days (or an electronic text in Accordance), it’s nice to pull it down off the shelf and flip through it just to reminisce. Brenton’s was the only English translation of the LXX I knew for years until the NETS came to my attention. I believe it was my brother-from-another-mother Esteban Vázquez and our friend Kevin Edgecomb that first informed me about the NETS, and while I’ve never gotten my hands on a physical copy, I have made use of a PDF copy as well as the edition provided in Accordance.
I’ve said all this to say that the LXX is at the foundation of my love for biblical studies and theology. It was there right at the beginning and it will remain close at hand until the end.
Λύχνος τοῖς ποσίν μου ὁ λόγος σου
καὶ φῶς ταῖς τρίβοις μου.
Your word is a lamp to my feet
and a light to my paths.
Psalm 118 (119):105
I’ve seen this question popping up recently. It’s easy to answer:
Do Muslims worship the Trinity?
Do Muslims acknowledge Jesus as the Son of God?
Doesn’t that entail a denial of the Father?
So I repeat, Muslims and Christians do not worship the same God.
It’s really not a difficult question to answer.
I said more on this way back in 2008. Check it out if you want.
So here’s the deal…
First, my church has been going through Jesus’ parables for a couple of months now in Bible study so when I saw that John Meier’s latest volume in his A Marginal Jew series was on the parables I really wanted to get it. Amazon has it for $46+ and I thought that a little steep. So I’ve been holding off in hopes that the price would drop.
Second, in thinking about the most recent volume I’ve been reminded that I still need to add volume 2 to my library. Once again I went to Amazon only to discover that it was prohibitively expensive. We’re talking over $80! They had used copies for over $40 but I refuse to pay that much for something with writing in it.
Third, I turned to CBD because it’s been a while since I’ve been there. I saw that they had volume 5 for $41, which was better, but the shipping made it more expensive. I then saw that they had volume 2 for $42, which appealed to me greatly! So I added both to my cart. The only issue was the cost of shipping and the fact that volume 2 wouldn’t ship until next month.
Fourth, I searched online to see if CBD was running any promotions. They were! I found a free shipping code and applied it. I was going to be getting the two volumes for around $84. Still pricey but better than Amazon by a sight.
Fifth, before I checked out I decided to check CBD’s slightly imperfect stock to see if they had anything else worth adding to the cart. Guess what? I found that they had volume 2 for $10 less than the new volume! And it was in stock! So I swapped that out and saved $10 right there.
Sixth, I was ready to check out but as I kept clicking I saw a copy of Harold Attridge’s collection of Essays on John and Hebrews for $10 so I added that to the cart and came back to the same total of $84 but with an extra book and a copy of Meier’s second volume that’s ready to ship now.
Not a bad deal.