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Do Christians, Muslims and Jews worship the same God?
September 1st, 2013
03:26 AM ET

Do Christians, Muslims and Jews worship the same God?

Opinion by Jeffrey Weiss, Special to CNN
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(CNN) - Pope Francis surprised Israeli and Palestinian leaders last month when he invited them to a special prayer ceremony at the Vatican this Sunday - not least because religion has often been the source, not the salve, of the region's conflicts.

Still, Pope Francis offered his "home" - the Vatican - as the perfect place to plea for some divine assistance, and Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas dutifully agreed to attend.

"The Pope has placed it in this perspective: Prayer is like a force for peace,” Vatican Secretary of State Archbishop Pietro Parolin told Vatican Radio.

"We hope that there, where human efforts have so far failed, the Lord offers to all the wisdom and fortitude to carry out a real peace plan."

But Sunday's special ceremony at the Vatican raises an interesting question: When Francis, Peres and Abbas bow their heads in prayer, will they be talking to the same God?

After all, Jews, Christians and Muslims all trace their faiths back to a fellow named Abraham, whom they all claim was chosen for special treatment by the Almighty.

Not academic

The “same God” question is one theologians have hammered at for as long as there have been enough religions for the query to make sense.

The question is hardly academic, though. In fact, a number of politicians, religious leaders and scholars have expressed hope in recent years that a convincing answer on the God question might dampen the violence committed in His name.

Yale Divinity School theologian Miroslav Volf recently edited a book titled “Do We Worship the Same God? Jews, Christians, and Muslims in Dialogue.”

In the introduction, Volf explained why the title question matters:

"To ask: ‘Do we have a common God?’ is, among other things, to worry: ‘Can we live together?’ That’s why whether or not a given community worships the same god as does another community has always been a crucial cultural and political question and not just a theological one."

On the other hand, there’s CNN Belief Blog contributor and Boston University religion professor Stephen Prothero.

His book on this subject is titled “God Is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions That Run The World.”

Prothero writes:

“For more than a generation we have followed scholars and sages down the rabbit hole into a fantasy world where all gods are one … In fact this naive theological groupthink – call it Godthink – has made the world more dangerous by blinding us to the clash of religions that threaten us worldwide.”

In the world of politics, President George W. Bush asserted the unity side of the argument more than once in the years after the 9/11 attacks - often as a way to deflect accusations that America was at war with Islam.

Bush told Al Arabiya television, “I believe there is a universal God. I believe the God that the Muslim prays to is the same God that I pray to. After all, we all came from Abraham. I believe in that universality.”

Pope Francis invites Israeli, Palestinian leaders to Vatican peace talks

Pope John Paul II drew from the same rhetorical well several times.

“We believe in the same God, the one God, the living God, the God who created the world and brings his creatures to their perfection,” he first said in a speech to Muslims in Morocco in 1985.

Looking for a more recent example? Consider the plight of Vatican envoy to Malaysia.

Shortly after he arrived there last year, Archbishop Joseph Marino said that is was fine by him that Christian translations of the Bible into Malay use the word “Allah” for “God.”

“Allah” is, of course, the Arabic word for God and is found in the Quran. The Christian translators explained that since most Malaysians are Muslim, it’s the word they’re most comfortable with and therefore the best choice for the translation.

But many Muslim authorities in Malaysia were furious. They say Christians are slipping in the familiar word as a way to convert Muslims. And conversion of Muslims is all but illegal in Malaysia.

There’s a lawsuit ongoing about the translations. Marino had to apologize for pushing into Malaysian politics.

Points of disagreement

So what do the “Abrahamic” religions disagree about?

Among other things: the purpose of humanity, the relationship of God and humanity, sin, forgiveness, salvation, the afterlife, Jesus, Muhammad, the calendar, and the religious importance of Abraham himself.

Plus the nature of God.

Any summary will leave out enormous nuance. Internal divisions within religions have fueled some of the worst examples of human violence. Consider the long and frequently bloody history of troubles between Catholics and Protestants or the growing death toll of Muslim-on-Muslim attacks.

But there are common elements about God widely accepted in each tradition.

Judaism

Start with Judaism, since it came first and established roots that carried into the other two.

Jewish tradition teaches that there is one and only one God, creator of everything, and He established physical and moral laws. As Judaism’s preeminent prayer says: “The Lord our God, the Lord is one.”

This God walks and talks directly with His creations – for a while.

Eventually, He chooses one particular nomad (Abraham) to father a mighty nation that God sets up as an example to other nations.

This God likes the smell of burning meat and demands other extremely specific physical offerings as evidence of obedience and repentance. And He gives His chosen people a particular set of laws – but doesn’t mind discussion and even argument about those laws.

A famous rabbinic saying implies that every word in Judaism’s sacred texts can be understood in 70 correct (but related) ways. And human reasoning can even trump divine intention. (No kidding. It’s in the Talmud)

This God judges His people every year. Tradition says he’s willing to accept imperfection, as long as it comes with repentance.

He’s big on obedience, not so much on faith. He’s not nearly as attentive to the behaviors of non-Jews. (There’s a famous Jewish joke with the punch line “Would you mind choosing somebody else once in a while?”)

Tradition holds that there’s a World To Come after death where moral accounts will somehow be settled. But this God is vague on details.

Christianity

The most obvious differences in the Christian God are the traditional teachings about the Trinity and Jesus. God is three separate persons who are also one. How? Christianity says the Trinity is a “mystery” of faith.

According to Christian tradition, God begets a son who is somehow also Him but not Him to atone for Original Sin. He sacrifices that son though a brutal death and thus achieves humanity's salvation.

But the son, who also is God, rises from the dead. And that sacrifice redeems eternally all who accept and believe in it. Faith, not behavior, is the essential measure of salvation.

This God is willing to vastly expand what it means to be among His “chosen people.” He’s also willing to cancel many of the laws that had applied to that chosen group for this expanded membership.

Orthodox Jews say that God prohibits them from eating a cheeseburger; Christians say God has no problem with them wolfing down Big Macs.

Unlike the Jewish God, whose instructions are almost all about this world, the Christian God is focused more on eternal salvation: heaven and hell.

Finally, for this God, much of the Jewish scriptures (which are all God’s word) are actually about foreshadowing Jesus. Including Abraham.

Islam

The Muslim God is a bit more like the Jewish God.

There is no Trinity in Muslim tradition. Jesus was a prophet, but no more divine than other prophets.

God has never has had anything like physical attributes and has no gender. (Some Muslim commentators say that the noun “Allah” is masculine, but only in the way that all nouns in some languages include gender.)

Muslim tradition holds that God wants one thing from humans: Submission. The word “Islam” is defined as “submission to the will of God.”

For Muslims, all true prophets in Jewish and Christian traditions were actually Muslim because they knew to submit correctly to God. Differences between Muslim, Jewish and Christian interpretations of God are due to errors that crept into the other two faiths, Islam teaches.

The Muslim God, like the other two, initially demanded that Abraham sacrifice a son. But the Muslim God wanted Abraham’s son Ishmael, not Isaac, who Jewish tradition holds was offered as a the sacrifice.

The Muslim God also designated, from before the world began, a perfect man to be his final prophet: Muhammad. God’s perfect truths are found only in the Quran and in the sayings of Muhammad, the hadiths.

And the Muslim God, like the Christian God but unlike the Jewish God, will welcome believers to paradise and condemn many non-Muslims - exactly which ones is a matter of much discussion - to eternal torment.

Final answer

So do Christians Muslims, and Jews, really all worship the same God?

In two major volumes on the subject recently published by scholars from various faiths and traditions, including Volf’s, the most inclusive response from these scholars is basically: Yes, and it’s our God.

This is not a new way of answering the question.

In 1076, Pope Gregory VII wrote this to a Muslim leader: “We believe in and confess one God, admittedly, in a different way…”

But like many other religious leaders on all sides of the argument, Gregory insisted that his version of the Almighty is the one whom the others are unknowingly and incompletely worshiping.

A less exclusivist set of religions might shrug off the differences. But all three claim to have the only “True Faith.”

So do all three faiths actually worship the same deity, whether they call him God or Allah or Adonai?

God only knows.

Jeffrey Weiss is an award-winning religion reporter in Dallas.The views expressed in this column belong to Weiss. A version of this story first ran in September 2013. 

CNN's Daniel Burke contributed to this article. 

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • History • Islam • Judaism • Muslim • Religious violence • Torah • Vatican

soundoff (7,438 Responses)
  1. Skeptimist

    Two key mathematical functions that describe the structure of the universe (Pi and Phi) are irrational numbers.
    That may be an indication of God's sense of humor.
    Which may further suggest we shouldn't take ourselves so damned seriously.

    September 1, 2013 at 11:29 am |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      Why do you discount the other emergent-yet-irrational "numbers?"

      September 1, 2013 at 11:36 am |
    • Donald

      If we assume that God is not outside the Universe then the relationship that so many people have lived and died by can be expressed very simply using set notation.

      September 1, 2013 at 11:38 am |
  2. JW

    There is as much proof for your god as there is for all the others, which is to say, absolutely none whatsoever.

    They're all false. None of them exist. You don't need it to be a good person. Put aside the guilt, the fear and the hierarchy and live the best life you can. Help others when you can. Leave a better world behind you. This is the only one we have.

    September 1, 2013 at 11:28 am |
    • Thinker23

      I see an automobile or a computer as a pretty convincing proof that those who invented, designed, built and tested these things EXISTED. Don't you agree, JW?

      September 1, 2013 at 11:32 am |
      • Cpt. Obvious

        Yes, there is evidence of computers being built by humans and no evidence of computers ever not being built by humans. When it comes to the universe, we have no data either way. Nobody has ever seen a universe "built" either by design or by another mechanism, so we can only say that we do not know why the universe is here or if it was or was not designed.

        You don't seem to understand logic quite as well as you presume.

        September 1, 2013 at 11:35 am |
        • Thinker23

          So you believe that if something was not built by humans it was not built, period? This means that we humans, living on a tiny planet rotating around a insignificant star on the periphery of one of hundreds of billions of galaxies are the ONLY creatures in the entire Universe capable of creating and building things. How can THIS be possible without divine intervention giving such exclusive abilities to His favorite children???

          September 1, 2013 at 11:43 am |
        • Uhhuh

          @Thinker23: and to follow your logic, who created this divine being? And who created the creator of this divine being? And so on.

          September 1, 2013 at 12:19 pm |
        • Cpt. Obvious

          No, Thinker, and I'm not sure why you would come up with that question from what I said. What I'm saying is that we humans see a variety of things in our daily life: some "natural" and some "man made." With the universe, there's only one, so unlike objects we encounter in our world, we only encounter one universe. We don't have examples of hundreds of naturally occurring universes and others that are "designed." If there's only one of something, and you have no way to compare that thing to anything similar, how can you know whether it was designed or not?

          Why should we assume that our one universe is designed? Yes, it's interesting, but lots of interesting structures aren't designed but rather are the product of wind or erosion or other natural forces.

          September 1, 2013 at 3:59 pm |
      • Richard Cranium

        Thinker
        If you came across a working computer, yet had never seen one before, did not know of the technology, never saw the materials, did not know how electricity worked, you just might make a god a$$umption.

        There was a tribe in the south Pacific, where in WWII we accidentally airdropped a jeep. Years later, this tribe was contacted, met people from outside their world. They had made the jeep a god because they could not figure out what it was or where it came from, so they worshipped it. Were they right? Just because something exists that you do not know, does not mean a god had anything to do with it.

        September 1, 2013 at 3:48 pm |
  3. Lionly Lamb

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j2DzyP8ZuEg&feature=player_detailpage

    September 1, 2013 at 11:28 am |
  4. RWENUTS

    Do Christians, Muslims and Jews worship the same Easter bunny?

    September 1, 2013 at 11:28 am |
    • Jeff K

      Sorry the easter bunny is pagan.

      September 1, 2013 at 11:30 am |
  5. Dave

    They should all get along, like three guys sharing the same girl friend.

    September 1, 2013 at 11:27 am |
    • JW

      Yep, because three guys sharing the same girlfriend always ends well. 😉

      September 1, 2013 at 11:29 am |
    • bostontola

      Nice insight, and that is one jealous girl.

      September 1, 2013 at 11:29 am |
  6. john

    This could have been a one word article. NO! Worship the the one and only true God also known as the Word.

    September 1, 2013 at 11:27 am |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      I think you need to come to grips with the facts that not everyone agrees with your opinion and that you're not just automatically correct because you want to be.

      September 1, 2013 at 11:41 am |
  7. Jeff K

    The important thing is that they all just fight each other and leave us secular people alone, we can hang out with the Buddhists.

    September 1, 2013 at 11:27 am |
  8. dave

    The writer started the article off by asking why all the religions can't just get along. I'm pretty sure Christians and Jews are getting along with everyone just fine from an overall aspect. I know Christians are still getting flack for the crusades but enough is enough. Muslims are killing, burning, and causing destruction on a large scale but liberals still love to throw all the religions in the same boat as far as violence. Sure you hear that only 1% of muslims are terrorist but how many muslims support or say nothing about what those terrorist do. And if we want to talk about shear works of the religions it doesn't even compare. Christians have done more for the poor, broken, and desolate than the other two combined. You take away Christian hospitals, orphanages, soup kitchens, etc and over night the whole system comes crashing down. Christian missionaries from various countries are throughout the world helping the poor and sick while the same liberals aren't doing jack for anyone. But Christians are evil because they are in line with 90% of the world on gay marriage and abortion. Muslims get no flack for wanting to imprison and kill gays but Christians or others who want to keep a 10,000 year definition of marriage are pure evil. Whether one thinks Christians are crazy or not, the benefit of Christianity is undeniable. People have to open their eyes and look at it from a works perspective and quit grasping for straws.

    September 1, 2013 at 11:26 am |
    • Jeff K

      Liberals aren't doing jack? Huh
      Doctors without borders for one

      September 1, 2013 at 11:29 am |
    • tallulah13

      Dave, you give christianity too miuch credit. Please keep in mind that there are christians in Africa who are still killing "witches", many of them just children.

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/10/18/african-children-denounce_n_324943.html

      September 1, 2013 at 11:30 am |
    • Uhhuh

      So typical...always going back to the Crusades, as if you have to go back that far. Try the holocaust, WW2, genocide of natives in the Americas, etc. Which religion did those folks belong to? And what a nice Eurocentric way of looking at everything (all charity is done by Christians...ha...where? Let me guess, basically in the western world?).

      September 1, 2013 at 11:46 am |
  9. Thinker23

    As expected, proponents of mot religions (Christianity, Buddhism, Atheism, etc.) declare that THEIR faith is the only true one and every other belief is false. In extreme cases, proponents of Islam KILL those who dare to disagree with them.

    September 1, 2013 at 11:26 am |
  10. Lionly Lamb

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eNVD78CiOhY&feature=player_detailpage

    September 1, 2013 at 11:25 am |
  11. john the atheist

    Jesus ackbar! Praise the allah!

    September 1, 2013 at 11:25 am |
  12. Arthur

    Einstein's Theory of Relativity proves (to about 16 decimal places) that time/space is a physical dimension. According to the String theory, we live in 10 dimensions, only 4 of which we experience. In the Middle Ages, Jewish philosophers divined this information from Genesis. It took scientists until the 20th century to realize these facts. The fact is that God exists and is not constrained by the dimensions that constrain his creation.

    All through the Tanakh, what Christians call the "old" testament and what Jews call the Bible, there are dozens of promises from the Deity, who exists outside of our ability to experience him directly (except when He chooses to intervene,) that say they Deity intervenes in human history. He has and He will again. You can choose to believe this or not. However, the intervention of the Deity into human history about 2000 years ago caused the world to change its calendar. That is a fact.

    This same bible also tells of an evil actor, who is called by many names – among them Satan and Lucifer, who was created by the Deity and aspires to be worshipped as though he were also god. This evil actor is the character worshipped by the Muslims. His "messiah" is known as the "12th Imam," but is known in Christian circles as the "anti-Christ."

    Jews and Christians do, in fact, worship the same Deity. The Muslims worship satan. Everything about their deity was also revealed in the "old" testament and in the new.

    The muslims worship a "god of fortresses," who "does not honor the desires of women." The spirit of "anti-Christ" is he who denies the Deity of Jesus, denies the Father had a Son and denies the existence of the Holy Spirit.

    The muslims offer a peace treaty, if you will proclaim there is no god but Allah and Mohammed is his messenger. If the 3 religions worshipped the same deity, why do the muslims insist that one has to proclaim there is no god but Allah? Why do they deny the Deity of Jesus Christ? Why do they despise women and treat them as chattels?

    September 1, 2013 at 11:25 am |
    • Thinker23

      "Einstein's Theory of Relativity proves (to about 16 decimal places) that time/space is a physical dimension..." Can you elaborate on this please?

      September 1, 2013 at 11:28 am |
      • Arthur

        I wrote a reply. where did it go?

        September 1, 2013 at 11:50 am |
        • Arthur

          The Theory of Relativity posits that time and space are physical dimensions that change with speed and gravity. This has been proven, by predictable amounts by the differences in time measured by the atomic clocks in Denver and the UK. The differences in time are relative to the change in gravity at their respective locations.

          September 1, 2013 at 11:53 am |
    • Uhhuh

      You say they worship Satan, and they say you worship a zombie king and practice ritual cannibalism and vampirism, with all the flesh eating and blood drinking stuff. I say you are all petty, deluded human beings who feel the absolute need to believe in an imaginary friend in the sky.

      September 1, 2013 at 11:51 am |
      • Arthur

        Nonsense.

        The "old" testament requires that the expiation of sin requires the sacrifice of an innocent.

        Jesus Christ offered himself as a sacrifice, one time for all. As an innocent, He could give up His life. If you believe the sacrifice was made for you, and that he over came death (he was resurrected) then your sins are forgiven to you.

        No one eats flesh and drinks blood. Those are symbols that you believe these sacrifices were made on your behalf.

        September 1, 2013 at 11:56 am |
        • Uhhuh

          My point is that as easily as you labeled my response "nonsense," a Muslim person could just as easily write something similar in reply to your "nonsense" about his religion. The funny thing is, to a neutral and rational third person observer, you both look crazy. Do you see it now?

          Why do you have an absolute belief in your holy book, a book that is basically just a compilation (made by a committee - ever heard of the term "design by committee"?) of writings written tens to hundreds of years after the death of your so called man-god. A case can be made that Jesus' contemporaries never ever considered him as god or the son of god or what have you, and that this whole trinity mess is just something that priests conveniently cobbled together decades/centuries later to make this new movement (which equaled to money, power and influence) more palatable to a Roman audience that was more used to multiple and hierarchical gods. Hinduism shares a lot more with Christianity than you ever thought...just a few things for you to ponder.

          September 1, 2013 at 12:38 pm |
      • Arthur

        If you compare the Old Testament the New Testament (the Bible) and the Koran, you will see that the deity of the Koran is the Satan of the Bible.

        For example in Isaiah 14, the Deity is speaking to Satan. These same statements, "I will ascend . . . " etc.

        In the Koran, Muhammed claims to have ascended into heaven.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZUsrhK77Vlo

        Surat al-Ma idah (The table Spread) 5:116-117

        "The Korah clearly states in, The Women 4.171, that God has NO Son. In sharp contrast, John 3:16 in the Word of God declares that God DOES have a Son, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." The Koran even goes as far as to claim that Jesus never died, nor was He crucified (The Women, 4.157). Clearly, Islam and Christianity are diametrically opposed."

        1 John 2:22-23 Who is the liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, [even] he that denieth the Father and the Son.

        1Jo 2:23 Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: he that confesseth the Son hath the Father also.

        The Koran denies the Deity of Jesus. according to the Bible, that is the definition of the anti-Christ.

        In a few sentences, this proves that the god that the Muslims worship is NOT the Deity of the Bible.

        September 1, 2013 at 3:26 pm |
    • Uhhuh

      By the way, you wrote that "the spirit of "anti-Christ" is he who denies the Deity of Jesus, denies the Father had a Son and denies the existence of the Holy Spirit."

      Nice little contradiction you have going there. I'm pretty sure Jews deny all of the above, just like Muslims do (tell me in what imaginary world Jews believe in trinity). So let me correct the statement you made earlier using the same logic you presented: Jews and Muslims, do in fact, worship the same deity. The Christians worship a zombie king.

      September 1, 2013 at 12:45 pm |
      • Arthur

        Jews, and I am one, are blinded now. They do not practice the Judaism of the Torah, they are practicing rabbinic Judaism.

        But if you read the Septuagint version of the "Old" Testament scriptures (translated into Greek in the 3rd cent.BC), the clear Messianic prophecies are there to be read by any Jew. No rabbi can dispute the truth.

        Even in the Masoretic texts, the Deity is called "Elohim" which is the plural form of the name. There are several passages in Genesis, where the Deity refers to Himself in the plural. If you read Isaiah 9, you will see the Prophet writing that the name if the Messiah is the Mighty God, the Eternal Father, The Prince of Peace and of his kingdom, there will be no end. In Isaiah 53, there is a description of the execution of the Messiah and then of his resurrection. In Daniel 9, there is a prophecy of the Messiah coming at a very distinct time in history (early 30s AD) and that he would be executed, but no for any crime he committed.

        September 1, 2013 at 3:33 pm |
        • Arthur

          Also, in the book of Psalms, Ps 2 has the trinity having a conversation amongst the 3 members of the God-head. In Ps 22, is a first person account of a person suffering crucifixion, written 7 centuries before crucifixion was invented.

          September 1, 2013 at 3:41 pm |
  13. bostontola

    The Navajo had a creation god, a speech god, a god of the hunt, a god of the east, a god of the west, etc. Does anyone think that these gods were not created by people? The same question for the thousands of belief systems created prior to Judaism. Man created gods thousands of times. We all agree on that.

    September 1, 2013 at 11:23 am |
    • jake

      You forgot God of the Money...Greenback God as he is commonly known as.

      September 1, 2013 at 11:26 am |
      • bostontola

        Who needs a god of the money when suckers willfully hand it over to the shaman.

        September 1, 2013 at 11:27 am |
        • jake

          But that's where the God of Suckers comes in. Most know him as Sucker God.

          September 1, 2013 at 11:32 am |
        • bostontola

          Bingo!

          September 1, 2013 at 11:39 am |
    • mike teall

      God wrote the scriptures not main. read about 777 and the laws of 7 in scripture. The witness of christ is history, not man made.

      September 1, 2013 at 11:34 am |
      • bostontola

        Keep telling yourself that.

        September 1, 2013 at 11:40 am |
      • jake

        Did he use a roller pen or ball point pen, or pencils, or goat blood, or milk, or did he have sent out to speedy print? The anxiety of not knowing this is much to much to bear. I think he used crayons though.

        September 1, 2013 at 11:43 am |
  14. eagander

    To answer the article's question, I believe yes, we all do. God is God. What differs is our concept, definition, description of what God is. THAT is "religion"; a humankind-created, hopelessly flawed attempt at defining and thus understanding that which is God. We musn't confuse God/spirituality with religion.

    September 1, 2013 at 11:21 am |
  15. proud INDIAN HINDU

    Islam, Christianity and Judaism are 3 lying desert cults. Violent, hate filled, and conversion oriented. Abraham was a thug who conjured up this God to make himself feel important. The true knowledge lies in HINDUISM, the way of life, there are multiple gods, all connected to the supreme divine essence. Vishnu and Shiva and Shakti goddess are the 3 major manifestations of supreme knowledge. Worship and obidience to the paths of Vishnu, shiva and Shakti will purify successive births to gain freedom. Not liars and terrorists like Mohammed the prophet or magician like Jesus

    September 1, 2013 at 11:20 am |
    • Harry Cline

      I'm not touching that one.

      Holy Cow..

      September 1, 2013 at 11:25 am |
      • bostontola

        Holy cow, that's great.

        September 1, 2013 at 11:26 am |
    • bostontola

      You sound just like them to me. You are equally deluded (unless you were just being sarcastic).

      September 1, 2013 at 11:26 am |
    • Colin

      I'll admit your creation myths are more complex, your gods more colourful but the whole caste system is tough to deal with.

      September 1, 2013 at 11:28 am |
    • mike teall

      lol, you freaks worship cows! Case closed on who is crazy.

      September 1, 2013 at 11:36 am |
      • jake

        I must tell you I knew this fine gal who had boobs as big as a cow. I did worship that cow in a Godly manner.

        September 1, 2013 at 11:45 am |
    • Jorge Martinez

      Great! Let's add another religion to the pot. It should make things more interesting!

      September 1, 2013 at 11:40 am |
    • abdoul

      Hello dear INdian Hindu,
      Do your so called Low caste hindus can worship? Vishnu and Shiva and Shakti in a temple without limitations of movement and access.

      September 1, 2013 at 11:43 am |
  16. Lionly Lamb

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=dw1HavgoK9E

    September 1, 2013 at 11:19 am |
  17. That's just crazy talk

    I'm so tired of hearing about and from religious/spirtual people. No one has a real clue what God is, you are all guessing, including those who wrote books about it thousands of years ago. Just because the book is 2000 years old does not mean they had special pipeline or message from God, they knew less than we do today. Sorry folks, that's a fact.

    September 1, 2013 at 11:18 am |
    • Thinker23

      Do YOU know better than all those people what God is? If not then it means that they know at least as much or, possibly, way more than YOU...

      September 1, 2013 at 11:22 am |
      • jake

        No they don't. In case you didn't know, mental illness, particularly schizophrenia existed thousands of years ago. Many too claim they spoke to God or received messages from God. Bunch of crazies then, bunch of crazies now.

        September 1, 2013 at 11:30 am |
      • Cpt. Obvious

        IN order for evidence to be verifiable it must produce a repeatable and measurable result.
        There is precisely ZERO verifiable evidence for any gods.
        Thus, atheism is the ONLY logical conclusion when it comes to any gods described by humans so far.

        No, I am not better or wiser than other people who believe in god, but the rules of logic are not so forgiving and their consequence is clear on this matter.

        September 1, 2013 at 11:30 am |
        • jake

          The Gods Have Spoken, so shall it be. In other words, do what the hell I tell you or it's over for you. I guess the fine point of a sword makes believers out of anyone.

          September 1, 2013 at 11:37 am |
      • heehee

        To say that people don't know something does not imply that you think that you know better.

        I can't believe that needed to be pointed out.

        September 1, 2013 at 12:14 pm |
  18. muti

    http://www.simpletoremember.com/articles/a/jewsandjesus/

    What exactly is the Messiah?

    (back)

    The word “Messiah” is an English rendering of the Hebrew word “Mashiach”, which means “Anointed.” It usually refers to a person initiated into God’s service by being anointed with oil. (Exodus 29:7, I Kings 1:39, II Kings 9:3)

    Since every King and High Priest was anointed with oil, each may be referred to as “an anointed one” (a Mashiach or a Messiah). For example: “God forbid that I [David] should stretch out my hand against the Lord’s Messiah [Saul]...” (I Samuel 26:11. Cf. II Samuel 23:1, Isaiah 45:1, Psalms 20:6)

    Where does the Jewish concept of Messiah come from? One of the central themes of Biblical prophecy is the promise of a future age of perfection characterized by universal peace and recognition of God. (Isaiah 2:1-4; Zephaniah 3:9; Hosea 2:20-22; Amos 9:13-15; Isaiah 32:15-18, 60:15-18; Micah 4:1-4; Zechariah 8:23, 14:9; Jeremiah 31:33-34)

    Many of these prophetic passages speak of a descendant of King David who will rule Israel during the age of perfection. (Isaiah 11:1-9; Jeremiah 23:5-6, 30:7-10, 33:14-16; Ezekiel 34:11-31, 37:21-28; Hosea 3:4-5)

    Since every King is a Messiah, by convention, we refer to this future anointed king as The Messiah. The above is the only description in the Bible of a Davidic descendant who is to come in the future. We will recognize the Messiah by seeing who the King of Israel is at the time of complete universal perfection.

    1) JESUS DID NOT FULFILL THE MESSIANIC PROPHECIES

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    What is the Messiah supposed to accomplish? The Bible says that he will:

    A. Build the Third Temple (Ezekiel 37:26-28).

    B. Gather all Jews back to the Land of Israel (Isaiah 43:5-6).

    C. Usher in an era of world peace, and end all hatred, oppression, suffering and disease. As it says: "Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall man learn war anymore." (Isaiah 2:4)

    D. Spread universal knowledge of the God of Israel, which will unite humanity as one. As it says: "God will be King over all the world—on that day, God will be One and His Name will be One" (Zechariah 14:9).

    The historical fact is that Jesus fulfilled none of these messianic prophecies.

    Christians counter that Jesus will fulfill these in the Second Coming, but Jewish sources show that the Messiah will fulfill the prophecies outright, and no concept of a second coming exists.

    2) JESUS DID NOT EMBODY THE PERSONAL QUALIFICATIONS OF MESSIAH

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    A. MESSIAH AS PROPHET

    Jesus was not a prophet. Prophecy can only exist in Israel when the land is inhabited by a majority of world Jewry. During the time of Ezra (circa 300 BCE), when the majority of Jews refused to move from Babylon to Israel, prophecy ended upon the death of the last prophets—Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi.

    Jesus appeared on the scene approximately 350 years after prophecy had ended.

    B. DESCENDENT OF DAVID

    According to Jewish sources, the Messiah will be born of human parents and possess normal physical attributes like other people. He will not be a demi-god, (1) nor will he possess supernatural qualities.

    The Messiah must be descended on his father’s side from King David (see Genesis 49:10 and Isaiah 11:1). According to the Christian claim that Jesus was the product of a virgin birth, he had no father—and thus could not have possibly fulfilled the messianic requirement of being descended on his father’s side from King David! (2)
    SEE THE CATHOLIC CHURCH’S RESPONSE TO THIS QUESTION

    C. TORAH OBSERVANCE

    The Messiah will lead the Jewish people to full Torah observance. The Torah states that all mitzvot (commandments) remain binding forever, and anyone coming to change the Torah is immediately identified as a false prophet. (Deut. 13:1-4)

    Throughout the New Testament, Jesus contradicts the Torah and states that its commandments are no longer applicable. (see John 1:45 and 9:16, Acts 3:22 and 7:37) For example, John 9:14 records that Jesus made a paste in violation of Shabbat, which caused the Pharisees to say (verse 16), "He does not observe Shabbat!"

    3) MISTRANSLATED VERSES "REFERRING" TO JESUS

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    Biblical verses can only be understood by studying the original Hebrew text—which reveals many discrepancies in the Christian translation.

    A. VIRGIN BIRTH

    The Christian idea of a virgin birth is derived from the verse in Isaiah 7:14 describing an "alma" as giving birth. The word "alma" has always meant a young woman, but Christian theologians came centuries later and translated it as "virgin." This accords Jesus’ birth with the first century pagan idea of mortals being impregnated by gods.

    B. CRUCIFIXION

    The verse in Psalms 22:17 reads: "Like a lion, they are at my hands and feet." The Hebrew word ki-ari (like a lion) is grammatically similar to the word "gouged." Thus Christianity reads the verse as a reference to crucifixion: "They pierced my hands and feet."

    C. SUFFERING SERVANT

    Christianity claims that Isaiah chapter 53 refers to Jesus, as the "suffering servant."

    In actuality, Isaiah 53 directly follows the theme of chapter 52, describing the exile and redemption of the Jewish people. The prophecies are written in the singular form because the Jews ("Israel") are regarded as one unit. The Torah is filled with examples of the Jewish nation referred to with a singular pronoun.

    Ironically, Isaiah’s prophecies of persecution refer in part to the 11th century when Jews were tortured and killed by Crusaders who acted in the name of Jesus.

    From where did these mistranslations stem? St. Gregory, 4th century Bishop of Nazianzus, wrote: "A little jargon is all that is necessary to impose on the people. The less they comprehend, the more they admire."
    For further reading on the "suffering servant":
    jewsforjudaism.org/ss

    4) JEWISH BELIEF IS BASED SOLELY ON NATIONAL REVELATION
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    Of the 15,000 religions in human history, only Judaism bases its belief on national revelation—i.e. God speaking to the entire nation. If God is going to start a religion, it makes sense He’ll tell everyone, not just one person.

    Throughout history, thousands of religions have been started by individuals, attempting to convince people that he or she is God’s true prophet. But personal revelation is an extremely weak basis for a religion because one can never know if it is indeed true. Since others did not hear God speak to this person, they have to take his word for it. Even if the individual claiming personal revelation performs miracles, there is still no verification that he is a genuine prophet. Miracles do not prove anything. All they show—assuming they are genuine—is that he has certain powers. It has nothing to do with his claim of prophecy.

    Judaism, unique among all of the world’s major religions, does not rely on "claims of miracles" as the basis for its religion. In fact, the Bible says that God sometimes grants the power of "miracles" to charlatans, in order to test Jewish loyalty to the Torah (Deut. 13:4).

    Maimonides states (Foundations of Torah, ch. 8):

    The Jews did not believe in Moses, our teacher, because of the miracles he performed. Whenever anyone’s belief is based on seeing miracles, he has lingering doubts, because it is possible the miracles were performed through magic or sorcery. All of the miracles performed by Moses in the desert were because they were necessary, and not as proof of his prophecy.

    What then was the basis of [Jewish] belief? The Revelation at Mount Sinai, which we saw with our own eyes and heard with our own ears, not dependent on the testimony of others… as it says, "Face to face, God spoke with you…" The Torah also states: "God did not make this covenant with our fathers, but with us—who are all here alive today." (Deut. 5:3)

    Judaism is not miracles. It is the personal eyewitness experience of every man, woman and child, standing at Mount Sinai 3,300 years ago.

    See "Did God Speak at Mount Sinai" for further reading.

    5) CHRISTIANITY CONTRADICTS JEWISH THEOLOGY

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    The following theological points apply primarily to the Roman Catholic Church, the largest Christian denomination.

    A. GOD AS THREE?

    The Catholic idea of Trinity breaks God into three separate beings: The Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost (Matthew 28:19).

    Contrast this to the Shema, the basis of Jewish belief: "Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is ONE" (Deut. 6:4). Jews declare the Shema every day, while writing it on doorposts (Mezuzah), and binding it to the hand and head (Tefillin). This statement of God’s One-ness is the first words a Jewish child is taught to say, and the last words uttered before a Jew dies.

    In Jewish law, worship of a three-part god is considered idolatry—one of the three cardinal sins that a Jew should rather give up his life than transgress. This explains why during the Inquisitions and throughout history, Jews gave up their lives rather than convert.

    B. MAN AS GOD?

    Roman Catholics believe that God came down to earth in human form, as Jesus said: "I and the Father are one" (John 10:30).

    Maimonides devotes most of the "Guide for the Perplexed" to the fundamental idea that God is incorporeal, meaning that He assumes no physical form. God is Eternal, above time. He is Infinite, beyond space. He cannot be born, and cannot die. Saying that God assumes human form makes God small, diminishing both His unity and His divinity. As the Torah says: "God is not a mortal" (Numbers 23:19).

    Judaism says that the Messiah will be born of human parents, and possess normal physical attributes like other people. He will not be a demi-god, and will not possess supernatural qualities. In fact, an individual is alive in every generation with the capacity to step into the role of the Messiah. (see Maimonides – Laws of Kings 11:3)

    September 1, 2013 at 11:17 am |
    • jungleboo

      Get real, why don't you? Or can't you handle it?

      September 1, 2013 at 11:50 am |
  19. bostontola

    The debate itself is evidence that man created the gods, and refine the gods.

    September 1, 2013 at 11:16 am |
  20. Dave

    Wow. Interesting comments. Here's the deal – this discussion hings on the concept of Truth...or more specifical 'Absolute Truth'. In our day, especially in the West, we live in a society that regards toletrance above truth. Don't suggest to someone that what they believe is wrong...or you will receive the respone 'how dare you?'. And this is because we also live in a pluralistic society, meaning 'all roads lead to heaven' OR 'whatever works for you is great...way to go'. All of this is bunk.
    Pontius Pilate asked Christ 'What is Truth?' He wasn't really asking, he was rejecting that there is such a thing.
    Ironically, he was saying that to the personification of "Absolute Truth". Christ said "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father apart from me." I don't say this, Christ does. Is it dogmatic? Absolutely. Is it devise? Absolutely. Does is seem ridiculous or arrogant to you? Probably, if you reject how Jesus claims to be. The bible says that the gospel (the good news of salvation in Christ) is foolishness to all those that are perishing. So, do muslims, buddhists, christians and others all worship the same God? Absolutely not. The bottom line is what you do with one person, Jesus Christ. He is either a liar, a lunatic, or Lord. Whether you accept, reject, or mock this fact, be prepared to stake your eternal future on it. You may laugh now, but it is certainly no laughing matter. The bible says that one day "every knee shall bow". One day soon your knees will bow as well....either in loving honor of Christ, or in a knee-shattering humble acknowledgement that you were wrong.

    September 1, 2013 at 11:16 am |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      You arrogant fool, you have no idea why Pontious Pilate may or may not have asked some question to some self-proclaimed prophet with "Yeshua" as a nickname.

      And also, Jesus is pure mythology, just like Paul Bunyan. Neither Jesus nor Paul Bunyan were lunatics or liars; they are conglomerations of other, older myths.

      September 1, 2013 at 11:21 am |
      • Dave

        Cpt Obvious,
        I encourage you wrestle hard with your beliefs when you lay your head on your pillow at night.
        What seems so laughable and ridiculous to you now will be revealed to you as true soon enough.
        When that happens, you won't be laughing or mocking. You will weep.
        If you are so sure, pick up a Bible, and read it, cover to cover. My guess is that you haven't done so yet.
        See what you think/believe once you have done so...

        September 1, 2013 at 11:38 am |
        • jungleboo

          Davey, fortune-telling is a sin.

          September 1, 2013 at 11:53 am |
        • Hobo Banana

          typical theist. can't win on facts and logic, so he brings on the threats (not HIS threats, of course...NEVER...they're 'god-idea's threats....but *who* exactly is expounding them....I didn't see his god-idea with an account and posting here)

          September 1, 2013 at 7:17 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Every true believe of every one of the thousands of gods worshiped by humanity has felt the exact same conviction that you do, Dave. And every one of them had the exact same proof that you do that their god existed: Nothing at all.

      So please understand that your bully god and your threats really aren't terribly intimidating to those of us who look beyond what we are told and what we think we should believe, or even what we want to believe. Reality is so much more interesting than religion.

      September 1, 2013 at 11:27 am |
    • Damocles

      So this deity is going to break my kneecaps like any good Mafioso would do?

      September 1, 2013 at 11:30 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.