Religious folk, is Allah=God=Vishnu=Jahweh?

So, religious Dopers, suppose you are of a Christian belief, say, Protestant.

You meet a Catholic. Same major religion, same book, slightly different rules to live by.
Or a Jew, who worships the same deity, acknowledges a part of your Holy book, but not all parts, and where there are more cultural/religious differences.
Or a Muslim, who still beliefs in a monotheistic God and whose Allah shares the same roots as the Christian God, but, even more differences then with the Jew, and a historically grown animosity.
Or a Hindu, who worships a God from a rather different (polytheist) religious system with whom your faith has even less in common.
Which of these four would you say worships the same God you do, albeit in a different name? Which of these four would you say are religious? Which of the four worship “false gods” as the Bible calls it?

Please describe the county you live in and your religion.

I’ll go first. I’m an atheist, but I’m most familiar with Protestant attitudes.

I’d say the Protestant, Catholic, Muslim and Jew worship the same god. The difference is in the Prophet of choice, and in the culture. The Hindu is IMHO religious, but if I were a Christian I would not feel my God had anything in common with Vishnu.

Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish worship the same God, but have a different interpretation of relevent books and prophets. I won’t say for certain that the Muslim God is different, because I haven’t read the Koran, but since it’s an entirely different holy text (as opposed the the first three), I wouldn’t automatically include. Hindu, as far as I know, has a completely different God.

Jew here, though by no means orthodox. I am currently living in the UK but was born, raised and educated in the US.

All of the people in your example are ‘religious’, I’m not sure what you mean by asking that.

Muslims and Jews definitely worship the same G-d. Islam and Judaism are absolutely monotheistic. The disputes and enmity that have occurred between members of these two faiths has to do with similarities rather than differences, if that makes any sense. Bickering siblings, to be trivialising about it.

Christianity is more complicated. Most Christians whose beliefs I am familiar with are monotheistic, though they conceive of the deity very differently than I do, and I am uncomfortable with the implications of a deified human being being worshipped (especially when there are icons/statues involved).

I am not terribly familiar with the intricacies of Hinduism, but I know at least some Hindus who have said that the different gods of their system are ‘manifestations’ of divine power, and not necessarily separate specific entities. This could be inaccurate though.

I would not presume to say that any of these worships ‘false gods’ though I would argue that the specifically Messianic claims of Christianity are not true, in the sense that they contradict Jewish understanding of what the messiah is.

‘False gods’ to me implies worshipping idols, ie cult statues, such as some elements of the religion of the ancient Greeks and Romans (though much of the way people conceive of that polytheistic system is also overly simplistic).

I believe that there are many paths to G-d, all of the ones listed are certainly possible ways for the individuals that follow them.

The equivalent in Hinduism would be Brahman, not Vishnu - he’s just a manifestation of Brahman along with Shiva and Brahma (the Trimurti).

I’m not particularly religious in any way, but I’d consider it a tom-a-to tom-ah-to situation. With the specifics a bit different. But then the devil’s in the details. Boom-tish.

There are two logical possibilities:

a) there ain’t no God

b) there is too

If there is no God, you can only describe religions in terms of the hypothetical God that they describe, and compare the descriptions; since there is no reality behind the descriptions, you’re left with value judgments about how closely the descrips parallel each other.

If there is a God, all the religions, and probably a vast number of conceptual enterprises not widely acknowledged or regarded as “religion” as well, are attempts to bang out a human understanding of that, of God as phenomenon, and of how we ought to deal with that phenomenon.

I personally tend to view most established/ institutionalized religions as having the same relationship to the God experience as taxidermists have to the wildlife that they mount — that is, that the human experience of God is disruptive and threatening to the status quo and therefore the focus is on channeling it, defining it, sealing it off to any new experience, and banning any live experience thereof as heresy or blasphemy, and then twisting it into a tool of the state.

With that cynical idea in mind, it’s worth asking: if Religion A, which knows of God, is doing a taxidermy number, while Religion B, also ken to God, is surprisingly enough a straightforward attempt to describe and celebrate the experience, does it make more sense to say they “worship different Gods”, or to say that they address the same God but that Religion A only claims to be in favor of while in reality being sort of a Society for the Prevention of Human Familiarity with God, while Religion B is honestly seeking to make the experience more readily accessible to others, but that it’s the same God in both cases?

I was raised Catholic, and was taught that, religious differences notwithstanding, God = God = God. Allah, Yahweh, God, whatever. I can’t say for the religions with multiple gods, and maybe those in other religions were taught differently.


United Church of Christ. United States

Catholic, Jew, and Muslim. I think we all worship the same God. The roots can be traced back to the book of Genesis.

Hindu. I don’t honestly know enough.

The general party line for Christianity, as I understand it, is that Jews, Muslims, and Christians all worship the same God, the only God – the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Adherents of all three faiths are “People of the Book.”

All these religions are strictly monotheistic. (People of other faiths may take issue with whether Christianity is monotheistic, as was alluded to above, but the vast majority of Christians will tell you quite firmly that it is.) Any religion that posits a pantheon of gods is therefore outside the rubric of the one God that is central to – essential to – the practice of Islam, Judaism, and Christianity.

Beyond that, I think it depends not on which of the J/I/C religions people belong to, but how conservative/fundamentalist they are. For those who are conservative in any of these faiths, the belief AFAIK is that polytheists, including Hindus, worship a false god (several false gods, in fact). They are in Error, with a big “E”. For those who are more liberal in their faiths, you may find a belief that all who do good and worship the benevolent Divine are worshipping the same God, the only God, because all Good flows from Him. This point of view, while spiritually more generous, does not have a great deal of textual support in the Bible, Torah, or Koran (again, AFAIK).

I adhere to the latter view, but then I’m a pretty liberal Protestant Christian. Who lives in the U.S.

I’m a devout Episcopalian who’s friends with some Wiccans and I’ve participated in Wiccan circles. As far as I can tell, ultimately, they’re worshipping the same Entity I am, albeit different aspects and in different forms.

As for God vs. Allah, it’s actually one of my pet peeves to see God called Allah when referring to Islam. Since Islam specifically calls God the God of Abraham and Isaac, as do Christianity and Judaism, and Allah is simply* the Arabic word for God, then, if one is writing in English about who or what Muslims worship, one should use “God,” not “Allah.”

Since I believe in one omnipotent, omnipresent, and transcendent God who can’t be fully understood or described by human beings, I also assume that Hindus and practioners of other religlions also ultmately worship the same Entity I do, again, allowing for different aspects and different forms.

By the way, if anyone’s interested in reading an amusing take on a Hindu’s approach to Christianity and Islam, The Life of Pi has some amusing scenes descibing it.
*OK, technically not so simply – I realize I’m skipping some nuances.

God, Who to me is YHWH- Father, Jesus, & Holy Spirit, gets all His mail, no matter if the envelope is made out to a different name & address.

I feel more of a theological kinship to Jews, then Wiccans, then Muslims, but I have no idea how God ranks them. I will go with C.S. Lewis in that God probably prefers a kind devotee to Baal than a cruel adherent of YHWH. BUT when Elijah had the showdown with the priests of Baal, the Divine Fire only answered to one name.

God is gracious to those who do not know Him as He is, but to those who know and have rejected Him in favor of another deity, He’s not as lenient.

Wow, this is so incredibly close to my belief - which I’ve never met anyone who shared - that it caught me completely off guard. I’d ask if you were me, but I obviously don’t write as well as you. :slight_smile:

Oh boy!

Hindu here, from VA, USA.

Went to a Lutheran School for elementary school. But born and raised Hindu, and still call myself one, though I have personalized my religious and spirtual views to where I’m not really sure what it could be properly called (Perhaps a Spirtual Hinduism).

But yes. You are correct in your initial point- Vishnu (or any incarnation or piece you choose)= God= G-d= Allah. Hindu can be considered Monotheistic or Polytheistic depending on how you wish to split your hairs. Then again, I also feel that if God doesn’t exist, I’m sure it could somehow fit this. ((Because I also tend to view Universal constants of this Universe or to put it simpler “SCIENCE” = God too, but that’s just ME talking, and not the Hinduism in any way- just a belief in a greater order/plan in the universe (Hell, God=Entropy in my book)).

The way I’ve always liked it best was from some Hindu text or another- ((MY interpretation of it, YMMV)):

Spirituality in this lifetime(s) is a mountain. There are many paths up the mountain, and people may choose whichever way they wish. In Hinduism, the mountain cannot be so easily climbed in one simple life, it takes time and trials and many times of patience and learning. Yet, each time you can attempt to climb the mountain, and try yet again- the same way, or a different path if you choose. Yet, if you come back not as a Hindu, that’s fine, you still have the mountain in front of you, and whichever path you choose, as long as you do your duty, you have not failed in Hinduism. Some may choose to deny the mountain, and others may simple stay at the base (Basecamp Party!! Gotta love those Agnostics too!), but it does not matter what path one chooses, for at the top all paths converge. Thus, be kind to others, and respect their choices, for they are fellow travelers in this life, just like you- even if they choose a different path or way, the outcome will still be the same.

Now. If you believe God is the top of the mountain, or heaven is, that’s your prerogative. I do not claim to know what’s at the top of the mountain. Maybe it’s something as unknowable as Duty, or maybe it’s aliens, or maybe it’s just Morality, or maybe it really is understand God. :shrug: I do not know. But We’re all just traveling together, so that’s my view on the matter. I personally think it’s doing your duty, and just living your life positively regardless of your faith. I don’t really care what your religion is, as long as you treat others well and with kindness, and don’t force your beliefs onto others (but that’s my personal view popping in there. I’m sure stricter Hindus will have a different idea of what’s on top of the mountain).
But again, I do not know, and i find the metaphor can work well for the religious, the non religious and all those in between, and pretty much is why I try to respect all 3 branches of the same thing.

Hope that helps.
Peace.Love.and Understanding. :stuck_out_tongue:

Aren’t those two sentences contradictory? Suppose I was raised to know God as Brahman. And suppose I knew about Christianity through the Catholic mission in my littlle downtown Indian Village, but I regarded the Catholic priests with the same mixture of amusement and slight distrust that a modern day Christian feels when he meets, for instance, a bunch of Hare Krishna dressed in orange toga’s chanting in the streets of San Francisco. So yes, that would mean that I, an Indian, know of God, but reject him in favor of another deity, right?

I was referring to the (ancient) practice of making only the distinction My God/Not My God that many religions used to make. The latter category would be called Heathens, or Idol-worshippers, of Devil worshippers, or just Wrong. Or Ignorant.
It seems a recent developement that religious folk do acknowledge that someone of another faith can be just as religious as themselves, albeit in another “language”. For instance, in the Netherlands only very recently Christians start feeling they have more in common with devout Muslims then with the majority of their (atheist) countrymen.

Yeah, Jews, Christians and Muslims all worship the same God according to Islam. My branch of Islam suggests that the various Hindu deities are just different aspects/incarnations of the same one God too.
(Shia Ismaili Muslim, born and brought up in the UK, living in France)

Remember you’re asking the SDMB this question, not churchgoers in general. No doubt if you asked this question elsewhere on the internet or at different churches, you’d get different answers. I know the priest at my old church would consider my views heretical, and I heard a sermon there which urged people not to worship false gods. If I stated my opinion that God ultimately hears all prayers, regardless of whom they’re addressed to, on a message board dominated by conservative Christians, I would do so preparing to get flamed. Indeed, we used to have a regular poster around here about six years ago who believed Catholics weren’t real Christians, so I doubt she’d say Jews, Christians, Muslims, etc. all ultimately worship the same god and would be shocked by those of us who say we do.

Knowing the tenets of another faith & rejecting them is not what I meant. I was referring those instances (how frequent or rare I can’t say) in which people might know in their heart-of-hearts that God/Jesus are real & yet still turn away. Jesus Himself indicated they risk a pretty severe fate.

Deist here, raised as a Hindu. What roOsh said pretty much nailed it for “my people”- arguably the central tenet of Hinduism is that all religions are just different facets of the same jewel, just as the various Hindu god-images are.

Hindus tend to gravitate toward one (or a few) divine manifestations (ie. what you’d think of as the various Hindu gods), and regard Jesus/Allah/ Yahweh/whoever much as they would the (Hindu) gods worshipped in other households.

This makes stuff like the anti-Muslim riots over the Ayodhya mosque site very, very sad.

Although I am not Bahai, some of my best friends are.

As far as I understand it, the Bahai are also “people of the Book” and consider Baha’ullah to be a prophet like Moses, Jesus and Mohammed. The Bahai faith is inclusive, and assert that there is one God, and that all major religions come from God.

In other news, I had a friend loan me one of Wayne Dyer’s self-help books. I don’t know what religion he claims for himself, but IIRC from his writing he is nominally Christian with perhaps having incorporated some New Age concepts.

At one point in this book, he had occassion to mention Taoism. He stated [from memory], “Tao is the Chinese word for God.” And gave no further explanation.

I thought that was cute.