Do Muslims Worship the Same God Catholics Do?

May 30, 2014 | 214 comments

CCC 841, quoting the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium 16, from Vatican II, declared:

The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims; these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind’s judge on the last day.

Some will say this declaration does not indicate Muslims believe in the same God we do because it only says “Muslims… profess to hold the faith of Abraham,” not that they actually do. So what gives?

The Council fathers were certainly careful to say Muslims “profess…” but not that they "profess" to believe in one God. It says they "profess to hold the faith of Abraham." "The faith of Abraham” involves more than simply acknowledging that God is one. CCC 59-64 teaches that “the faith of Abraham” includes:

“The people descended from Abraham” who “would be the trustee of the promise made to the patriarchs, the chosen people, called to prepare for that day when God would gather all his children into the unity of the Church” (CCC 60).

The Catechism goes on to point out that the people who possess the true “faith of Abraham” include:

“the patriarchs, prophets, and certain other Old Testament figures” who “have been and always will be honored as saints in all the Church’s liturgical traditions” (CCC 61).

Paragraphs 63-64 in the Catechism continue:

Israel is the priestly people of God, “called by the name of the Lord,” and “the first to hear the world of God,” the people of ‘elder brethren’ in the faith of Abraham. (64) Through the prophets, God forms his people in the hope of salvation, in the expectation of a new and everlasting Covenant intended for all… a salvation which will include all the nations. Above all, the poor and humble of the Lord… as Sarah, Rebecca, Miriam, Deborah, Hannah, Judith, and Esther… The purest figure among them is Mary.

Muslims could hardly be included in this number.

However, it is a distortion to claim from this that Muslims do not truly believe in the one true God because it was clearly after having said Muslims “profess to hold the faith of Abraham,” that the Council fathers then declared: “… together with us they adore the one, merciful God…”

These are two distinct declarations:

1. [Muslims] profess to hold the faith of Abraham.

2. Together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind's judge on the last day.

CCC 841 also references Vatican II's Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions, Nostra Aetate, 3, that makes the teaching of the Council perhaps even clearer:

The Church regards with esteem also the Moslems. They adore the one God, living and subsisting in Himself; merciful and all-powerful, the Creator of heaven and earth, who has spoken to men; they take pains to submit wholeheartedly to even his inscrutable decrees, just as Abraham, with whom the faith of Islam takes pleasure in linking itself, submitted to God.

Once again, we see first the declaration that Muslims "adore the one God..." made without qualification. Then, the fathers say "Islam link[s] itself" to Abraham. This is not saying there is a link; rather, it is saying Muslim make that link. Once again, we have two clearly distinct declarations.

Is the Muslim God Our God?

There are many things taught in Islam that are so radically opposed to what we believe as Catholic Christians, that some will say, "Well, perhaps they believe in one God, but the 'one God' they believe in is not the same God we believe in because, for example, the Koran teaches:

  1. Women are inferior to men (Sura 4:34)

  2. Men can, and even should, ‘beat’ their wives in some circumstances (Sura 4:34).

  3. Belief in the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ is false (Sura 4:157-159).

  4. Belief in the divinity of Christ is blasphemy (Sura 5:72).

  5. Belief in Jesus Christ as ‘the Son of God’ is grave error (Sura 19:35; 10:68).

  6. Muslims are commanded to ‘fight against’ Christians and all who disagree with them. Sura 9:29 says:

    Fight those who believe not in Allah, nor in the Last Day, nor forbid that which Allah and His Messenger have forbidden, nor follow the Religion of Truth, out of those who have been given the Book, until they pay the tax in acknowledgement of superiority and they are in a state of subjection.

  7. God wills moral as well as physical evil. In fact, Sura 37:94 says, ‘He [Allah] created you as well as what you do,’ whether good or evil.

  8. ‘God does not love the unbelievers’ (Sura 3:32).

And this is just to name a few areas of major disagreement. We could write volumes on the problems with Muslim doctrine.”

Many claim there is a point where errors regarding what “the one God, living and subsisting in Himself; merciful and all-powerful, the Creator of heaven and earth” teaches become so far removed from the truth that it becomes necessary to say that God being spoken of is no longer "God" at all. My take is that as long as a person understands the basic metaphysical truth that God is “the one, merciful God,” then errors concerning what God has said, or what he has revealed about his inner life are simply errors about those things, not about God as the one, true God.

Some will argue that if someone presents, for example, their “God” as teaching the rape of small children to be okay, then that God is not God at all. And that, I would argue, is true. It could be argued that that "God" would suffer from a moral defect, and therefore, could not be God. 

But even if it is possible for a person (or a faith, like Islam) to claim belief in the one true God, but so distort what God teaches that he (or it) ceases to truly believe in the “one true God" in reality, then, according to the Church, Islam has not reached that point in its errors.

Thus, we Catholics have to be careful to distinguish between the fact that Muslims believe in the one true God “living and subsisting in Himself; merciful and all-powerful, the Creator of heaven and earth,” and the fact that they get it wrong—profoundly wrong—when it comes to both who God has revealed himself to be in the New Testament, and what he has taught his people.

We pull no punches as Catholics when it comes to pointing out the errors of Islam. But we also need to begin by getting it right concerning the things about which we agree.

Ask a Saint – He Knows

Pope St. John Paul II strikes the balance beautifully, concisely, and without compromise between acknowledging what Muslims get right, and challenging where they go wrong, in his excellent book, Crossing the Threshhold of Hope. After pointing out that the Church has a “high regard for Muslims who worship one God, living and subsistent, merciful and omnipotent, the Creator of heaven and earth,” he then observes after reflecting on Islam and the Koran:

Whoever knows the Old and New Testaments, and then reads the Koran, clearly sees the process by which it completely reduces Divine Revelation. It is impossible not to note the movement away from what God said about Himself, first in the Old Testament through the Prophets, and then finally in the New Testament through His Son. In Islam all the richness of God's self-revelation, which constitutes the heritage of the Old and New Testaments, has definitely been set aside. Some of the most beautiful names in the human language are given to the God of the Koran, but He is ultimately a God outside of the World, a God who is only Majesty, never Emmanuel, God-with-us. Islam is not a religion of redemption. There is no room for the Cross and the Resurrection(p. 92).

St. John Paul first acknowledges the truth that Muslims get it right when they profess faith in one God. Then, and only then, does he point out they have it as wrong as wrong can be when it comes to what God has revealed to us in Scripture about who he is, and, I would add, what he asks of his people by way of his commandments.

 


Tim Staples is Director of Apologetics and Evangelization here at Catholic Answers, but he was not always Catholic. Tim was raised a Southern Baptist. Although he fell away from the faith of his childhood, Tim came back to faith in Christ during his late teen years through the witness of Christian...

Not Peace, But A Sword: The Great Chasm Between Christianity And Islam
Some Christians view Islam as a sister religion, a branch of the same Abrahamic tree—lacking the fullness of revelation but nonetheless a religion of peace. Others are more critical of Islamic teachings but still see Muslims as valuable partners in the global fight against secularization and the Culture of Death.

Comments by Catholic.com Members

#1  June Vendetti - Bridgeport, Connecticut

How can the Koran be considered a Holy Book if it teaches dogma that goes against Christians and their beliefs? Who is the author of the Koran? I think that there is a serious disconnect between who they worship and what they claim Abraham taught. I do, however, admire their prayer rituals and that they are faithful to their prayer life. We can and should, as lay followers, set aside various times of the day, as in the Liturgy of the Hours, to pray and to meditate. If the Muslims can do it, so can we as Catholic Christians.

May 31, 2014 at 8:31 am PST
#2  Julian Rodrigues - London, Waltham Forest

Muslims deny historical fact. By denying the crucifixion they really are denying one of the most historically attested events in ancient times. It's a shame that so many people (approaching 1.5 billion muslims) can believe that which plainly goes against historical reality.

Furthermore, it annoys me greatly when atheists and even Christians nonchalantly compare Islam to Christianity insofar as to find lots of similarities between them. Silly atheists say that both religions actively encourage warmongering. Silly Christians say that Islam is a religion of peace. Both of these are flat out lies. Only Islam commands its followers to slaughter and subjugate unbelievers to facilitate its growth. Why have representatives of this religion of peace committed 22000 fatal terrorist attacks since 9/11? One simply cannot condemn Islam enough.

Militant atheistic secularists have given the Islamic jihadis for the last 1400 years a run for their money in the last century in terms of the numbers that each have killed. However the threat that Islam poses the West is something that faithful Catholics need to understand and begin to confront.

These are my comments but thank you for this article Tim.

May 31, 2014 at 8:54 am PST
#3  Julian Rodrigues - London, Waltham Forest

Apologies, it's actually 23,000.

May 31, 2014 at 8:58 am PST
#4  Todd Aglialoro - El Cajon, California - Catholic Answers Blogger

For my estimable colleague Tim Staples I have but one question:

What does it *mean* to say Christians and Muslims worship the same God?

Or to put it in the negative: What does it mean to deny that Muslims and Christians worship the same God?

If to deny this assertion forces us to conclude that there is another God somewhere in the heavens, the Muslim God, then when have an absurdity. So that can't be it.

Likewise it can't be denied that Muslims are monotheists, or that the God of their theology is omniscient, omnipotent, and, after a fashion, merciful.

So clearly when Catholics dispute this idea (as many do) they can't be disputing the above points. Which points, I suggest, are all we can rightly interpret the Catechism, Lumen Gentium, and Nostra Aetate to mean: Muslims believe in a God who is one, and who is said to have other attributes that we Christians believe our God to have.

According to this definition, therefore, any monotheist with the philosophical pure-perfections notion of God thus believes in the same God as Christians. Which makes the assertion about Islam fairly innocuous, doesn't it?

If, however, we read the statement to mean that Muslims and Christians address their belief to the same God who revealed himself to men in Salvation History, recorded in Sacred Scripture, we run into a problem: Islam's version of this God is a fiction.

And worse than a fiction: a deliberate parody and perversion of divine revelation. Muslim theology, then, is built not just on a lie but on a fundamentally anti-Christian lie. Their only claim to legitimacy as an Abrahamic religion -- to being a religion that believes in the same God of Christians and Jews -- is their false revelation.

Though I can appreciate, in context, the diplomatic niceties of conciliar and papal statements that try to extend a friendly hand to Islam, we should not interpret these as a conferral of that legitimacy. Sadly, too many do.

May 31, 2014 at 9:47 am PST
#5  Will Johnson - Grand Rapids, Michigan

I fail to understand how this is possible: "The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims..."

Their theological/philosophical understanding of God may be at least partially correct. But to deny Jesus as God is to deny the Trinity. So they deny the fact God is Three Persons.

I mean, polytheists lack the proper understanding of God in that, in a hierarchy of 'gods', none are really God because each one lacks something, as Aquinas has elaborated on. But, in essence, how is it different for the the Muslims to believe in one God is not not Three persons, and believe in believe in several 'gods'? My point is, Jesus' divinity, and therefore the Trinity, are not in the Muslim teaching of God. They don't just deny His laws or doctrine. They deny God's essence. How then can it be the same God?

This all leads to my base question: How are Muslims included in the plan of salvation if they don't have faith in Jesus the Christ as the Messiah? The reason this bothers me is that the wording, "plan of salvation", implies something beyond the notion of "by no fault of their own do they not acknowledge God". It seems to imply they are fully in step with redemption.

May 31, 2014 at 12:04 pm PST
#6  Tim Staples - El Cajon, California - Catholic Answers Blogger

Todd,

You asked the "one question:" "What does it *mean* to say Christians and Muslims worship the same God? Or to put it in the negative: What does it mean to deny that Muslims and Christians worship the same God?"

When the Church says, "Together with us they adore the one, merciful God;" and, "They adore the one God, living and subsisting in Himself; merciful and all-powerful, the Creator of heaven and earth," that means that they believe in the same God we do. God is, in fact, "the one God, living and subsisting in Himself; merciful and all-powerful, the Creator of Heaven and Earth." In order to deny they worship the same God, from a Catholic perspective, one would have to demonstrate that they, in fact, do not believe in "the one God, living and subsisting in Himself; merciful and all-powerful, the Creator of Heaven and Earth." Because that is the one, true God. There is no other.

Jesus' revelation of God as three persons does not change nor does it add to the revelation of God as the one, true God. It reveals something of the eternal, inner life of that one, true God. If someone knowingly rejects that revelation, they will be lost, because they would be rejecting the one, true God who reveals himself as such. But I know of the many Muslims I have spoken with over the years on three different continents and on many occasions, I have yet to find one who came to the table with the slightest clue as to what the Trinity actually means. I have battled on-line with Muslim scholars (a very few) who do, but most of the everyday Muslims I have spoken to think we are presenting three Gods and that the Trinity does, in fact, add to, and therefore contradict, the teaching of the Koran and the Old Testament that God is one. It does not, of course.

I disagree with you that "we can rightly interpret the Catechism, Lumen Gentium, and Nostra Aetate to mean: Muslims believe in a God who is one..." That is not what the Church teaches. Never does the Church say "they believe in a God..." The Church teaches "with us they adore THE one, merciful God."

You say "clearly when Catholics dispute this idea..." I don't deny that. At least, that "Catholics dispute this idea." But I argue they are wrong and they have to change the words of the Magisterium to arrive at their conclusion. I find that to be problematic.

You then say, "According to this definition, therefore, any monotheist with the philosophical pure-perfections notion of God thus believes in the same God as Christians. Which makes the assertion about Islam fairly innocuous, doesn't it?"

"Fairly innocuous?" I don't know. But absolutely crucial to understand? Yes, it is. Understanding this truth can be a foundation for the beginning of a true dialogue with Muslims. I have experienced it myself when trying to help Muslims to understand what we believe as Catholics and in helping them to understand that we actually agree about this foundational believe in the one, true God. As I said in my post, there is much to disagree about, but finding agreement is crucial to establish a foundation for discussion.

To say "this [Muslim] God... is a fiction," is to say the God we worship is "a fiction." On the objective level, Muslims reject God's revelation of himself in Jesus Christ, as delivered unto the Church in Scripture and Tradition. However, this should be tempered as we temper it with all other religions. Many Muslims, as I said before, are rejecting a phantom. There is evidence from the Koran itself, that Muhammad did not understand the Trinity that he was rejecting. I am not the judge of his culpability on this, God is. But to say "the God of Islam" is a fiction is to continue to contribute to the notion that Christians really don't believe in "one God." And that is more than unfortunate.
Thus, when you say "Islam's version of this God is a fiction," I ask, what does that mean? For example, rejecting God as Trinity does not mean that you somehow have it wrong now about God being one. You are rejecting a further revelation of who that one God is, and if you do that knowingly, you will be lost. But that does not change in the slightest that God is one and it does not mean then that "Muslims" would not then be adoring the one, true God anymore. That does not follow. We have to distinguish the objective truth that Muslims worship the one God (there is no other), and their rejection of what God has revealed about himself in Jesus Christ.
The Church never claims, to my knowledge, that Islam is "an Abrahamic religion." The Church says they "link themselves" to Abraham. What the Church says is they adore the same God we do. And "their only claim to legitimacy" is not the question here. The question is do they adore the same God we do. The Church says yes. Inasmuch as they worship "the one God, etc." they do. There is no other.
You say Muslim theology "is built not just on a lie but on a fundamentally anti-Christian lie."
What foundation are you talking about? Their first of five pillars, says Muslims believe "there is no God, but God." We agree with that. That can be said to be a foundation that is not a lie. The second half of that first pillar says "Muhammad is God's apostle (rasul), or prophet." That is false. He is a false prophet. But Muhammad being a false prophet does not take away the former as a legitimate foundation that we can agree about.
And yes, the Church acknowledges Islam as a "legitimate" religion that with us adores the one, true God. If that is a "conferral of legitimacy," then so be it. But we must understand the limits of that "legitimacy." It means they adore the same God we do. It does not somehow "legitimize" the false prophet Muhammad.

May 31, 2014 at 2:03 pm PST
#7  Tim Staples - El Cajon, California - Catholic Answers Blogger

June,
I personally do not call the Koran "holy." I call it "the Koran." You will hear or read Catholics say, "Many religions have 'holy' books that claim inspiration, but that does not mean they actually are." I know I have done that when disputing with Protestants about "sola scriptura." In that case, we are using the term by accommodation for discussion purposes. It is a book that is "set apart" for use by Muslims, just as the Vedas for Hindus, etc..
But obviously, the Koran is filled with errors and so is not "holy" as the Bible is. That is why I do not believe it proper for a Catholic to refer to it as "the Holy Koran." But I am not dogmatic on that.
I think you are correct to point out there are good things Muslims practice that are worthy of emulation. I admire them in some ways as well.
I think there is an important principle that you bring out here. Because I can agree with some things in Islam, does not mean that I am somehow embracing it or denying my own faith. I am simply acknowledging that "every good endowment, and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights" as James 1:17 says. If there is truth, beauty, and goodness, it is of God, no matter the source.
Thus, we can rejoice in that which is true about Islam without turning our brains off to the manifold errors in Islam, some of which being extremely dangerous.

May 31, 2014 at 2:20 pm PST
#8  Tim Staples - El Cajon, California - Catholic Answers Blogger

Will,
You ask an excellent question:
"I fail to understand how this is possible: 'The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims...'"

Understand that as Catholics we are not Calvinists (not that you were saying we are). We do not believe there are any people who are excluded from God's plan of salvation, because God "wills all to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (I Tim. 2:4; Cf. CCC 1037). But that does not mean everyone is going to be saved. It simply means God wills all to be saved, including Muslims.

The more truth a religion possesses, the closer it is to the fullness of truth that the Catholic Church alone possesses. By accepting that truth, a person who has not knowingly rejected the truth of Christ and his Church may well be drawing closer to God by graces given to him unknown to us. We say this person is "invincibly ignorant" of the truth of Christ and his Church because he has never rejected it. As long as he cooperates with the grace God gives him where he is, this man has the possibility of salvation.

Of course, we need to evangelize everyone to bring to them the ordinary means of salvation God wills all to possess in his Church, but that does not mean that folks cannot be saved outside of the visible boundaries of the Catholic Church. They can be "related" to the Church (if they are not Christian) or even "joined" to the Church (if they have valid baptism) in more or less intimate ways according to either the gifts of grace they have received validly in their own churches or ecclesial communities, or according to their level of cooperation with that grace (see Lumen Gentium 16, in the documents of Vatican II). God alone is the judge, of course, as to who is truly "invincibly ignorant" and cooperating with his grace where they are, and who is culpable for their ignorance or who is not cooperating with the grace they have been given where they are. God will be the judge of all of this and more on Judgment Day.

Many people confuse the idea of "the plan of salvation" including the Muslims with "all Muslims will be saved." That is not what CCC 841 is saying.

May 31, 2014 at 2:36 pm PST
#9  Ken Daugherty - Smyrna, Georgia

John Paul II said they do. How do you explain that?

May 31, 2014 at 6:23 pm PST
#10  Tim Staples - El Cajon, California - Catholic Answers Blogger

Ken,
John Paul II said they do what?

May 31, 2014 at 9:26 pm PST
#11  kenneth winsmann - katy, Texas

Mr. Staples,

I have some questions about your view and this article in general.

1. Isn't it possible that Church teaching on this issue is just plain wrong? The documents in question (Catechism, Lumen Gentium, and Nostra Aetate) are only infallible when they represent the teaching of the Ordinary Magesteeium... Which this very obviously doesn't... As far as I can tell it would represent at BEST the authentic Magesterium which (as far as I know) only commands assent of the will in so far as the teaching is clear and does not bring forth serious objections and apparent contradictions with previous teaching. In my opinion the documents cited are NOT clear and DO seem to contradict prior Church teaching on the subject.

2. Your argument only seems to work when both the Muslim and Christian concepts of God are emptied of their meanings. What if I said that I worshipped the God of Abraham that was one and subsisting in Himself eternally but also taught that this God was pure EVIL. Would you argue that God's goodness was only "further revelation about who that God is" and that we together adored the same God? What if by God bring "merciful" I meant "merciful to the wicked"? Would all of this still be permissible in the Magesteriums eyes? I believe e that to teach Christians and Muslims worship the same God is to reduce words like God and Merciful to pseudo concepts devoid of their actual meanings within both traditions.

I hope that your know that I am writing as an honest seeker of truth and not a "know it all" who just wants to argue. I love your work and will forever be grateful to Catholic answers for the role yall played in bringing me (and my entire family be extension) home to mother Church. God bless you and thanks for your response ahead of time.

June 1, 2014 at 1:01 am PST
#12  Matthew Smith - Bandiana, Victoria

Just as a point of interest. A book written by an ex militant Muslim called "From Jihad to Jesus" has some very interesting points showing the contrast between Islam and the Quran to Christianity and the Bible.
The author is Jerry Rassamni. Certainly worth a read.

June 1, 2014 at 4:44 am PST
#13  Matthew Smith - Bandiana, Victoria

Just as a point of interest. A book written by an ex militant Muslim called "From Jihad to Jesus" has some very interesting points showing the contrast between Islam and the Quran to Christianity and the Bible.
The author is Jerry Rassamni. Certainly worth a read.

June 1, 2014 at 4:44 am PST
#14  Ken Daugherty - Smyrna, Georgia

In 1985, John Paul II speaking to Muslim youth, said Christians and Muslims "worship the same God." How do you explain that?

June 1, 2014 at 5:20 am PST
#15  Christopher Travis - Huntsville, Alabama

This seems like one of those "yes but no" situations. Yes they worship one God, the same God of Abraham, Adam, Noah, and so on. But no, they do not have the same understanding or concept of God as we do. It isn't a question of if they worship the same God, it is a matter of how far off and how innacurate their understanding of God is, no different than Mormonism or Jehovahs, just a greater degree of separation.

The thing that confuses me the most when I have conversations with Muslims is that they always tell me they love Jesus too and that He was a great prophet. That is when I ask them, well OK then, if you think He was a great prophet why do you not listen to His message? Does a great prophet lie about who he is? If Jesus is not who He said He was then He was not only a bad prophet, He would have been one of the biggest frauds and liars to ever walk the earth. I never get a straight answer when I bring that up, it is almost like a part of them agrees but they are affraid to accept that truth. Keep up the great work at Catholic Answers!!

June 1, 2014 at 5:27 am PST
#16  Sean Green - North Ridgeville, Ohio

Dear Mr. Staples
Throughout the history of the Christian church, great pains have been made to carefully articulate the biblical doctrine of who God is and how He has revealed Himself to mankind through Jesus. The Apostles', Nicene, and Athanasian Creeds are faithful expositions of what the scriptures teach on the true nature of God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
While I can also appreciate your sincerity of upholding what the Catholic Church has taught since the second Vatican Council, I'm wondering if you can explain some further points:
1. To say if we deny the Supreme Being in Islam would be akin to rejecting the Supreme Being in Christianity because how can the Supreme Being refute His own existence? The Bible clearly shows who God is as Triune and all other gods are false so therefore does it take a false god to give credence for the true God to exist if a false one doesn't? That logically doesn't make sense.
2. Jesus makes it clear in the Gospel of John (and elsewhere) that no man comes to the Father except through the Son and that if you don't have the Son, you don't have the Father (implying what you are worshipping does not in fact exist). Would you be able to point out where Jesus erred when making that declaration?
Again I appreciate your input and look forward to hearing you give a response from the Bible on how to reconcile these views.

June 1, 2014 at 11:11 am PST
#17  Tim Staples - El Cajon, California - Catholic Answers Blogger

Kenneth,
In answer to your #11:
1. The teaching of the Catechism, generally speaking, is the teaching of the Ordinary Magisterium of the Church to which Catholics are bound to give what the Church refers to as "religious assent of the intellect and will" (see Lumen Gentium 25). I say "generally" because much that is in the Catechism is infallible, not because it is in the Catechism, but because it had been taught definitively by the Church in times past. Those teachings require theological assent of the intellect and will.
Pope St. John Paul II taught, in his Apostolic Letter, "Laetamur Magnopere," in which the Latin Typical edition of the CCC was approved and promulgated, that the Catechism represents a "new, authoritative exposition of the one and perennial apostolic faith... a 'valid and legitimate instrument for ecclesial communion' and... 'a sure norm for teaching the faith,' as well as a 'sure and authentic reference text' for preparing local catechisms" (cf. Apostolic Constitution, 'Fidei Depositum,' no. 4).
Lumen Gentium, and Nostra Aetate carry greater theological weight because they are exercises of the Extraordinary Magisterium of the Church, meaning all of the bishops of the world were gathered together in an Ecumenical Council and these documents were promulgated as such.
While the Pope and fathers of the Council determined they would not make any new solemn pronouncements carrying anathemas with them, that is not the only instrument of infallible teaching. The Council still represents the Universal and Ordinary Magisterium, meaning all of the bishops of the world expressed, depending upon the language used, of course, the Ordinary teaching of the Church taught throughout the world in union with the Pope. These teachings are infallible as such.
What do we conclude from this? The Catechism does not give us optional teaching for Catholics. We must, as Catholics, form our consciences in accordance with that which it teaches according to the manifest intention of the Holy Father who promulgated it. Of course, where there are matters related to the prudent application of doctrine, or matters stated to be conclusions reached by individual saints or doctors of the Church, etc., they must be understood in that context, but when the Church declares on a matter, even though it may not be infallible, as Pope Pius XII declared in "Humani Generis" (Encycl., 1950, para. 20), we are bound to give assent to its teaching (see also Lumen Gentium 25, Pius IX, "Tuas Libenter," Dec. 21, 1863, "The Syllabus of Errors," no. 22). This "assent" is a religious assent, rather than theological assent, but we are bound as Catholics.
There is an important distinction in the kind of assent these represent. If I knowingly reject an infallible teaching of the Church, that is grave matter. If I attempt to form my conscience in accordance with a teaching that is not infallible, but is a teaching of the Ordinary Magisterium, but I simply cannot agree with it, I am not in sin. However, out of respect for the Ordinary Magisterium, I am not free to declare that teaching is wrong. I can respectfully ask questions to clarify things, but I publicly present what is the teaching of the Church, even while expressing my struggle with it.
When it comes to Lumen Gentium, we have to be very careful. Because it is a "Dogmatic Constitution," and because it represents all of the bishops of world in the union with the Pope, this teaching requires theological assent, in accordance with the manifest will of the Council when the language is examined.
There is another very important to be made here. The Magisterial authority of the Church does not extend to Muslim theology. However, inasmuch as Muslims teach God is "the one God, living and self-subsistent," that is the same God we worship. That is Catholic teaching. If one can demonstrate Muslims do not do so, this statement would not apply. The honus is upon those who will to do so, to bring forth the arguments to prove Muslims do not believe what they profess to believe.
The important point here is, inasmuch as they do profess said faith, they worship the same God we do. That is the teaching of the Church.
2. When you say, "Your argument only seems to work when both the Muslim and Christian concepts of God are emptied of their meanings," I do not agree. Inasmuch as Muslims believe in "the one God, living and subsisting in himself, etc." we don't have to empty it of anything. We agree wholeheartedly with their statement of faith.
You then say what if they said, "that God was pure EVIL." Then, they would not be teaching God to be "the one God, living and subsisting in himself." Evil represents a real privation of some perfection that ought to be in a given nature. That would not be God. That being would not be "the one God, living and subsisting in himself." That being would have had to have been brought into being because its existence would be dependent upon another. But that is not what Muslims teach in their first of the five pillars. So your theory does not apply.
It is beyond the scope of this comment to delve into the metaphysical problems inherent in, especially, the Sunni notion of God as cause of moral evil. That borders on what you are talking about here, but as long as the Church accepts the baptisms of Calvinists who have a similar belief, I have to say this error does not reach the level of saying "God is evil." The theological confusion of Muslims and Calvinists in this matter, does not rise, according to the Church, to the level of necessitating our saying they are worshipping another God. Wesley may have believed that about Calvinists, but we as Catholics do not. We leave this in the realm of grave error, which, by they way, is bad enough for us to know we really need to evangelize these folks!
I really appreciate your questions here and the spirit in which you ask them. These are very deep questions and I hope I was of some assistance to you in your quest for truth.

June 1, 2014 at 11:22 am PST
#18  Tim Staples - El Cajon, California - Catholic Answers Blogger

Ken,
In answer to your #14:
You said, "In 1985, John Paul II speaking to Muslim youth, said Christians and Muslims "worship the same God."
Yes, this is the general teaching of the Church, as I said in my post. This does not mean all Muslims will be saved. It simply means that inasmuch as they believe in "the one God, living and subsisting in himself," etc. that represents the one true God, who is living and subsisting in himself (meaning, he does not receive his existence from another). There is much than this that is involved in salvation.

June 1, 2014 at 11:29 am PST
#19  Tim Staples - El Cajon, California - Catholic Answers Blogger

Christopher,
I agree with you that discussion about the nature of Jesus Christ is a great way to dialogue with Muslims. You can also bring out the fact that Muhammad commanded his followers to follow the "Injil", or "the Gospel," which represents the Gospels. Muslim apologists would later come up with the doctrine of "tahriff" or "corruption," that claimed the Gospels were corrupted. But Muhammad did not teach this. He said the Gospel leads to him if understood properly. Well, we know what "the Gospel" is to which he was referring. We have manuscripts that date back to hundreds of years before Muhammad.
Bottom line: The "Injil" Muhammad says all should follow teaches the divinity of Christ. Thus, the "Injil" tells us to reject Muhammad and his teaching. Thus, Muhammad tells us we should reject Muhammad.

June 1, 2014 at 11:37 am PST
#20  Tim Staples - El Cajon, California - Catholic Answers Blogger

Sean,
In answer to your #16:
Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, the prophets, etc., did not believe in the Trinity. But that does not mean they were wrong about who God is, nor does it mean they were lost.
Moreover, the definitions of the Trinity by the Church do not conflict with either their teaching (Deut. 6:4, etc.), or Muslim teaching that God is one. Their teaching that God is one does not become wrong when God reveals to us that he has existed for all eternity as a Trinity either. God is still just as much one as he has always been.
Thus, if you say Muslims are wrong in saying God is the one God, then what are you saying? God is not one? That would be heresy.
The bottom line is this: Inasmuch as Muslims teach God is "the one God, living and subsisting in himself," they are right and we agree with them. That is what the Church is saying.
Inasmuch as they reject what God has further revealed about himself in and through Christ, they are wrong. But this does not mean that what they are right about then becomes wrong somehow. No, truth is truth, no matter where it is found.
2. Yes, Jesus makes it clear that no one can come to the Father except through the son (John 14:6). But that same Jesus also says that those who do not know about this truth may not be culpable for their lack of knowledge (see John 15:22; John 9:41; Acts 10:34-35, cf. Acts 10:1-4). Thus, the Church teaches the possibility of salvation (not the certainty of, by the way, but just the "possibility,"-God is the judge) for those who are where they are through no fault of their own, and as long as they have not knowingly rejected the truth, and as long as they cooperate with God's grace given to them in ways we are not privy to, and as long as they endure as such until the end of their lives. Again, God is the judge. We just know we need to get the grace of the sacraments to these folks because we all need grace to get to heaven, and the closer you are to Christ and his Church, the more grace you have access to.

June 1, 2014 at 11:55 am PST
#21  Christopher Travis - Huntsville, Alabama

Tim, thank you for your response to my post. I will do some further study on what you have brought to my attention and be even better prepared the next time this discussion comes up with a few Muslims I know.

June 1, 2014 at 3:01 pm PST
#22  Steven Way - Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio

I can understand how the Church can make a definitive statement about doctrines of Catholicism since this is part of the deposit of faith. But how can the Church can make a definitive statement about the beliefs of a different religion when that religion did not even exist when the Church was given the deposit of faith?

June 1, 2014 at 6:31 pm PST
#23  Mark Jeffords - Ceres, California

Ask a Saint – He Knows

"It seems that you have not read the whole Gospel of Our Lord the Christ, for elsewhere it says: ‘If thine eye scandalize thee, pluck it out and cast it from thee....’ With that He meant to teach us that however dear a man may be to us and however close a relative he may be, even if as precious to us as our own eye, if he appears to go astray from the faith and from the love of Our Lord, we must separate from him, pluck him out and cast him far from us. That is why Christians were right to invade the lands that you occupy, because you blasphemed Christ’s name and stopped everyone you could from worshipping Him. But if you were willing to know our Creator and our Redeemer, to profess Them and render Them homage, Christians would cherish you as they cherish one another.

- St. Francis of Assisi, 1219 AD

June 1, 2014 at 7:36 pm PST
#24  Mark Jeffords - Ceres, California

Tim,

Paul VI said about the conciliar documents:

“In view of the conciliar practice and the pastoral purpose of the present Council, this sacred Synod defines matters of faith or morals as binding on the Church only when the Synod itself openly declares so.”

and also:

"“Differing from other Councils, this one was not directly dogmatic, but disciplinary and pastoral."

and lastly:

"In view of the pastoral nature of the Council, it avoided proclaiming in an extraordinary manner any dogmas carrying the mark of infallibility.”

So Tim, when Vatican II says something new and different than what the Church had always taught in the past (and there are dozens of examples), why wouldn't it be in my best interest to discard the new teaching and stick to the Faith of all time?

Saving my soul is more important to me than toeing the party line.

June 1, 2014 at 7:51 pm PST
#25  Mark Jeffords - Ceres, California

Ask a Saint – He Knows

"Therefore, if the Word of God is in God, then it is obvious that He is God. If, however, He is outside of God, then, according to you (Muslims), God is without word and without spirit. Consequently, by avoiding the introduction of an associate with God you (Muslims) have mutilated Him. It would be far better for you to say that He has an associate than to mutilate Him, as if you were dealing with a stone or a piece of wood or some other inanimate object."

-

St. John Damascene (Bishop and Doctor of the Church), discusses his debates with Muslims The quote is taken from Saint John's work, the Fount of Knowledge, part two entitled 'Heresies in Epitome: How They Began and Whence They Drew Their Origin'.

June 1, 2014 at 8:22 pm PST
#26  Tim Staples - El Cajon, California - Catholic Answers Blogger

Steven,
In response to your #22:
I think we have to clear up problems with semantics here. But you make a very important point. I addressed it in my comments above, but I will address it again. The Church's magisterial authority does not extend to what Calvinists believe, Muslims believe, etc. In other words, the Church can get it wrong in saying, "Calvinists believe..." Or, "Muslims believe..." She can't get it wrong when she says, "Double predestination is wrong" definitively. 'And she can't get it wrong when she says anyone who believes in "the one God, living and subsisting in Himself" worships the same God we do.
If one can show that Calvinists actually do not believe in double predestination, then the condemnations against that teaching would not apply to them.
This is, by the way, the principle behind why Pope Vigilius could flip-flop on the excommunications of Theodore of Mopsuestia, Ibas of Idessa, and Theodoret of Cyrus, in the fifth century. They were condemned for teaching Nestorianism, but there were questions as to whether each of them actually did so, whether one or more may have repented, etc.
This is why I said above that if it can be shown that Muslims do not believe in "one God, living and subsisting in Himself," then the declarations of the Church would not apply. However, the onus is on those who believe this to be so. If this is done, the Church could change her position and say words to the effect of: "Muslims do not worship the same God we do. And this is why the 'God' they speak of is not really 'one God, living and subsistent in Himself." And this has not been done. So the Church's stand remains and Catholics are bound by it.
One addition here: The Church has spilled a lot of ink to avoid what some at Vatican I feared would accompany the definition of Papal Infallibility. The fear was that some Catholics would believe all they have to believe and obey are Ex Cathedra statements of the Popes. The Ordinary Magisterium would be ignored and the disciplinary decrees of the Church as well. It seems that on "the left" and on "the right" this is exactly what has happened.
The interesting thing about it, is the ignoring seems to be very selective. If Popes said something that can be construed to condemn Muslims, or whatever sect, in times past, somehow these statements about what other people believe are definitive. But if a Pope says something that claims aspects of what Muslims, or any other sect, could be true, then Magisterial authority (or disciplinary authority) doesn't apply.
We live in interesting times. The truth is, the statements of Lumen Gentium, Nostra, and the Catechism are binding on Catholics. Binding in accordance with the nature of each, whether they are infallible, ordinary teachings, or matters of discipline. We should defend them vigorously.

June 2, 2014 at 8:04 am PST
#27  Tim Staples - El Cajon, California - Catholic Answers Blogger

Mark,
Great quote from St. Francis in your #23. I can only guess why you quoted it, but I am guessing it is because St. Francis here says "if you were willing to know our Creator and Redeemer," you are implying this great saint rejected the idea that Muslims "with us worship the one, true God..."
But the context here is that they "blasphemed Christ's name and stopped everyone [they] could from worshipping Him." So the "Creator and Redeemer" of which Francis speaks is Jesus Christ. There is no question that Muslims reject "the Word made flesh." But that doesn't mean they have it wrong about God being one.

June 2, 2014 at 8:17 am PST
#28  Tim Staples - El Cajon, California - Catholic Answers Blogger

Mark,
In answer to your #24:
Six things:
1. You said, "Paul VI said about the conciliar documents: 'In view of the conciliar practice and the pastoral purpose of the present Council, this sacred Synod defines matters of faith or morals as binding on the Church only when the Synod itself openly declares so.'" Pope Paul VI did not say this. This was from the Doctrinal Commission set up by the Pope and is commenting on Lumen Gentium, in particular.
2. Notice what it also said, "As is self-evident, the conciliar text is to be interpreted with the general rules which are known to all." There is nothing new in the statement that the Church must say something is definitive in order for it to be so.
3. In the very next sentence after the one you quoted, the commission said, "Whatever else it proposes as the teaching of the supreme magisterium of the Church is to be acknowledged and accepted by each and every member of the faithful according to the mind of the Council which is clear from the subject matter and its formulation, following the norms of theological interpretation."
You should tell those from whom you received this quote that they need to read the rest of it.
4. You also quoted Pope Paul VI's General Audience of August 6, 1975, where he said of the Council:
"Differing from other Councils, this one was not directly dogmatic,
but disciplinary and pastoral."
This does not mean there was no dogmatic component to the Council. There were two Dogmatic Constitutions after all. The Council of Trent was a "directly dogmatic" Council, but that does not mean there was not a pastoral component as well.
This statement is irrelevant to our discussion because it does not erase all else the Council and Pope said about Vatican II's dogmatic components and its binding character upon Catholics.
5. You then quoted Pope Paul VI from another General Audience, this time from January 12th, 1966, when he said, "In view of the pastoral nature of the Council, it avoided proclaiming in an extraordinary manner any dogmas carrying the mark of infallibility.”
I have already spoken to this, but I will say again: The fact that the Church deigned not to make any extraordinary infallible statements carrying anathemas with them, does not mean the teachings of the Council are not binding. They are. And it does not mean that infallible teachings were not communicated via other avenues the Church has at her disposal, i.e., via reiterating already infallible teachings, and via exercising the Universal and Ordinary teaching authority of the Church.
Having said that, you might also want to read the very next sentence from Pope Paul VI, who in the same breath then said:

In view of the pastoral nature of the Council, it avoided any extraordinary statements of dogmas endowed with the note of infallibility but it still provided its teaching with the authority of the Ordinary Magisterium which must be accepted with docility according to the mind of the Council concerning the nature and aims of each document.

6. As far as your claim that the Church taught "dozens" of "new and different" doctrines that what the Church has always taught in the past, that is simply wrong. But it is certainly not something new. After virtually every Ecumenical Council, there are always people who are certain they know more than the Church and they say the Council erred. They, along with you, are wrong. I would suggest you read "The Pope, the Council, and the Mass," by Kenneth Whitehead and James Likoudis. It answers quite well most of the myths of the errors of Vatican II.

Saving my soul is more important to me than toeing the party line.

June 2, 2014 at 9:40 am PST
#29  Tim Staples - El Cajon, California - Catholic Answers Blogger

Mark,
In response to your #25:
This quotation from St. John Damascene is not relevant to our discussion. He is talking about how these Muslims reject Jesus Christ as God. No one is arguing that point. What we are talking about is whether or not Muslims believe in the one, true God, living and subsisting in Himself. They do. What they reject is what the one, true God has revealed to us in and through Jesus Christ.

June 2, 2014 at 9:47 am PST
#30  Steven Way - Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio

Tim,

I appreciate how you take the time to answer people's questions.

June 2, 2014 at 12:36 pm PST
#31  Mark Jeffords - Ceres, California

Tim, in response to number 27. You changed the question on me. The title of your blog is "Do Muslims Worship the Same God Catholics Do?". Now, in number 27, you say "But that doesn't mean they have it wrong about God being one."

That wasn't the question. What did St. James say? Even the demons believe God is one, so what? That's not an exact quote clearly. Of course they are monotheists. But the council says "together with us" they worship "the one true" God. Would St. Francis of Assisi had signed off on such a statement? Based on the above quote I supplied which you have not disputed as legitimate, I think in honesty you'd have to answer no.

Tim you only took part of my quote instead of the whole thing to try and show St. Francis was speaking only about Jesus and not about the God the Father. Wasn't that what you accused me of doing in number 28, I mean taking only part of a quote to make it suit my interpretation.

The part you left out was this:

(St. Francis speaking to the Sultan)

"But if you were willing to know our Creator and our Redeemer, to profess Them and render Them homage, Christians would cherish you as they cherish one another."

Here St. Francis says "profess THEM" and "render THEM homage". St Francis saying "THEM" means he's referring to 2 persons, the Father and the Son, when he says "our Creator and our Redeemer". St Francis tells the Sultan that Muslims neither profess the Father and the Son, nor pay THEM homage. And so, he says it was right for Christians to invade their lands.

If he was referring only to Jesus Christ as you tried to say, then he would have said "profess HIM" and "render HIM homage". But instead he says "THEM" in referring to the "Creator AND redeemer". Which according to St. Francis, Muslims do not know THEM, profess THEM, or render homage to THEM.

Tim, I think it's safe to say that if St. Francis of Assisi was a council father at Vatican II, he would have at the very least had an issue with the wording being used in Lumen Gentium, as would many saints and doctors of the Church who have written about Mohammed and Islam. Is that fair?

Bishop Athanasius Schneider seems to think so. He's on record as having said that Lumen Gentium's teaching on the Muslims needs to be clarified as do the other conciliar ambiguities that you claim do not exist. That's all I'm saying.

The Bishop, like Cardinal Kasper, notes that it is not simply a problem with interpretation of the Council, but with the some of the documents themselves. He said that the "majority of the texts of the Council are very rich and traditional", but some are "controversial or ambiguous" and suffer from a "lack of precision."
Some of these documents are "open to different interpretations" (what Cardinal Kasper called "compromise formulas"). Thus, along with Cardinal Kasper, he admits an ambiguity in the documents.

The quote from Kasper I refer to is this:

""In many places, [the Council Fathers] had to find compromise formulas, in which, often, the positions of the majority are located immediately next to those of the minority, designed to delimit them. Thus, the conciliar texts themselves have a huge potential for conflict, open the door to a selective reception in either direction." (Cardinal Walter Kasper, L'Osservatore Romano, April 12, 2013)

So, two Bishops, one conservative and one liberal, both saying the council documents contain "ambiguous and imprecise texts" and "compromise formulas", and Catholic Answers continues to maintain that neither is true and that Vatican II was just like any other council, and if you say different, you must be a rad trad.

Bishop Scheider also has spent a bit of time with Lumen Gentium 16, which he forcefully says "needs an explanation."

His specific problem is with the sentence which states that Muslims and Catholics together adore the one God. Schneider says that this statement is extremely clumsy and admits of two substantial different levels of interpretation. He goes on to make an important distinction between belief in one God according to natural reason and the supernatural virtue of faith, which alone is pleasing to God.

I have video of the Bishop saying these things, which I will provide if you dispute that he ever said any of this.

Tim, I will read "The Pope, the Council, and the Mass". When I'm finished, I should probably mail a copy to Bishop Schneider and Cardinal Kasper so we can set them straight as well. I mean, who do they think they are, saying such things about the conciliar documents? Don't they know those are all myths?

June 2, 2014 at 12:44 pm PST
#32  Mark Jeffords - Ceres, California

Tim, in response to 29, the quotation from St. John Damascene is relevant to our discussion. Because in talking about how these Muslims reject Jesus Christ as God, they are rejecting "the one, true God, living and subsisting in Himself."

St. John Damascene says they believe in a "mutilated" God, claiming he is "without Word and Spirit".

Tim, you know a heck of a lot more scripture than I do, you know very well that 1 John 5:20 says,

"And we know that the Son of God is come: and he hath given us understanding that we may know the true God, and may be in his true Son. This is the true God and life eternal."

By rejecting what has been "revealed to us in and through Jesus Christ", they (Muslims) are rejecting the true God. Without the understanding that the Son of God gives, we can't know the true God.

And what about:

Luke 10:16

"...and he that despiseth me, despiseth him that sent me."

and

John 3:36

"...but he that believeth not the Son, shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him."

and

1 John 2:22

Who is a liar, but he who denieth that Jesus is the Christ? This is Antichrist, who denieth the Father, and the Son.

Now, because you are a world famous Catholic Apologist and I am a nobody in a comment box, you could shut me up simply by saying that I'm taking these verses out of context. But I don't think that's what you'll do, because the context is pretty clear.

From scripture I know that by denying Jesus Christ, the Muslims and others:

1. Are a type of AntiChrist

2. have the wrath of God abiding on them

3. Despise the Father

4. And do not know the true God (per 1 John 5:20)

And thus, St. John Damascene says "Consequently, by avoiding the introduction of an associate with God you (Muslims) have mutilated Him. It would be far better for you to say that He has an associate than to mutilate Him."

and Pope PIUS XI said (emphasis mine):

"Now this is eternal life: That they may know thee, the ONLY TRUE GOD, and Jesus Christ whom thou has sent" (John xvii. 3).

Nobody, therefore, can say: "I believe in God, and that is enough religion for me," for the Savior's words brook no evasion:

"Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father. He that confesseth the Son hath the Father also" (1 John ii. 23)."

- ENCYCLICAL OF POPE PIUS XI ON THE CHURCH AND THE GERMAN REICH MARCH 14, 1937

June 2, 2014 at 1:50 pm PST
#33  Lori Pieper - Bronx, New York

Tim and Mark:

I would not put any weight at all on those supposed words of St. Francis to the Sultan: they are almost certainly apocryphal. (I say this as a historian and Franciscan scholar). They do not come from any of the established medieval biographies of Francis, but from a single manuscript of late date and dubious provenance. The attitude this work portrays is very different from that of the real St. Francis. Impossible to go into it in any depth here, but check out my blog posts on the subject:

http://subcreators.com/blog/2013/10/03/st-francis-and-the-sultan-conversion-dialogue-or-dhimmitude/

http://subcreators.com/blog/2013/10/04/st-francis-and-the-sultan-ii/

June 2, 2014 at 2:33 pm PST
#34  Geary Burch - Berkeley Springs, West Virginia

I agree with Mark Jeffords entirely here and others who have problems with this teaching. As a recent convert to the Catholic Church I don't understand the ambiguity in this teaching. My conscience will not allow me to concede to this.

But I was wondering if anybody saw the recent video with the German woman who bravely waved her flag that read, "Christ is Lord" and yelled Christ is Lord while the Muslim Imam began to pray. It happened at a memorial church in Germany to honor Martin Luther. The setting was a inter-faith concert. I'll see if I can post the link to see what you think.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LYyhb9bnPwQ

June 2, 2014 at 2:40 pm PST
#35  Todd Aglialoro - El Cajon, California - Catholic Answers Blogger

Tim:

A couple of things.

First, I didn't mention the Trinity. Were you mixing up my comment with someone else's? My assertions do not in any way depend on Islam's disbelief in or lack of understanding about the doctrine of God's triune nature. Rather I'm a) trying to understand what it means to say that Christians and Muslims worship (or believe in) the same God, and b) suggesting that in at least one sense of that phrase, we do not.

"The Church teaches 'with us they adore THE one, merciful God.'"

As you know, there is no direct article in Latin. Applying it in translation is a contextual call. Just as easy to translate Lumen Gentium's words here not as a statement about the identity of Islam's God, but rather as a statement about his characteristics -- many of which are part of Christian theology, too.

Even if we do insist upon the direct article, I think that would just bring us back to the unobjectionable point that Muslims are monotheists, and that since there is only one God in the universe (and outside of it), any monotheist's God MUST be my God and your God, too. Unless you want to say there are multiple Gods out there.

"To say 'this [Muslim] God... is a fiction,' is to say the God we worship is 'a fiction.'"

Certainly not! The revelation by which we know about our God, the things he said, the things said about him, and the things he is said to have done -- all of that is not only true by inerrantly true. Our God is as far from a fiction as possible.

The "revelation" of Islam's God (in the Koran) is a falsehood, a lie, a made-up thing. The things it has God say and do are not true. Some of the the things it says about him (many of them quite important; eg his oneness, mercy, power, etc) are indeed true. We can acknowledge those things (even if they're products of natural reason and/or bits and pieces plagiarized from true revelation) and try to build dialogue off them. But neither these commonalities nor Islam's bogus attempt to link itself to Abraham means that Islam is part of the same religious family as Judaism and Christianity; that is, a product of real divine revelation; that is, professes belief -- in a very real and important sense -- in the same God.

"What foundation are you talking about? "

The foundation of authentic revelation. If that's not the best measure for who believes in a certain God and who doesn't, I don't know what is. As I said in my first reply, just being fellow monotheists, or sharing certain theological notions, does not argue for the same "divine identity" nearly as strongly as believing in the same, authentic self-disclosure from God himself.

June 2, 2014 at 3:09 pm PST
#36  Erick Ybarra - Winter Park, Florida

Tim Staples,

To say that Muslims believe in the one God in the sense that they worship, honor, serve, obey, commit, and seek the very same God that we do, there will have to be more evidence than just they believe in one all powerful God, eternal and transcendent. Theoretically speaking, a variety of different religions can worship One God, all powerful and subsisting in Himself. Moreover they can have vastly different and contradictory beliefs about the One God. And they are all worshiping the same God on account that He is one?

There must be more criterion. The Koran presents a God who rejects the God of the Old and New Testament. There is not just contradictions in the beliefs and doctrines of the koran versus the Catholic Scriptures. Both ideas of God would create two God's who condemn and fight each other. The Islamic view of God is a God who would punish the God of the Scriptures.

Therefore, there must be some other criterion other than Monotheism which makes the statement true, namely, that Catholics and Muslims worship and adore the same God?

June 2, 2014 at 3:53 pm PST
#37  Josh Monroy - La Palma, California

I think Muhammad thought himself as a reformer. He wanted to unite the warring Arab tribes, he found that the Judeo-Christian communities had stability, uniformity and peace. So he took our morality, and the punishments of the OT and applied it. He needed to gain legitimacy so he claimed himself as a Prophet of God. He was ridiculed and he fled Mecca to Medina. There he gained followers and eventually some political power. He still lacked that religious legitimacy among Jews and Christians so he changed his views on these "people of the Book" and he began to kill them because he knew they would never accept him as a Prophet of God. Islam is successful because it works as a totalitarian regime coupled with some aspects of Judeo-Christian belief.

June 2, 2014 at 7:42 pm PST
#38  kenneth winsmann - katy, Texas

Tim,

Wow! I think its amazing that you found the time to answer so many challenges and questions in regards to your post. I was really edified by your response and i can not tell you hope grateful i am to have an apologist answer my questions! I wonder if you could expound upon a couple of things for me.... Your write

"If I attempt to form my conscience in accordance with a teaching that is not infallible, but is a teaching of the Ordinary Magisterium, but I simply cannot agree with it, I am not in sin. However, out of respect for the Ordinary Magisterium, I am not free to declare that teaching is wrong. I can respectfully ask questions to clarify things, but I publicly present what is the teaching of the Church, even while expressing my struggle with it."

1. Can you please cite for me where you learned this? One might ask, how does this play out when the Ordinary and fallible magesterium actually IS in error. If you and I both lived in the time of the Second Council of Constantinople, held in 553, would we be bound to agree that General Councils are superior to Popes and that the Church must convene every five years? Were all catholics bound by the Council of Florence on the matter and form for the Sacrament of Holy Orders up until the point when Pius XII reversed the teaching? Even if you don't agree that these particular examples are problematic, for the sake of my education here and now, how can a Catholic be theologically bound to assent to error in any way? The old protestant in me really rears its rebellious head at this!

Also, you said that if someone taught that God was pure evil that they would no longer be worshiping "the one God, living and subsisting in himself". However, isn't it also true that if Muslims condemn the Trinity they are are ALSO and EQUALLY not worshiping the "the one God, living and subsisting in himself"? How can you pick and choose which additional information that describes God is necessary (pure evil VS omni-benevolent) and which is "additional revelation" (Trinity, etc)?

PS,

I wonder if you could put a word in with your tech guy and see about adding html codes for your combox comments. These convos would be alot easier if we had blockquotes, italics, bold font, etc. at our disposal!

PSS,

I hope that one day you will address the issue of "troublesome traditionalists". Notice I did NOT say "radical traditionalists" because I know that you have defined that to mean Catholics not in good standing with the magesterium. I am speaking more to the Robert Sungenis, Christopher Ferrara, The Remnant Newspaper, John Salza, etc. types. They present a view that differs radically from Catholic Answers and for new converts this is all very confusing! As a former protestant you always wanted to side with the hardcore conservatives.... but it seems like the hard core conservatives are out of step with the current collection of bishops and cardinals... Maybe one day you can either write or say something about this agenda over the airwaves?

June 2, 2014 at 11:27 pm PST
#39  Seth M - Seattle, Washington

This to me seems the same as saying, Together with us the Gnostics adored Jesus Christ.

My main thought is right adoration and worship should be a part of the conversation. Is God honored and glorified by the worship of Muslims? Was Christ honored and glorified by the worship of the Gnostics? I guess in these instances we can say our object of worship is the same, but that is as far as the "togetherness" goes. Is that an OK conclusion to come to?

June 3, 2014 at 4:12 am PST
#40  Ged Narvaez - Daraga, Albay

Hi Faithful,Loving, Peaceful and Merciful, Obedient,and Humble and Hopeful, Truthful and Holy Catholics,

From my small view or actually i do not know your heart is, but still thoughts arise, but still incomplete. Can a question of when does that Mohammad considered to start His religion, be entertained here or there?How did that Mohammad come-up with his claim? Did the lack of knowledge and a proper guidance, contributed to the dilemma? Sorry i need a thorough understanding before I can comment intelligibly, please do not despise me, a man who seeks Cloud and Light.
Is there a space of reconciliation/agreement or we just lovely say No,No,No?
What is this One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church thinking? Has it is been fully known to a brother alone? Or will then my own intellect or formality will truly reveal or quench it? Or requires more the intuition of One does the Church seeks guidance and needs to be heartfelt?

Sorry, i guess i was actually a Child after all. Mother, please always guide me. Please brother, just ignore this pathetic child, or should i guess give him stones or snakes cause he is unfeed.

What do you think Brother Todd?

June 3, 2014 at 6:39 am PST
#41  Josh Monroy - La Palma, California

I gave my theory Ged Narvaez. I think it's pretty on point. He was surrounded by war and immorality. In the Jews and Christian communities around him he saw something different so he tried to imitate them by being a reformer to the Arabs. Eventually he realized that he didn't have authority to do these things so he claimed himself to be a prophet of God and when Jews and Christians rejected him he went to war with them. He probably thought that the Abrahamic God would be OK with this as long as he kept the Abrahamic God as the sole God to be worshiped.

June 3, 2014 at 6:56 am PST
#42  Ged Narvaez - Daraga, Albay

Thank you Josh Monroy. =).Let's pray, not for hostility,and bring them to full goodness, Love with truth. Let's also pray for us, with the help of all the angels and saints, that we can be finally united in peace, in love, in mercy, and deliver them to God's plan of salvation.

I guess seeing the difference actually helps alot. Right Brother?Or there is more worthy, honoring, pleasing do to?Peace and Love of Christ through Peace and Love of Christ.

June 3, 2014 at 7:21 am PST
#43  Tim Staples - El Cajon, California - Catholic Answers Blogger

Mark,

In response to your #31:

I didn't "change the question on [you]." The position of the Church on this matter is entirely rooted in God as "the one God living and subsisting in Himself." So whether or not Muslims actually believe this means everything. If they truly believe this, then they are worshipping the same God we do, at least on the level of natural religion. There is no other God than the one God.

You then quote James 2:19 and make the Church's point. The demons believe in the same God we do. But they don't have charity (good works) and that is why they are condemned. The devil and his cohorts were condemned for declaring "non serviam" (Jer. 2:20), not for failing to believe in God. That is James's point. "Faith without works is dead."

You ask, "Would St. Francis of Assisi have signed off" on the declarations of Vatican II? Yes, I believe he would say to us: "Listen to the Church."

You claim I left out, "But if you were willing to know our Creator and our Redeemer, to profess Them and render Them homage, Christians would cherish you as they cherish one another."

I didn't "leave it out." I gave it context and explained it. St. Francis, in context, was speaking about Jesus Christ, "our Creator and our Redeemer." And if you reject Jesus Christ, then you don't know God. "This is eternal life, that they may know thee the only true God and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent" (John 17:3). This is not because you do not "worship the same God we do," but because you reject the revelation of who the one true God is.

We could add Christians to the equation here and say with St. John: "Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love" (I John 4:8). There is a difference between having your theology correct about God, and having a personal relationship with him through Jesus Christ. St. John is not saying "Whoever does not love doesn't understand God theologically."

We have to make the proper distinctions here.

You said, "If he was referring only to Jesus Christ as you tried to say, then he would have said "profess HIM" and "render HIM homage". But instead he says "THEM""

You do not understand what I meant. The context was one of speaking of Christ. If you reject Christ, you don't know God, just as if you do not love, you do not know God.

Again, St. Francis is not addressing the topic that we are addressing.

I think we are helping folks who fail to understand what the Church teaches in this dialogue. The imperative here is to understand what the Church says, not to change it.

I don't claim "conciliar ambiguities do not exist." I merely claim there are answers to them.

I appreciate your Cardinal Kaspar quotation. Excellent points. What is wonderful about our Church is that she clarifies her own teachings. That is the wonder of possessing a living Magisterium. As I said in my post, the Church has repeated this teaching and in various ways (we did not get to audiences of Popes and other documents that have reiterated this teaching over the decades following the Council).

I don't think Bishop Schneider would appreciate you placing him in a category of people who reject Lumen Gentium's declaration. That is not what he said. I agree with the good bishop Schneider that the Church is talking about natural reason when it says "with us they adore the same God..." That seems very plain to me. But it also tells me that Bishop Schneider doesn't disagree with the statement, he is asking for clarification. He is not disputing "with us they adore the same God..." And that is what we are talking about here.

Cardinal Kaspar also agrees with the declaration, btw.

I am always in favor of more clarity from the Church. But claiming the Church is "just plain wrong" is another matter. I don't have that level of competence. I defend the Church.

June 3, 2014 at 8:43 am PST
#44  Tim Staples - El Cajon, California - Catholic Answers Blogger

Mark,

In response to your #32:

As I said above, we are not talking about what Scripture so plainly reveals: To reject Jesus is to reject the Father. We can talk about how all sorts of false teaching "mutilates" God.

What you are not seeing here is the difference between believing in and worshipping God the one, true God, on the objective level, and believing what he has revealed to us and is only knowable through the revelation he has given to us. A Muslim has no way of knowing the Trinity, the divinity of Christ, etc., any more than Moses and the prophets did, apart from Scripture and Tradition. For Muslims, for example, Muslims I have spoken to over the years, who believe Christianity teaches there are three Gods, they don't even give the idea of the Trinity a second glance. To them it is ridiculous because they don't know what the Trinity truly represents. These people believe and defend the truth of there being "one God, living and subsisting in Himself," against what they perceive to be Christians who teach there are multiple Gods. And I would agree with them in rejecting polytheism. And so should you.

Can you see how they would worship the same God that we do? Can you see how Moses and David worshipped the same God we do? These all believe and believed God to be "the one God, living and subsisting in Himself."

Okay. If you can get that far, I think you can take the next step and know this: Forget about culpability, and the truth we all agree on that says anyone who knowingly rejects the truth about Christ, does not know God (in the sense of I John 4:8). We don't need to get into a discourse here about invincible ignorance, but just know that if a person is culpable for their ignorance about Christ and his Church, he will be lost. The one who knowingly rejects Christ, of course, is lost, "mutilates" God, etc. But we are talking about something else here:

All Muslims who worship the one God, living and self-subsistent, worship the same God as other Muslims, whether those Muslims are invincibly ignorant about Christ or not. Some who are worshipping the God of Islam will go to heaven (if they are invincibly ignorant and persevere in a state of grace until the end, God alone is their judge), and some will go to hell (if they are responsible for their ignorance, if they knowingly reject the truth about Christ, or if they do not persevere in grace, God alone is their judge). But regardless of whether you have Muslims who "mutilate Christ" knowingly (the quote from St. John presupposes, I believe, a willful and knowing "mutilation"), or Muslims who do not, they all believe in the same God that is "the one God, living and subsisting in Himself, creator of the heavens and the earth." That is God, in truth!

Leave the judgment about who is mutilating Christ and who is not to God for this discussion. We are talking about whether or not Muslims, objectively speaking, worship the same God we do. They do. God really is "the one God, living and subsisting in Himself, the creator of heaven and earth."

Yes, I agree with you that either a Muslim, a Christian, or anyone who rejects Christ, rejects "the one God..." and can "mutilate God" in the sense St. John was speaking about, but that is not relevant to our discussion. The question we are asking is this: Before that Muslim (or anyone else) "mutilated" God, did he worship the one God? St. John does not answer that question. Lumen Gentium does.

When you say, "Without the understanding that the Son of God gives, we can't know the true God," you condemn Moses, David, the prophets as not having known the true God. I think you might want to re-visit this.

No matter how many verses you can rack up here and show how bad, bad, people are who reject Christ (how do you like my George Bush 41 impersonation?), none of them are any worse than the devil and his cohorts. But even they believe in the one, true God, according to James 2:19. They refuse to worship him (Muslims at least have in their favor that they worship him), but they believe in him. In a sense, they have more faith than we do.

June 3, 2014 at 10:11 am PST
#45  Tim Staples - El Cajon, California - Catholic Answers Blogger

Lori,
In response to your #33:

Thanks for your input. That does not sound like St. Francis to me either, but I am not a Franciscan scholar. Thanks again.

June 3, 2014 at 10:14 am PST
#46  Mark Jeffords - Ceres, California

Tim,

In response to your number 43, you did in fact leave out the latter portion of the quote from St. Francis that contained the word THEM. You still haven't explained how the word THEM could refer to one person and not multiple. Especially since Creator and Redeemer are referred to. The word THEM is used to refer to more than one person. If I wanted someone to hand you a set of keys, I would say "hand the keys to HIM", not "hand the keys to THEM". You are claiming now that "St. Francis is not addressing the topic that we are addressing." So it seems you now agree that St. Franics must have been referring to two persons when he said Creator and Redeemer, but that it doesnt have any relevance to out conversation. Oh Tim, you would have done better to try and discredit the quote or raise doubts about it's authenticity. St. Franics was saying they don't know the same God the Christians do, simple as that.

Unfortunately I didn't make the Church's point with James 2:19, not when it comes to Lumen Gentium 16. Unlike in the past, the Church had only positive things to say about Islam. Lumen Gentium 16 didnt say "we believe in the same God, but the Muslims are still condemned because of A, B, C. Unless they convert." Tim I wish that had been the Church's point. Instead we are told that they adore the one God together with us, when Pope St. Gregory the Great said:

"The Holy Catholic Church teaches that God cannot truly be adored except within its fold."

and St. Thomas Aquinas said:

"If they [pagans] had some speculative knowledge of God, it was mixed with many errors: some deprived Him of His providence over all things, others make of Him the soul of the world, others still adored several gods at the same time. For this reason, we say that they did not know God.

If composite realities can be partially known and partially unknown: on the contrary, simple things are not known as soon as they are not completely known. Hence, if some err even a little in their knowledge of God, they are said to have no knowledge of Him at all."

and Pope St. Pelagius II said:

“Consider (therefore) the fact that whoever has not been in the peace and unity of the Church, cannot have the Lord. (Galatians 3:7)"

Not to mention as I pointed out, John 17:3 points out and that the only true God is the one who sent Jesus Christ, and Luke 10:16 and others tell us that my rejecting Jesus, the Muslims are rejecting the one who sent Him. You'll have us believe that they can reject the true God and at the same time be adoring Him together with us.

Well, I'm glad there are more than a few people on this comment thread that can see reason.

Tim, you claim to be defending the Church, and I am sure in your mind you believe that. That's commendable. But in your blog post, you don't quote anything before Vatican II. By defending the "conciliar niceities" as your frienf Todd put it, like Lumen Gentium 16, you're attacking what the Church taught before Vatican II.

Everything said about Islam before Vatican II was negative, because Islam is a false religion. I'm guessing you must have tried to find some pre-conciliar reference to include in your post but weren't able to find one? And you still claim Vatican II brought nothing new to the table.

Tim, what Lumen Gentium 16 says is NEW!

June 3, 2014 at 10:49 am PST
#47  Brian Wethington - Hurst, Texas

Mark Jeffords,

It does seem to follow that your position can be summed up by "we believe in the same God, but the Muslims are still condemned because of A, B, C. Unless they convert."

We believe in the same God is exactly all the Church has stated. This was not new. The following A, B, and C all follow assuming culpability. The teaching of culpability is not new. So what pray-tell exactly is new. The Church did not say, "They believe in the same God and as such they are not condemned." No, they simply stated it is in fact the same God. Is it the full truth? No. Is that a problem? Yes. The Churches position does not dispute this at all. That is more than reasonable, even if you don't seem to believe it is.

Interestingly, I see many stating that the reason it can't be the same God is because they don't attest to Jesus as part of the Trinity. This is odd to me. This doesn't follow logically. Couldn't then Jews say Christians don't worship the same God as them, and conversely the Jewish don't worship the same God as Christians? Perhaps those of you who are making this assertion are adding more lines of thinking upon this, but I would love to see those.

I have to say, it is the same God and I can't make assertions as to who is in Hell, nor who will be in Hell. All I am able to say at this point is there is a Hell, and there are people in it.

June 3, 2014 at 11:24 am PST
#48  Mark Jeffords - Ceres, California

Tim, I'm not a sedevacantist, or a member of the SSPX, or CMRI, or any other such thing. The mass I attend is approved by the local Bishop and the priests I confess to have faculties. I'm not a rad trad or mad trad or anything else like that.

I'm just a regular Catholic guy who wants to defend the Church like you. The problem is after about a year after I converted, I was faced with the realization that there are passages in Vatican II's documents that don't square with tradition. I'm not at all happy about that, I wish it wasn't so. I would like to believe the opposite, I'm not going to stick head in the sand either.

The fact that you've written this blog post, is proof of this. It's a controversial topic, a simple Google search will verify that. It's controversial because it's NEW!

Catholics had never before heard anything from the church like Lumen Gentium 16. You say Vatican II brought nothing new. Then show me a per-conciliar citation re-affirming Lumen Gentium 16. My point is that it has never been said before, i.e., its a new teaching. There are a number of things in Vatican II that have never been said before. And we're not talking about development of doctrine, we're talking about complete reversals in some cases.

What did Pius VI say in Auctorem Fidei?

"For very good reasons it can never be tolerated in a
synod of which the principal glory consists above all in teaching the truth with clarity and excluding all danger of error."

and

"it cannot be excused in the way that one sees it being done,
under the erroneous pretext that the seemingly shocking affirmations in one place are further developed along orthodox lines in other places, and even in yet other places corrected; as if allowing for the possibility of either affirming or denying the statement, or of leaving it up the personal inclinations of the individual – such has always been the fraudulent and daring method used by innovators to establish error. It allows for both the possibility of promoting error and of excusing it."

Again, the reason I quoted Cardinal Kaspar and Bishop Schneider wasn't to try and act as if I had them on my side, obviously, there are many things I disagree with Kaspar on. I'm sure he does affirm Lumen Gentium 16, he's a liberal, it makes sense. And I never said that Schneider rejected Lumen Gentium 16, what I said was that he was critical of the words used and wants a re-write or clarification. As it stands, Lumen Gentium 16 is problematic, the Bishop's opinion and mine.

Now that you've seen what Pius VI said, it should make more sense why there is a problem with some elements of Vatican II. Pius Vi said that the purpose of a synod (or council) is to present truth with clarity for the faithful, not to use ambiguous terms that can be interpreted in either way one likes. I'm sure you won't argue that much.

Now, it makes sense hopefully why I quoted Schneider. He has called some of Vatican II's statements, ambiguous, imprecise, clumsy, and open to opposing interpretations. Which is exactly what Kaspar said. And neither of these men are sedevacantists or SSPX or anything like that. One conservative bishop, one liberal, both in full union with Rome.

I'll quote Kaspar again:

""In many places, [the Council Fathers] had to find compromise formulas, in which, often, the positions of the majority are located immediately next to those of the minority, designed to delimit them. Thus, the conciliar texts themselves have a huge potential for conflict, open the door to a selective reception in either direction." (Cardinal Walter Kasper, L'Osservatore Romano, April 12, 2013)

On Gaudium et Spes 12, which begins with the statement "all things on earth should be related to man as their center and crown" (finis et culmin). In his analysis of this passage, Bishop Schneider says :

"I think this expression is very ambiguous. It is not correct because all the things which exist on earth have their finality in God and have to glorify God as their summit..."

Do see you why I'm quoting these two Bishops now, In relation to what Pius VI said about what a council is supposed to do?

Vatican II's text in many places (not all), opened the door for opposing interpretations, rather that teaching truth with clarity and condemning error with precision like every other council had done.

I don't reject Vatican II, I just don't have my head firmly fixed in the sand. But it's easier for me to say things like this, because I don't have my career dependent on toeing the party line that Vatican II's text is impeccable in all places and only a wrong interpretation is what's to blame for the "smoke of Satan having entered the temple of God" after Vatican II.

It's comfortable for you to call folks like me rad trads and say we are such like the Nicolaitins in the Book Acts, but I think history will vindicate my position in the end. And it's not just my position is it?

Tim, you recommended a book to me, I'll return the favor, "The Second Vatican Council - An Unwritten Story" by Professor Roberto deMattei

http://www.amazon.com/The-Second-Vatican-Council-Unwritten/dp/1622920023

I'll even pay for it and have it shipped to Catholic Answers if you agree to read it.

June 3, 2014 at 11:30 am PST
#49  Mark Jeffords - Ceres, California

Hi Brian. You misunderstood me. The part that's new is saying that "together with us they adore the one merciful God". Unless you can find a pre-concilliar citation saying essentially the same thing.

It's also unheard of for a council to have such high praise for false religions and especially without pointing out and condemning their errors like the Church always did in the past.

Agree?

June 3, 2014 at 11:33 am PST
#50  kenneth winsmann - katy, Texas

Brian,

If Jews worship a God that does not include Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit they do not worship the same God as we do. Its that simple. Thats like saying polytheists worship the same god of thunder..... even though they have different names for such gods and attribute different attributes, personalities, and story lines to the "one true thunder god". The same goes for monotheism. It is simply inaccurate to say that all monotheists worship the same God even though they all attribute different PERSONS as being that God, different takes on what He desires and different ideas on what He is like and what He does. It just doesn't work that way. As far as I can tell the Church has taught error.... which is nothing new... the Church has taught error in many ecumenical councils.... infallibility has NEVER been attributed to every jot and tiddle of a conciliar text. The only remaining question is what are we, as lay catholics, allowed to say about this. If what Tim says is true and we are bound to give assent to error until such a time as the Church reverses its teaching... then we all must grin and bear it.

June 3, 2014 at 11:37 am PST
#51  Lori Pieper - Bronx, New York

Time (#45)

You're welcome!

June 3, 2014 at 3:10 pm PST
#52  Lori Pieper - Bronx, New York

Oops, I meant Tim!

June 3, 2014 at 3:11 pm PST
#53  Tim Staples - El Cajon, California - Catholic Answers Blogger

Todd,
In response to your #35:

You say you "didn't mention the Trinity." I did not say you did.

In order to further the discussion, I am attempting to help you to see that Muslim belief in the one, true God, does not in any way conflict with our Christian belief in the Trinity. I'm glad we agree here.

You say you are "suggesting that in at least one sense of that phrase ('with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind's judge on the last day') we do not" worship the same God they do.

What sense is that?

You claim "there is no definite article in Latin. Applying it in translation is a contextual call. Just as easy to translate Lumen Gentium's words here not as a statement about the identity of Islam's God, but rather as a statement about his characteristics -- many of which are part of Christian theology, too."

Here's why I disagree. First, "... nobiscum Deum adorant unicum, misericordem, homines die novissimo iudicaturum" is very simple Latin. Three points to consider:

1. If the fathers wanted to speak of "a god" here, they wouldn't have capitalized "Deum." This speaks not of "a god," but "the God." And anyway, we don't worship "a god," we worship God. The problem here is "we" are indicated here. The same "one, merciful God, mankind's judge on the last day" applies to both Muslims and Christians at the same time. So if it "characteristics of God" for Muslims, then its "characteristics of God" for Christians as well. The statement becomes incoherent.
2. This does not speak of characteristics of God because it clearly says "... WITH US they adore the one, merciful, God." We don't worship characteristics of God. We worship God.
3. You can't use the indefinite article in translation, so there's only one thing left that I can think of. Translate it literally without article. But if you do this, it still reads the same, "... with us they adore one, merciful God, mankind's judge on the last day." There is no way around the plain words of the text.

I'm not sure what we're disagreeing about here when you say, "Even if we do insist upon the direct article, I think that would just bring us back to the unobjectionable point that Muslims are monotheists, and that since there is only one God in the universe (and outside of it), any monotheist's God MUST be my God and your God, too. Unless you want to say there are multiple Gods out there."

I agree wholeheartedly. That was the gist of my post. We are now in agreement!

Or so I thought. But then you object vehemently (exclamation point) to me saying, "To say 'this [Muslim] God... is a fiction,' is to say the God we worship is 'a fiction.'" You say, "Certainly not!"

The context in which I made that statement was very specific. To say the God of Islam, who is, "the one God..." is a fiction, is to say "God" is a fiction. You agreed with this just a minute ago when you said, "since there is only one God in the universe (and outside of it), any monotheist's God MUST be my God and your God, too. Unless you want to say there are multiple Gods out there." But now this?

You then say, "the revelation by which we know about our God... is far from a fiction." I agree. But there is such a thing as natural revelation as well. The existence of God can be known with certainty apart from supernatural revelation. Thus, Muslims don't need Scripture or Tradition to come to their belief in God as one that they share with us, as you know. Obviously, because the Koran was not revealed by God.

So, when you say our God is far from a fiction, so is the God who Muslims worship with us. It's the same God.

Your excursus on the things that are true and not true in Islam is irrelevant. Yes, when the Koran teaches God created all that is, that is true. We agree. When the Koran teaches God is one, etc. that is true we agree. When the Koran teaches Jesus did not die on the cross, is not God, etc., that is false.

But this is getting away from the point made in Lumen Gentium, Nostra Aetate, the Catechism, as well as my post. The Church is not arguing in favor of the Koran. It is not even saying anything about the "revelation" claimed by Muslims. At least, not in the documents I cited in my post. The Church is giving us the simple truth that Muslims worship the same God we do, and then spells out what she means by that. Muslims believe in "the one merciful God, mankind's judge on the last day"... "living and subsisting in Himself; merciful and all-powerful, the Creator of heaven and earth, who has spoken to men." The Church is correct.

What part of that don't you agree with? There is nothing here or in my post that says the "revelation" claimed by Muhammad is true. I'm not getting you here.

Just for the record, I agree that much of "the revelation of Islam's God" is false. No doubt. But that is not what my post was about. And when you say,

"The 'revelation' of Islam's God (in the Koran) is a falsehood, a lie, a made-up thing. The things it has God say and do are not true. Some of the the things it says about him (many of them quite important; eg his oneness, mercy, power, etc) are indeed true. We can acknowledge those things (even if they're products of natural reason and/or bits and pieces plagiarized from true revelation) and try to build dialogue off them. But neither these commonalities nor Islam's bogus attempt to link itself to Abraham means that Islam is part of the same religious family as Judaism and Christianity; that is, a product of real divine revelation; that is, professes belief -- in a very real and important sense -- in the same God."

The Church does not claim in the documents I cited, nor did I claim, "Islam is part of the same religious family as Judaism and Christianity," nor that it "is a product of real divine revelation." I'm with you right up to this point. If by "real divine revelation" you mean an inspired text, I agree.

But then you jump to the conclusion that because of this, it does not "profess belief--in a very real and important sense--in the same God." Huh?

The natural revelation of God is "real" and "important," especially in our world where atheism and agnosticism is on the rise. Belief in God as creator ex nihilo is also very important and separates the big three monotheistic religions from all others.

I know from experience from talking to Muslims that belief in one God is extremely important. When you can assure a Muslim that we do not believe in three Gods, that is an enormous step forward and it serves as a foundation for dialogue. From there, we can bring out other commonalities from Jesus as an historical person, Mary as his mother, and more. I am going beyond what the Church said and what I said in my post, but to say belief in the one, true God is not "real" or "important," I think, is misguided.

Finally, you say, "Just being fellow monotheists, or sharing certain theological notions, does not argue for the same "divine identity" nearly as strongly as believing in the same, authentic self-disclosure from God himself."

I don't know what you mean by "divine identity," but of course I agree that "being fellow monotheists... does not argue for the same 'divine identity' nearly as strongly as believing in the same, authentic self-disclosure from God himself."

I couldn't agree more. But the Church never claimed any of this was not true, nor did I.

June 3, 2014 at 3:58 pm PST
#54  Todd Aglialoro - El Cajon, California - Catholic Answers Blogger

Tim, response to 53:

You didn't say I mentioned the Trinity, true, but you brought it up to address a line of argumentation that I do not pursue. It may be that some Catholics say that Muslims and Christians don't worship the same God because Muslims don't believe in the Trinity, but this is not my argument. I just wanted to make sure we avoided a straw man.

The "sense" you ask about is the sense of God's divinely revealed identity, which he has shown to some and not to others -- the thing I argued is most important.

For there are numerous "senses" in which Catholics and Muslims may or may not worship (or believe in) the same God, right? I enumerated some of these in an earlier blog post on the same subject:

-They could or could not be the same God in the sense of theological particulars.

-They could or could not be the same God in the sense of the subjective intention of the worshiper/believer.

-They could or could not be the same God in the sense of whether there are multiple or competing gods receiving worship and belief from different parties.

-They could or could not be the same God in the sense of which I was speaking: did the God to which Muslims address belief and worship reveal himself to them as he did to Jews and Christians? I said I thought this was the best sense because the essence of belief is God's personal self-revelation. We believe in God because he publicly introduced himself to us. Did he publicly introduce himself to Muslims, too?

No, just as he did not to Mormons or Hindus, either. That their theologies are soft on monotheism or outright polytheistic seems to me accidental to the main issue. Or, if it is not, that is tantamount to saying that this whole business hinges on monotheism -- in which case, Muslims are monotheists. Sho' enuff. What's the big deal, then?

As for your points about the Latin in Lumen Gentium 16:

1. The oneness of God isn't the matter at hand, so the capitalization of Deum (pretty thin evidence to begin with), or the distinction between "a" and "the," doesn't get us very far. The matter at hand is whether we are to stress in that sentence the "the"-ness -- to say that the assertion hinges on the simple identification of Christianity's God and Islam's -- or on the list of attributes that follow. Which brings us to point 2.

2. I'm no Latinist, but I do know enough to know that we can't get hung up on word order as we do in English. As far as I understand we can translate the sentence thusly: "With us they adore God (whether a, the, or no article -- doesn't matter) who is one, merciful, mankind's judge, etc."

This seems to me a better translation in context: correctly emphasizing the similarities between our concepts of God and not forcing us into a literalist interpretive exercise that ends with the conclusion that we believe in the "same God," full-stop.

By the way, this would certainly not be the first time that translation of conciliar documents into English has created conditions for mischief. Participatio actuosa, anyone?

Interestingly, as I check it now I see that vatican.va's translation renders it "adore the one and merciful God" -- rightly putting the emphasis on oneness as an attribute of God in both theologies (God is one, God is merciful, etc) rather than on an absolute sameness of identity between them.

Your point about not needing revelation to know God is of course true. I mentioned in my first reply the God of the philosophers, the God of pure perfections. Lumen Gentium talks of those who seek the unknown God. And so on. There's only one God at the end of all that philosophizing and seeking.

But as regards Islam that can't be all we're arguing here, because it's innocuous. The use of Church-document prooftexts to identify Islam's God with Christianity's God, in the real world, goes beyond our being fellow monotheists, goes beyond the sincere but misguided belief of Muslims that their religion is Abrahamic. It's an attempt to claim a kinship between Islam and Christianity that doesn't exist, cannot exist, because of the false revelation at Islam's core.

We're not two Abrahamic sister religions grasping at God's truth from different perspectives, as some interreligious enthusiasts would have it. We're not even older-sisters with Islam as we are with Judaism, possessing more complete and mature knowledge of the same revealed God. No discussion of this question can ignore the context in which the Church's few brief irenic postconciliar phrases about Islam are being used. This is what I meant by my use of the word "legitimacy" in my first reply, and Robert Spencer elaborated on it in a reply to his blog post today.

No, you don't claim that Islam is in the same religious family as Christianity, and the Church doesn't explicitly say it, but this is the very point of controversy. No sane person disagrees with the very modest conclusions that you seem to think constitute the entirety of this debate, namely a) that Muslims are monotheists, and b) that there is only one God.

Yet there is a debate here. Why is that? Because there are *multiple senses* in which the assertion "Muslims and Christians worship/believe in the same God" can be interpreted. We may concede the innocuous ones, but without careful distinction that concession can be used in a shell game of religious indifferentism. Ought we not to guard against that, especially in light of a Church tradition that has been rather harsher in its assessment of Islam than it it has in very recent times?

Maybe I can illustrate it this way: What if I were to write my own claimed revelation, saying that the Bible and Koran were false, and that the one, Abrahamic God who is mentioned in those books actually revealed the truth about what he said and did to ME? What if I got followers to join me in believing in this faith, with our own rites and peculiarities of theology and practice, but with a core monotheistic belief and familiar names and scenes from the Bible thrown into my holy book's cast of characters?

Would adherents to my religion be said to believe in/worship the "same God" of Christianity?

If no, why not? I have simply updated the Islamic myth.

If yes, then all you're really saying is that any monotheist believes in the "same God" as Christianity. Which, for the final time I swear, is a modest and harmless thing to say. Not what is being debated all over the Church and in these 50+ replies.

Lastly, you said "I don't know what you mean by 'divine identity." The answer is simply that I was tired of typing "Muslims and Christians worship the same God" and was looking for a shorthand phrase. This *thing* under dispute is the identification of one religion's deity with another. Hence, divine identity. Not perfect, I realize.

June 3, 2014 at 6:24 pm PST
#55  Mark Jeffords - Ceres, California

Tim, I'd like to suggest a new blog post if you're up for it. The title would be, "Do Catholics and Pastafarians worship the same God?"

I would answer NO. But for all the reasons you claim that Muslims worship the same God as Catholics, you would have to answer yes.

You would say, after all, Catholics and Pastafarians are both monotheists. They believe in one single deity that is the first cause of all that exists and that he has revealed himself thru prophets. Then you would point out...

According to pastafarians (these are real quotes):

"Islam and Flying Spaghetti Monsterism have the same core beliefs in common; we believe (and truly know) that the universe and all living beings were created by a deity and a Prophet spoke in His name. We just have different opinions about the name of that god and Prophet..."

and

"All five of Aquinas's five arguments (proofs for the existence of God) can be used for the flying spaghetti monster."

Now, I would say, wait a minute, pastafarians have a completely warped, wrong, and downright ridiculous understanding of who God is. You would say, that doesn't matter, they still worship the same God.

Then I would say, but they reject the Old Testament and New Testament and even say blasphemous things about them. You would say, that doesn't matter, they still worship the same God.

Then I would say, but they reject core dogmatic teachings about the nature of God and even say blasphemous things about them. You would say, that doesn't matter, they still worship the same God.

Then I would say, but EVERYTHING they believe is based on a fiction and a fiction that mocks true revelation. You would say that doesn't matter, they still worship the same God.

Then I would say, but Tim, the God they say blasphemous things about Christians and mock us every chance they get. You would say, that doesn't matter, they still worship the same God.

Well, my argument ran out of ammunition. I guess you're right Tim. What was I thinking? Sorry to have wasted your time.

June 3, 2014 at 9:30 pm PST
#56  Ged Narvaez - Daraga, Albay

Hasty generalization

June 4, 2014 at 2:32 am PST
#57  Tim Staples - El Cajon, California - Catholic Answers Blogger

Mark,
In response to your #46:

You misunderstand me again. I am aware that I did not quote the whole quotation from St. Francis, although, we now have evidence that St. Francis never even made this statement at all that you quoted, at least, according to our friend Lori who is a scholar in this area. But even if he did, I am aware I did not quote the whole alleged "quotation" that you cited. I don't have to. I answered your point. But I'll try again.

"Them" does not refer only to Christ. It refers to both the Father and the Son. Can I say it any plainer than that?

This quotation, and whoever wrote it, is referring to someone knowingly rejecting the truth about Christ. If you do that, you reject God. As I said above, I John 4:8 says, "He who does not love, does not know God." That does not mean he does not accept that there is one God, living and subsisting in himself. That doesn't mean he does not worship God. It means he rejects the one God he worships because he does not love. That person can "give his body to be burned" but if he has not love it profits nothing. Jesus says, "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father" (Matt. 7:21). There are many ways we can reject God. If we reject the Immaculate Conception knowingly and deliberately, we reject God. That means, we reject all three persons of the Blessed Trinity.
But none of this means we necessarily reject the truth that God is one, living and subsistent in Himself. As I said above, St. James tells us the demons believe in the one, true God in James 5:19. But there is more to salvation than just that. The Church teaches us that Muslims believe in and worship with us "the one God," but that is not all one has to do in order to be saved. Thus, the "quotation" you gave, no matter who it was from, speaks the truth in the context of someone who knowingly rejects the truth about Christ. He rejects God. He rejects the Father, the Son, and I would add, the Holy Spirit as well. This says nothing of whether or not he believes with the demons that God is one. In the case of Muslims, they do.
Thus, in the alleged quote "from St. Francis," I repeat, It "is not addressing the topic that we are addressing." It is not relevant to our discussion.
You say, "Oh Tim, you would have done better to try and discredit the quote or raise doubts about it's authenticity. St. Franics (sic) was saying they don't know the same God the Christians do, simple as that." And I agree. He is saying that in the same sense that St. John said, "He who does not love does not know God" (I John 4:8). There are many ways you can reject God while still believing in "the one God, living and subsisting in Himself," "merciful, creator of the universe, etc."

You say, in your condemnation of Lumen Gentium: "Lumen Gentium 16 didnt say 'we believe in the same God, but the Muslims are still condemned because of A, B, C. Unless they convert."

It doesn't have to.

You don't have to explicate the entire faith in every sentence. An analogy: St. Paul says, "There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Jesus Christ," in I Tim. 2:5. Jehovah's Witnesses will say, "See, St. Paul says Jesus is 'man,' not God." Would you say St. Paul is a heretic here because he does not say Jesus is also God? Of course not. He is not dealing with the divinity of Christ there. He is emphasizing his humanity. That doesn't mean he does not elsewhere say Jesus is God (***** 2:13). You can't say everything about the faith in every sentence.

Since I have no way of knowing the context of your alleged quote from St. Gregory, what document it was from, or if he actually said it, I will assume it to be authentic. I agree with it, if by it, whoever said it, meant, that it is in the Catholic Church alone in which the fullness of truth presides. Thus, if you reject the Church, you reject Christ. In that context, the quote is true. But if you are using it to say the Orthodox, Protestants, etc. do not adore God, then you are wrong. And notice, I said you are wrong, not St. Gregory.

Your quote from St. Thomas, if it is truly from St. Thomas, is entirely orthodox. "If they [pagans] had some speculative knowledge of God, it was mixed with many errors: some deprived Him of His providence over all things, others make of Him the soul of the world, others still adored several gods at the same time. For this reason, we say that they did not know God."

If composite realities can be partially known and partially unknown: on the contrary, simple things are not known as soon as they are not completely known. Hence, if some err even a little in their knowledge of God, they are said to have no knowledge of Him at all."

Most of this quote can have no application to Muslims at all because Muslims do not "deprive [God] of his providence over all things," they do not "make him the soul of the world," and they do not "adore several gods."

And as I said above, if one does not "love, he does not know God" as I John 4:8 says. Thus, we can say if someone does not love "they are said to have no knowledge of God at all." But you are misusing this quote from St. Thomas. St. Thomas Aquinas is the doctor of the Church that gave us in perhaps the most concise way ever how a person can come to know God on a natural level through reason alone, apart from supernatural revelation. I would suggest you read his Summa Theologiae, instead of pulling quotes of his out of context. For example, in the Summa Theologiae, Pt. 1, Q. 12, Art. 12, in his Replies to Objections 1, 2, and 3, St. Thomas says:

Reason cannot reach up to simple form, so as to know "what it is"; but it can know "whether it is."

(Reply to Objection 2.) God is known by natural knowledge through the images of His effects.

(Reply to Objection 3.) As the knowledge of God's essence is by grace, it belongs only to the good; but the knowledge of Him by natural reason can belong to both good and bad; and hence Augustine says (Retract. i), retracting what he had said before: "I do not approve what I said in prayer, 'God who willest that only the pure should know truth.' For it can be answered that many who are not pure can know many truths," i.e. by natural reason.

I could see how your alleged quote from St. Thomas could be true if the context means a knowing rejection of some truth about God. Then it is true. As I said above, if you reject one aspect of God, you reject God and it "can be said" that you have "no knowledge of God at all." But that is a matter of judgment that is God's business. When we say "Muslims with us worship the one, God..." we are speaking of the group in general. Individual Muslims may well reject the truth about Christ, after having known it, and then they will be lost. That is not what the Church was addressing in Lumen Gentium, Nostra Aetate, or the Catechism. The Church is saying, in agreement with the theology and philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas, that Muslims know and understand that "God is the one true God, living and subsisting in Himself."

In the future, I would appreciate if you would not cite alleged citations from fathers and doctors of the Church without a document so I can see the context. You have already cited something from St. Francis that may well be a pseudo-quote, according to a Franciscan scholar, and you have badly misused St. Thomas. I will need a proper citation if you are going to appeal to fathers, doctors, saints, etc.

Your quote from Pope Pelagius II, if it is authentic, is nothing different than what CCC 1445 says, but it is irrelevant to our conversation. Both quotes must be applied to those who first have knowledge of the truth of the Church. But I'll quote your alleged citation here for convenience sake:

“Consider (therefore) the fact that whoever has not been in the peace and unity of the Church, cannot have the Lord. (Galatians 3:7)"

No one is arguing that one can knowingly reject the truth and go to heaven. This does not mean that the demons do not believe in God. James 5:19 says they do.

You say, "You'll have us believe that they can reject the true God and at the same time be adoring Him together with us." No, it is not I that do this. It is the Church. I am merely defending the teaching of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. And the teaching of St. Thomas Aquinas that I mentioned above. And the teaching of St. James. And I'll quote the Council of Trent here now as well.

What you have fallen into unwittingly here is the sin of the "Reformers" (Luther, in particular) of the 16th century that taught that when a person falls into sin and rejects God they no longer have a true faith in God. St. Augustine erred here but recovered from his error as St. Thomas pointed out above, so you are certainly not alone in your error. Let's see if we can get you out of it here. The Council of Trent, Session 6, canon 28, declared infallibly:

"If anyone says that when grace is lost by sin, faith too is always lost; or that the faith that remains in not true faith, even if it is not a living faith; or that one has faith without charity is not a Christian: let him be anathema."

Unless one commits the sin of apostasy, where one knowingly and openly rejects faith, faith in the true God can remain after having committed mortal sin. So in all of your quotes above, you have to make distinctions. If someone rejects the revelation of God through Jesus Christ, he can still believe in God as one, like the demons do (and that is the true God), but not be saved. Or, he may be invincibly ignorant of the truth, and still have the possibility of salvation. We leave the judging to God.

You then mention John 17:3, and Luke 10:16: "This is eternal life, that they may know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent." And "he who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you rejects me." Of course, the Catholic Church agrees with those texts. Of course "the only true God" sent Jesus. And if you reject Jesus you reject "the only true God" who sent him. But again, that does not mean that you necessarily lost faith in the truth that God is "the one God, living and subsistent in himself." No, the demons do not accept Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior, but they still believe in the one true God, according to James 2:19. Muslims who have never rejected the truth about Christ, but have rejected a distortion of what they think we say about Christ (and the Trinity), of course can still have faith in the true God (and they may well join Christians in heaven), but even those who reject Christ, do not therefore somehow cease having faith in the "one, true God, living and subsisting in Himself." It is a faith without charity and a faith that will not save them, but it is a faith nonetheless that is important for us to understand because it is a foundation from which we can build to bring them to a saving knowledge of God.

I can appreciate from your perspective how the Church (and Scripture) may sound crazy when both claim demons who reject God can still maintain a faith in God. And, in the case of Muslims, they can "with us worship the one God" while appearing to (I say "appearing to" because many are invincibly ignorant in this, and actually reject a phantom, and not the true Christ as he is revealed in Scripture) reject Jesus who God has sent.

But if you can get the distinctions in your mind (and I think St. Thomas may be the way to go for you. Read Part I, Questions 2-12 of the Summa Theologiae, and it will help you to make clear distinctions) between 1. Belief in God as one, living and subsisting in Himself, which is a belief and even the "impure" can have, as St. Augustine and St. Thomas said. This is what Muslims, in general, have. This is what Lumen Gentium is talking about. 2. Belief in God as he has revealed himself in Christ. Muslims do not have this. And if they knowingly reject this, they will be lost. 3. "Faith working in love" as St. Paul describes it, or "a living faith," as the Council of Trent defines it. This is a meritorious faith that only those who are in a state of grace can possess. 4. "Dead faith." That is the faith that the demons have, Christians in mortal sin may have, Muslims may have, etc. Of course, Christians and Muslims, if they are in a state of grace, can have a living faith as well. God is the judge of that, not you or I.

Yes, I disagree with Todd and his reference to the Council as presenting "conciliar niceties." I think that is disrespectful to an Ecumenical Council, and that is unfortunate. But all I can do is defend the teaching of the Church. And you can rest assured that is what I will continue to do.

Yes, Vatican II brought "nothing new" to the table if by "new" you mean "contradictory" to what went before. You say "everything the Church said before about Islam was negative." Even if that were true (it certainly is not), that would not mean we can't say anything positive about Islam then. But I would suggest you consider the letter of Pope Pius II to a Muslim Sultan wherein he attempts to convert the Sultan. As Mandell Creighton points out, on page 459 of his book, "A History of the Papacy During the Period of the Reformtion: The Council of..." among the many things the Pope says in this lengthy letter that was read all over Europe, the Pope challenged the Sultan to "Add to the virtues of a philosopher, the theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity." Notice, the Pope acknowledges what St. Thomas taught hundreds of years before him, that Muslims can be presumed to possess the faith in God according to philosophy, but they can also be presumed not to possess the theological virtues.

At any rate, what Nostra Aetate said is true, "The Catholic Church rejects nothing of what is true and holy in these religions (not just Islam, but all world religions). She has a high regard for the manner of life and conduct, the precepts and doctrines which, although differing in many ways from her own teaching, nevertheless often reflect a ray of that truth which enlightens all men. Yet she proclaims and is in duty bound to proclaim without fail, Christ who is ‘the way, the truth and the life’ (Jn 1:6). In him, in whom God reconciled all things to himself (cf. 2Co 5:18-19), men find the fullness of their religious life." Pope Pius II, in the fifteenth century, would have no problem with this statement.

That statement also agrees with St. James who tells us "every good and perfect gift is from above," no matter its source. Moses didn't reject the counsel of his Midianite father-in-law in Ex. 18 because he was "a pagan." He received it because it was true. St. John used a term Jesus never used, but the Stoics did, "the logos" of Christ. St. Jude quotes "The Assumption of Moses" and "The Book of Enoch" in his epistle, etc.

Of course, we can acknowledge and rejoice in truth no matter where it is found.

When we read of the possibility of salvation for those outside of the visible boundaries of the Catholic Church, we find Pope Blessed Pius IX, in Singulari Quadam (1854) saying the same thing:

"It must, of course, be held as of faith that no one can be saved outside the apostolic Roman Church, that the Church is the only ark of salvation, and that whoever does not enter it will perish in the flood. Yet, on the other hand, it must likewise be held as certain that those who are in ignorance of true religion, if this ignorance is invincible, are not subject to any guilt in this matter before the eyes of the Lord."

Pope Pius XII’s "Mystici Corporis" and his "Letter to the Archbishop of Boston" in 1949 state very clearly that those who have a certain "implicit faith" or unconscious desire and wish to join the Church may be related to the Mystical Body of Christ, and, thus, they may attain salvation. That "Letter to the Archbishop of Boston," you probably know, was his response to the problem of Fr. Leonard Feeney. In that response, Pope Pius XII stated that implicit faith and baptism of desire can be enough to reach salvation.

Thus, you are wrong. Lumen Gentium says nothing that is new. It declares what is true.

But having said that, be careful here. There have been a long line of heretics and schismatics who have claimed "novelty" with regard to just about every Ecumenical Council we have had. I'm just saying...

June 4, 2014 at 6:57 am PST
#58  Tim Staples - El Cajon, California - Catholic Answers Blogger

Mark,
In response to your #48:

You claim you are not a lot of things. But when you say Vatican II represents "a reversal" of Catholic teaching, you are not in full communion with the Church. I would suggest you humbly say there are things you don't understand in Vatican II. Ask questions. Say it seems ambiguous or "weak." A thousand questions do not add up to one doubt. But by saying the Council contradicts Catholic Tradition, you go over the line. As I pointed out before, the Council did not teach anything "new," in the sense of contradicting Catholic teaching. That is where you go too far. Be careful. You are headed down a path that leads to nothing but anger, pride, and more and more confusion. "God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble" is found in three places in Sacred Scripture (James 4:6; I Peter 5:5; Prov. 3:34). I don't know, but that just might be God's version of an exclamation point.
You are probably a lot smarter than I am, but I for one, do not consider myself competent to correct Ecumenical Councils. My strength, I believe, is not in my intellect. Todd Aglialoro and you are, I have no doubt, smarter than I am. But I simply rest on the wisdom of the Church. When the Church has an Ecumenical Council, I agree with it and people are fooled into thinking I am smart.
I don't say that for brownie points, but I say it because I will rest in the canons and decrees (or just the decrees whatever the case may be) of the bishops of the world in union with God's Vicar on earth, rather than my intellectual prowess. I find an enormous amount of arrogance in this discussion that I think could be curtailed by considering I John 4:6: "Whoever knows God listens to us, and he who is not of God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error." That is apostolic authority. And an Ecumenical Council with Papal approval represents that apostolic authority. The reason why the SSPX is not in full communion with the Church, according to Pope Benedict XVI, is because they reject the authority of the Council and claim it (or aspects of it) to be irreconcilable with Catholic Tradition. How are you any different?

I agree with you that Lumen Gentium 16 is "controversial." So is every Ecumenical Council in history. But it is not because it is "new" as you said. See my last post.

Vatican II represents development of the Church's teaching, not changes. You are just plain wrong. Not because I say so, but because Vatican II is a valid Ecumenical Council of the Church. As smart as you are, you just don't know as much as all of the bishops of the world in union with the Pope.

As far as your quotes from Kaspar and Bishop Schneider go, neither of them are more authoritative than the Council. In fact, apart from communion with the bishops in union with the Pope, their quotes have no authority. In fact, an entire conference of bishops, apart from the Pope, has zero authority.

You claim your opinion is "the Bishop's and mine." That is not true. Cardinal Kaspar has never said Vatican II contradicts Catholic Tradition. In his opinion, there are statements that are ambiguous. There are lots of "ambiguous" statements in lots of people's opinions, in lots of Ecumenical Councils. Nicea did not clear everything up for everyone as becomes apparent when by ca. AD 355 about 70-80% of the world's bishops were heretics. Constantinople had to be called. Constantinople was ambiguous in some ways, which is why Pope Damasus refused to ratify it and it would not be ratified for 70 years. II Constantinople was all over the place with regard to the excommunication of the "three chapters." The Council of Constance was ambiguous with regard to conciliar authority and papal primacy. The Council of Trent was ambiguous on justification by faith alone, in Session Six, when it followed its condemnation with, "which means..." limiting the condemnation and opening the door to differing conclusions to this day as to what it precisely means. Is it condemning the words "justification by faith alone?" No. But some even today think so. And I could list scores of other examples from Councils.

I argue in each of these cases that the problems were not with the councils themselves, but with people's understanding of them, but there certainly can be problems with the clarity of the Councils. Scripture is inspired of God, but do you think there are a few differing opinions of what St. Paul said here or there? That is why we have a living Magisterium. I could be wrong in saying the problem was not with the Councils. There may be problems with wording, etc. The Councils are not the end-all be-all. They were never claimed to be such. Where I would be wrong would be if I were to say these Council were "contrary to Catholic tradition," like you claim of Vatican II. That is not Catholic at all.

Of course the purpose of a Council is to present truth with clarity, but that is not always was happens perfectly in every Council. The Councils are negatively prevented from presenting error, they are not gifted with omniscience and able to answer every crazy notion people will make about its documents in the future. And that is not what Pius VI is claiming, btw. And just so you know, I had read Pius VI over 20 years ago, and have referred to it many times.

I am going against my better judgment in getting so far off topic to even comment on Bishop Schneider's alleged comment on Gaudium et Spes 12, but if he indeed said what you quote him as saying, he is so clearly and obviously wrong I simply cannot help myself. You say he says of Gaudium et Spes 12, "which begins with the statement 'all things on earth should be related to man as their center and crown' (finis et culmin). In his analysis of this passage, Bishop Schneider says:

'I think this expression is very ambiguous. It is not correct because all the things which exist on earth have their finality in God and have to glorify God as their summit...'"

I find it hard to believe a bishop would say something this inane. But I have no way of knowing whether he said it or not. I will answer it in three points:

1. Whoever wrote this got the Latin wrong. The Council did not say man is creation's "finis" and "culmin," it says its "centrum" and "culmen." This is not saying man is creation's "finality." That is not what the text says. It rightly says man is the "center" and "culmination" of the creation. All things were made for man; and therefore, man is the steward of all. Man can use creation for his just purposes because it was made for him, but he cannot use another man for anything because man alone was made for God, while the rest of creation was made for man. This is a basic, foundational anthropological and theological reality of which the Council rightly said, back in the 1960's anyway, "believers and unbelievers are almost at one" when it comes to this understanding. Obviously, whoever said what you say here does not understand this simple point. The Council can hardly be blamed for that.
2. If the bishop, or whoever wrote this, would have taken the time to just read the next couple of sentences, the Council makes this even clearer:
"But what is humanity itself? It has proposed, and continues to propose, a variety of self-contradictory views about itself, which often hold it up as the absolute measure of all things or cast it into despair as divided and fear-ridden. Aware of these difficulties but instructed by God's revelation, the church can offer an answer to them..."
And the Church goes on to give a truly outstanding and balanced view of the creation in relation to the Creator.
3. In the sentence taken out of context from Gaudium et Spes 12, it says that man is included among "everything" else that is on earth, but that man is simply the center and culmination among created things. In no way does even this one sentence taken out of context even say what this quotation would have it even possibly imply.

You claim you "don't reject Vatican II." Sure you do. You just don't have the courage to say so, yet. If you continue on your present course you will. At least, you can either humble yourself and acknowledge that you don't know more than all the bishops of the world in union with the Pope, or you can claim that you do. It's your choice. But I would urge you to man up and take ownership of your declarations. Don't give me any of this nonsense about, "I don't reject Vatican II."

The truth is, the Catholic position does not allow for one to try to reject and not reject at the same time as you are doing. You are going to have to make a decision. I pray you'll choose well.

June 4, 2014 at 8:23 am PST
#59  Todd Aglialoro - El Cajon, California - Catholic Answers Blogger

"Yes, I disagree with Todd and his reference to the Council as presenting 'conciliar niceties.'"

For the record, that's not what I said. The expression I used was "diplomatic niceties of conciliar and papal statements" in regard to Islam.

Neither conciliar documents nor papal statements are God-breathed. We don't have to hold that they can't contain purely human expressions motivated by purely human intent. That the Church and popes use the language of diplomacy sometimes -- the soft expression, the circumlocution, the generously extended hand, and so on -- can't be denied. In pastoral documents with ecumenical or interreligious designs, in fact, we should expect it, no?

June 4, 2014 at 8:58 am PST
#60  Ged Narvaez - Daraga, Albay

So what about the saints?

June 4, 2014 at 11:40 am PST
#61  kenneth winsmann - katy, Texas

Tim Staples,

I have searched thoroughly for this idea that Catholics are forbidden to say that the non-infallible teachings of the ordinary magesterium are in error and have come away with nothing. Can you please cite where you are getting this from? I think that this point strikes to the heart of our conversation. Obviously any good catholic wants to be submissive when it is time to do so... I would just like evidence that non-infallible teaching is beyond reproach from lay-catholics.

In a Joint Pastoral of German Bishops dated September of 1967, we read this:

"Beyond her guardianship of the inner substance of the faith the Church has, even at risk of going sometimes into error, to formulate teachings which have a certain degree of authority, while yet, since they are not definitions of faith, they are sufficiently provisional to admit a possibility of error."(A Catholic Dictionary of Theology, vol. III (London, 1971), 227)

Archbishop Thomas Morris, Archbishop of Cashel, Ireland and a Council Father, gave the following personal testimony to an Irish Catholic journalist named Kieron Wood:

"I was relieved when we were told that this Council was not aiming at defining or giving final statements on doctrine, because a statement on doctrine has to be very carefully formulated and I would have regarded the Council documents as tentative and liable to be reformed"

(Kieron Wood, “A Bishop’s Candid Memories Of Vatican II.” (January 22, 1997). Online; available from: http://www.cwnews.com/news/viewstory.cfm?recnum=4091)

Dr. Germain Grisez, Professor at Mount St. Mary’s in Emmetsburg, Maryland writes:

"Obviously, teachings which are proposed infallibly leave no room for dissent on the part of faithful Catholics. However, other teachings of the Ordinary Magisterium can be mistaken, even though they may require and demand religious submission of mind and will. Such teachings can deserve acceptance inasmuch as they are the Magisterium’s current best judgment of what God’s word requires of Christians. However, that judgment, on the leading edge of developing doctrine and in truly prudential matters, can be mistaken, and faithful Christians can be led by superior claims of faith itself to withhold their submission to it."

Dr. William H. Marshner, Professor of Theology at Christendom College and Theological Editor of Faith and Reason, considers Vatican II’s authority in the Fall, 1983 issue of that journal. He writes:

"At the same time, however, I join with all other theologians in saying that the new ground is non-infallible teaching. So when I say that the possibility exists that Vatican II is wrong on one or more crucial points of Dignitatis humanae, I do not simply mean that the Council’s policy may prove unfruitful. I mean to signal a possibility that the Council’s teaching is false.

But may a Catholic theologian admit that such a possibility exists? Of course he may. The decree (sic) Dignitatis humanae is a non-infallible document, and the teaching which it presents is admitted to be a “new development,” hence not something which is already acknowledged dogma ex magisterio ordinario. Therefore the kind of religious assent which Catholics owe to that teaching is the kind of assent which does not exclude the logical possibility that the teaching is wrong; rather our assent excludes any probability that the teaching is wrong."

This synthesis agrees with that of Mr. Michael Davies, a Traditionalist apologist, where he cites a pre-Vatican II Benedictine theologian to this same effect:

"In a profound study intended to enhance the authority of the Ordinary Magisterium, Dom Paul Nau, O.S.B., cites a number of authors who reckon the duty of Catholics when confronted with a document of the Ordinary Magisterium “to be that of inward assent, not as of faith, but as of prudence, the refusal of which could not escape the mark of temerity, unless the doctrine rejected was an actual novelty or involved a manifest discordance between the pontifical affirmation and the doctrine which had hitherto been taught.”

(Davies, 259. The passage from Dom Paul (a Monk of Solemes) comes from an article entitled “An Essay on the Authority of the Teachings of the Sovereign Pontiff,” originally published in July of 1956)

Cardinal Avery Dulles. In discussing the four categories of Church teaching labels Vatican II’s teachings in the third category (mere) Ordinary Magesterium. He writes:

"The third category has long been familiar to Catholics, especially since the popes began to teach regularly through encyclical letters some two centuries ago. The teaching of Vatican II, which abstained from new doctrinal definitions, falls predominantly into this category. In view of the mission given by Christ to the hierarchical magisterium, it is evident that when the magisterium formally teaches something as Catholic doctrine, it is not uttering a mere opinion that Catholics are free to disregard. The teaching has a real, though not unconditional, claim on the assent of the faithful.

(Dulles, Cardinal Avery. The Craft of Theology: from Symbol to System. New York: The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1992. pg 110)

Where Dulles qualifies the claim to assent as “not unconditional,” he is leaving a place for the possibility of error in the third category of teaching. He explicitly states this two pages later(112), while discussing “dissent”: “The problem of dissent arises more commonly with respect to pronouncements of the third and fourth categories. Since no claim of infallibility is here made, such statements could, in principle, be erroneous.” He develops this further in treating how theologians are to respond to this third category if they have difficulty reconciling the doctrine with what they believe to be true:

Some theologians hold that such obsequium necessarily involves actual assent, whereas others interpret obsequium as meaning a reverent inclination of the will that normally, but not inevitably, leads to intellectual assent. Theologians of both groups agree that a person who reveres the authority of the magisterium may, in a given case, be unable to proffer a sincere interior assent. The CDF instruction, apparently describing what it understands by obsequium religiosum, states that “the willingness to submit loyally to the teaching of the magisterium on matters per se not irreformable must be the rule” (24; cf. 29). The implication seems to be that obsequium, while inclining a person to assent, need not IN EVERY CASE result in actual assent."

June 4, 2014 at 1:04 pm PST
#62  Frances Cassim - Sharjah, Ash Shariqah

The Muslims believe that their God created the Universe, Adam & Eve, & much of what we believe in the OT, Moses, Noah, Abraham etc, supposedly they are descendents of Abraham's son Ishmael. Jesus is highly revered, (any movies or books depicting Jesus or any bibilical figures in a bad light is banned in the Arab & Muslim countries, where else in the Christian countries they find it highly entertaining), they believe that Mary was a virgin & she too is highly revered , and in Jesus second coming. Its hard not to believe that we are not worshipping the same God.
Yes arguably, they don't believe in some issues that's been mentioned here in these posts, anyway who are we to judge what they believe or not. That said, look around you and tell me with so many Christian denominations floating around out there how many believe the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, or even the Blessed Mother, and what about the Jews, most Jews till today don't believe in Jesus at all.

June 4, 2014 at 2:04 pm PST
#63  james adams - chagrin falls, Ohio

I agree with Tim that Mark is rejecting Vatican II and needs to make a life altering decision. Not only would you be rejecting Vatican II Mark, if you make that choice, but you would also be rejecting all councils we have been blessed with as Catholics.

Questioning your faith and church's teaching are important and healthy for any believer. Displaying arrogance, pride and failing to cite your quotes properly not only loses you credibility, it also carries you faster from Mother Church where we all want and pray you will be very soon Mark.

Tim, thanks for sharing and minimizing yourself behind the abundance of insight and evidence you have shared. Your humility is humbling brother!!!

June 4, 2014 at 3:15 pm PST
#64  james adams - chagrin falls, Ohio

Oh, one more thing....

My Mom always said you know what you have by the fruit of it's works....(she probably stole that from someone like Bishop Sheen). By taking Tim's position over Mark's and a few others I am much more likely to approach a Muslim and spread the Gospel and dispel the myths about Jesus and the Trinity with them. I would think that would be the way Jesus would have it to. Its the difference of having a foundation to dialogue from vs. starting from scratch with two different gods.

June 4, 2014 at 3:24 pm PST
#65  kenneth winsmann - katy, Texas

James,

Do you apply the "fruit of its works" standards to the second Vatican could cil too? By any honestly Historical Assessment its been a complete and utter disastrous. If you and Tim are going to claim that faithful Catholics can not critique fallible Church teaching the burden of proof is on you to show such is the case. I have tried to show above that Catholics are permitted to speak out... The works are all cited... Please show me where the Church teaches lay Catholics may not challenge novel fallible teachings

June 4, 2014 at 4:24 pm PST
#66  james adams - chagrin falls, Ohio

Hi Kenneth,

I certainly don't demand immediate answers to any confusion I might have from reading encyclicals and other Vatican instruction. Some of what Vatican II has wrought may not be fully understood for a century or longer, after you and I are long gone, that doesn't bother me at all. So of course the standard applies.

Mark 10:15 may be helpful to you. Have you considered what having a child like faith means in your heart? Do you listen to the Holy Spirit more than you speak to him? Proverbs 3:5 commands that you, Kenneth, lean not on your own understanding.

Questioning as I said above is healthy, the apostles taught us that, the critiquing you claim is proper is not. That is the fork in the road that leaves questioning behind and results in the arrogance and pride that the demons enjoy along with their belief in God. Now who are you serving? It is the beginning of a doubt and results in separation never communion. Take confidence, if a council is in err on fallible teachings you will not be held culpable if God is truly merciful. We both know he is.

The Reformation was the result of intense critique not healthy inquiry. Sure some Christians may have left the Church over some serious faults of the Catholic Church at the time and due to personal witness but a better response to the corruption in our Church would have been for the lay people to question the basis for indulgences, etc. Critiquing publicly has divided us in Christ Jesus. It can happen again. Apply the standard, look for the fruit of your own works Kenneth.

June 4, 2014 at 5:46 pm PST
#67  kenneth winsmann - katy, Texas

James,

I would like for you to please cite some Church teaching that states Catholics may not in any circumstances public critique novel and fallible teaching. Can you do that Yes or no?

June 4, 2014 at 6:09 pm PST
#68  kenneth winsmann - katy, Texas

Publically critique***..... Darn cell phone....

For the record James or Tim, I am 100% willing to submit to the Magesterium on this and any other topic if that is what is asked of me by the Church. But I want to know that such is actually the case and is not merely your opinion

June 4, 2014 at 6:12 pm PST
#69  james adams - chagrin falls, Ohio

Kenneth,

It would be silly for the magisterium to suggest that lay Catholics may not publicly critique the teachings of the Church, would it not?

I just happen to think the council is made up of much more intelligent people than myself and is probably guided by the Holy Spirit to teach now, what may be built upon centuries later. That is leaning on my faith, not my own understanding.

I would prefer to keep these comments focused on how we can spread the Gospel to Muslims, especially in the USA where we can freely do so. The Church's teaching that we have a foundation on which to bring Jesus Christ into the lives of Muslims so that they can accept or reject who Jesus really is rather than what they may have been taught he is, simply does not warrant questioning let alone criticism.

I fully respect your love of our Church Kenneth, hopefully you will allow her to teach things you may not fully understand. I guess I owe you a question now. Can you tell me whether this Church teaching that Christians and Muslims worship the same God is more or less likely to produce a dialogue with Muslims and bring people to Jesus Christ as we are called to do? I would argue your stance of dissent on the teaching would serve to help keep the gospel from 1.7 billion people. Again Kenneth, whom are you serving?

June 4, 2014 at 6:37 pm PST
#70  james adams - chagrin falls, Ohio

I just posted #69 before I read your #68 Kenneth.

I refuse to speak for Tim but what I like about him is that he is very clear that he reserves his own opinion and gives only what the church teaches. I attempt to do the same but I am not an apologist so it may not be obvious.

I think clearly the Church is asking you to accept this teaching so that you can convert Muslims to a faith that truly does trace itself to Abraham. Not through the illegitimate son Ishmael that Abraham had with the concubine but through Abraham's and Sarah's son Isaac.

This interfaith dialogue is just fascinating to me. I have so much to learn.

June 4, 2014 at 6:49 pm PST
#71  Ken Daugherty - Smyrna, Georgia

Mr. Staples says: "Yes, this is the general teaching of the Church, as I said in my post. This does not mean all Muslims will be saved. It simply means that inasmuch as they believe in "the one God, living and subsisting in himself," etc. that represents the one true God, who is living and subsisting in himself (meaning, he does not receive his existence from another). There is much than this that is involved in salvation."

No, Muslims will be NOT be saved, Mr. Staples. Muslims deny the Son of God. They deny His teachings - i.e. what He said about Himself; they do not have any desire to believe in His death, burial and resurrection. Have you not read your Bible? Jesus said, "I say to you, whoever confesses Me before men, him the Son of Man also will confess before the angels of God. But he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God." (Luke 12: 8-9) They will not see heaven. Their faith is in men, the works of men.

June 4, 2014 at 6:58 pm PST
#72  kenneth winsmann - katy, Texas

James,

In response to your question... No. I do not believe teaching that we together adore the same God is helpful for evangelism. For several reasons

1.ecumenism in general has done virtually nothing beneficial for the Church. The Luther and are no closer to converting, the EO are no closer to converting, protestants are no closer to converting, and no, the muslim world, In my eyes are virtually no closer what-so-ever to Christ due to ecumenical double speak and interfaith "dialog". All ecumenism has accomplishes on a very practical level is demission the Church and cause mass confusion among the faithful. The proof is in the pudding. In the fruit if you will.

2. Ecumenism is usually unecumenical. Protestants especially are horrified by what is supposed to be ecumenical language. No one is fooled.

3. The best way to convert a muslim is the best way to convert everyone.... Prayer and uncompromising evangelism.

June 4, 2014 at 7:10 pm PST
#73  Josh Monroy - La Palma, California

Muslims claim to follow Jesus as well but their view of him is distorted. In the same manner they claim to follow the God of Abraham but their view is also distorted. I agree with the Church that they profess to follow the God of Abraham. After all Muhammad did borrow many aspects from Judeo-Christian beliefs. This is our common ground.

June 4, 2014 at 8:17 pm PST
#74  Ken Daugherty - Smyrna, Georgia

If they "[followed] the God of Abraham," they would follow Jesus, the Son of God. There is no "common ground" with Islam and Christianity. Of course, there is a lot of "common ground" amongst the followers of Islam and Roman Catholicism.

June 4, 2014 at 8:23 pm PST
#75  Ged Narvaez - Daraga, Albay

If they followed Him, they wold follow the Bride, as He commanded and authorized. If they followed the Bride, they would follow to honor and make holy the Temple, or else no one will see the Father. If they follow to honor and make holy the Temple, it would follow that Love be with Him, as He is Love. How can one teach Love, if He does not seek Love and has not love. But the Bride has Love, Love that more than human can comprehend, so unconditional, very universal. Proclaiming the Love. Because she is with Him, in Him and through Him. And Him loves His Bride. Anyone should not only see but be faithful that the Bride is together with Him. That alone cannot fully known and fully approach what is very pleasing, without the guidance of a loving hand, without the guiding cloud and light, and the fire of truth that which Bride had been given possession.

What will we say to those clashing cymbals? Do they follow God? If God is what He is, then He is what He is. No one should compete he knows what he is, if he dismiss what the Bride tell He is. Will the Bride not know Who is He, or He is Him? Are you more of what do you think, in the body? in the Temple? Many forget the joy of a moving part? Many forget the joy of obedience? But it is more than that! You will see, and you will know, if you live and believe! But to what? Live in fights, live in wrath? Live in disagreement? Or live in chastity and truth? How many times will you not listen? Use her words against Her. Surely She knows more than anyone knows Herself.

Are we condemning? Like are we prohibiting? It is a plain no. We our been in guidance, in truth, in Love, in peace, and seeking consistency with the wisdom of the One. Are we misguiding? who is the unguided? Then let that be guided. Or you more likely to choose cut off?

It not helpful to say to someone, No, He will not be saved. It is not a teaching to say this, but some will say this. This is not in the spirit. God's power is greater, no one can limit His Power. Will you let oneself question His love and saving grace and power? Who are we to judge someone's heart? Are we appointed to be the judge? Are we now the dogma? Certainly not! May God rebuke you! Catholic faith is a life-long process...does while on Life, if he is in God's grace, and doing what is in God's command? Can we distract that?

The truth is the common ground is Love. And God is Love.

What level is God's Love is. It is in the level of God.
Then what is greatest acts? Is it to classify? Or to be picky? Or to be righteous to Himself but avoid the unclean? Or to be hasty and generalize that is evil, that is a sinner?
What is truly God's command? Are you united to the last question? Or will you level down what God's greatest command?

What does the Bride thinks? The truth is with Love.

June 4, 2014 at 10:55 pm PST
#76  Josh Monroy - La Palma, California

I used to be a Protestant Ken so I understand where you come from. Muslims share some common ground in that they believe in monotheism, angels, the devil, heaven&hell, some aspects of our morality anti-adultery, anti-fornication, anti-gay sex etc. While they have some truth in their religion because Muhammad took that from Judeo-Christian beliefs their truth is not complete and in several instances it's distorted. One of these major distinctions is how we view God. Jews and Christians view God as father, we believe we are made in the image and likeness of God. We believe God is perfecting us to become like him. God wants a relationship with man. We are his adopted children. Islam on the other hand sees God as a master. Muslims see themselves as his slave. The God in Islam is too great to be concerned with having a relationship with man, he only wants to test man's fidelity to him.

June 4, 2014 at 10:57 pm PST
#77  Frances Cassim - Sharjah, Ash Shariqah

1 Corinthians 9: 21 - 22 -[21] (Douay-Rheims Bible) "To them that are under the law, as if I were under the law, (whereas myself was not under the law,) that I might gain them that were under the law. To them that were without the law, as if I were without the law, (whereas I was not without the law of God, but was in the law of Christ,) that I might gain them that were without the law. [22] To the weak I became weak, that I might gain the weak. I became all things to all men, that I might save all". (no mention of Christians only)

Catechism of the Catholic Church."It is known to us and to you that those who are in invincible ignorance of our most holy religion, but who observe carefully the natural law, and the precepts graven by God upon the hearts of all men, and who being disposed to obey God lead an honest and upright life, may, aided by the light of divine grace, attain to eternal life; for God who sees clearly, searches and knows the heart, the disposition, the thoughts and intentions of each, in His supreme mercy and goodness by no means permits that anyone suffer eternal punishment, who has not of his own free will fallen into sin".

These statements are consistent with the understanding of the Church contained in the documents of Vatican II, and the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Luke 23:34 - [34] "And Jesus said: Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. But they, dividing his garments, cast lots." (He is concerned for the people who are responsible for crucifying him and is asking God to forgive them.)
If Jesus asked His Father to forgive the pagan romans who horribly tortured & crucified Him, am sure he will ask for forgiveness for those non Christians who are ignorant of the teachings in the Bible. We believe that He died to save all mankind & if we believe that he died to save only a few then He died in vain.

I believe in a Merciful, Compassionate & Loving GOD, all Christians will be saved by keeping Holy the Word of God and I believe non Christians who live a life pleasing to Him will be saved as well. All mankind originated from Adam & Eve, that being all mankind, belongs to God.

June 5, 2014 at 12:17 am PST
#78  Tim Staples - El Cajon, California - Catholic Answers Blogger

Todd,
In response to your #59:
Granted. You said, "diplomatic niceties of conciliar and papal statements," but I disagree with your usage. The claim that Muslims worship "the one God," has nothing to do with "diplomatic niceties." It has to do with basic metaphysics. We simply disagree here.

And just for the record, I never claimed "conciliar documents [or] papal statements are God-breathed."

I also agree with you that "the Church and popes use the language of diplomacy sometimes -- the soft expression, the circumlocution, the generously extended hand, and so on." But the declaration "together with us they adore the one, merciful God" just isn't one of them.

Again, we disagree.

June 5, 2014 at 5:27 am PST
#79  AJ Boggs - Buena Vista, Virginia

Kenneth, it sure seems like you are rejecting Vatican II; it's an ecumenical council of the Catholic Church. Doesn't that mean something to you? Nevertheless, you picked the wrong guy (Tim Staples) to mess with on this issue.

June 5, 2014 at 5:30 am PST
#80  AJ Boggs - Buena Vista, Virginia

Lol Ken Daugherty, Islam has a lot more in common with protestantism than it does with Catholicism. Read Matthew 16:18 and join the true Church of Christ, not some rebellious 1500's or later church!

June 5, 2014 at 5:33 am PST
#81  Ken Daugherty - Smyrna, Georgia

"I often meet young people, usually Catholics. It is the first time that I find myself with young Muslims.

Christians and Muslims, we have many things in common, as believers and as human beings. We live in the same world, marked by many signs of hope, but also by multiple signs of anguish. For us, Abraham is a very model of faith in God, of submission to his will and of confidence in his goodness. We believe in the sane God, the one God, the living God, the God who created the world and brings his creatures to their perfection..."

..."For its part, the Catholic Church, twenty years ago at the time of the Second Vatican Council, undertook in the person of its bishops, that is, of its religious leaders, to seek collaboration between the believers. It published a document on dialogue between the religions ("Nostra Aetate"). It affirms that all men, especially those of living faith, should respect each other, should rise above all discrimination, should live in harmony and serve the universal brotherhood (cf. document cited above, n. 5). The Church shows particular attention to the believing Muslims, given their faith in the one God, their sense of prayer, and their esteem for the moral life (cf. n. 3). It desires that Christians and Muslims together "promote harmony for all men, social justice, moral values, peace, liberty" - John Paul II speaking to Muslim youth in Morocco (1985)

"we have many things in common" >>>(Do Muslims worship Jesus? No, they do not)

"For us, Abraham is a very model of faith in God, of submission to his will and of confidence in his goodness" >>>("Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness" - Romans 4:3; again, do Muslims believe God by faith? No, they do not)

"We believe in the same God" >>>(Not "sane," as it says in the document, but SAME)

"...to seek collaboration between the believers" >>>(Are Muslims "believers?" No, they are not)

"...all men...should live in harmony and serve the universal brotherhood" >>>(How about serving Jesus Christ and not this humanism?)

"The Church shows particular attention to the believing Muslims" >>>("...believing Muslims" says it all, yet, they deny the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ who said, "I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me" - John 14:6. Muslims call Jesus a liar)

June 5, 2014 at 7:32 am PST
#82  Mari Lu - Los Angeles, California

Let's start from the beginning. Do the Muslims believe in the God of Israel? Yes. Do they share the beliefs of the Catholic church regarding everything else? No.

From Jesus being the prophet before Mohammad, to Mohammad being the last prophet, it seems that they had more in common with the Mormons to me.

June 5, 2014 at 8:15 am PST
#83  Ken Daugherty - Smyrna, Georgia

Muhammad was no prophet and they do not "believe in the God of Israel."

June 5, 2014 at 10:03 am PST
#84  Mari Lu - Los Angeles, California

They do. It's everything else about their other beliefs that are distorted. As I said, they have a lot more in common with the Mormons than they do with Catholicism. The topic of this post is if they believe the same God as Catholics do. Yes. However, their other beliefs surrounding God is.different. You have to look at how they see their sacred scripture. They believe it's true.

Compare that with some New Age interpretation of the Bible--A Course in Miracles. They see the Bible as some form of literature the way we view other sacred texts like Bagavad Ghita. However, they believe that all sacred texts is just that-literature. They believe that the course one path and all the other paths are valid. Now, they don't believe in the same God we do because it shows that God is the collective consciousness of everyone in the planet. That everything else is just an illusion and we have yet to wake up from it. The bible is just a story and to believe it as true is a lie. They think that the entire bible is just a fairytale. Now there are some aspects of the bible that are literature but not the entire bible.

Compare that with how the Muslims view the Bible. They believe God as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Everything else surrounding their beliefs is distorted but they believe in the same God we do.

June 5, 2014 at 11:39 am PST
#85  Mark Jeffords - Ceres, California

Have we all forgotten the traditional Prayer of Consecration to the Sacred Heart?

(excerpt)

"...Be Thou King of all those who are still involved in the darkness of idolatry or of ISLAMISM, and refuse not to draw them into the light and kingdom of God..."

Islam is (or at least it was before Vatican II) lumped in together with idolatry. People who practice Islam were considered to be in darkness and outside the Kingdom of God and so we prayed for their conversion as we still should. Sadly though, when's the last time we heard a modern pope speak like this about Islam or offer a prayer for their conversion?

In contrast, consider these words of Pope Francis:

(I will provide links to anyone that disputes the accuracy of these quotes.)

"I also think with affection of those Muslim immigrants who this evening begin the fast of Ramadan, which I trust will bear abundant spiritual fruit."

and

"Sharing our experience in carrying that cross, to expel the illness within our hearts, which embitters our life: it is important that you do this in your meetings. Those that are Christian, with the Bible, and those that are Muslim, with the Quran. The faith that your parents instilled in you will always help you move on.”

There are many more quotes I could list here, from not only Pope Francis, but other popes post-Vatican II as well.

The only conclusion I'm drawing here (for the moment) is that something is very odd (to put it nicely) in the Church today when it comes to how She views false religions and what She teaches about them, when compared with the Church before Vatican II and what the popes, saints, and doctors always taught back then.

Tim wants me to think this is simply false, and trust me, I'd much rather believe that, ignorance is bliss, but unfortunately now I've seen too much...

June 5, 2014 at 12:42 pm PST
#86  Josh Monroy - La Palma, California

The Church never claimed Muhammad as a prophet of God, it never claimed Islam as a legitimate religion established by the God of Israel. That being said, since they profess to worship the same God we do the Church has accepted this claim.

June 5, 2014 at 1:17 pm PST
#87  Josh Monroy - La Palma, California

Islam is not the means by which God established salvation. It's only through Christ and his Church that some Muslims might be saved.

This is what the Catechism teaches.

Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through baptism as through a door. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it. (CCC 846)

June 5, 2014 at 1:25 pm PST
#88  Mari Lu - Los Angeles, California

We are talking about whether or not the Muslims believe in the same God Catholics do. Which they do. So do the Mormons. However, we are not talking about their practices and whether or not the Muslims are saved through Islam. That is a different blog post altogether.

That's why Mr. Staples was careful to distinguish between the two. Hence, let's get back to the topic. Do they believe in the same God we do? We are not talking about their salvation outside the Catholic church. We are talking about whether they are believing in the God we believe in.

June 5, 2014 at 2:19 pm PST
#89  Mark Jeffords - Ceres, California

James in comment 63, I'm not rejecting Vatican II as a council. I'm simply taking the position of many priesst, bishops, and lay faithful, who, while being in full communion with Rome (meaning not sedevacantist or SSPX, etc...), recognize that there are certain texts in the council documents as they are currently written, that contain ambiguities that can easily be interpreted in a manner inconsistent with what the Church taught before the council. This is the reality, pointing that out, doesn't mean one rejects the council as a council. There have been disastrous consequences in the life and practice of the Church as the result of these texts.

I'll quote from Robert Spencer:

(I asked him to weigh in on this debate)

"Mark, I think that Bishop Schneider is entirely correct: the text about Muslims that you quote from Lumen Gentium, which is also in Catechism, is in serious need of clarification. I have seen people take it to mean all sorts of outlandish things: that it is wrong to preach the Gospel to Muslims, that it is wrong to speak critically about Muslim persecution of Christians, that it is wrong to speak critically about Islamic doctrines that deny and hold in contempt aspects of Christian teaching, etc. Much of that, of course, comes from the prevailing confusion of charity with "being nice," such that many people believe they're being charitable by glossing over or ignoring difficult truths. But much of it comes from what I believe are false assumptions arising from this text, as I explain at some length in the book "Not Peace But A Sword."

- Robert Spencer

If anyone thinks I'm taking Robert out of context, have a look for yourself:

http://www.catholic.com/blog/robert-spencer/islam-and-sex-slavery#content-area

Apologists like Tim, while they are brilliant and sincere men, insist on pretending as if these ambiguous texts don't exist or downplaying them and the consequences that they've brought. They also want to attribute the current crisis in the Church to any other cause than these texts, any at all. That's if they acknowledge the crisis at all, many do not, Tim has at least acknowledged the crisis.

June 5, 2014 at 2:22 pm PST
#90  AJ Boggs - Buena Vista, Virginia

Mark Jeffords, I've got some statements from JPII and Benedict XVI you will like, though they also contradict your claim no modern popes have spoken against Islam

“Whoever knows the Old and New Testaments, and then reads the Koran, clearly sees the process by which it completely reduces Divine Revelation. It is impossible not to note the movement away from what God said about himself, first in the Old Testament through the Prophets, and then finally in the New Testament through His Son. In Islam, all the richness of God’s self-revelation, which constitutes the heritage of the Old and New Testaments, has definitely been set aside.

“Some of the most beautiful names in the human language are given to the God of the Koran, but He is ultimately a God outside of the world, a God who is only Majesty, never Emmanuel, God with us. Islam is not a religion of redemption. There is no room for the Cross and the Resurrection. Jesus is mentioned, but only as a prophet who prepares for the last prophet, Muhammad. There is also mention of Mary, His Virgin Mother, but the tragedy of redemption is completely absent. For this reason not only the theology but also the anthropology of Islam is very distant from Christianity.” - JPII

"Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached." Benedict XVI quoted a Byzantine Emperor from 6 centuries ago

June 5, 2014 at 2:28 pm PST
#91  Mark Jeffords - Ceres, California

Todd in comment 59, I apologize for using my memory instead of copy and paste. It was a mistake on my part, but not intentional.

But know that you mention it, what is the difference between "diplomatic niceties of conciliar statements" and "conciliar niceties"?

Isn't one just a shorter version of the other?

June 5, 2014 at 2:31 pm PST
#92  Josh Monroy - La Palma, California

I think for the sake of understanding Catholic-Muslim relations we clarify these things. I was a former Protestant so I know were they come from in seeing God's relation with man exclusively through Jesus and not through any other religion.

Muslims worship the same God, but do so wrongly. Their view of him is distorted. Nevertheless because Muhammad took aspects of our Judeo-Christian beliefs there is some truth in their religion.

June 5, 2014 at 2:33 pm PST
#93  Mark Jeffords - Ceres, California

AJ, in comment 90, thank you for looking up those quotes, I know you're trying to help, I appreciate it.

I remember the Resenburg address of Benedect XVI very well, it was all over the newspapers, quite controversial. The pope spoke about this in his interview book "Light of the World" which is sitting on my shelf right now.

In was going to quote the book, but copy and paste is easier for a slow typist like me and I don't want to make any mistakes, so I googled it and found this on Bloomberg:

(excerpts)

-BEGIN QUOTES-

"Pope Benedict XVI apologized in person today for causing offense to Muslims with a university lecture last week implicitly linking Islam to violence."

'I am truly sorry for the reactions caused by a brief passage of my speech,'' the pope said from his Castel Gandolfo summer retreat in Italy. These were quotations from a medieval text that do not express in any way my personal opinion.'

"The apology is the second for the pope in two days after a statement was released yesterday through the Vatican in which the pope reiterated his respect for Islam and said he was sorry his speech had been interpreted in a way he hadn't intended."

"The pope's lecture was meant as a reflection on ``the relationship between religion and violence in general, and to conclude with a clear and radical rejection of the religious motivation for violence, from whatever side it may come,'' said yesterday's statement from the Vatican. "

-END QUOTE FROM BLOOMBERG-

As I'm sure you remember AJ, the Pope was speaking about religious violence, and not about the errors of Islam.

Not only did he apology formally, but he said the quote he gave was not his personal opinion.

AJ, I appreciate what you're trying to do, and again, I wish it wasn't so, but the reality is that popes speak differently today about many things than popes did in the past. Not the least of which is "ecumenism".

Could you imagine PIUS X or LEO XIII apologizing to the members of false religion for offending them by pointing out their errors?

Or imagine them walking in to a mosque, removing their papal shoes, assuming a Muslim prayer posture, facing mecca, and praying alongside imams and muftis for the whole world to see? As Benedict XVI did just 2 months after he gave the Resengurg address that you quoted.

I think would be hard for you to imagine because Benedict and St. JP II are the only two popes to ever have done that and Islam has been around over 1000 years.

Some people think this is a positive thing, I do not, sorry AJ.

Im not judging the pope, any pope, I just won't keep my head in the sand for the sake of not rocking the boat.

June 5, 2014 at 3:03 pm PST
#94  Mari Lu - Los Angeles, California

Josh, totally agreed. Yet, somehow we are getting off topic. Instead of discussing our beliefs in the Catholic God in comparison with the Muslim God, we are discussing the interaction between the Muslims and Christians which is a totally different topic.

June 5, 2014 at 3:38 pm PST
#95  Tim Staples - El Cajon, California - Catholic Answers Blogger

Kenneth,
In response to your #61:

I appreciate that you say, "I have searched thoroughly for this idea that Catholics are forbidden to say that the non-infallible teachings of the ordinary magesterium (sic) are in error and have come away with nothing. Can you please cite where you are getting this from? I think that this point strikes to the heart of our conversation. Obviously any good catholic wants to be submissive when it is time to do so... I would just like evidence that non-infallible teaching is beyond reproach from lay-catholics."

And I also appreciate the fact that you have "searched thoroughly for this idea..." I wish more Catholics were like you and genuinely search for the truth. I applaud you in that.

Now to your question:

I do think we have a problem in the Church today with a lack of respect for the Ordinary Magisterium. There was a fear among some before the definition of Papal Infallibility, in 1870, that it would lead to the notion that all we have to believe and even obey are infallible teachings (the latter being really crazy because matters of discipline in the Church that we are bound to obey are never matters pertaining to infallibility) that has, to a large extent, come to fruition in some Catholic circles. The below Magisterial statements, many of them, were intended to stem that tide, but we obviously have more work to do.

Pope Pius XII, Humani Generis, 20:

Nor must it be thought that what is expounded in Encyclical Letters does not of itself demand consent, since in writing such Letters the Popes do not exercise the supreme power of their Teaching Authority. For these matters are taught with the ordinary teaching authority, of which it is true to say: "He who heareth you, heareth me";[3] and generally what is expounded and inculcated in Encyclical Letters already for other reasons appertains to Catholic doctrine. But if the Supreme Pontiffs in their official documents purposely pass judgment on a matter up to that time under dispute, it is obvious that that matter, according to the mind and will of the Pontiffs, cannot be any longer considered a question open to discussion among theologians.

Pope Blessed Pius IX, in his famous "Syllabus of Errors," no. 22, quotes "Tuas Libenter," of Dec. 21, 1863, which condemns as error:

22. The obligation by which Catholic teachers and authors are strictly bound is confined to those things only which are proposed to universal belief as dogmas of faith by the infallible judgment of the Church.

There you have two Magisterial documents in one.

I also recommend you read, "Donum Veritatis - Instruction on the Ecclesial Vocation of the Theologian," from the CDF. I will cite para. 23-32, because it specifically deals with the authority of non-infallible teachings of the Magisterium, to give you a sense of what is going on here:

"When the Magisterium, not intending to act 'definitively', teaches a doctrine to aid a better understanding of Revelation and make explicit its contents, or to recall how some teaching is in conformity with the truths of faith, or finally to guard against ideas that are incompatible with these truths, the response called for is that of the religious submission of will and intellect. This kind of response cannot be simply exterior or disciplinary but must be understood within the logic of faith and under the impulse of obedience to the faith.

24. Finally, in order to serve the People of God as well as possible, in particular, by warning them of dangerous opinions which could lead to error, the Magisterium can intervene in questions under discussion which involve, in addition to solid principles, certain contingent and conjectural elements. It often only becomes possible with the passage of time to distinguish between what is necessary and what is contingent.

The willingness to submit loyally to the teaching of the Magisterium on matters per se not irreformable must be the rule. It can happen, however, that a theologian may, according to the case, raise questions regarding the timeliness, the form, or even the contents of magisterial interventions. Here the theologian will need, first of all, to assess accurately the authoritativeness of the interventions which becomes clear from the nature of the documents, the insistence with which a teaching is repeated, and the very way in which it is expressed.

When it comes to the question of interventions in the prudential order, it could happen that some Magisterial documents might not be free from all deficiencies. Bishops and their advisors have not always taken into immediate consideration every aspect or the entire complexity of a question. But it would be contrary to the truth, if, proceeding from some particular cases, one were to conclude that the Church's Magisterium can be habitually mistaken in its prudential judgments, or that it does not enjoy divine assistance in the integral exercise of its mission. In fact, the theologian, who cannot pursue his discipline well without a certain competence in history, is aware of the filtering which occurs with the passage of time. This is not to be understood in the sense of a relativization of the tenets of the faith. The theologian knows that some judgments of the Magisterium could be justified at the time in which they were made, because while the pronouncements contained true assertions and others which were not sure, both types were inextricably connected. Only time has permitted discernment and, after deeper study, the attainment of true doctrinal progress.

25. Even when collaboration takes place under the best conditions, the possibility cannot be excluded that tensions may arise between the theologian and the Magisterium. The meaning attributed to such tensions and the spirit with which they are faced are not matters of indifference. If tensions do not spring from hostile and contrary feelings, they can become a dynamic factor, a stimulus to both the Magisterium and theologians to fulfill their respective roles while practicing dialogue.

26. In the dialogue, a two-fold rule should prevail. When there is a question of the communion of faith, the principle of the "unity of truth" (unitas veritatis) applies. When it is a question of differences which do not jeopardize this communion, the "unity of charity" (unitas caritatis) should be safeguarded.

27. Even if the doctrine of the faith is not in question, the theologian will not present his own opinions or divergent hypotheses as though they were non-arguable conclusions. Respect for the truth as well as for the People of God requires this discretion (cf. Rom 14:1-15; 1 Cor 8; 10: 23-33 ) . For the same reasons, the theologian will refrain from giving untimely public expression to them.

28. The preceding considerations have a particular application to the case of the theologian who might have serious difficulties, for reasons which appear to him well-founded, in accepting a non-irreformable magisterial teaching.

Such a disagreement could not be justified if it were based solely upon the fact that the validity of the given teaching is not evident or upon the opinion that the opposite position would be the more probable. Nor, furthermore, would the judgment of the subjective conscience of the theologian justify it because conscience does not constitute an autonomous and exclusive authority for deciding the truth of a doctrine.

29. In any case there should never be a diminishment of that fundamental openness loyally to accept the teaching of the Magisterium as is fitting for every believer by reason of the obedience of faith. The theologian will strive then to understand this teaching in its contents, arguments, and purposes. This will mean an intense and patient reflection on his part and a readiness, if need be, to revise his own opinions and examine the objections which his colleagues might offer him.

30. If, despite a loyal effort on the theologian's part, the difficulties persist, the theologian has the duty to make known to the Magisterial authorities the problems raised by the teaching in itself, in the arguments proposed to justify it, or even in the manner in which it is presented. He should do this in an evangelical spirit and with a profound desire to resolve the difficulties. His objections could then contribute to real progress and provide a stimulus to the Magisterium to propose the teaching of the Church in greater depth and with a clearer presentation of the arguments.

In cases like these, the theologian should avoid turning to the "mass media", but have recourse to the responsible authority, for it is not by seeking to exert the pressure of public opinion that one contributes to the clarification of doctrinal issues and renders service to the truth.

31. It can also happen that at the conclusion of a serious study, undertaken with the desire to heed the Magisterium's teaching without hesitation, the theologian's difficulty remains because the arguments to the contrary seem more persuasive to him. Faced with a proposition to which he feels he cannot give his intellectual assent, the theologian nevertheless has the duty to remain open to a deeper examination of the question.

For a loyal spirit, animated by love for the Church, such a situation can certainly prove a difficult trial. It can be a call to suffer for the truth, in silence and prayer, but with the certainty, that if the truth really is at stake, it will ultimately prevail.

B. The problem of dissent

32. The Magisterium has drawn attention several times to the serious harm done to the community of the Church by attitudes of general opposition to Church teaching which even come to expression in organized groups. In his apostolic exhortation Paterna cum benevolentia, Paul VI offered a diagnosis of this problem which is still apropos.(25) In particular, he addresses here that public opposition to the Magisterium of the Church also called "dissent", which must be distinguished from the situation of personal difficulties treated above. The phenomenon of dissent can have diverse forms. Its remote and proximate causes are multiple."

The CDF goes on to say that "dissent" is simply not an option. Even in "non-reformable matters" we have to respect the Ordinary Magisterium and recognize that the Holy Spirit guides the Church not only in matters infallible, but also in disciplinary matters, and in teachings of the Ordinary Magisterium that are not infallible.

Now, I have no problem with saying we can "withhold assent" if we seek the truth and simply cannot agree with a non-infallible teaching clearly laid out by the Ordinary Magisterium. We can ask questions, express our struggle with it, and give reasons why. And, of course, we know that, theoretically, and within limits, the Ordinary Magisterium can err. However, there is a difference between acknowledging that in principle, and arrogantly saying, "Here is where the Church is wrong..."

The Holy Spirit guides even disciplinary decisions and non-infallible teachings of the Magisterium (as Donum Veritatis says) in the sense that the Church can never lead the faithful astray and away from salvation. It would be contrary to her mark of Holiness to do that. It would be impossible. Individual Catholics to not enjoy such protection. Thus, the Church never says "dissent" is okay. Out of respect for the Ordinary Magisterium, we ask questions and inquire humbly, rather than turn ourselves into little "Magisteriums" correcting the Church at every turn.

I would also encourage you to check out Lumen Gentium 24-25, which lays this out quite well as well.

Also, remember that this "assent" of the intellect and will that the above "Instruction" and "Lumen Gentium" 25 speaks about with regard to non-infallible teachings of the Ordinary Magisterium is a "religious" assent, rather than "theological" assent, but we are bound as Catholics to believe both.

There is an important distinction in the kind of assent these represent. If I knowingly reject an infallible teaching of the Church, that is grave matter. Even if I never tell anyone about it, that is still grave sin. But if I attempt to form my conscience in accordance with a teaching that is not infallible, but is a teaching of the Ordinary Magisterium, but I simply cannot agree with it, I am not in sin. However, out of respect for the Ordinary Magisterium, I am not free to declare that teaching is wrong. Again, I can respectfully ask questions to clarify things, but I publicly present what is the teaching of the Church, even while expressing my struggle with it.

And finally, when it comes to Lumen Gentium, we have to be very careful. Because it is a "Dogmatic Constitution," and because it represents all of the bishops of world in the union with the Pope, this teaching can require theological assent, in accordance with the manifest will of the Council when the language is examined. These teachings may well express the teaching of the Universal and Ordinary Magazine and thus would bind Catholics to give theological assent.

June 5, 2014 at 3:39 pm PST
#96  Tim Staples - El Cajon, California - Catholic Answers Blogger

Hello All,
I am going to have to bow out of this discussion. It has been wonderful, but I have a lot of other projects to get to!
God bless all for an enlightening, and, I trust, fruitful discussion!

June 5, 2014 at 3:43 pm PST
#97  Mark Jeffords - Ceres, California

For anyone interested in an more traditional alternative to Tim's position, here is a link to a piece called "That We May Know the True God" from the apologetics website www.catholicism.org

http://catholicism.org/ad-rem-no-150.html

For anyone not familiar with Catholicism.org, they are an apologetics apostolate like Catholic Answers in full union with their local Bishop and with the Holy Father Pope Francis, and they provide documents on their website that prove their status for anyone unsure.

In the above linked article, Brother André Marie argues with St. Thomas Aquinas, that “unbelievers” (those who reject the trinity) do not believe in God, simple as that. The word “unbeliever” is used by St. Thomas to include heretics as well as Jews and pagans, which would include Muslims in the medieval theological lexicon.

Have a look.

God Bless!

June 5, 2014 at 8:20 pm PST
#98  Ged Narvaez - Daraga, Albay

Catholic Church, guided by the Holy Spirit, and in communion with the saints, and the popes, representative and successor of apostle Peter are united.

Dissent, addressed by Donum Veritatis, is grave matter.

Faithful living is in a disciplined life.
Lumen Gentium dogmatic

Thanks Tim Staples. =) A faithful Catholic.

May God bless us. and Let's pray for Peace of God, humility, unity and truth. And let us truly love more the Catholic Church, and not any misplaced love.

Peace and Goodness to you.

June 5, 2014 at 11:57 pm PST
#99  kenneth winsmann - katy, Texas

Thanks Mr. Staples. That sounds good enough for me! I'll adjust my be having accordingly

June 6, 2014 at 6:51 am PST
#100  kenneth winsmann - katy, Texas

Adjust my behavior ***

June 6, 2014 at 6:51 am PST

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