Q&A: Abrahamic Faiths

Q&A: Abrahamic Faiths

The Summer Q&A has one more article after this. Here’s this week’s two related questions: How could three such different religions as Judaism, Christianity and Islam come from one Abrahamic Tradition? And I got an English translation of the Koran at a yard sale. I was surprised how much is shared with Christians. Your thoughts?

It’s good to know your history and see the evolution of faith. Jesus was Jewish. He was rooted and shaped by that tradition. There is a big diversity within Jewish thought and theology, but what we can say for sure is that they believe God is one and that the Messiah hasn’t come yet. Some Jewish folk don’t even believe in the concept of the messiah. What is for certain for them is that God has never been in human form. That’s where the Christians come in. Not only has the Messiah come, but God was in Christ and is one but also three. God is Trinity.

The Christians had a large influx of Gentiles that took the tradition away from it’s Jewish roots. There was a lot of animosity between the two traditions for a long time until along comes Mohammad in the early 600s and says, “Hey! I had a vision that is going to unite all the traditions!” It has 5 simple rules:

1. There is no god but God and Mohammad is God’s Messenger.

  1. Pray facing Mecca 5 times a day
  2. Give alms to the poor
  3. Fast
  4. Make a pilgrimage to Mecca once in your life

Mohammad wrote the Koran and added much of the oral tradition around Mary which is present in Roman Catholic tradition but not the Bible. So there is a lot of overlap. Jesus is not God, but he is the Messiah who will come back at the end of time. Jesus is mentioned over a 100 times in the Koran where Mohammad is mentioned 4 times.

Yet the unity that Mohammad had hoped for never happened. There is great differences not only between these faiths but also within the traditions. Jewish folk have Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform (with lots of strains of thoughts within those camps). Islam has Shia, Sunni, and Sufi (with lots of strains of thoughts within those camps). And we Christians have Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Protestants… you get the picture.

It’s good to learn from each tradition and lift up where we agree. We can always learn something, even if we don’t agree with it. One group who is doing this rather well is the Interfaith Amigos. Rabbi Ted Falcon, the Rev. Don Mackenzie, and Imam Jamal Rahman gave a talk at my last church about how to be in relationship. They have more than a few books on the similarities and differences. They give me great hope. As does the Omaha Tri-faith Initiative. A UCC Church, a synagogue and a mosque all on one campus in Omaha, NE. They seek to learn and partner in the Abrahamic faith to heal divisions and witness to interfaith cooperation. To recognize that we are related and we go all the way back to Abraham. Now sing with me! Father Abraham had many sons! Many sons had Father Abraham! I am one of them, and so you are you. So let’s all praise the Lord!

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