Ok, I’ve already ticked off some by inferring God is male. Sorry. I actually believe God is a force or power, and that power is Love. I think scripture backs me up on this. Anyway, I was recently reading a post by an acquaintance of mine on Facebook that caught my attention. He is a graduate of the seminary at Duke University. It is a United Methodist Seminary, which it the Christian denomination to which I belong. (Why a United Methodist school would take the name “Blue Devils” is beyond me, but that’s another story) It turns out the Duke chapel will be “calling” Muslim students to prayer every Friday and my friend was upset at this new practice. His logic? He made two points.
First, Christian students have never been “called” to prayer, which seemed an affront to Christian students, and beside that he didn’t think Muslims would ever call Christians to prayer.
So there. Sort of like saying, “Hey Duke, you never call us Christians to prayer and now you’re calling those Muslims to prayer. What’s up with that? Why can’t we be called to prayer, huh? Why can’t we be called?”
It just sounded like whining to me, that’s all. When I attended seminary (no, not Duke) we had chapel services every Wednesday. We weren’t called. We just showed up. We didn’t need to be called. We just showed up. (I think I’ll call NIKE and see if they might add to their slogan “Just Do It” by also saying, “Just Show Up”)
The second point in his logic was more significant in my thinking. It had to do with God and who gets to heaven, and how people get to heaven. His argument is that Muslims, because they are not Christians, will not go to heaven. You see, it seems only Christians get to go to heaven.
Now if that is true I have some questions about God.
And I’ll start at the beginning. Genesis is the first book of both the Christian and Jewish scriptures, and describes how all of creation came to be as well as how it got so violent and broken, and God’s promise to make things right again. And in Genesis there is a story about the slave girl Hagar and her giving a son to Abraham because his wife Sara could not have children. The son’s name is Ishmael. When Sara is miraculously able to have a son (Isaac) she tells Abraham Isaac must be the heir and Ishmael and Hagar must leave the clan. Hagar and Ishmael leave, heading out into the desert, probably to die there.
But that is not the end of the story. God intercedes and tells Hagar not to fear, that God will be with her and her son Ishmael. In fact God tells Hagar he will make a great nation of Ishmael. Just as he told Abraham he would make a great nation of him.
Now this is where I have questions about God.
Abraham is the “father” of Judaism. He is also the “father” of Christianity.
And Muslims also believe Abraham is the “father” Islam, remembering the son of Abraham, Ishmael.
That is to say all three religions call Abraham the “father” of their religions. That is also to say they all worship the same God. (FYI, Allah is simply the Arabic word for God)
That being the case is God really that callous that he would condemn his own creations while “saving” only Christians?
What kind of heaven would that be?