This issue has come up, not only in relation to contemporary Catholic theology, but also in conjunction with Miroslav Volf’s recent book, Allah: A Christian Response.
“But the theological overlap comes from Islam's strict monotheism, with which we agree…”
No, we don’t agree. That’s fatally equivocal. There’s no overlap between worshipping the one true God and worshipping one false god.
Monotheistic idolatry is no better than polytheistic idolatry.
“…and their identification of the one God as the God of Abraham, with which we also agree.”
They don’t worship Yahweh. They don’t worship the God of Abraham.
God didn’t reveal himself in the Koran. The Koran is not a self-revelation of the one true God. Muhammad was a false prophet. Therefore, the Koranic god doesn’t map onto the OT God. Rather, the Koranic god is just a literary construct–like the Homeric gods.
“They believe in ‘what may be known about God...[His] invisible qualities - his eternal power and divine nature - [which] have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made.’”
Islamic theism falsifies the natural knowledge of God. It superimposes an idolatrous reinterpretation onto natural revelation.
“To the extent that they are not culpable for their ignorance, they are not responsible for being ignorant of doctrines specific to Revelation like the Trinity and redemption through Jesus.”
If we grant your tendentious premise, which begs the question.
“Their fidelity to what can be known by God through nature situates them to fit Paul's category for the Gentiles of his time in Romans 1-2.”
Islam is a Judeo-Christian heresy. Muhammed viewed himself as a religious reformer. In his mind he was purifying and restoring the true religion. Islam is not on a trajectory towards Christianity, but on a trajectory away from Christianity. It stands in conscious opposition to Christian theology. A deliberate repudiation of the Christian faith.
That’s hardly equivalent to pre-Christian gentiles in Rom 1-2. Rather, that’s post-Christian and anti-Christian.
“The teaching on Islam has to be understood in light of the Church's understanding of culpable and inculpable ignorance [of Christian revelation]. I understand this is a major disagreement between Catholics and Calvinists, but I think it's the more fundamental locus of the disagreement.”
It also has to be understand in terms of Rome attempting to paper over internal tensions in her disparate theological traditions–as well as subsequent Rahnerian influences.
"This is, I think, all that the Catechism is trying to say about Muslims."
If (a la Vatican II) Muslims worship the same God as Catholics, then, by converse logic, Catholics worship the same God as Muslims. Hence, Catholics are Muslims.
I think that's Bnonn's basic argument, and it's a pretty straightforward argument.
5/06/2011 9:42 AM
ANNOYED PINOY SAID:
I've heard it said that Arabic speaking Christians (who believe in the doctrine of the Trinity) sometimes refer to God as "Allah" because the word "Allah" is the generic word for "God/supreme being/the Deity". I've even heard it said that Arabic speaking Christians have been referring to God as "Allah" before Mohammed was ever born (circa 570 A.D.) or claimed to be a prophet (circa 610 A.D.). That even Arabic translation(s) of Scripture (whether partial or whole)which ante-date Islam also refer to the Christian God as "Allah". 1. Is there any truth to the above? 2. How does this affect DBN's argument?
i) “Allah” can be used as a synonym for Yahweh, Elohim, or theos (in the NT).
ii) “Jacob” can be used as a synonym for “James.” One could use the same name(s) to denote the same individual. But, of course, every man designated by “James” or “Jacob” is not the same individual!
iii) “Allah” in the Koran doesn’t share the same referent as “Allah” in Arabic translations of the Bible. In one case it denotes the Koranic deity, in the other case the Biblical deity.
iv) We need to distinguish between “Allah” as a common noun for the deity, and “Allah” as a proper noun for the Islamic deity in particular.
As a common noun, the usage is neutral. And Arabic translations of the Bible use “Allah” as a common noun.
v) Since the context of Bnonn’s post was Islamic usage, I don’t think the usage of Christian Arabs is germane to his argument.