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23 July, 2007 / theexpositor

“GOD” AND “ALLAH”

In these times, when we should be calling for greater clarity, we read stories such as this, which I think lends to greater confusion and compromise. I also suggest you read the post by Pastor Wade Burleson at Grace and Truth to You entitled ‘Is It Right for Missionaries to Call God – ‘Allah’?’. After reading these accounts, can we gather a greater understanding as to why evangelicalism is so sick?

In his report to trustees, Rankin addressed recent charges from critics that some Southern Baptist missionaries working in the Muslim world believe the Allah of Islam and the God of Christianity are one and the same.

“I can assure you that no missionary believes the concept of God as known, taught and worshiped by Muslims is similar to the Jehovah God as revealed in the Bible,” Rankin said. “I regret this distorted impression based simply on the use of the name Allah for God.

“Every language has its word for God, which is used in translation of Scripture and witnessing within each particular culture and language. The fact is that ‘Allah’ is simply the Arabic word for ‘God,’ just as ‘Dios’ is the word for God in Spanish. It is the word that has been used for centuries in most translations of the Bible in many Muslim cultures, including Bengali, Indonesian and Malay,” Rankin explained.

“It is practically impossible to witness to a Muslim in many native languages and not use the word ‘Allah’ for God without introducing a foreign word and concept. We must not confuse cultural and linguistic bridges of communication with theological concepts.” 

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7 Comments

  1. excogitatingengineer / Jul 23 2007 12 37

    Thanks for bringing this up. You are absolutely right. It is obviously wrong to equate Allah with God (YHWH). I am sure there are some difficulties and finding a name other than Allah in many cultures/languages but a Christian missionary should not equate the two. There are much more disturbing things than this that our missionaries do in reaching Muslims. Many cross over from contextualization into syncretism. There are also some that use the Koran to argue that Jesus was a savior (Camel Training Manual).

    Excog

  2. andy / Jul 27 2007 12 07

    Hi Mike i’m going to disagree with you on this..

    If you speak to an Arabic Christian they call God Allah,its a pre- Islamic word..Its just their language,i really cant see what the problem is..Would we be discussing this,if the missionaries were using the word Dieu the French word for God?

    Anyhow praying for you Bro and this exciting news about the station, dont forget your international already lol 😉

    aj (UK)

  3. Rob / Jul 28 2007 15 19

    Arabic speaking Christians have been calling God “Allah” for centuries. This is not a “compromise” or syncretism, this is just the Arabic language! People who are coming out against the Arabic word for God are really showing their ignorance and in some cases, their ethnocentrism. All-the-while, they think they are demonstrating their theological prowess…

  4. Ronald W. Hongsermeier / Sep 13 2007 14 46

    The issue of the use of the name “Allah” for God the Lord, the Father of Jesus Christ our Lord and for the Holy Spirit of God might be somewhat better understood if we think about the English-speaking concept somewhat.

    Today the Mormons, the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Prosperity Gospel/Word of Faith people are all using the correct terms in all the wrong ways. This challenges biblical Christians to define their terms, which gives them the possibility of setting the framework for the gospel message of salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone…

    Christians in Islamic contexts have the opportunity to say: I believe that Allah is different, because the Bible; which precedes the Koran historically, which is of superior textual quality compared to the Koran and which is not behind the intrinsic veil of Arabic secrecy of the Koran; presents an unqualified picture of the God-Man coming to earth to save hopeless sinners, assure them of salvation and provide for them to glorify God eternally as the only _universally_ _available_ means of being taken up into the community of God witnessed by coherent, historically cogent witnesses. My Coptic friends have no problem with using Allah in witnessing to Muslims– I think it reeks of hubris to think that it is permissible out of an English-speaking context to want to have the right to dictate what word Arabic-speaking Christians use to witness of the love of God in the Arabic language

    off thread comment: Mike, just heard the mp3 of the first Salem broadcast show: thanks and keep the course.

    rwh

  5. Ronald W. Hongsermeier / Sep 13 2007 14 50

    <<no problem with using Allah in witnessing to Muslims

    sorry, should be “with using the word ‘Allah’ referring to God in witnessing…”

  6. Airelon / Oct 19 2007 17 18

    The detail, is that God is not YHWH. He can be. But there are many Gods. The simple word: “God” in the Bible is is Ela, Eleh’, eloHIM, or ha eloHIM. Not YHWH. YHWH is a personal name OF ha elo-HIM. The Bible teaches that there are many gods. False Gods. The True God. It teaches that he has a personal name (YHWH), which is different from what he is . . . a God (elo-HIM)

    So the question becomes one of a Proper Noun (Something like YHWH) vs. a common noun (something like ‘Ela’). Do Arabics use Allah as a Personal NAME? Or a Title? Elohim is a title. Not a proper noun, or a name, as is YHWH.

    If it’s a proper noun, if Allah is his personal name, then yes, it would be incorrect for a true Christian to call their God “Allah”. If it is not his name, and only the word in their language for “God”, then it would be entirely proper.

    It is made more difficult by the fact, that people that speak English natively do not even understand the difference between “God” and “YHWH”. They don’t speak or have an understanding of the lingual theory of Hebrew, and thus, can’t speak to the subject of proper translation. If you have people that don’t understand the difference, try and explain it, you’re going to get the wrong explanation.

  7. Minister Fred Hatchett / Dec 28 2007 0 47

    Airelon is exactly right. If Allah is not his NAME, that’s one thing, but if he has a name, it changes the whole picture. Then you must apply attributes to this name. If Allah is just a common name for God in their language, then a Arab-Speaking Christian would have no problem with saying that the Son of Allah (God) is Yeshua.

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