It's fascinating to consider just how many people on this planet claim to worship the same God:
- "Christians" - Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Protestants, Copts, Armenians, etc.
- Mormons - whatever their thoughts on Jesus Christ, they aren't trinitarian and therefore not orthodox Christian
- Jehovah's Witnesses - same as the Mormons regarding the Trinity
Have I missed any? Zoroasterianism is of course monotheistic, and if there is historical accuracy in the story of Abraham being from "Ur of the Chaldees," we might consider Judaism and Zoroasterianism to be related by a bit more than just similar monotheistic tendencies. Perhaps Elohim
and Ahura Mazda
are just different names of the same God.
It is clear, though, that all of the faiths in the above list claim allegiance to the same God who is known by the proper name YHWH*. Altogether they represent - I think - a majority of the Earth's population.
Judaism is the grandaddy of all of them, and it is interesting to note that each of the other faiths is devoted, to one degree or another, to a charismatic leader who proclaimed - or about whom it is proclaimed - to be a better, fuller revelation of the word and will of God than was represented by God's followers up to that point. Jesus is considered by Christians to be the revelation of God, standing in and surpassing the tradition of the prophets of the Hebrew Bible. Mohammed, though not divine, fulfills that same role in Islam, Joseph Smith for the Mormons and Charles Taze Russell for the Jehovah's witnesses.
But these are all quite distinct religions, with beliefs that make them incompatible with one another. Judaism and Islam reject the divinity of Jesus, Mormons and JW's the idea of a Trinity. And those distinctions are, in a sense, just the beginning when it comes to the differences between them.
So here's my question: Do these faiths all worship the same God or not, and why would we think so?
I've got some ideas on this, of course, but they're hardly better than those which come from the esteemed minds that read this blog, so let's have some fun in the comments and then later I'll recap on the main page.
*YHWH is the Tetragrammaton. The Masoretic text of the Hebrew Bible, which has vowel points - Hebrew is without vowels - gives the pronunciation as Yehvah, in English for some reason we would say Yehw
ah. Somehow most English speakers say "Yahweh" and I don't know why. "Jehovah" is not in the Hebrew Bible. Instead, it is a conflation of the consonants from YHWH and the Masoretic vowel points in "Adonai," which means "Lord" and is said in place of YHWH when reading scripture out loud. Because of the peculiarities of German and English when it comes to transliterating, y=j and w=v. "YaHoWaiH" becomes "JeHoVaH." Anyway, I don't use Jehovah unless referring to JW's or some specific quote.