08 March 2008

Weekend Extra: Monotheism

by Frank Turk

I have no idea what you people read when you're not reading the funny papers over here, but Justin Taylor has been interacting with a fellow named Rick Love over at his blog regarding whether or not it's profitable or right to say that Muslims worship the same God, via their monotheism, that Christians do.

I think that Rick's view is overgenerous -- which is often a mistake one makes which ultimately hurts one's self. But in this case, I think it also hurts those to whom one preaches the Gospel.

I have dragged Rick's latest 8 points over here to make some longer comments.
1. [Justin's] critiques vividly illustrate that not all monotheists are created equal. My previous response focused on the objective beliefs of monotheists and failed to acknowledge the subjective (or heart) dimensions of monotheistic worship. I was wrong in not pointing this out and stand corrected. In fact, there is a spectrum of “receptivity” among monotheists. There are people who are monotheists by confession but whose hearts are far from God, as you made clear in your reference to John 8. However, there are also monotheists who are receptive to God as the stories of Nicodemus (John 3), the Samaritan Woman (John 4), and Cornelius (Acts 10) make clear.
You have to give a guy credit when he can say something like "I was wrong". I think the problem is that Rick thinks here that he was only wrong by omission and not wrong in the conclusion he has drawn by this omission. The last sentence of this statement makes it clear that in spite of conceding that John 8 really fortifies the hard exclusivism of Christian monotheism, he doesn't really work out all the ramifications of that exclusivism.

See: in John 8, Jesus does something which echos the OT, and it's not merely in his reference to Abraham. He's telling the Jews what the prophets have told them before -- namely, that infidelity toward God defines their sin. It's rather odd that the Jews get this right away by saying that they are not illegitimate children -- but that Rick doesn't quite get how that relates to even older statements from God to Israel like Micah and Hosea's prophecies.

Activity in the temple does not equal right worship -- and that is what is at stake. Right worship is fidelity toward God, and that starts on the inside of man and moves outside of him. I'll have more to say on this in Rick's point #6.

What we call Muslims to is not merely changing the name of the God they worship -- I would be willing to concede that someone who worshipped "elohim" would be worshipping "Yahweh", and that in Arabic Bibles the name "Allah" there as a generic term is a fair reference to God. What we are calling them to is worship of the true God of all things, maker of Heaven and Earth, in whom the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature are given to us in Jesus Christ.

Rejecting Christ is rejecting God. Saying less than that, however nuanced, is falsifying the Gospel and leading people to false faith.
2. In the framework articulated in my previous two responses to Piper, I have made it clear that while monotheists worship the true God, they lack the revelation of Jesus Christ and are not saved. Therefore, the Jesus-denying monotheists of John 8 clearly fit into my framework (I just failed to make this explicit as I note in point #1 above). Moreover, I can’t find anything in the text where Jesus says that the Pharisees worship the wrong God. (Did I miss something?) It seems to me he is saying their hearts are not right before God and thus their worship is not acceptable. (We will come back to the issue of the heart shortly.)
In fact Rick did miss some things pretty significant. The first is this: Jesus says explicitly that God is not their father, but the Devil is. Just because Jesus didn't then say, "and because the Devil is your father, you are worshipping the wrong god," doesn't mean that we don't here have John putting the loadstone of idolatry around the necks of the Jews. Jesus says plainly that the Devil is a murderer and a liar, therefore these men are also murderers and liars; that statement ought to be contrasted with the statement Jesus makes about Abraham, namely, "If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works Abraham did, but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God."

God's followers/children act like Abraham; the Devil's followers/children act like the Devil. It's a simple parallel construction, and it points to idolatry, not "lack of revelation".

And there is a worse omission here by Rick: Jesus says explicitly that it is not revelation that they lack. Jesus says to them, "Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires." The message is presented to them, but they cannot bear it because they are not of God but of a false god.
3. Parenthetically: unlike Jesus, we are not always able to accurately discern those who are Jesus-denying. Many people may appear like they are denying Jesus when in fact they really don’t understand who Jesus is and what He has done for us. Just as we cannot assume that all Jews were Jesus-denying people, in the same way, we cannot assume that all Muslims are Jesus-denying people. We CAN assume that they need to see and hear about the beauty of Jesus – His person and His work.
This is a mistake of taking our non-omniscience as a basis for radical skepticism. It annihilates our ability to know and therefore act on any external data. If it is true that "we are not always able to accurately discern those who are Jesus-denying", I think that we have only a handful of choices. One is then to preach the Gospel to all as if they are all lost, all Jesus-denying -- which leads to the radical fundamentalism of some who wind up in a theological circle so small that they can only keep one foot in it.

Another way to handle that is what Rick does here -- and that's to give everyone the benefit of the doubt, thinking they only know a little about God, and that their evangelism only requires us to fill in the missing details. I think that's a horrible mistake as it overlooks the radical implications of the Gospel.

It is possible to make the Gospel too fragile, as I think the radical fundamentalist does; I think it is equally likely to make the Gospel optional, or somehow so nuanced that it does not call men to a radical change. Neither option ought to be on the menu for evangelists and preachers of the word.
4. [Justin seems] to wonder how I could possibly say that monotheists worship the true God. I feel strongly about this because I think the Bible speaks strongly about this. First of all, a polemic against idols and an affirmation of monotheism is at the heart of the Ten Commandments "I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth” (Ex 20:2-4).
I'm interrupting here because there's something Rick misses badly here, and that's the point that the 10 Commandments do not require monotheism but right worship of the true God. That is not merely "monotheism" any more than living with one woman right now is monogamy. You have to be married to the right woman, and be faithful to her, to be monogamous. Anything else is adultery.

In the same way, you have to be devoted to the right God, and live as if He is your God and you are one of His people. Anything else is idolatry. If that's not what the 10 Commandments require, then God was mad at the people for the wrong reasons when He told Moses to destroy the Golden Calf.
Secondly, the Shema (“Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! Deut 6:4), describes the fundamental truth of Israel’s monotheistic faith. It was confessed daily during prayer in contrast to the idolatry and polytheistic beliefs of Israel’s neighbors. Thirdly, both Jesus and Paul clearly affirmed monotheism (Mark 12:29ff and Rom 3:30; 1 Tim 2:5). Therefore, it seems to me that polytheism vs monotheism is the big divide in Scripture re: worship of the true God (The 160+ references to idolatry in the Bible further strengthens this viewpoint). In the NT Paul says that when Gentiles offer sacrifices to idols they are really offering sacrifices to demons and not to God (1 Cor 10:19-20). In other words, polytheism and idolatry are clearly demonic in light of Scripture, whereas monotheism is always portrayed positively.
Let me re-affirm that the question is not whether there is one God or many gods: it is whether one is rightly seeing God as God.

What's at stake in the Bible is not philosophical monotheism: what is at stake in the Bible is the personal identity of the one true God above all false gods which man puts in His place. I'd say this is most vivid particularly in what comes after the Sh'ma -- in that God says to Israel, "listen: teach these things to your children so that you don't forget Me."
5. Ahh, you say. But what about James 2:19? “You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder.” I would argue that the intent of James 2:19 is not to critique monotheism, but rather to critique “faith without works.” In other words, it is not the objective belief content of monotheism that James critiques, but the lack of obedience-producing faith in their hearts. In fact, James’ argument only makes sense if we see his affirmation about monotheism as an orthodox confession. In keeping with the original intent of the text, I think we could apply James’ teaching to modern Christians as follows. If James were writing this to Evangelical churches in America he might say: “You believe that God is three in One – the Holy Trinity. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder.” Demons know that God is one. I assume that they also know that God is three in one!!
Again, I think Rick misses the point here widely. If someone were to pull out James 2 for the sake of underscoring the true worship of God, one has to go to context here -- because James' real concerns in James 1-2 is "true faith" vs. "false faith". James says that faith which looks upon the Law and then forgets the Law -- that is, it doesn't do anything about the Law -- is a false faith. He is carrying that thesis forward in James 2, and when he comes to the religion of demons, he says, effectively, that the demons know the truth about God -- they just don't do anything about it.

The demons do not worship God, and are not saved by God -- that's James' implication. That is, if you want a faith like the "faith" of demons, you can have the same end as the demons.
6. The two key texts you used to critique my theology, John 8 and James 2:19, lead us to another very important point: worship is a thing of the heart – something that I did not carefully explain. I think we would both agree that right theology is not enough – whether a person is a receptive monotheist or a non-obedient Trinitarian. I think the story of Cain and Abel gives us insight into these issues. Both worshipped the one true God. But Abel’s worship was acceptable and Cain’s was not (Gen 4). So the issue is not just about worship of the true God, but more precisely about worship that is acceptable to God, i.e., “true” worship of the “true” God.
I'm not sure what this has to do with whether or not worshipping Allah is interchangable with worshipping Christ. What's at stake in preaching to Muslims is that they have a false revelation and therefore worship a false god, not that the make insufficient offerings.
7. Here’s how I would like to rework your illustration, recognizing the limitations of the metaphor. I would say that monotheism could be compared to an understanding that the U.S. has one President and that the U.S. is a great country to live in. There are those who acknowledge that the US has one President but they hate him and do not want to live in the U.S. (=unreceptive or hard-hearted monotheists). There are other people who actually respect and even love the President of the U.S. and long to live in the U.S. but neither know the President nor are they U.S. citizens (=receptive monotheists). Finally, there are those who respect and love the President of the U.S. and in fact have personally come to know him. They have also become full citizens of the U.S. (=repentant monotheists who come to follow Jesus).
The problem with this illustration is that the Bible doesn't make that many categories for those who are outside of Christ.

Christ is the light which shines on all men, exposing their evil deeds, and men reject the light. Period. The fullness of God is given to us in Christ, and those who reject the Son reject the Father. Period. Either one has right faith in God through Christ, or one is hell-bound because he has rejected God.

Those are the biblical categories. The Bible doesn't paint a gray area to which we can them shuttle people in the hope that we can make the Gospel less offensive to them. And if I haven;t said this clearly, I'll say it clearly right now: philosophical monotheism is an affront to God, who is personal, active, loving, just and holy. Effacing the identity of God is just as idolatrous as calling Dagan or Ashtoreth the god of your nation. It's a Romans 1 error for which men are condemned.
8. Justin, I think it is extremely important to note that there would be little or no difference between you and me in practice. Both of us would approach the monotheist with the goal of sharing the unfathomable riches of Christ. Both of us would ultimately seek to win him or her to follow the one who said, “I am the way, the truth and the life!”
I disagree strongly. The view you are advocating is that there is actually less to do for the Muslim than there is, for example, for the Hindu or the Buddhist. That will yield specific results in evangelism in practice.






35 comments:

Jerry said...

Somebody needs to take away Rick's shovel. He has already dug a deep enough hole.

WildernessWonderer said...

I think that just as love is defined by right thinking about God and man, love is a testing ground for what we think we know. A passage like Colossians 2:2 seems to teach this.

And that is part of the problem here. Rick Love isn't just 'a fellow' having an argument about theology with Justin. He's the leader of one of the agencies most effective at leading Muslims to Christ, and his theology has been worked out in that context.

donsands said...

"That is not merely "monotheism" any more than living with one woman right now is monogamy. You have to be married to the right woman, and be faithful to her, to be monogamous. Anything else is adultery."

This is what you call nailing it down.
Altogether an excellent post. Thanks.

Have a great Lord's day worshiping the Triune God of heaven and earth, who has been made manifest in the Son of God, Jesus Christ.

"God was manifested in the flesh,
Justified in the Spirit,
Seen by angels,
Preached among the Gentiles,
Believed on in the world,
Received up in glory." 1 Tim. 3:16

Mesa Mike said...

Well, one thing's for certain. Christians and Muslims don't worship different Gods. There's only one God.

The Doulos said...

Rick Love seems to be starting with somewhat of a false assumption. The assumption that a false monotheistic belief is at least closer to the real thing than a false polytheistic or atheistic or any-other-theistic belief. Even a cursory examination of the god of the Quran and the God of the Bible shows them to be utterly incompatible. As you point out, Muslims do not have incomplete revelation of the true God, they have wrong revelation of a false god. The solution is the same as for any other person on earth - receiving the truth of the Gospel of Christ and responding in faith that results in true worship of the true God.

Nevergall said...

Well done! I thought this post tied in nicely with Phil's session on Acts 17.

DJP said...

Well-done as usual, Frank.

Do you think that the problem is that "God" is used specifically in the Bible, and generically in our culture?

Perhaps if we substituted descriptives for the noun, all would be clearer. Then the assertion, "People who worship the-monad-god-who-has-no-son- and-revealed-himself-in-the-Koran worship the same God as those who worship the-god-of-the-Bible-who-is- one-in-essence-and-three-in-persons- and-redeemed-men-through- the-blood-of-Christ."

It would be quickly seen as the nonsense it is, don't you think?

DJP said...

Actually, Wildernesswonderer, the effect on me is the opposite. Rather than saying "The fruit makes me think better of the argument," I'd be forced to say "The argument makes me wonder about the fruit."

Don't take those words as meaning any more (nor less) than they state, please.

Doug said...

Dr. Timothy George did gave a lecture at Capital Hill Baptist Church on this topic called "Is the Father of Jesus the God of Muhammed?" You can find it here: http://www.chbcaudio.org/category/
henry-forums/page/3/

Bobby Grow said...

Rick needs to recognize that the God of the Bible's ousiadetermines His hypostases, who in turn define His ousia in perichoresis. In other words, God's being defines His trinitarianess, as the Father, Son, and Spirit interpenetrate one another in their intra-union one with another.

In short, the God of the Bible is One AND Three . . . so you can't have His oneness without His threeness, and you can't have His threeness without His oneness.

sorry Rick.

Angela said...

The "god" of Islam is a false god. The God of Christianity is THE God, I Am, the One True God! When Muslim bow to Mecca five times a day, they are essentially bowing to a false god. There is no connection between the God of the Universe and the idol god that Muslims worship. How many different ways can I say it? Nuff said. Excellent post!

In Christ,

angela

chris said...

Someone asked me this question a couple of months ago, and I had to think about it. My response was something like, "If they do, they don't worship in any way that is sufficient for salvation."

I'm not sure if that makes me a godless liberal, or a heartless conservative...

centuri0n said...

mesa mike said:

[QUOTE]
Well, one thing's for certain. Christians and Muslims don't worship different Gods. There's only one God.
[/QUOTE]

There is only one God -- that is, one true God, who is the Father, Son and Spirit. The problem, as the Bible points out, is that man makes all kinds of things into replacements for God. That's Romans 1, Mike. Idolatry is a sin problem, and just because someone claims to be a monotheist doesn't mean that one is worshipping the trinitarian creator and sustainer.

centuri0n said...

Chris:

I'm not sure how that answer is "heartless".

My opinion -- and I'm sure this will get me into trouble with some people -- is that it is far and away more heartless to allow people to believe that they are "good enough" or "close enough" when in fact they are dead wrong.

You did good, and don't let anyone foist false guilt on you for speaking the truth.

centuri0n said...

DJP asked:

[QUOTE]
Do you think that the problem is that "God" is used specifically in the Bible, and generically in our culture?
[/QUOTE]

Yes, but I don't think it's a new problem. That is, I don;t think out culture is somehow the first to demonstrate the inability to see the difference between Baal and Yahweh, between Christ and Krishna.

Gene said...

Thought you would like to know Jayden is better and went home from the hospital yesterday. Thanks for praying for him. Gene

ezekiel said...

John 14:6 Jesus said to him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

1 John 4:213 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.

When we think about it, there are many inhabitants of Israel (the nation) today that have the same problem muslims do. They both deny Christ. But then so do a lot of church going folk here in the US.

Titus 1:16 They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.

centuri0n said...

Gene -

Excellent. Thanks for the update.

donsands said...

"With their silver and gold they make idols for themselves ... Your calf [golden calf image] is rejected, O Samaria! ... They sow the wind, And reap the whirlwind." Hosea 8:4-5,7

"God condemns the worship of the "calf-idol" at the cult centers of the northern kingdom as idolatry, but we miss the point if we think of this calf-worship as an outright rejection of Jehovah for idols. The sin was far more subtle. What had happened was quite similar to what happened in the days of Moses and Aaron... In those days ... Aaron made them a calf ... Aaron did not think of this as an idol--that is the point. He thought of the calf ..the strength of Jehovah ... "a festival to the LORD" (Ex. 32:5). .... You do not have to say, "I am worshiping an idol", to be actually worshiping an idol. We can say that we are worshiping God but be worshiping an idol--". -James M. Boice

I was just reading through Boice's commentary on Hosea, and thought this fit what we were discussing.

Stefan said...

Don: Thanks for your (or rather, Boice's) observation.

Are we a fundamentally similar situation with Jehovah's Witnesses, who believe in a monistic (is that the word?) god (called "God") and reject the Sonship of Jesus Christ and the divinity of the Holy Spirit?

Stefan said...

Hey, where's our weekly dose of Spurgeon? The weekend's almost over!

Mesa Mike said...

> ... just because someone claims to
> be a monotheist doesn't mean that
> one is worshipping the trinitarian
> creator and sustainer.

Yes, I certainly agree with that.

I think that when we ask, "Does group X worship the same God as we do," we ask a nonsensical question.

Other monotheists either worship the one true God whom we worship, or what they worship is no God. They can't possibly worship a different God.

Mesa Mike said...

Yoikes!

I just noticed that the picture at the top of this post is a plate full of pork thingies!

Libbie said...

Strawberries are made of pork??

donsands said...

Yeah, and scrambled-eggs are made of pork?

chris said...

And biscuits?

centuri0n said...

mesa Mike:

Then how does the Bible describe the worship of Baal if not that Israel was running after "other gods"? You are treating the word "God" here as if it only has one meaning.

Daryl said...

Cent,

Would you say that, not only do the Muslims not worship the one true God (it still boggles my mind that a Christian would argue that they do) but that, EVEN IF the God they identify as Allah, is truly the God of Abraham, what they do, because it doesn't fit the biblical standard for true worship of the one true God, doesn't qualify as worship?

Is worship to be properly defined as a state of mind towards something/someone? Or is it defined as delivering up to God, what he requires?

If it's the latter, then they are missing both God and worship.

Or does that take this to places to which it doesn't need to go?

WildernessWonderer said...

"the question is not whether there is one God or many gods: it is whether one is rightly seeing God as God."

OK. Interesting. 1000000 years from now, you will not see God rightly, because God is infinite, and there will always be more to learn about Him.

And knowing that Rick wrote the 8 points that you have the luxury of picking apart, or even knowing that he signed the document that began the whole discussion gives you in fact very little insight into how he would evangelize a Hindu or a Buddhist as opposed to a Muslim or your neighbor.

He was addressing specific concerns that Justin raised, and quite charitably allowed Justin to make them public. Just food for thought.

Daryl said...

"OK. Interesting. 1000000 years from now, you will not see God rightly, because God is infinite, and there will always be more to learn about Him."

Wrong. very wrong. Incomplete is not incorrect. The Muslim issue is not incomplete revelation, it is wrong belief, completely and totally.

WildernessWonderer said...

I think it's the completely and totally that I have sympathy with Rick Love on.

Incomplete can very well be incorrect, as with the Pharisees not named Nicodemus or Saul.

Muslims are both. They would agree with you, unless I am mistaken, on the story of redemption up to about the birth of Ishmael. There are some verses in those chapters that we would interpret in light of more recent and more complete revelation, but the basic story we would agree upon.

God is the Creator and the Father of Abraham and the One who spoke into history about Himself and the nature of reality. That is more common ground than one would have with a Hindu.

Frank Turk said...

wildernesswonder:

When Peter said this at Pentecost --

[QUOTE]
Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.
[/QUOTE]

Did he mean that one could have a comprehensive and perfect knowledge of God, or did he mean something else? If something else, what?

I ask because you are completely off-track with your reasoning here, and this statement from Acts 2 (and I can give you others after you handle this one, but one at a time to avoid swamping you) spells out why. What did Peter mean at Pentecost to say that Israel should know for certain the Jesus was both Lord and Christ?

WildernessWonderer said...

_Did he mean that one could have a comprehensive and perfect knowledge of God, or did he mean something else? If something else, what?_

It seems to me that he meant Jesus was God and Christ, and that the OT testifies to this fact. This is something that Peter apparently learned after the resurrection, by the way, because his knowledge before that point about the nature of God was incomplete and incorrect.


_I ask because you are completely off-track with your reasoning here, and this statement from Acts 2 (and I can give you others after you handle this one, but one at a time to avoid swamping you) spells out why. What did Peter mean at Pentecost to say that Israel should know for certain the Jesus was both Lord and Christ?_

Thanks for the offer not to swamp me. I probably am completely off-track because I have multiple concerns with your treatment of Rick, and am expressing, apparently, each of them poorly.

For right now, though, let's stick with the idea of incomplete knowledge. They had enough revelation to know that Jesus was Lord and Christ, though repenting and confessing even that would not mean they had exhaustive knowledge of the Living God.

Peter appeals to special revelation here, the Bible. He is using pieces of knowledge that God has already revealed to show them the whole. Paul tells us that the argument can also be made from general revelation. I think that we both agree that the Israelite at Pentecost before repentance and the man without the Bible both see things incompletely. Are they incorrect? I would say yes.

Muslims have a smaller piece of the OT teaching in common with believers. Incomplete, and incorrect as it applies to salvation, even though fragments, as I mentioned previously, are correct.

Frank Turk said...

Thanks for your answer.

You said this:

[QUOTE]
Muslims have a smaller piece of the OT teaching in common with believers. Incomplete, and incorrect as it applies to salvation, even though fragments, as I mentioned previously, are correct.
[/QUOTE]

Having a fragment of Scripture -- and even obeying it -- is utterly different than whether or not one is worshipping God.

You also said this:

[QUOTE]
This is something that Peter apparently learned after the resurrection, by the way, because his knowledge before that point about the nature of God was incomplete and incorrect.
[/QUOTE}

Yeah, no. You'll have to re-read Mat 16 where Peter declares Jesus to be "Christ, son of the living God", and Jesus commends him for this as being "taught not by flesh and blood". Peter before pentecost has faith and follows "Christ, son of God"; at pentecost, Peter is filled with the Holy Spirit so that he will in one sense overturn his denials of Christ and in another and in another he will preach the truth to Israel who must hear it.

Peter's declaration at Pentecost is that It is Christ who saves from God's wrath -- by his death and resurrection, and by his lordship through which he has the right and the power to offer the forgiveness his work has earned. That is the Gospel, and that is how one is saved from a wicked generation.

The right contrast is not "Peter: before and after" but "Peter vs the Pharisees (Mat 23)". They sit in Moses' seat, and they have the Law which is Israel's constitution, and they have the Temple -- but what does Jesus say of them? "You neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves."

The truth they have actually makes their situation worse, not better or reasonable. They are the Jews with the Temple, and Christ calls them "children of hell".

I want you to think on this: we worship the God of Abraham, who by faith offered Isaac, and who "was glad to see" the day of Jesus, who is the one and only Son of this God. The Muslim worships the God of Abraham, he says, who never has and never will offer a savior, and has no method of forgiving sin, and to whom Jesus was just another man, just a prophetic servant.

These cannot be the same God. Their history is different. Saying they have a single touchpoint cannot make them equal or the same ad the rest of their revelation and activity is radically different.

WildernessWonderer said...

"Peter's declaration at Pentecost is that It is Christ who saves from God's wrath -- by his death and resurrection, and by his lordship through which he has the right and the power to offer the forgiveness his work has earned. That is the Gospel, and that is how one is saved from a wicked generation."

You are right that Peter declared this, and that it is the Gospel. However, Peter before the resurrection didn't put a lot stoc, but in this, because he thought salvation would come by Christ helping him to fend off the enemy with swords, and when it was apparent that Christ would be crucified, at least in the Mel Gibson movie Peter didn't go around preaching the Gospel and showing people that the OT had predicted this all along. His view of the crucifixion was certainly incomplete and incorrect, as was his soteriology; as for his position in God's kingdom, you may be right.

Furthermore, you have this nugget for me: "The truth (the Pharisees) have actually makes their situation worse, not better or reasonable."

Now you don't really think that the Pharisees' problem was that they had revelation? Is not the condition of their hearts their problem? Any 'truth' that made their situation worse would have to be 'truth', because when they saw the Truth, they would turn and repent.

And having come to your final point, as I have said each time, I agree that Muslims interpret life after the birth of Ishmael differently. This makes the Muslim position wrong. But being totally wrong about 4500 years of history doesn't make them totally and completely wrong about what came before that.

And in this last comment, for which I thank you, I finally understood how crucial the word 'worship' is to you in this whole discussion.

Now Peter worshipped Christ on the Mount, but he also suggested worshipping glorified men. So His theology was bad- his understanding of a significant portion of salvation history was completely absent, and it seems that he doesn't really get the whole Trinity thing yet.

So I suspect you would say he was into idolatry when worshipping Moses. But was he when worshipping Jesus during the same event?