Reflecting on the similarities and differences between the Muslim observance of Ramadan and the Catholic observance of Lent, Cale Clarke posed this question: is the God that Muslims and Catholics worship the same God?
He provided an in-depth look at this question, and first pointed to the words of the late pontiff, St. John Paul II. “When he was travelling overseas on one of his many apostolic journeys, when he was in a country that had a majority Muslim population, very often he would say that the followers of Islam, along with Catholics and other Christians, worshiped the one true God,” explained Cale.
Some people have had a hard time wrapping their minds around this, but it’s the official position of the Church. “The Church also views with esteem the Muslims, who worship the one and only God, living and subsistent, merciful and omnipotent, the Creator of heaven and earth,” stated the Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions, a document from the Second Vatican Council.
“No one is suggesting for a second that Muslim worship is on par with Catholic worship at all, that they have a full picture of God—that’s not the case,” Cale clarified. He pointed to an article he once read by Fr. Brian Harrison who provided a helpful mental picture of this reality.
Two people are watching television in houses next door to one another, and they are both watching the same news program on the same channel. One of the people has a new, ultra-HD and excellent quality television so the picture comes in crystal clear. The other is watching on an old box TV in black and white with a rabbit ears antenna.
“He’s trying to get an image, he’s trying to pull in a signal with the rabbit ears, and he can’t quite get it. He’s trying to watch the same news program, but his screen is very fuzzy,” said Cale.
Are these two people seeing the same person? Of course they are, explains Cale. But because one of them has a defective means of receiving the news program, he’s not seeing the full picture and all of the attributes of the newscaster.
Why does Fr. Harrison use this analogy to explain that Muslims don’t have the full picture? They don’t accept the Trinity, they don’t recognize Jesus as the Son of God or see God in His fullness.
Because Muslims worship the one true God, they are neither pagans nor idolaters. “So they’re not pagan polytheists, but that doesn’t mean that they have an orthodox, correct view of God either, because they lack knowledge of the Trinity. And the only way you can get knowledge of the Trinity is through the supernatural revelation of Our Lord, Jesus Christ and through the Church,” Cale explained.
The same can be said for the Jews, who do not recognize Christ’s divinity yet still worship the same God. But, as Cale reminded us, “St. Paul would never say that Jews do not worship the true and living God.”
Listen to Cale’s full explanation here:
Tune in to The Cale Clarke Show weekdays at 5-6pm CT only on Relevant Radio.