Delusion and Worship
Natalia J. Garland
A Roman Catholic Bishop in Holland has suggested that Christians
refer to God as Allah. Bishop Muskens stated that "God
doesn't really care how we address Him." Muskens told a
Dutch T.V. station, "Allah is a very beautiful word for God.
Shouldn't we all say that from now on we will name God Allah? ...
What does God care what we call him? It is our problem."
Is Muskens correct? Does God not care what we call Him? Or, is
Christian reference to God as Allah an expression of interfaith
extremism at best, and a delusional approach to terrorism at
(1) Let's begin
with a brief discussion on the difference between denial and
delusion. Denial is a defense mechanism (an unconscious mental
process). If people are in distress, and if the source of their
distress is felt as threatening or unacceptable, and if they
refuse to acknowledge that source to self and society--then they
are in denial. The purpose of a defense mechanism is to
reduce anxiety. Now, a delusion involves the distortion of
thoughts. A delusion is an irrational belief that has no basis in
reality, yet it is defended despite contrary evidence. Denial can
sometimes have a positive short-term benefit by allowing people to
wait and cope with unacceptable events when they are
psychologically ready. Delusions, however, are always abnormal.
(2) When we say that
God does not care what we call Him, this is a break with reality.
Do you care what people call you? I do. The Bible is specific
about the names and titles by which people may address God. For
Christians, then, it is not correct that the word God is
interchangeable with the word Allah or replaceable by the
word Allah. This is not a matter of Christian
"bickering" (as Muskens says), but obedience to the
teachings of the Bible. The only way to circumvent this is,
ultimately, to dismiss the Bible and follow the teachings of the
Koran. Having now established my main concern--that some people
have become so overwhelmed by terrorist-induced fears that they
have taken refuge in delusory thoughts--let me add a few more
objections to the reference to God as Allah.
(3) The adoption of
the word Allah goes a giant step beyond the mixture of
languages for the purpose of an interfaith prayer service or
religious harmony. Whether in personal or communal worship, there
is no need for Christians to use any foreign terms in their homes
or local churches. In America, most of us call God God.
Spanish-speakers call God Dios, French-speakers call Him
Dieu, and German-speakers call Him Gott. This is
Allah, however, embraces more than the Arabic language.
Allah is the diety of Islam. Rejection of this term is not a
degradation of legitimate Islam, but a preservation of legitimate
Christianity. Allah today belongs exclusively to Islam, somewhat
in the manner that Jesus Christ belongs to Christianity.
Otherwise, American Muslims would use the word God and
French Muslims would use Dieu when conversing with others
in open society.
(4) The Christian
martyrs died for their faith in God. They did not seek
interfaith appeasement or linguistic hiding places. Their thoughts
were not confused. When faced with the choice between delusory
harmony and persecution, they chose persecution.
(5) Although a
study in comparative religions is not the focus of today's essay,
it must be stated that there are both commonalities and
differences among the world's religions. The differences are
theologically important and they distinguish one religion from
another. In addition, there are sharp differences among
Christians of the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestant
religions; and further differences among the various denominations
of Protestantism. Theological differences will not be erased, and
religions will not become meshed, by use of the word Allah.
The gradual and ultimate consequence would be domination by the
aggressive and radical Islamic factions.
(6) As mentioned
above, there are commonalities among some of the world's religions.
Those commonalities involving morality should be used to establish
communication in times of crisis, and to promote strength and
solidarity in the face of terrorism. The delusional approach to
worship--distorting or obliterating essential Christian
terminology or beliefs in order to agree with Islam--will not
strengthen the rational systems of our society. Quite the
opposite, it will teach future generations of Christians to submit
to the regulations of Islam, all the while calling it harmony and
(7) Christians in
America and Europe are beginning to encounter what Christians in
Eastern Europe experienced under Communist oppression. The
Russian Orthodox, for example, had four options: submit to the
state, develop underground churches, escape to Western Europe
and America, or face persecution. Escape probably would not be
an option for contemporary Christians because violent jihadists
have infiltrated the world. It is unlikely that there could ever
again be any religious movement such as the Church in exile.
Underground churches or secret societies, however, could probably
keep groups of Christians together, especially so long as the
internet remained accessible. Persecution is already happening in
some countries (for instance, today marks the 36th day that the
South Korean Christians have been held hostage by the Taliban in
Afghanistan; two were martyred, two were freed, and the remaining
19 await their fate). Submission to Islam, at least in the form
of appeasement and delusory interfaith worship, is also already
(8) Bishop Muskens
said that Dutch Catholics would be referring to God as Allah
in their prayers within one or two centuries. Now, Muslim illegal
immigrants in Belgium are already being given sanctuary in Roman
Catholic Churches. They live in tents pitched inside the churches.
In order not to offend these Muslims, the Bishops have permitted
them to conduct Islamic services and have even covered statues of
the Virgin Mary. Banners with the word Allah written in
Arabic are hung in the churches. Is this so very different from
what happened to the Byzantine Church of Hagia Sofia in 1453?
Several centuries ago, the Muslim residents of Istanbul were the
Christian residents of Constantinople.
(9) Let's continue
with a simplified discussion of Hagia Sofia. It began on the site
of a pagan temple, then became the magnificent Byzantine Church,
then got badly damaged during the Fourth Crusade, then was
overtaken by Muslims and became a Mosque, and is now a museum. On
the one hand, Hagia Sofia has endured centuries of destruction
and alteration. It still exists as a structure, and still
contains some of the original Byzantine iconography. On the other
hand, it has never returned to its intended purpose as a house of
deterioration and structural alteration seem to have taken root
in the Belgian churches, and seeds are being planted in Holland.
The problem is that when Christianity loses its grip on its
earthly territory, it is very difficult to preserve heritage and
pass on values to future generations. Will the Greeks ever again
worship in Hagia Sofia? Will the Russians ever fully recover from
Soviet domination? Will the Belgians restore the statues of the
Virgin Mary to rightful prominence? Will the Dutch refuse to call
God Allah? What lessons are being taught to young
Christians and to free societies, and what messages are being sent
to Islamic fanatics?
(10) Is there such
a thing as moderate Islam? My impression is that many everyday
Muslims would prefer to live in an Islamic state, but feel that
their government officials could be democratically elected and
that other religions could be tolerated. Very few Muslims,
however, have spoken against Islamic terrorism. This silence
renders the concept of moderate Islam as non-existent. In this
vacuum, terrorism is enabled and Christian delusion is nourished.
There are two
workable possibilities for Islam. First, there could be a
doctrinal reformation of the whole religion, bringing it into the
21st century. This would permit the combination of Islam and
democracy, and would permit Muslims to live peacefully in
non-Islamic countries and follow the laws of other governments.
Second, there could be a protestant splintering which would
give Muslims choices in doctrinal emphasis and lifestyle
preferences. If there were various denominations of Islam which
could peacefully co-exist, such as is true of Protestant
Christianity, then perhaps moderate Muslims would acquire a voice
against sharia and jihad (or against the distortions
Western Civilization is in need of cultural and spiritual revival.
This started to happen after 9/11, but was aborted for reasons
which are beyond the scope of today's essay. Nonetheless, as a
result of that abortion, the germs of political correctness and
thought distortion began to spread throughout America. Americans
need to do two things to extinguish these germs. First, as a
nation: we must re-establish ourselves as sovereign, democratic,
and under God; we must re-gain economic self-sufficiency and
military power; and we must re-vitalize Peace Corps activity in
other countries. Second, we must eliminate the cultural
deviations and psychological sicknesses which permeate our society
and which reinforce Islamic justification for jihad: education
systems teaching that America is to be blamed; pornography and
the myriad manifestations of soft porn on T.V.; and all addictive
(12) Finally, let's
close today's essay with mention of a proposed code of conduct
for Christian missionaries. It appears that the World Council of
Churches and leaders of the major Christian religions are working
on a code of conduct for evangelization that will both promote
freedom of religious expression and avoid conflict with locally
established religions, particularly Islam and Hinduism. Since
Protestants send out more missionaries than any other religion, it
seems that the code might also have the effect of obstructing
Catholics from conversion to Pentecostalism. However, it is also
possible that the code will contribute to the delusion that
pleasing the Islamic fanatics will make the world a better place.
Why not develop a code of conduct for the Taliban kidnappers of
the South Korean Christians?
[NOTE: The remarks
of Bishop Muskens were mentioned for illustrative purposes only.
This essay is not intended to serve as a statement on Muskens'
moral character or mental stability. This essay is a work in
progress, not a finished product, and is therefore subject to
error. The ideas expressed are based on personal opinion and
are not intended to carry official diagnostic value. Some experts
do not include culturally-based or religious beliefs in the
definition of delusion, while other experts accept that entire
cultures or societies can be regarded as mentally ill. There is
a DSM-IV category of Shared Psychotic Disorder which, although
considered rare, is based on the infection of delusion(s) from
one person to another or to a group.]
After more research
into the topic of moderate Islam, it becomes necessary for me to
modify some of the material presented in (10) above. It seems
there are many versions of Islam, ranging from the fanatic to
various protestant divisions among both fanatics and
moderates. In fact, Mohammed Al-Abassi wrote an article entitled,
"Protestant Islam." In it, he says the following.
Not only are the
Muslim Protestants (salafis, as they inaccurately call themselves),
at loggerheads with traditional orthodox ulema, but they find it
notoriously hard to agree among themselves. In Egypt alone, it is
estimated that there are over seven hundred salafi groups, between
whom bitter arguments and even violent clashes are depressingly
common. In Afghanistan, the inability of the wahhabi fighters to
tolerate the existence of other readings of Islam has plunged the
country into a civil war which has caused more damage than ten
years of Russian occupation. The reason for this intolerance and
discord is obvious. Now that the Four Schools have been dismissed
as innovation (bid'a), each Protestant Muslim is expected to refer
directly to the Quran and Hadith to discover the doctrines and
rites of religion. The result has been predictable: instead of
four schools, we now have thousands. Even in Britain, there are
Muslim groups whose contact with traditional education is so
tenuous that they refer to translations of the Quran and Sunna,
rather than asking experts or consulting properly researched works
of fiqh and aqida. To mention their names would be both
unnecessary and unkind, but we are all familiar with the fanatical
rigour and bizarre interpretations they can come up with, and the
strange delight they appear to take in attacking all who differ
from their totalitarian and shallow view of religion.
divisions in Islam seem to be different from those in current
Christianity. America began, in part, as a protestant movement:
that is, as flight and refuge from oppressive authority and rigid
dogma that permitted no opportunities and no questions,
disagreement, or debate. Although some of the protestant sects
themselves were narrow-minded and exclusionary, American
protestantism generated choices which were not readily available
under countries having a theocracy or a national religion.
current Protestant divisions tolerate one another although in
disagreement with and critical of one another. America's
protestant tendency has been of benefit to all religions in the
country: to the traditional and orthodox, to various branches of
the basic Christian tree as well as to heretical sub-groups, and
to non-Christian religions. Although each organized church or
group might claim rightness, there is not overt hostility among
currently face a different type of problem: domination not by
internal religious fanaticism, but by multicultural extremism and
aetheistic aggression. Both of these groups seem to have the
self-righteous goal to remove God from public service and to
portray Christians as haters. Disagreement with popular culture
on the basis of faith is not tolerated by certain outspoken
citizens, advocacy groups, and lawyers. The dangerous tendency in
America is political correctness and the silencing of Christians.
(Written 01/19/09: bibliography available.)
[NOTE: For another
essay on a similar topic, see We Do Not All Worship the Same God
Until we meet