Judaism, Christianity, and Islam claim in their histories the character of Abraham. As with many other issues of theology, we are given the accounts found in ancient scriptures, we are told to read these writings, and then we are directed to believe them as totally historical and accurate, or to accept them as composites of each culture’s folk heroes written for moral impact, or to place ourselves somewhere in between. Enviable are those of us (humans) who can absolutely and unequivocally accept scriptures by faith or those who can without a doubt deny what the scriptures tell us. I have always fallen somewhere between with brief escapades to either end of the spectrum always with disastrous spiritual results. My comfort rests in knowing the grace of a loving Father who understands and knows I am trying.
The basis of faith must be that the entity named God is omnipotent, immanent, omnipresent, omniscient, almighty and all powerful. Therefore, this God must be universal and must be the God of every earthly and heavenly creature. Furthermore, a God of this stature most certainly does not need the defense of humanity, earthly creatures, or heavenly host in ruling and reigning the Kingdom. God rules and reigns absolutely and in totality. It logically follows that any member of humanity, earthly creatures, or heavenly host that assumes God needs its defense is acting in purely egotistical arrogance.
Keeping this in mind how can any religion/theology justify violence in the name of its God? Yet, this has repeatedly happened throughout the history of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The violence of today’s radical Muslim is no different than that of crusading Christians during the early centuries of the 2nd millennia or the marauding Jews intent on resettling lands which their God promised to them prior to the birth of Jesus Christ.
The only common denominator is humanity falling into the pits of what humanity does best, self-willed arrogance driven by unfettered ego. The Jewish Torah depicts an early creation of idyllic life in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve, symbolic of God’s intention for humanity, were created to live peacefully for eternity. In Jewish oral and written accounts they succumbed to human ego. Jesus Christ also brought God’s message for humanity of peaceful co-existence with egalitarian respect for all peoples. He was crucified as an insurrectionist and/or heretic depending on whom you read. Muhammed, 500 years later, also came into the world as a messenger of peace among all peoples. He admired the Jewish and Christian cultures and historically made overtures to their leaders to co-exist peacefully. “The sect which Muhammed founded became known as islam (surrender); a muslim was a man or woman who had made this submission of their entire being to Allah and his demand that human beings behave to one another with justice, equity, and compassion.” [ISLAM, A SHORT HISTORY by Karen Armstrong].
The major religions of today’s world initially advocated justice, equity, and compassion. They seemingly have missed the mark by wide margins. I cannot change the world, but I do have the faith and capacity to live my life in my little world by these standards, even if not perfectly. I must believe that God’s faithfulness and compassion is beyond anything I can imagine and He understands the human condition.