Franklin Graham

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Franklin Graham is the son of conservative religious leader Billy Graham. His extreme positions on Islam and on American social issues have made him infamous.

A Reuters dispatch on 28 November 2001 quoted Franklin Graham as follows:

"We're not attacking Islam but Islam attacked us. The God of Islam is not the same God," he said. "He is not the son of God of the Christian or Judeo-Christian faith. It's a different God and I believe it is a very evil and wicked religion."

Presumably he meant that "the God of Islam is not the same God" that Christians pray to. That is an interesting proposition because it indicates that Graham believes there is more than one God. It indicates that Graham may think that Muslims take direction from a false god. So what is going on here? Is there a true god and another god of inferior quality, less power, etc.? The Old Testament tells us about the early Jews lost faith in God while Moses was away on the mountain top, but then they simply made their own "god," a golden calf. In context it is pretty sure that the Bible was saying that there is only one God, but that people get confused and imagine all kinds of things and imaginings to be gods. After that early period of confusion there is no discussion in the Bible of the worship of other gods, with the possible exception of those who worship money.

If there is only one God, which both Christianity and Islam believe, then whatever one believes it is a more correct or a less correct understanding of the same things. And, as St. Thomas pointed out, no finite human being can comprehend an infinite God. If followers of Islam understand anything about a god, then they understand something about God. For that matter, if someone completely outside the Semitic world traditions understands something about the holy, then that person understands something about God. On the other hand, if a Pope, an Ayatollah, or a most learned rabbi gets something wrong about God it is just misinformation about the same God. If the goal is to gain knowledge of the same God and to live in some approximation of a holy way, who is to say that one path is right for everybody?

One of the hooks that Graham appears to hang his conviction on is that the followers of Islam pray to Allah. If there are different names, then there must be a different referent for each name, or so Graham may think. But the history of religions shows that Christianity grew out of Judaism and that Islam grew out of Judaism. Moreover, the language of the Jews, Hebrew, wa