Worshiping Allah in Bethlehem

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This past Sunday I had the privilege of worshiping Allah in Bethlehem. I am currently with a group of five volunteers from Resonate Global Mission on a learning tour of the Holy Land. On Sunday we attended the worship service at Immanuel Evangelical Church. The service was conducted in Arabic with English translation over headphones. I especially enjoyed the lilting music of the "oud" or lute as we sang praise songs in Arabic.

Christians in Bethlehem are among the oldest followers of Jesus in the world. Acts 2:11 tells us that people from Arabia were among the many others who heard the apostles speaking in their own language as the Holy Spirit was poured out on the day of Pentecost.  

So for over 2000 years,Christians have been worshiping God in the Arabic language, giving praise to Allah, and following the teachings of Yasuo (Jesus). I have been tremendously blessed to have had the opportunity to worship with my Palestinian brothers and sisters in the birthplace of our Savior.

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Participant

Bill. You need to do some explaining, or perhaps more than that.  Your statement literally and precisely says that you worship Allah, and the words you further chose associate that with the CRC missions agency (Resonate). 

The word "Allah" has an understood meaning within the CRC community that is quite different than the word "God."  And it (the word "Allah") is generally understood to refer to the deity as worshipped by those who adhere to the religion we call "Islam."

So please explain?  Or are you actually intending to equate Christianity with Islam?

Doug, thank you for your thought provoking response.  I appreciate your observation that many people in the CRC understand that the word Allah has a different meaning than the word God.  I want to help make people aware that the word Allah had been used by Arabic-speaking Christians for centuries before Muhammad was even born.  And it is being used by millions of Christians all around the world today.  It is not my intention to make any comparison to the use of the word in Islam, or to equate Christianity with Islam.

As a  missionary in Nigeria working in the Hausa language, I worshiped, preached, and taught about Allah for many years.  I hope that we can accept our Arabic-speaking Christian brothers and sisters' use of Allah when speaking of God just as readily as Christians speaking about God in any other language.

Participant

Thanks for that explanation Bill.  I suspected that might/could be the answer to what many readers would have as brow furrowing questions.  You explanation makes sense and doesn't conflate Christianity with Islam.  :-)

Community Builder

We should not use foreign words for God in the English Language.  In  writing in Arabic  and the word for God is Allah no problem.  Most ethnics in Canada changed from their mother tongue to English in their religious observances. We don't use "Deo" for God in the English language either.

So what was the point of using Allah in this article?

You're right, Harry.  Normally, I wouldn't use a foreign word for God in an English language blog.  But the purpose of the blog was to point out that the word Allah in Arabic is used by Christians in the same way that we use the word God in English.  Unfortunately, some people don't realize this and think it is only used by Muslims, and therefore suspect.  

When I was visiting churches on home service as a missionary in Nigeria, I frequently taught people a song in the Hausa language that we used in our worship services in Nigeria.  Because the word for God in Hausa is Allah, some people took offense.  I just want to let people know that they don't have to take offense at using or hearing the word Allah since it has been used by the Arabic speaking church since the time of Pentecost.

Of course, we do use foreign words for God and Jesus in many of our hymns and songs - El Shaddai, Elohim, Jehovah, Yesu, etc.  Maybe when some people use these different words, it helps keep their faith fresh and vital.

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