Friday, January 21, 2011

What is an Abrahamic religion?

It is often said that Judaism, Christianity and Islam are "the Abrahamic religions'. Now Abraham is in the tradition of the three religions, but there is a crucial difference between the Jewish and Christianity understanding of Abraham and the way Abraham features in Islamic religion. I'm not referring to differences in the stories. Surely the common thread of Hebrew and Christian understanding of Abraham is the covenant (Ge. 12-15 and following) - God entered into a covenant with Abraham, a two-way commitment of promise and calling, reaffirmed at Sinai and fulfilled in a new way in the New Covenant in Christ. So Old Testament and New Testament faith is covenantal. My understanding is that Allah's relationship with humans in Islamic religion is not understood to be covenantal - ie, reciprocal, with God making promises that He must keep and well as commitments upon people. I may be wrong here - but can a faith that is not covenantal in its essence really claim to be Abrahamic? Surely at the heart of the Abraham tradition is the covenant.

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