Late last year, I was saddened to hear that the Malaysian government had declared a Muslim monopoly over the word Allah. How ridiculous is it for them to forbid Christians to use the Name passed down from their Arabic religious forbearers long before the advent of Islam. But what distressed me even more was the response from some fellow American Christians. Their reasoning was that, since allah had a pre-Christian pagan usage, it was inappropriate for Christians to use it.
This infuriated me. Many terms for a pagan deity – theos, deus, god (and other Germanic forms) – were and are used for the true God in common speech, Bible manuscripts, and vernacular translations. Even the origin of elohiym is suspect since it was commonly used for pagan gods as well. The thought that English-speakers who wouldn’t think to give up God would criticize Christians of other cultures using Allah disgusts me. Is linguocentricism a word?