This article was originally published in the June 2017 issue of Today in the Word, a publication of Moody Global Ministries.
Question: Do Christians, Jews, and Muslims all pray to the same God? The Pope said we do, and in my conversations, I find that people seem puzzled and divided on the issue.
Julie’s Answer: The “same God” question is creating a lot of confusion in the Christian community. Pope Francis has asserted that Christians, Muslims, and Jews worship the same God, and Miroslav Volf—a prominent Protestant theologian—argues the same in his book Do We Worship the Same God? Jews, Christians and Muslims in Dialogue. Last year, the question also sparked a major controversy at Wheaton College when a tenured professor publicly espoused this view. The professor eventually resigned, but questions remain as to whether this view is compatible with orthodox Christian belief.
“Same God” proponents argue that there is enough overlap between ideas about God in the three religions to conclude that all three refer to the same deity. For example, Christians, Muslims, and Jews all acknowledge that there is one God, Creator of heaven and earth, who will someday judge humanity. Proponents argue that when speaking to Muslims or Jews, Christians can affirm that we all worship the same God, much like the apostle Paul did when speaking to the Athenians about their “Unknown God” (see Acts 17:23).
Certainly, this argument has merit when considering whether Jews and Christians worship the same God. Christians can affirm the God of Judaism, for both religions embrace Yahweh as revealed in the Hebrew Scriptures. But like the “Unknown God,” the Jewish concept of God is incomplete. It includes an accurate depiction of God the Father but fails to acknowledge Jesus, His Son.
To claim that Christians and Muslims worship the same God is not only a stretch, it’s blasphemous.
Though Islam recognizes Abraham and the prophets, Allah as described in the Quran is dramatically different from Yahweh. He is not love, but is capricious and sometimes cruel (see 1 John 4:8). And he is not our father but instead is distant and remote. Islam also recognizes Jesus, but only as a prophet, not as the Son of God (see 2 Cor. 1:2–3). In fact, Muslims consider the Trinity to be blasphemy.
Additionally, tradition holds that Muhammad received his revelation about Allah from the angel Gabriel. But Scripture says that any spirit that denies Jesus as Christ is the antichrist (1 John 1:22) and that Satan “masquerades as an angel of light” (2 Cor. 11:14). Islam’s origin might then be satanic, and to claim that Christians and Muslims worship the same God is not only a stretch, it’s blasphemous. Allah is not an incomplete revelation of God; rather, he is an idol and a false god.
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