Seeking Truth: Volf & Qureshi Debate — Do Muslims & Christians Worship the Same God?

By Julie Roys

Do Muslims and Christians worship the same God? Or, is Allah a different god than Yahweh, and in fact, an idol? In this episode of Seeking Truth, I discuss this hotly debated question with two leading Christian voices on opposite sides of the issue. Joining me is Dr. Miroslav Volf, the leading Protestant proponent of the view that Muslims and Christians worship the same God. Challenging his perspective is Dr. Nabeel Qureshi, a Muslim convert to Christianity and itinerant speaker with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries. Qureshi rejects the same God argument, but is reluctant to name Allah as an idol or false god.

The same God question recently became the focus of a national debate after Wheaton College placed a professor on administrative leave for claiming that Muslims and Christians worship the same God.  Many Christians supported the college and said the professor’s claim is incompatible with orthodox Christianity. Yet some, including a few professors, students and hundreds of alumni, argued otherwise, and are lobbying for the professor’s full re-instatement.

In this podcast, Volf and Qureshi discuss the merits of Wheaton’s position and Volf makes an important concession concerning his claim that Wheaton was motivated by anti-Muslim bigotry. Volf also explains why he believes one can believe both religions worship the same God and still adhere to orthodox Christian doctrine. Qureshi, on the other hand, reveals stark differences between Muslim and Christian concepts of God – and argues that Allah and Yahweh can’t possibly be one and the same.

What I found most intriguing and central to this discussion was Allah’s identity. If Christians reject the same God argument, must they accept that Allah is an idol? I was surprised to hear Dr. Volf argue for this conclusion and to hear Dr. Qureshi resist it. Yet, given the complexity of the issue, and how polarized it’s become, I can understand Dr. Qureshi’s reluctance. But, which perspective is right? And, what is truly at stake in this debate? I have been mulling this over for weeks and moderating this discussion certainly helped clarify the matter for me. Tomorrow, I’ll post my thoughts, but I’d love to hear what you think after listening to this edition of Seeking Truth! Also, I am giving away two pairs of books by both Qureshi and Volf. Listen carefully to the podcast for details

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Nabeel Qureshi

nabeel_qureshi_bioNabeel Qureshi is a New York Times best-selling author and an itinerant speaker with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries. Since completing his medical degree in 2009, he has dedicated his life to spreading the Gospel through teaching, preaching, writing, and debating.

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Dr. Qureshi has lectured to students at over 100 universities, including Oxford, Columbia, Dartmouth, Cornell, Johns Hopkins, and the University of Hong Kong. He has participated in 18 public debates around North America, Europe, and Asia. Following the release of his first book, Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus, he received the Christian Book Award for the categories of both ‘Best New Author’ and ‘Best Non-Fiction’ of 2015.

Nabeel focuses on the foundations of the Christian faith, ancient Judaism, early Islam, and the interface of science and religion. He holds an MD from Eastern Virginia Medical School, an MA in Christian apologetics from Biola University, and an MA in Religion from Duke University. He is currently pursuing a doctorate in New Testament studies at Oxford University where he lives with his wife, Michelle.


Miroslav Volf

volfMiroslav Volf is the founding Director of the Yale Center for Faith and Culture. His books include Allah: A Christian Response (2011); Free of Charge: Giving and Forgiving in a Culture Stripped of Grace (2006), which was the Archbishop of Canterbury Lenten book for 2006;Exclusion and Embrace: A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness, and Reconciliation(1996), a winner of the 2002 Grawemeyer Award; and After Our Likeness: The Church as the Image of the Trinity (1998), winner of the Christianity Today book award. A member of the Episcopal Church in the U.S.A. and the Evangelical Church in Croatia, Professor Volf has been involved in international ecumenical dialogues (for instance, with the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity) and interfaith dialogues (on the executive board of C-1 World Dialogue), and is active participant in the Global Agenda Council on Values of the World Economic Forum. A native of Croatia, he regularly teaches and lectures in Central and Eastern Europe, Asia, and across North America. Professor Volf is a fellow of Berkeley College.



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22 thoughts on “Seeking Truth: Volf & Qureshi Debate — Do Muslims & Christians Worship the Same God?”

  1. My research from THE BIBLE yields an unexpected result – that will make BOTH sides uneasy (but if it’s true, shouldn’t TRUTH matter more than your feelings??) – I admit that Prof. Larycia Alaine Hawkins is partly wrong, but so is the Wheaton College – They are more wrong than her according to the Bible: While I agree that the religions, themselves, are not worshiping the “same God,” the individuals, themselves, are not necessarily worshiping the same Deity as is described by the religion.

    Thus, the professor’s claims that Muslims worship the ‘same God’ is mostly (but not totally) correct – as some do and some don’t. BIBLE PROOF:

    First off, Matthew 7:21-23 sows some ‘Christians’ who **don’t** worship the ‘Same God’ as their (our) religion. Secondly, Acts 10:34-35 and Romans 2:13-16 show examples of “non-Christians” who **DO** worship the ‘same God’ as do we – whether OR NOT their official religion correctly describes said Deity.

    “God Described” in one holy book or the other — one thing.

    “God Worshiped” by an individual – quite a uniquely distinct and different thing.

    #BigDifference! — #KnowTheDifference — #TruthMatters

    The TRUTH of the matter is that both sides are partly wrong, and I smell (sense) pride on both sides to refuse to admit wrong. — #TrainWreck :( about to happen. ):

    MATTHEW 7:22 (KJV) 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?

    Acts 10:34-35 New International Version (NIV) 34 Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism 35 but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right. (Including Muslims who believe wrongly!)

    Further proof to show God accepts honest Muslims: Romans 2:13-16 New International Version (NIV) 13 For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. 14 (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.) 16 This will take place on the day when God judges people’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.

    Of course, they must accept Jesus as Saviour, but if they know little about Jesus, then little is required – PROOF:

    LUKE 12:48a (NIV) “But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows…”

    So, Many — perhaps most — Muslims & Christians worship the same God (most, but not all) — she is almost 100% correct – but not totally correct. Judgment begins at the house of God, and tho her mistake was much smaller than Wheaton’s, she should be the bigger person & admit wrong – and they’ll likely admit her back in — but if they don’t, this will expose their evil nature.

    So, no matter whether you’re talking evil Muslims vs. fake Christians or honest Muslims vs. True Christians, Professor Larycia Alaine Hawkins is mostly (but not totally) correct: Most, but not all, of both groups worship the same God (or ‘god’ as the case may be) AS PROVEN BY SCRIPTURES IMMEDIATELY ABOVE.

    Now, if you are claiming that the ‘God’ described in the Koran is NOT the ‘same God’ as the ‘God’ described in the Bible, then, yes, I’d have to agree with you, but that’s not what Dr. Larycia Alaine Hawkins’ accusers at Wheaton College are saying: The ‘God’ described and the ‘God’ worshiped are #TwoDifferentThings — #KnowTheDifference

    For more info,

    Or, to comment:

    (-: #TruthMatters – not your emotion – not my emotion – #BibleTruthHello


    Gordon Wayne Watts, editor-in-chief, The Register// /
    BS, The Florida State University, Biological & Chemical Sciences;
    Class of 2000, double major with honours
    AS, United Electronics Institute, Class of 1988, Valedictorian

    Gordon Wayne Watts
    Lakeland, Florida

  2. Muslims identify and worship their god Allah, or who they believe to be Allah according to the Koran.
    Christians- those who are true born again believers in Christ Jesus- identify with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, 3 persons in one God, with Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour. Christ, who is God and who came in the flesh to save us from our sins, died and was buried and rose again the 3rd day according to the Scriptures, that those believe in His name live eternally with Him in heaven. (1 Corinthians 15)
    Muslims do not believe this to be true at all.
    So if the Professor at Wheaton was only saying that Muslims worship the same god, their god Allah, that is a correct statement.
    But if she was saying Christians and Muslims worship the same God as the God revealed to us in the Holy Bible she is incorrect, and there is no partial truth to it. Scripture says:

    “Beloved believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.
    Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:
    And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God; and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even how already is it in the world.” 1 John 4:1-3

  3. I have a friend from Iran who grew up Muslim, and later converted to Christianity. As he was encouraging his father to seek the truth about who God was, his father, a Muslim, was in prayer one day and heard the voice of God say to him: ‘My name is not Allah, I am the God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob’. He asked and he got his answer from the source. No theological arguments necessary.

  4. I am very familiar with Nabeel, have read his book twice, and watched him on many stages defending the Gospel with RZIM, and his Q&A skills are phenomenal. . . I have not read the other comments here, but the one simple factor I didn’t hear during this hour and a half discussion, was the fact or fiction of the inspiration of our Holy Scripture, which of course if you don’t believe it as fact, then you really have no grounds for calling anything Truth. So the way that plays out with Islam, as well as Mormon and JW, is that while they may claim to recognize portions of the Bible, they also have ADDED or SUBTRACTED from it to come up with their formula, which rules out their claim to have the TRUTH. I appreciated Nabeels discussion of the position of the Jews. . . which is of course different from the others.

  5. 45:30 “Its actually by the way very hard to trace all of the influences of tracing all of the Old Testament understands of God…Where the influences from outside come”

    Is Volf questioning the scripture itself, or interpretations of it? I think the distinction between how we view the God of the Jews and Muslims, is the foundation that their ideas are built upon. We do not dispute that the Old Testament is the Word of God, in that regard it is very easy to “trace its influences.” If the source that Muslims are looking to learn of who God is isn’t his Word, then despite the similar attributes ascribed to God his glory will not reside within.

    “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life,[a] and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

  6. The same God? If there is only one God, the word ‘same’ is unnecessary. The question is, do they both adequately describe and worship God. A helpful, but imperfect, analogy is to ask, were Ptolemy and Copernicus studying and describing the same solar system? In important respects, we say ‘Yes’, because there is only one relevant solar system, and the objects they both ‘saw’ were in the most rudimentary sense identical—both could chart their perceptions on a parchment identically. But how they understood the three dimensional models their charts implied was thoroughly different, and were incompatible. Any astronaut planning a trip to Mars would say it made a difference which model they adopted. It is not unreasonable to suppose that a spiritual traveler might also consider the theological model just as critical to the success of their trip. So, all theists are trying to engage the same being, but at least some are substantially unsuccessful.

  7. Gary R. Marchand

    I took about 9 pages of notes on their debate. I found both speakers well informed and the presentation was well done. I myself have wondered about this topic. I found the closing remarks by Julie Roys helpful.

  8. I enjoyed listening to their scholarly debates! And I found the closing remarks by Roys helpful But I wondered if we asked the question “Do We worship ONE God?” (due. 6:4) rather than “SAME God,” how would their convergent and divergent responses look like?

  9. I enjoyed listening to their scholarly debates! And I found the closing remarks by Roys helpful But I wondered if we asked the question “Do We worship ONE God?” (Deut. 6:4) rather than “SAME God,” how would their convergent and divergent responses look like?

  10. Without fail, everytime I listen to these debates I learn something. Thank you Dr Volf and Dr Qureshi for the hard work you put into studying these matters, it is much appreciated.

  11. Hi Chris, I just thought I would mention that I am an occassional church goer and am not a born again Christian. I do however, whole heartedly believe in God The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit.

    If I misunderstood what you were saying about “Christians- those who are true born again believers in Christ Jesus” then I apologise in advance.

  12. Hi Marion, I meant to distinguish those who claim Christianity as their faith and those who claim Christianity but also call themselves born again (by the Spirit in Christ). (John 3:4-7)
    In this case to be born again is a spiritual term. It means that we are born into God’s family by the Spirit through faith alone in Christ Jesus as our Lord (Master) and Saviour (from our sins).
    Those who believe this are, by God’s grace, immediately declared righteous before God. (Romans 3:19-28)

    Sorry that I was not clear on that!

  13. I just have a question, and it has to do with converts from Islam to Christianity. I have heard testimonies of Muslim persons having dreams of Jesus which subsequently resulted in a conversion to Christianity. So, if Muslims and Christians worship the same god, then why would it be Yahweh God’s desire to draw a Muslim to himself via Jesus, if indeed they are already worshipping God?

    1. Very good Question!
      Perhaps you should this question to people who give you a more rational answer than “dreams”? People like Joshua Evans or Yusuf Estes could give you a better answer as to how “Christians & Muslims worship the same God” based on verifiable verses given in both Bible & Koran.
      Do tell me what you make out of it.

  14. My spirit within me is in agony as I listen to Dr. Volf, is this guy for real? There is no way that he is a Christian, I don’t perceive that at all. I think his scholarly intellectual mind is preventing him from seeing God for who he truly is, He alone can be known and thus worshipped in only spirit and truth. God said let US make man OUR image, thus God’s dynamic nature (what we understand to be the trinity). Also, Jesus not only claimed to be the son of God, but he upset the Jewish people by claiming that before Abraham he was I AM. I am passionate about God and his truth and so feel compelled to defend Him from the scripture, not based on derivations my own opinion or interpretation of it the Word.

  15. Sarah Miller, your zeal for God and his truth is commendable. I applaud your passion for the One True God who is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.However, I feel you have approached this matter with a binary thinking that does not do it justice. Notice how the Apostle Paul in Athens approaches the theology of the Athenian pagans. Acts 17:23 “I found an altar with this inscription: ‘To the Unknown God’. Whom therefore ye worship in ignorance, Him I declare unto you.” He sees the Athenian pagans as wrongly conceptualizing and relating to God still, he did not deny that they worshiped the same God he was about to correctly explain to them, Their Unknown God was the God he was going to give them correct understanding of. Similarly, Muslims have a wrong conception of God–they misunderstand, distort and defame God in following their false prophet and his false book. But the God that they wrongly understand is not ontologically a different being than the God we are proclaiming. In that sense, Volf is correct. But, all their false teachings about Christ’s nature and redemption prove that they worship in vain a God that they do not know. When our Lord told the Pharisees that they were of the devil and they would do his will (see John 8:44) he was emphasizing the depth of the demonic influence over their minds. But he did not tell them that the God they worshiped was a being other than the God of Israel.

  16. This is pretty simple. Allah is simply the Arabic language word for God. All Christians who speak Arabic say Praise Allah because they are Christian, not Muslim. Allah and God are the same exact word. I am a Christian. Praise Allah!

    1. Pastor Gregg, this article isn’t about the word one uses to address/worship their God, but if the god is the same one they know. Allah is not a Father and does not have a Son, as the Korah teaches and Muslims say over and over, just as Nabeel addressed in his book Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus. You could then say Ba’al in the OT is just another way to address God….was Ba’al the same god as YHWH and and Israelite could worship God in either religion? Clearly not.

  17. I always wonder why people don’t address how Ba’al is clearly a god who was worshiped right in the same area as the Israelites. Was Ba’al the same god as YHWH? The Old Testament clearly shows he is not, otherwise why didn’t God just say “Hey, they worship me too, and you can join them if you want”. No, clearly it as idol worship…a god they had made rather than the living God. Allah is that way too.

    1. Perhaps you should compare the God as given in Old Testament, New Testament & Quran.
      The God of Old Testament is not the same as the God of New Testament. The God of N.T is made up of Trinity, which is strictly against the singular God of Old Testament & Koran. Besides, O.T & Koran states Holy Spirit is the Angel Gabriel while N.T states that Holy Spirit is part of the Trinity God. And, don’t forget that the concept of “God coming in Human Flesh” is a uniquely Christian concept which comes right out of Ancient Baal Worship & a common theme of all pagan religions, ancient & modern. Go read about Hinduism, a pagan religion, where the concept of Triune God & “God coming in Human Flesh” has existed since long before the onset of Christianity. And with all the Idol worship (revering) of Jesus & even Mary in Christianity, it’s pretty clear whose God resembles Baal & other ancient fertility cults.

  18. Neither Muslims nor Christians can possibly accept that the Muslim notion of Allah is “the same” as our Christian God. Any devout Muslim would be deeply offended by such an assertion. Why is it controversial that a Christian would likewise be offended? Allah is aloof and arbitrary, caring not if his created human souls are destined by his will for hell or paradise. He reveals his will, not his nature, in the Quran. By contrast, our Christian God is loving and relational, eager to share His love for us, and revealing Himself in the Bible that we might come to be grateful for His gift of mercy and grace (e.g., Luke 15). And, most importantly, our Christian God is understood as Trinitarian, One in Three, which to Muslims is tantamount to its unforgivable sin of shirk, or polytheistic disbelief. Does that amount to idolatry on the part of Muslims, or just a profound misconception of God? That’s for merciful God to determine. But, there should be no controversy in any Christian denying that Allah and God are “the same.”

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