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“I have come as a Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness.” – John 12:46 (NASB)
Abraham with Sarah and Hagar
Image credit. wga.hu
It seems everywhere you turn today people are asking, “Do Christians and Muslims worship the same God?”
It is an interesting question for many reasons, not the least of which is both Christianity and Islam are Abrahamic religions in that they each subscribe to the belief that God first revealed Himself to Abraham Genesis 15:1 (who was called Abram at the time God initially appeared to him.)
That Christians and Muslims share a common historical connection to Abraham is sufficient for many people to answer the aforementioned question in the affirmative.
Their rationale being that since Abraham is the biological father of both Ishmael (Genesis 16:1-12) and Isaac (Genesis 21:1-8), that the God in whom Abraham believed (Genesis 15:6) is also the God of his descendants.
The problem with this reasoning, however, is that sharing a common biological ancestry does not equate to sharing a common theology.
Faith in God is not something that is inherited by one person from another like so many X and Y chromosomes. Rightly or wrongly, to subscribe to the tenets of any worldview – be it religious, social, philosophical, etc. – is to make an individual and conscious decision to do so.
For example, I have two children. As a Christian, my personal faith in Jesus Christ cannot be vicariously appropriated to them as being efficacious for their salvation.
As I teach my son and daughter about Christ, and as the Spirit of God graciously brings about an understanding of the truth of the Gospel in their hearts, it is they who must decide for themselves to believe (or not) in Christ and in His atoning work on the cross (John 3:16-18.) This is why followers of Christ are encouraged to pray for the salvation of those who do not know Him as Lord and Savior, because faith in God is a spiritual matter; it is not something we acquire by means of biological legacy or heritage. (John 3:36; 1 Timothy 2:3-4.)
Notwithstanding the many theological dynamics involved, it stands to reason that an objective analysis of this question must conclude that not only do Christians and Muslims not worship the same God, they cannot worship the same God.
When you really think about it, the answer to the question is intrinsic to the question itself.
Consider how the question is worded: “Do Christians and Muslims worship the same God?” The conjunction ‘and’ is of vital importance as it establishes unambiguously that the two groups – Christians and Muslims – are distinct from one another. Though only a 3-letter word, it is an ocean that separates one theological continent from another, reinforcing the fact that Muslims are not Christians and, conversely, Christians are not Muslims.
Having established this distinction, the question then becomes: why does this distinction exist at all?
If a historical connection to Abraham is what inexorably links Christians and Muslims – as if a kind of temporal oneness between the two groups is the ultimate goal – then, why are there such labels as Christian and Muslim to begin with?
Is the Christian belief in Jesus and, conversely, the Muslim belief in Allah, simply a matter of religious climate change that resulted in an ideological parting of the ways over time? Or, is it something that is rooted in a deep theological schism brought about by a fundamental disagreement about who the one true God actually is?
The reason the “same God” question is a question at all, is because despite the common thread shared in Islam and Christianity (through Abraham, Ishmael, and Isaac), the question of who Muslims and Christians actually worship as God remains, as it has for thousands of years, the central issue.
Again, based on logic alone, one would have to conclude that since Muslims revere Allah as God and Christians revere Jesus as God (John 1:1-3, 14; Colossians 1:15-17, 19, 2:9), that Muslims do not revere Jesus as God and Christians do not revere Allah as God. Therefore, Christians and Muslims cannot worship the same God because there exists an impassible theological chasm as it relates to who God is.
The Oxford dictionary defines worship as “the feeling or expression of reverence and adoration for a deity.”
Given this objective definition of worship, does it stand to reason that any person who professes to be Muslim would confess that he or she “reveres” and “adores” Jesus as deity (God)? Or, conversely, that any professing Christian would acknowledge the same about Allah?
The obvious answer to these questions is no.
Because, the issue is not Abraham.
The issue is Abraham’s God.
With this in mind, the question really isn’t “Do Christians and Muslims worship the same God?” but “Who do Christians and Muslims worship as God?”
To answer the latter is to answer the former.
Humbly in Christ and for His glory,
The FAQs: Do Muslims and Christians Worship the Same God? – The Gospel Coalition
Question: “Do Christians and Muslims Worship the Same God?” – Got Questions
The Wheaton Controversy: Do Christians and Muslims Worship the Same God? – RZIM