Do Christians and Muslims worship the same God?

According to the Washington Post, Wheaton College, “a prominent evangelical school in Illinois, has placed a professor on administrative leave after she posted on Facebook that Muslims and Christians ‘worship the same God.’”

Larycia Hawkins, the Wheaton professor who has been placed on administrative leave, wrote,

“I stand in human solidarity with my Muslim neighbor because we are formed of the same primordial clay, descendants of the same cradle of humankind… I stand in religious solidarity with Muslims because they, like me, a Christian, are people of the book … But as I tell my students, theoretical solidarity is not solidarity at all. Thus, beginning tonight, my solidarity has become embodied solidarity.”

And on the topic, professor Hawkins goes on to cite Yale theologian Miroslav Volf, from a Christianity Today Interview, April, 2011.

“[A]ll Christians don’t worship the same God, and all Muslims don’t worship the same God. But I think that Muslims and Christians who embrace the normative traditions of their faith refer to the same object, to the same Being, when they pray, when they worship, when they talk about God. The reference is the same. The description of God is partly different.”

With all due respect, and as admirable as some think professor Hawkins is, from where I stand, based on the sacred writings of both Muslims and Christians, they do not worship or reference the same God.

While I too acknowledge and believe that I stand in human solidarity with my Muslim neighbor, I do not believe my Muslim neighbor and I worship or even reference the same God, and neither would he/she (they might even be offended at the thought).

According to Luke Nelessen, a sophomore who is quoting in the Washington Post piece, “The Christian faith is fundamentally different from Islamic faith…”

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24 Responses to Do Christians and Muslims worship the same God?

  1. Jon Hughes says:

    Technically, no, as God in the Koran does not have a son. However, this objection is founded on ignorance. Muslims historically have not rejected a true understanding of God the Father and God the Son but rather a highly distorted one dating back to the time of Mohammed. They’ve done it in ignorance. Didn’t the apostle Paul receive mercy for doing the same? (1 Timothy 1:13)

    Of course, we Christians clearly all worship the same God. We all have a perfect understanding of the the respective persons, and roles within, the triune Godhead. What’s more, the God of Calvinism looks exactly like the God of Arminianism. They’re not different at all. 😉

    • TC Robinson says:

      Jon,
      Simply put, the Christian God is triune. Muslims vehemently rejects this.

      Merry Christmas, my friend. 😉

      • Jon Hughes says:

        For sure, but it becomes a little more complex when we realize that many Christians are practical Unitarians. They may believe in the Trinity, but it’s no more than a concept.

        As for Muslims, I bet they’re not rejecting the grand vision of the Father, Son and Spirit set forth by someone like C. Baxter Kruger, for example.

  2. TC Robinson says:

    Jon,
    There are as going to be holes as we move from beliefs to practice, but is there such a thing as a set of beliefs that both defines and distingues us from other religious groups, as say Islam? Of course!

    How does Muslims sharing the grand vision of the Triune God change what we should believe about their religion in relation to the Christian faith?

    • Jon Hughes says:

      Not sure that you’ve understood me. I hope that Muslims catch something of the “grand vision of the Triune God”, but it would have to be shared by Christians who themselves have caught the vision! Do check out C. Baxter Kruger, if you’re not familiar with him.

  3. Jon Hughes says:

    You too, brother. All the best!

  4. Craig Benno says:

    One of the complex backgrounds to understanding Islam is that Muhammads understanding of Christianity was informed by the “Coptic” faith, The Koran was written around the time the church fathers were nutting out the creeds which we now take for granted. And I believe the Coptics of that area were under the teaching of some of the bishops who disagreed with the Trinitarian creeds.

    • Jon Hughes says:

      Craig,

      It becomes very interesting if you then ask the question of whether those Coptics were worshipping the same God. It would be easy to say “no” if they disagreed with the Trinitarian creeds, but then which God were they worshipping?

      How about Judaism today? Can’t be a different God. And yet it’s not the Christian faith. The more you think about it, the more complex it becomes. I came across this today, which is excellent:

      http://edwardfeser.blogspot.ca/2015/12/christians-muslims-and-reference-of-god.html#more

      Happy New Year to everyone!

      • Craig Benno says:

        Jon, don’t forget the nature of Christ was being nutted out around this time. I dont believe muslims worship the same God, I’m basing my statement on the conversations I have had with converted Muslims who say they dont

  5. Jon Hughes says:

    Craig,

    So for the first few centuries of the Christian faith, both before and during the “nutting out” process, non-Trinitarian Christians worshipped the same God, but not after?

    Does a (non-Messianic) Jew worship a different God, even though he worships the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, as we do?

    It’s messy.

    There’s only one God, and in Him we all live and move and have our being. My initial instincts were the same as you and TC, but things are surely more complex than that. Even the best of Christians worship God imperfectly. The entire human race has been redeemed by Christ, and everyone is somewhere on the scale of responding to, and knowing the God who has reconciled the entire cosmos to Himself.

    I believe it’s entirely possible for a sincere Muslim to be worshipping the one true God ignorantly (cf. Acts 17:23), and it’s our job to proclaim Him. Unfortunately, the Christian communities that Muhammad was exposed to fell short. How winsome can we be in seeking to re-address this in the 21st Century?

    I’m not sure that telling Muslims that they worship a different God is the best way to start. The quote that TC provides from Larycia Hawkins has something of the Spirit of God about it, if you ask me. Solidarity is key.

    • Craig Benno says:

      Jon, there are better ways to start every evangelistic message. It’s clear that Muslims don’t follow Christ though. Unlike the Coptic Orthodox – they don’t believe that Jesus died for our sins. They don’t believe he died on the cross. They instead believe that God had someone look like him to die for him… (That is the sect that believe some form of execution took place.)

      If Muhammads writing of his experience is true; that he wrote what he did from the words of the angel Gabriel – the whole thing is demonically based. For Scripture clearly tells us that the spirit of the anti Christ denies Christ, him coming from God, his death and ressurection and that he came that we may have forgiveness of sins.

      • Jon Hughes says:

        Craig,

        No disagreement from me there. It’s a question of what you want to emphasize. One could also make the case that Muslims worship a moon god. But is it helpful? Seems to me that the approach of Larycia Hawkins and Miroslav Volf is more helpful, and Volf additionally brings his unique background to the situation.

        What is the Spirit of God saying to us for these significant times? We don’t want to get it wrong.

      • Craig Benno says:

        I think the approach we take is unique for every circumstance. Sadly, I have experienced it way to much – where people take Volf too far, and believe Muslims do not need to convert.

  6. TC Robinson says:

    Jon and Craig,
    Fruitful discussion indeed. I will only add this: when we consider the great ecumenical creeds, which were to define, describe, and clarify orthodox Christianity, we are also compelled to concede that there are such things as heresies.

    Before the creeds, consider the writings of the NT: what Paul was against, John, Peter. There are such things as heresies, contra orthodoxy. We are urged to contend for the faith (Jude 3).

    There are certain articles of the faith that we must contend for. The Christian faith is not amorphous.

    • Jon Hughes says:

      TC,

      I guess then it’s a question of whether Larycia Hawkins and Miroslav Volf have compromised the Christian faith in their statements. I don’t believe they have. Without wanting to repeat myself, their emphasis has something of the Spirit of God about it in these times in which we live.

      Judaism denies the Trinity and incarnation. Yet concerned evangelicals never seem to feel the need to deny that Christians and Jews worship the same God. What worries me is that this is a case of anti-Muslim bigotry. If you were asked whether Christians and Jews worship the same God, what would you say?

      • TC Robinson says:

        Jon,
        Based on what is revealed about the Christian faith, I believe they both have compromised it. Regarding the Jews, with the full revelation of Scripture, they’re without excuse and therefore cannot be viewed as worshipping the same God as we Christians. My take.

  7. Jon Hughes says:

    That’s a brave statement. I would say that they do worship the same God, albeit incompletely.

    • TC Robinson says:

      Jon,
      Then no need to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with Jews. Perhaps the early Christians were wrong to do so, as noted in the book of Acts?

      • Jon Hughes says:

        TC,

        By no means. Consider how the apostle Paul put it in Acts 24:14: “I admit that I worship the God of our fathers as a follower of the Way…”

        Paul clearly didn’t regard unconverted Jews as worshipping a different God, and made this clear even in the context of proclaiming the gospel.

  8. TC Robinson says:

    Jon,
    I concede. Very well then. But a question remains, “Why were Jews in need of salvation and conversion to the Christian faith?”

    • Jon Hughes says:

      This is a very emotive issue. I wonder how many Jews who believe that Yeshua is the Messiah would put it in those terms? Rather than seeing themselves as having converted to the Christian faith, perhaps they regard us believing Gentiles as having been grafted into their own olive tree!

      One thing for sure, the natural branches that were cut off need to be grafted back in. But we believing Gentiles need to handle this very delicately indeed.

  9. Jon Hughes says:

    TC,

    Absolutely, Paul sought for Jews come to faith in Jesus the Messiah – and he writes beautifully about the subject in Romans 11, including a glorious future conversion as well as a present remnant, and ends the chapter in a rapturous doxology!

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