Do Christians and Muslims worship the same God?

by Neil Rickert

In the recent events at Wheaton College (see previous post), action toward possibly firing Hawkins is said to be based on her assertion that Christians and Muslims worship the same God.  Apparently, the Wheaton College president does not agree.

The view that Christians and Muslims do not worship the same God, is a rather curious position for Wheaton to take.  I’ll readily grant that many conservative Christians agree with that position, but that does not alter its strangeness.

The God of Abraham

Both Christians and Muslims claim to worship the God of Abraham.  So, on the face if it, one would think that they worship the same God.

There is no doubt that the way Christians characterize and describe God is very different from the way that Muslims characterize and describe God.  For example, Christians claim that there God is a triune God, a unity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Muslims reject that view of God.  But so do Jewish people.  Yet conservative Christians do believe that they worship the same God as is worshiped by the Jewish people.

It would be easy to understand Christians saying that Muslims mischaracterize God, and it would be easy to understand Muslims claiming that Christians mischaracterize God.  But to say that the Muslim God is a different entity from the Christian God — that’s what is hard to understand.

The atheist view

To say Christians and Muslims do not worship the same God, seems to imply that there is nothing more to the Christian God than the way that he is described and characterized by Christians.  But this is pretty much the atheist view — namely that man created God, rather than God creating man.

One wonders whether the president of Wheaton has thought his position through.

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One Comment to “Do Christians and Muslims worship the same God?”

  1. As you said, it would be easy to understand Muslims claiming that Christians are simply mischaracterizing God (with Christians calling him a Triune God, trinity, etc.) and vice versa. This alone would indeed give merit to the claim that their God is the same entity, however mischaracterized. However I still see the entity of God as necessarily different within each of the two religions because not only does it have different characteristics, but also a different “chosen people”. Clearly Muslims believe they are God’s chosen people and Christians feel that they are. They also each believe that they must perform different actions to be saved by their God (for example Christians believe that they must accept the Lord Jesus Christ into their hearts as their Lord and personal savior, believe that he died for their sins, etc., whereas Muslims would be punished eternally for professing this same “creed”). Muslims must pray 5 times per day, facing Mecca, and follow the pillars of Islam whereas Christians do not. Christians believe that their God wrote/inspired the Christian Bible, whereas Muslims believe that their God wrote/inspired the Koran as well as the Hadiths (depending on the sect of Islam) — though they all seem to have roughly shared the Torah, stories of Moses, etc. But overall, their Gods are authors of different holy books as well.

    It’s clear that the Abrahamic God was co-opted by all three religions, and we know that Christianity had emerged from a dissenting sect of Judaism right around a time where it was syncretizing with Hellenism and other forms of Paganism. On the other hand, Islam didn’t have this kind of syncretism and thus has stayed distinct from the intermingled relationship between Judaism and Christianity and that plays a role in the views that Jews, Christians, and Muslims have between one another.

    In any case, I concede the point that these religions have a common root with an Abrahamic God, and despite this, we still see how cultural man-made transformations can overcome common theological origins to produce radically opposing religions. In my opinion, the most important thing that they all share in common is the belief in an authoritarian, immoral God that wants to grant them special rights and dominion over all other human beings. Morally reprehensible to say the least…

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