Which God do you worship?

April 30, 2013 in Theology · 16 comments

Christian, Jewish, Muslim

I recently had a discussion with a friend about whether Muslims worship the same God as Christians. At first glance, one might be tempted to answer “no”: different religions, therefore different Gods. Christians don’t believe in Allah, Muslims don’t believe in Jesus, end of story. But such a snap judgement fails to do justice to theistic belief in general and to the specific beliefs of the major monotheistic faiths.

Any discussion about the nature of God risks getting bogged down in theology and philosophy — accurately describing God is a complex and ultimately futile task — but that doesn’t mean we can’t try to clarify matters a bit. Let’s take a look at some standard definitions of God:

The Oxford English Dictionary defines God as:

(in Christianity and other monotheistic religions) the creator and ruler of the universe and source of all moral authority; the supreme being.

Merriam-Webster offers this definition:

the supreme or ultimate reality: as
1. a : the Being perfect in power, wisdom, and goodness who is worshipped as creator and ruler of the universe

Anselm defined God as:

the being than which no greater can be conceived

The Qur’an says of God in Sura 112:

He is God, the One and Only; God, the Eternal, Absolute; He begetteth not, nor is He begotten; And there is none like unto Him.

Deuteronomy 6:4 says:

Hear, O Israel: the LORD is our God, the LORD is one.

All of these understandings are entirely consistent with the Christian, Muslim and Jewish conceptions of God. This consistency alone should be sufficient grounds for accepting that Christians, Jews and Muslims, in worshiping a single, all-powerful, all-good and all-knowing creator of the universe, are in fact worshiping the same being.

Obviously Christians, Jews and Muslims understand the specific characteristics of God differently and believe in different revelations of God. Jews believe that God is uniquely revealed in the Tanakh. Muslims believe that God is uniquely revealed in the Qur’an. Christians believe that God is uniquely revealed in the person of Jesus. But do these disagreements mean that they’re worshiping completely different beings? Or simply that they have different (and incomplete) understandings of the same being?

In the end, we must acknowledge that any attempt to completely describe God is necessarily going to be incomplete and that any specific revelation of or from God doesn’t capture the totality of who God is. But in that uncertainty the Abrahamic faiths share a unique common ground for theological discussion — we all believe in and worship the same God. When we eschew that commonality and instead engage in divisive and marginalizing rhetoric, we not only do a disservice to each other, but also to the very God in whom we profess faith.

16 comments… read them below or add one

allegro63 April 30, 2013 at 10:31 am

This reminds me of the old story of the blind men who encounter an elephant then proceed to argue about its description. “An elephant is like a tree” declares one, hand against a leg. “Preposterous!” Says another “its like a snake, stroking the trunk draped around his shoulder. ” you people are insane.” Says a third. “An elephant is like a wall.” Having just walked into the animal’s side. “You fools! Its like a sailcloth.’ Grasping am elephant’s ear.

I think we can be rather like those men,
so certain but lacking enough to determine fully, yet unwilling to consider other pieces of a whole or that there is more.

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Dan April 30, 2013 at 11:17 am

Which reminds me of this post: http://coolingtwilight.com/i-see-an-elephant/ ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Shaun April 30, 2013 at 5:08 pm

Surely you’ve read Miroslav Volf’s “Allah: A Christian Response”? If not — kindle/ibook $10. Very insightful; and also one of the best Trinitarian discourses I’ve read as well.

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Dan April 30, 2013 at 5:22 pm

Surely? ๐Ÿ˜‰
I seem to recall it being on my to-read list when it came out a year or so ago, but it seems to have slipped by the wayside…so thanks for the reminder!

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Shaun May 1, 2013 at 7:22 pm

Well you’ve nearly regurgitated what he said anyways…but it’s still worth a read.

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fairybearconfessions July 31, 2013 at 9:23 am

I appreciated this. I’ve often thought that the differences in divine iteration have more to do with cultural specificity than with separate and different gods. Love is always specific (giving a warmed brick to a cold man is loving, but giving a warmed brick to a drowning man is not), and so if God is love, there will be many iterations of divine love across time and culture. The differences are important, but the love is more important. I think the mystics touch on the unity of the divine love more than anyone else (St. Theresa of Avila, Rumi, etc.). I wrote something along similar themes, if you’re interested: http://fairybearconfessions.wordpress.com/2013/07/22/fundiementals-1-in-truth/

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Dan July 31, 2013 at 9:41 am

“The differences are important, but the love is more important.” Yes!

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val July 31, 2013 at 10:24 am

READ YOUR BIBLE!!! Don’t be deceived!

Jesus said that you can recognize them by their fruits: Rape, Torture, Sodomy, Honour Killings, Beheadings, Proselytization by Conquest and Force, etc, etc, etc… does not speak of a God of Love.

Also, the verse quoted:The Qurโ€™an says of God in Sura 112:

“He is God, the One and Only; God, the Eterยญnal, Absolute; He begetยญteth not, nor is He begotยญten; And there is none like unto Him.”

is an absolute denial of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who is the entire revelation of the Christian faith.

1 JOHN 2:22 spells it out: “Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.”

The entire Qur’an is absolutely devoted to denying the Lordship of Jesus Christ. It is the embodiment of the Antichrist Spirit.

The god of Islam (the religion of submission/no free will) is satan, the same god mentioned in Ezekiel 8:14-16

14 Then he brought me to the door of the gate of the Lord’s house which was toward the north; and, behold, there sat women weeping for Tammuz. (Tammuz is Baal, aka: the golden calf)

15 Then said he unto me, Hast thou seen this, O son of man? turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations than these.

16 And he brought me into the inner court of the Lord’s house, and, behold, at the door of the temple of the Lord, between the porch and the altar, were about five and twenty men, with their backs toward the temple of the Lord, and their faces toward the east; and they worshipped the sun toward the east.

The Ark of the Covenant is in the WEST end of the Temple. These worshippers bowed to Nimrod’s sun-god, Ba-al, Tammuz, Osiris, (allah), with their butts aimed in disrespect to the Holy of Holies. Why do you think the Qur’an demands its captives to always bow to the east?

This is just the beginning. The entire Qur’an was dictated to Muhammed by a demon with one goal and purpose: to stem the tide of Christian evangelization of the world with a different gospel– a religion of fear and force, which its captives cannot abandon, under penalty of death. Don’t fall for the lie of Chrislam, which will soon be offered up by the apostate church.

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Dan July 31, 2013 at 10:32 am

Er. Thanks?

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Minnie August 20, 2013 at 12:03 pm

The Bible is an awesome reference tool when you are not hearing God, or tuning in well enough. For anyone to believe God only gave one reference to one select group of people is absolutely absurd, considering he created each and every person on this earth. Each and every person is GOD’s work and God’s creation. I personally value the Bible, and need to read it; as I lose my tuning of God from time to time. I can also see that God’s words in the Koran are very very similar to what is in the Bible. In that I give God absolute credit for however he teaches people of his existence when they are not listening to him directly. I also give him credit for being the author of all books; including ones we think are demonic… he reigns over all things. God is EVERYTHING.. every single thing in this world, and yes, that includes the Koran…. and guess what.. the Devil is definitely in the small details… One can choose to see God in everything, or choose to see the details of the devil…

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Dan August 20, 2013 at 7:24 pm

Thanks for your perspective Minnie.

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Gene Hill July 31, 2013 at 12:56 pm

No one has mentioned that Judaism, Islam, and Christianity all claim the God of Abraham. So we worship the same God.

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Hatem El Prince July 31, 2013 at 9:28 pm

ุจุณู… ุงู„ู„ู‡ ุงู„ุฑุญู…ู† ุงู„ุฑุญูŠู…
ู‚ู„ ู‡ูˆ ุงู„ู„ู‡ ุงุญุฏ. ุงู„ู„ู‡ ุงู„ุตู…ุฏ. ู„ู… ูŠู„ุฏ ูˆ ู„ู… ูŠูˆู„ุฏ. ูˆ ู„ู… ูŠูƒู† ู„ู‡ ูƒูˆูุง ุงุญุฏ.
ุตุฏู‚ ุงู„ู„ู‡ ุงู„ุนุธูŠู….

ู‡ูˆ ุงู„ู„ู‡. ุงู„ุฑุญู…ู† ุงู„ุฑุญูŠู…. ู„ู‡ ุงู„ู…ู„ูƒ ูˆ ู„ู‡ ุงู„ุญู…ุฏุŒุŒ ูˆ ุนู„ูŠ ูƒู„ ุดูŠ ู‚ุฏูŠุฑ. ูˆ ุงู†ุง ู„ู‡ ู„ุฑุงูƒุนูˆู†.

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Dan August 1, 2013 at 9:10 am

ุฃุฌุงุจูŽู‡ู ูŠูŽุณููˆุนู: ยซุงู„ุฃุนุธูŽู…ู ู‡ููŠูŽ ู‡ูŽุฐูู‡ู: โ€นุงุณู…ูŽุนู’ ูŠุง ุฅุณู’ุฑุงุฆููŠู„ูุŒ ุงู„ุฑู‘ูŽุจู‘ู ุฅู„ูŽู‡ูู†ุง ู‡ููˆูŽ ุงู„ุฑู‘ูŽุจู‘ู ุงู„ูˆูŽุญููŠุฏูุŒ ูˆูŽโ€นุชูุญูุจู‘ู ุงู„ุฑู‘ูŽุจู‘ูŽ ุฅู„ูŽู‡ูŽูƒูŽ ุจููƒูู„ู‘ู ู‚ูŽู„ุจููƒูŽุŒ ูˆูŽุจููƒูู„ู‘ู ู†ูŽูุณููƒูŽุŒ ูˆูŽุจููƒูู„ู‘ู ุนูŽู‚ู„ููƒูŽุŒ ูˆูŽุจููƒูู„ู‘ู ู‚ููˆู‘ูŽุชููƒูŽุŒโ€บ ูˆูŽุงู„ูˆูŽุตููŠู‘ูŽุฉู ุงู„ุซู‘ุงู†ููŠูŽุฉู: โ€นุชูุญูุจู‘ู ุตุงุญูุจูŽูƒูŽ ูƒูŽู…ุง ุชูุญูุจู‘ู ู†ูŽูุณูŽูƒูŽ.โ€บ ู„ุง ุชููˆุฌูŽุฏู ูˆูŽุตููŠู‘ูŽุฉูŒ ุฃุนุธูŽู…ู ู…ูู†ู’ ู‡ุงุชูŽูŠู†ู ุงู„ูˆูŽุตููŠู‘ูŽุชูŠู†ู.ยป

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Jerdna Friedemann August 21, 2013 at 6:27 am

Where i (personally) think there are errors:
The Quran quote says God does not beget. This is completely inconsistent with the christian concept (it is, in fact, in all likelihood, written exactly to oppose the christian concept).

Muhammad purposefully fashionned his concept of God to oppose the Jewish and Christian ones (idolatry is a good reason to slaughter people). Just because he acknowledged some core principles does not mean the overall oncept is valid in any way.

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Dan August 21, 2013 at 9:39 am

Are Christianity and Islam perfectly compatible? No. Do they have doctrines that stand in direct opposition to one another? Yes. But does that mean that we worship different Gods? You’re going to have to come up with a more developed argument convince me of that …

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