The answer is not as obvious as it may seem. On the one hand, we can say that, to the extent that both religions identify the God disclosed in the scriptures of Judaism as their God, then, yes, both religions worship the same deity. Both religions share some of Judaism’s scriptural narratives, though in Islam these narratives tend to be told rather differently than in the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament. Both religions revere Jesus, though in very different ways, and both have concepts of creation, sin, righteousness, and judgment. One could name other similarities as well.
So we worship the same God, though we identify many of the attributes of God differently from one another. Think of the matter this way: Imagine you and I are at a party together, and you ask me, “Which one of these people is the bishop ?” I respond that he is the man wearing a blue suit, standing next to the potted plant, and holding a glass of water. Now you know who the bishop is, and you could approach him, introduce yourself, and ask him all the questions you’ve ever wanted to ask a bishop. The thing is, while he is wearing a blue suit, he’s not standing next to a potted plant. He’s standing next to a fake plant. And he’s not holding a glass of water. He’s holding a glass of Sprite. In this case, I’ve still identified the bishop for you, but some of the descriptors I’ve used to identify him are incorrect.
This is rather like how Christians, Muslims, and Jews understand their differences in relation to the God they worship. Adherents of these religions believe that the others identify some of the attributes and actions of God correctly, but not all of them. So, for example, all three religions hold that God is eternal, transcendent, and self-revelatory. All three would say that God has given humankind moral instruction. But not all three would say that this same God is revealed most perfectly through the Quran or that God became flesh in Jesus Christ. Not all would identify Israel’s place in God’s saving work in the same way.
And this is where things get prickly. For Christians and Muslims, the attributes of God come to bear in very significant ways on their understanding of such issues as sin and judgment, atonement (or the lack thereof), eternal life, and ethical behavior. At the very heart of Christianity are the claims that God, who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, became incarnate, died an atoning death on the cross, and then rose from the dead. These same claims are utterly inconsistent with the Islamic understanding of Allah and his relationship to humankind. For adherents of either religion, to gloss over these distinctives is to ignore important matters that give our lives meaning and shape our worldview.
The claim, then, that Christians and Muslims worship the same God is true–but we should not overstate its significance. God is, as they say, in the details.
29 thoughts on “Do Christians and Muslims Worship the Same God?”
As much as I border a Christian Fundamentalist persuasion, this is one area where I get stuck. I view Jews as my brothers and sisters because of God’s covenant with Abraham. However, the same book of Genesis which I hold onto giving a literal account of Creation speaks of God’s fulfillment of the covenant through the line of Ishmael. My biblical literalism puts me in a position of recognizing that if (big IF) the physical and spiritual roots of the Prophet and Islam are connected to Ishmael’s covenantal relationship with the same God I worship, then they, too, are my brothers and sisters. And now let’s all stand up and sing with new meaning, “Father Abraham had many sons, Many sons had Father Abraham…”
i worship and believe in the Trinity. Muslims do NOT believe in Jesus NOR of a forth coming Messiah. Christians must be willing to fully accept God’s word and not waiver or bend. Christ will be the judge. I recall the old hymn ‘Sorry, I never knew you’ …
This is a heresy article and not true! Shame on you! Christians and Muslims do not worship the same god! Read your bible again, David Watson! I worship the Trinity of God, The Father, God, the Son, And God, the Holy Spirit. Jesus said, “I am the way the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father, but by me.” Muslims do not believe this. Therefore, Muslims and Islam are false!
Frances: What about the God of David, Moses and Abraham? Do Christians the Jews and Muslims serve that same God? Isnt that God the same as the Father whom sent his son Jesus to die on the cross for our Sins? Whom we worship now as the Trinity?
The headline, albeit rhetorical, raises the obvious question, “how many Gods do you suppose there are?” As a monotheist, I affirm the existence of only one God. So if you ask me, Muslims cannot be worshiping some other God…because there simply are none. This is why I feel a kinship with Hindus, Sikhs, even Pastafarians, who are devout in their worship. I sometimes disagree with their particular worship practices, but I try to always respect the desire to connect with God through worship. If I find myself tempted to focus on the differences in our practices more than the commonality of our desire, I’ll try to remember that it is not only God who is reported to lurk “in the details”.
The Old Testament shows this issue to be more complex. While one voice declares the gods of the nations to be only wood and stone, there is recognition of the existence (at least in Praxis) of other deities. For example, the 1st commandment does not say “you shall not have any other gods because they do not exist,” but “you shall not have any other gods before me.”. Inherent in the 10 commandments is the existence of other spiritual beings vying for human devotion. Maybe a different definition of monotheism would acknowledge this reality while laying claim to only worshipping one God.
The name for that practice is henotheism (“one god”), and it was once the world’s dominant approach to divinities. The Jewish Bible documents a long (and not always successful) struggle away from that into a rigid one-and-one-only monotheism. It was a struggle because this position pits you against EVERYONE else, both atheist and theist, and also because it’s a hard, almost unnatural stance to take, thus there’s a LOT of “backsliding” into idolatry. But this sort of monotheism is Judaism’s unique contribution to world religion. They might not have INVENTED it, but they championed it with a dedication no one else in antiquity did (the way Christianity would later contribute evangelism).
My disappointment is that they didn’t take monism to its logical extremity, monism. The early Jews were firm Platonists, if not gnostics (always remember that in Genesis, God created the material word AND SAW THAT IT WAS GOOD). To their dualist point of view, a God who not only CREATED everything but WAS everything didn’t square with their experience of the world…which had been quite harsh, to be fair. God was supposed to SAVE them from the world, so how could God also BE the world?
Myself, I think a culture’s view of God all too often was simply a clone of their view of royalty. If you can only imagine serving one king, the strongest king, while earning the antagonism of all other kings, that would make for an unpleasant sort of theism. If you then declare that your king is the ONLY legitimate king, that must offer considerable solace in the midst of many enemies. But it’s a much further step to see the entire world, everyone and everything, as being an instance of kingship.
I wish all spammers would misspell URLs.
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