Do Muslims and Christians worship the same God? In America it is now ‘politically correct’ to say they do and those who claim otherwise are viewed as bigoted Islamophobes in the main stream secular media. A controversy over this issue recently boiled over in the press when Wheaton College administrators suspended a professor, Larycia Hawkins who taught Political Science, for asserting that Muslims and Christians worship the same God.
Well do they really? My answer is:
Yes, No, and Maybe So, depending on the context, but mostly No.
To put this in perspective, sometimes I wonder if the person sitting next to me in church on Sunday is worshipping the same God and some of those folks might actually prove otherwise on Monday! The fact is, every believing person has their own definition of God or Allah, or Adonai whether they are Christians, Muslims, Jewish or whatever.
As one who studied Christian theology extensively in seminary and holds an advanced degree my usual conclusion on this subject is in the negative (no) since there is such a wide difference between the Christian and Muslim understanding of God: who he is, what he does, and what he requires of humanity.
-Yes: What Christians and Muslims Have in Common
Nevertheless, sometimes we can say yes- there are some things that we do share in common when it comes to our beliefs about God or Allah:
-The God of Abraham
-Creator of all Things
-Involved in History and Human Affairs
-Judge of Eternal Destiny
-No: What Christians and Muslims Differ On
-Fatherhood of God
-The Bible and Quran
Muslims were the first historically to say ‘no’ and to look upon Christians as not only heretical in their understanding of God but as polytheists. Everyday they begin with a prayer that intentionally refutes the Christian Trinitarian understanding of God which includes God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit.
From a Christian understanding it has to be ‘no’ because Muslims reject the divinity of Jesus and do not really believe in the Holy Spirit. Christians in their Fatherhood understanding of God have a far more personal relationship with the Creator while Muslims substantially see Allah as quite remote.
Also Christians believe that they can have an assurance of eternal salvation through faith in Jesus while Muslims can never be sure of their destiny since Allah as taught in the Quran can be rather arbitrary in his judgment.
-Maybe So: How Christian and Muslim Believers View God
Fact is, that where the rubber meets the road, one’s personal understanding of God can be quite different from the theological dissertations of the major religion one is part of. That is why I can say ironically that I am not 100% sure that the person I am sitting next to in church on Sunday has the same understanding of God in their personal life as I may have and in some ways may be worshipping a ‘different’ God.
I can think of two different Muslim families that I had business relationships with in the past that were far more ‘Christian’ in their practical understanding of God and the love that they expressed than some professing Christians that I know. Folks that I obviously had much in common with and found myself praying for quite often.
Christian missionaries in Muslim lands have found lots of Muslims that are predisposed to conversion since they hold a more personal understanding of God that squares more closely to the Fatherhood understanding of God in Christianity than the remote autocratic Allah taught in the Quran. It should be noted that Christian Bibles in Muslim lands use the title of ‘Allah’ for God in their translations and any outreach to Muslims begins with what we share in common.
This article is not meant to be a definitive theological answer to the question- Do Christians and Muslims worship the same God?
IF we are talking about the Old Testament God of Abraham who is the one true God and Creator who is involved in history and human affairs and is ultimately the judge of all humanity then: Yes, we are talking about the same God in that case- Jews, Christians, and Muslims.
If we are talking about the full theological understandings about God in the Bible and Allah in the Quran than the answer must be: No we do not worship the same God. Our definitions about who God is and what he does are quite different.
If we are talking about personal understandings of God or Allah, then: Maybe some Christians might be far closer to some Muslims in their worship than most on either side will want to admit.