Jesus And Allah: Do Christians And Muslims Worship The Same God?

Protestant Reformers rejected the notion that Allah, as understood in Islam is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob or the God and Father of our Lord Jesus

Not only does Islam deny the deity of Christ and reduce him to an inferior precursor of Mohammad, it denies that he died on the cross—Muslims hold either the swoon theory or assert the Simon the Cyrene was crucified in Jesus’ place. Therefore, they deny the resurrection. In other words, as we consider the basic articles of the holy catholic (universal) faith as summarized in the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed (381) and the Apostles’ Creed, Islam rejects the core message of the Christian faith.

 

Larycia Hawkins, an associate professor of political science, who studies and teaches courses on the intersection of religion and politics at a leading evangelical college in the USA, has created controversy in two ways: first, by wearing the Muslim hijab, as a sign of the common humanity shared by Muslims and Christians and second, by asserting that Christians and Muslims worship the same God. We may affirm the common humanity and dignity as (fallen) image bearers while doubting the wisdom of a Christian wearing the hijab. The act of taking the hijab, though well intended, is likely to be interpreted rather differently by Muslims—as an act of submission to Allah as they understand him—than as intended by Christians. Perhaps more fundamental, however, is the assertion that Christians worship the same God as Muslims.

The claim, as she has explained more fully, rests upon an editorial by noted Yale theologian, Miraslov Volf, published in the Huffington Post. His argument rests on two foundations. First, the ambiguity—some might say equivocation—over the Arabic name for God: Allah. It is true that both Christians and Muslims use this name for God. We might add that in the English translation of the Qur’an the name Allah is translated with the English word God. His second ground is that there is a tradition of Christians (he cites Nicolas of Cusa) teaching that Christians and Muslims worship the same God.

To the first we may reply by saying that Platonists, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Jews and Christians use the same generic word for God but we hardly mean the same thing by it. It is difficult to see how this argument proves anything other than the ability to equivocate is alive and well.

To the second, assuming for the sake of discussion that Volf’s contention is correct, it is still true one Nicolas is a complex figure in the history of medieval theology and not exactly representative of the mainstream of medieval thought in a variety of ways. It is certainly the case that Protestant Reformers rejected the notion that Allah, as understood in Islam is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob or the God and Father of our Lord Jesus.

As we dialogue with representatives of other faiths, we should do our best to represent their views faithfully. The Qur’an itself explicitly rejects the biblical and historic Christian doctrine of the Trinity and it denies the deity of Christ:

People of the Book, do not go to excess in your religion, and do not say anything about God except the truth: the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, was nothing more than a messenger of God. His word directed to Mary, and a spirit from him. So believe in God and His messengers and do not speak of ‘Trinity’

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