When speaking about God and Allah there’s no shortage of opinions.
Many people think we all pray to the same god. This suggests the homogenization of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, as well as who God and Allah are. There are those who say Allah translated is another word for God. I am not prepared to argue this point. However, to suggest Allah actually is synonymous with the God of the Bible is another matter entirely. Let me explain…
Judaism and Christianity share much in common. For example, both Christians and Jews believe in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Yet, some Jews think Judaism has more in common with Islam than with Christianity. Why? Allah is a singular deity, and not part of a triune, therefore they view both religions as monotheistic. This is a naively oversimplified view.
When one looks into the theology of the three religions there are clear distinctions which do not support the ‘same god’ view. For example, a foundational tenet which is shared by Judaism and Christianity is the Ten Commandments. The first commandment says “I am the Lord your God.” Commandment #2 says “you are to have no other gods before me.” In contrast, the Shahadas [Islamic statement of faith] says “There is no god but Allah, and Mohammed is his messenger.” If “God” and “Allah” are one and the same why does Islam identify him distinctly, and say his [only] messenger is Mohammed, rather than including Moses or Jesus?
What the Quran Says
The dissimilarities become clearer as reflected in these quotes from the Quran-
“Allah turned Sabbath breaking Jews into apes” [2:65-66]
“Jews and Christians believe in idols and false deities.” [4:51]
“Jews and Christians are evil-livers.” [5:59]
“Don’t take Jews or Christians for friends. If you do Allah will consider you to be one of them.” [5:51]
To those who say God and Allah are the same, by virtue of the aforementioned quotes from the Quran does it make sense that Jews and Christians should worship a god who curses them? Another quote from the Quran which Christians should pay special attention to is “no son did Allah beget” [23:91] Given this, one has to wonder why any Jew or Christian would suggest we all pray to the same god. Yet there is an ongoing effort being embraced by many Christians, Muslims and some Jews in support of this view.
“Chrislam” and the Emergent Church
For several years a movement called the “Emergent Church,” has been advocating common bonds, and shared values between Christians, Muslims, and Jews. One of the buzz words referring to the movement is “Chrislam.” In 2007 a document called “A Common Word,” was published by a group of Muslim leaders in an effort to promote better relations between Muslims and Christians. Over 300 prominent Muslims signed it. In the document’s second paragraph it says “part of the very foundational principles of both faiths: love of the One God…”
In response, a group of leading Christian pastors and organizations drafted a document called “Loving God and Neighbor Together: A Christian Response to A Common Word.” Prominent Christian signatories include Bill Hybals, Robert Schuller, Rick Warren, the President of the Fuller Theological Seminary, the President of the National Association of Evangelicals, the President of Vineyard Churches, and many more.
At the beginning of this document it says “before we shake your hand….we ask forgiveness of the All-Merciful One, [Allah] and of the Muslim community around the world.” What are they asking forgiveness for? Not recognizing Allah as God? What makes this effort highly troubling is it’s not just a bunch of fringe Christians. On the contrary, well known pastors, and established mainstream Christian organizations are part of it.
I don’t mean to suggest followers of Christianity or Judaism shouldn’t acknowledge another religious point of view. However, if in response to a Muslim document promoting no distinction between Allah and the God of Abraham Isaac and Jacob, when there clearly is, Christians leaders feel compelled to apologize, I am left wondering who they think God actually is.
What’s troubling is since these Christian & Jewish leaders and organizations find no distinction between the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and Allah, this is being taught in their congregations and classrooms. The average person doesn’t spend much time reading their respective Bible’s, and therefore is likely to be spiritually and theologically under informed. Thus, they can be easily swayed by what they hear from congregational pulpits or theological classes. This becomes a dangerous scenario, which allows for naïve Jews and Christians to be misinformed, who in turn may misinform others . Christians and Jews who attend congregations where the ‘same god’ view is supported, should not be afraid to speak with their pastor or rabbi about this. While inter-faith dialog is always welcome, one should have confidence their leadership is providing sound theological views, instead of compromised messages designed to indulge those who are uncompromising on such matters.
Sadly however, these days it seems too many Jews and Christians are more concerned about not insulting Islam, instead of having the courage to affirm who the God of the Bible is….and who he is not.
For more articles by Dan Calic see his blog page: http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/author/dan-calic/