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Friday, January 22, 2016

Do we worship the same God? Wheaton College, Larycia Hawkins and Miroslav Volf

This post has been moved. You can find it here.


  1. In Scripture it is written somewhere about a "salt spring not producing fresh water" or "salt water and fresh water not flowing from the same spring". Foolish arguments muddy the water. Wisdom from the true God is pure and peace loving as James the disciple wrote. The obvious is pretty glaring. Gary Bertnick

  2. Hi Mark

    This is an important question, and I'm delighted to see you address it, at least in part. I would welcome a more through treatment of the subject when your schedule allows.

    Far too many Christians have swallowed the 'same God' thesis, and we hear all the time about the three 'Abrahamic' faiths implying we were all branches from the same tree.

    It doesn't need to be a book for fellow theologians, preferably just a few pages that your average informed Christian can engage with online, and/or could download in PDF format.

    Your reminder that we are called to love regardless of which God our neighbour worships provides an important context for the discussion.

    Keep up the good work.

    Every blessing

  3. Having read the koran it seems to me that God and Allah share very liitle. How can a God (Allah) who continually talks about the wickedness of unbelievers and their punishment in hell, be a Judeo Christian God. And then to promise a heaven comprised of licentiousness? Its ridiculous.Allah seems to be much more a God of the underworld or hell. The word 'God', in a semantic sense, seems to me the only thing they have in common. When Christians plead that muslims worship the same God, I can only surmise they are very ignorant indeed.

  4. Having lived among Muslims for many years with whom both love and respect was shown on both sides, I have to say that I stand with you Mark on this matter.
    The phrase "we all worship the same God" was trotted by both Christians & Muslims regularly. My own experience was that it was often used when the speaker wanted to stifle discussion or where perhaps they did not want to offend me as a Christian minister. However all the Muslims knew which God I represented and it was not theirs.
    It disappoints me when people claim difference as bigotry. It stands alongside other phrases (e.g.homophobic, Alpha male) that seek to pigeon-hole people and to ostracize. It reeks of political correctness again.
    Trying to find some sort of "quasi-middle ground" I believe to be ultimately unhelpful.

  5. The use of "sakinah" in the Koran is curious to say the leasr in that this form of "peace" or "tranquility" is given by Allah to the Muslims, it has the effect of increasing their religious fervour 48:4, making them more willing to fight, 9:40, and kill to get victories and the all-important war-booty 48:18-19, 48:26-28.
    This is 4 out of 6 occurrences.
    The exceptions to this are the Jews' sakinah which is kept in a wooden box - presumably a reference to the arc of the covenant and what I would call a sense of "well-being" (16:80) often translated as "comfort" from being free of basic wants.

  6. Koran 5:64 makes it clear that Allah is not the Jewish idea of a God who covenants with man - who thus limits himself and is not all will - and with whom one might even argue. Since Abraham, in the Bible, is quintessentially the man who covenants, Islam is only "Abrahamic" in the sense of claiming the Jews and Christians have corrupted the real scriptures in which Islam claims for itself all prophets.

    So, from a Biblical perspective, Islam is a negative reaction to, or a parody of, the earlier religion which nonetheless clearly informs it (e.g. Muslims pray five times a day because they are imitating a Yom Kippur service). From an Islamic perspective, Islam is the original uncorrupted religion, uncreated and coeval with Allah.

    So the problem is the Jewish claim to be first to discover the oneness of God and to claim that the one God who is also everyone else's God nonetheless has a special covenant with the Jews to be a light unto the nations.

    The Christian response to Jewish firstness is to see Jesus as taking upon himself all the attributes of firstness, and thus to act as universal redeemer, but the Islamic response is to deny firstness - Islam, from the beginning, is uncreated.

    The modern victimary or "politically correct" form of thinking also has a big problem with firtsness which it places in opposition to equality, refusing to recognize that any kind of equality can only really exist as a deferred sharing in the creative models created by certain people's human firstness. Thus PC thought is drawn thoughtlessly to the claim that not simply are we all equally children of God, but all religious models of God are essentially equivalent claims. But this is to deny the actual history of revelation and to recognize, as Mark does, that an all-willing Allah looks rather more like a pagan god than the God of the Hebrews.

  7. Could you explain the account found in Genesis for me please. I have been taught the story of Abraham and his wife Sarah and his maidservant Haggar all of my life.

    I always beleived Ismahmael(spelling) was the firstborn and the father of the Muslim faith, further that Sarah's son the second born David was the father of the Jewish line and thus the Christian faith.

    It has been my beleif that the Jews and the Muslims are actually half brothers. Could you help clear this up for me?
    Gordon Faulkner

  8. Hi Gordon. The Bible doesn't say that Ishmael was the father of Muslims. There is no reason to think this. Jews and Muslims are not related to each other.

  9. Ishmael was the father of the Arab peoples. Both the Arabs and the Jews are related because Ishmael's half brother, Isaac, (who became Israel) was the father of the Jews. They are both Semi tic peoples. Islam did not arrive on the scene until about 650 A.D.Some are claiming even later as there is some speculation that someone other than Mohammed may have written the Koran.

  10. Thanks Mark! When i encountered Jesus and experienced a relationship with God and the Holy Spirit the Allah i knew and the Allah in Christ are two different persons!

  11. In a way the answer to this problem is pretty simple. In so far as Islam represents natural religion, it is a seeking after the true God. Thus Nabeel Qureshi writes about praying to Allah as a child with his family in a way that seems to be praying to the one true God. "A wind in the house of Islam" recounts many muslims believing in Jesus and continuing to call God Allah. HOWEVER, in so far as Islam has reference to the severely demonized man Mohammed and his writings and the religion built on that basis - then the god of Islam "allah" has nothing to do with God!

    A big difficulty with islam is the huge confusion there is between the wholesome element of natural religion and the violent paranoid nature of Mohammedanism.


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