Who Cares if Christians and Muslims Worship the Same God?

Do Christians and Muslims worship the same God? Lots of folks are asking that question these days, and though it is an important question (and one that I will not be answering in this post), I don’t think the question is as helpful as other people seem to think.

Do Christians and Muslims Worship the Same God?

Some people say yes, and these people imply that Christians are therefore under obligation to show compassion to Muslims because of their theological commonalities.  After all, aren’t Christians and Jews and Muslims all “people of the book?”  (That phrase comes from the Qu’ran.)  And, since we are all people of the book, shouldn’t Christians treat Muslims with compassion?

I do not agree with this implication.

The Problem With Saying Yes

As Mark Tooley points out in Newsweek, if you stress that Christians are obligated to show compassion to Muslims because they are theological cousins, you are inadvertently implying that Christians are not under the same obligation to show compassion to other peoples with whom they don’t have any theological commonalities.  Hindus, for example, are not “people of the book,” and yet that fact should not affect Christian treatment of Hindus (or Sikhs or Jains or Buddhists or atheist communists, etc.)

A Christian’s compassion for another does not depend on that other’s theological commitments.  Whether or not Christians and Muslims worship the same God is completely irrelevant to the issue of whether a Christian should show compassion towards his Muslim neighbor.

Do Christians and Muslims worship the same God?  What if the answer is no–should that change how a Christian treats her Muslim neighbor?

Love Isn’t Conditional

Christians are not required to only love people with whom we agree (or partially agree).

Jesus, after all, told his followers to love their enemies.

 

 

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12 thoughts on “Who Cares if Christians and Muslims Worship the Same God?

  1. You are so right! But that is so hard to do! Jesus sets the bar so high. I want to love my enemies, I really do, but so often I fall short of where Jesus wants me to be. But I am trying. The entire verse (Matthew 5:43-48) lays it out so clearly. I am sorry to say, it really convicts me. I will keep trying. I know what I am suppose to do and each day I try to get a little closer to the perfection that God calls me to. I hear this voice saying:
    Paul, you moron, this is Jesus speaking “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Matthew 5:43-48

  2. A very timely message given the attacks in Cologne, and the attack on the policeman in Philadelphia. Love my enemies, love my enemies, love my enemies. Its hard!

  3. Amen – there you go! Next you’ll claim liberals and conservatives believe in the same God and we’ll really be up a creek…happy Saturday Preacher!

        • Wow, very enlightening to hear these discussions. Thank you. My thoughts are:
          – getting to the recruits first or having outreach programs and missionaries to evangelize them sounds great (but is it practical or even possible – I guess with God’s help and blessing anything is possible, right?).
          – so in the U.S. we have an alternative to offer, but yet we are seeing the beginning of similar problems here on a smaller scale, right?
          – is it fair to compare radical and violent Muslims to Westboro Baptist Church and other extreme Christian views and actions. I mean the examples of radical violent Christians is so small and minor compared to the number of Muslims that have become violent radicals.

          • I don’t think Westboro Baptist Church and radical Islam are equivalents, because I think radical Islam is much more widespread and attractive to young displaced Muslim men, whereas Westboro Baptist Church is not making new recruits.

            I don’t think it’s so much that missionaries need to go an evangelize jihadis–although God can do anything, it’s probably too late for that. I think missionaries need to evangelize French culture more broadly; the church needs to be an alternative to nihilistic skepticism on the one hand, and nihilistic jihadism on the other.

        • Andrew – not sure I would go that far. I would say the Methodist Church is inclusive enough to take in people or believers who stand for or have radically different opinions, views or opinions, in the hope of bringing them all to the promised land. Now many in the Methodist Church might see the “promised land” differently than one another. But isn’t that all part of working out our salvation. It is a process.

  4. Interesting to see a post that references the Muslim faith turn toward a conversation about recent acts of terrorism and conservatives vs. libs in the comments section. I know it is hard to not let your mind go there, but our current “enemies” are not categorized as such because they are Muslim, but because they are violently radical. They also happen to be Muslim. Google “France’s Oedipal Islamist Complex” to read an article in Foreign Policy about “the Islamization of radicalism” in Europe. Is it surprising that many of the radical Muslim converts are young (naive), their lives are love-deficient (broken homes, poor, etc), and they are battling some sort of societal pressure (immigration issues, racism, etc.)? I wonder what would have happened if someone were bold enough to approach them and pray to Jesus for them before a terrorist recruiter found them? I often wonder how many Muslims the Christians around me have actually been in contact with. Have you asked them if their faith is one of love or hatred? Were you bold enough to defend your own world view to them?

    The term “jihad” is often interpreted as “holy war” but it literally means “struggle” or “to strive” in Arabic. Could the violence that radical Islamists claim is tasked to them by Mohammed in some version of the Koran be a misinterpretation of the “struggle”? If it is in fact a misinterpretation, is that much different than the vitriol spewed by the likes of John Hagee and other pop-Christians? Or worse, Westboro Baptist Church? Some of our most feared aggressors in history claimed Orthodox Christianity and Constructive Christianity as their respective religions. Adolph Hitler was either atheist or agnostic, but still appointed a Christian head of church knowing the importance religion played in influencing the masses. Is it odd that the United States has been bitter enemies and also strong allies to the exact same Shintos and Buddhists in the past 70 yrs? Correlation does not imply causation.

    So what about us? Are we certain that we are interpreting our own Word as intended by Jesus? Do I re-interpret some of God’s tasks for me because “it works for me and my life right now”? Do I have faith that if I love God and love my neighbor that God will actually address the many faith conflicts around the world? So what about struggle? “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

    • I think you are right on in wondering what would happen if we beat the terrorist recruiters to their potential recruits. I think the only way to beat radical Islam is with the gospel.

      Europe has no alternative to offer these young men–they have tried enlightened European secularism (gay rights, open borders, free markets, mass entertainment, suspicion of traditional authority) and they don’t want it. Because Europe doesn’t have a religion to offer these young men apart from Islam in the banlieus, it is impotent in the face of homegrown radical Islam.

      We need missionaries to argue against both enlightened European skepticism AND radical Islam.