Do Muslims and Christians Worship the Same God?

Pastor Thabiti Anyabwile, a former Muslim, interacts with Miroslav Volf’s argument in his new book, Allah: A Christian Response, that one could practice Islam and be 100% Christian. Anyabwile also explains how the fundamental differences in doctrine—particularly regarding the nature of God in the Trinity—are irreconcilable:

[HT: TGC]

Last year, Anyabwile released an excellent book on ministering to Muslims, The Gospel for Muslims (reviewed here). There, he offers three reasons for the necessity of holding fast to the doctrine of the Trinity:

First, because we are bound in humility to accept what God reveals of Himself. After all, we are creatures and He is the Creator; we are finite and He is infinite. Accepting and maintaining the Trinity as central to the Christian faith is to say to God, “I believe You—not others and not myself—as You reveal Yourself.” In short, believing and defending the Trinity is essential to genuine Christian faith and witness.

Second, because to deny the Trinity is to commit idolatry. Here the Christian and the Muslim come to irreconcilable differences. We may not maintain that God is one God in three Persons and at the same time accept that God is radically one with no persons in the Godhead as Muslims believe. That would be to accept a contradiction. And it would be to deny the revelation God gives of Himself, making an idol graven with the tools of our own imagination. God is jealous for His name. He calls His people to “worship [Him] in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). Surrendering the Trinity turns us away from true spiritual worship of the only living God to idolatry.

Third, we must cling to the Trinity because apart from the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, there is no possibility of eternal salvation. If we surrender the Trinity, or weaken our presentation of who God really is, we in effect deny the gospel. Each Person in the Godhead plays an essential part in redeeming sinners from judgment and bringing them to eternal life. (p. 37, Kindle edition)

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  • http://twitter.com/jasonbnorth Jason North

    I still wonder if the two faiths are irreconcilable. In Islam, wouldn’t Mohammed himself, the metaphysical and contemplative Islamic practices, along with Allah, of course, constitute a 3-dimensional manifestation of God [flesh, spirit, father]? Would that not parallel a Christian conception of a triune God? It seems Islam simply doesn’t name or focus on those dimensions as those in the Christian faith.

    I follow Christ myself, and also haven’t read the texts by either Anyabwile or Volf, though I intend on doing so.

    Are my thoughts here flawed?

    • Brad Young

      Jason,

      It’s not that Christianity has a clearly definition of God ( and I would say it does) but the main argument is that ALL other religions (ie man made) are about works salvation. Most would recoginize sin, Islam does, but Gos doesn’t take his divine wrath out on himself fully paying the price and then offering salvation as a free gift, instead, you pray so many times, you do this or that or wear these clothes. And somehow in doing this you pay off your debt. However isiah tells is that are good deeds are like flithy rags (used menstrual clothes) before Gods holiness. Paul says when he thinks back over his works righteousness he considers it rubish (dung, a steaming pile). Paul also declares that if anyone should preach another gospel even if it wad given by an angel of light, he should be accursed. As a side note Mohammed was a prophet, the “Moses” to the Muslim world he cannot take away sins, is not divine. I’m missing some of the references but in the Koran it states that Allah could still refuse entry into heaven even if you lived a “perfect” life. So even assurance of salvation won’t be known until judgment, which stands in sharp contrast to the fact that Jesus was fully perfect doing all the law requires, fully paid the price, and rose conquering both sin and death, and for the saint it’s not the perfect life they lived, but the life Christ lived and the wrath he absorbed. Also, the whole idea of heaven is totally skewed, instead of the focus being God and His glory, where the streets are paved with gold, not because we deserve gold to walk on, but because its so worthless before God, but it’s man focused and what man gets. Allah is not God, any creature that can persued man to give him glory and not the one true God is a demon, and what company does darkness have with light?

      • Brad Young

        Sorry for the typos and grammar. I typed it up on my iPhone.

        One other thought, even though the claims of 72 virgins in heaven are from Islamic tradition, and not the Koran. The Koran does promise virgins to all men in heaven. This is in sharp contrast to the teachings of Jesus, when asked about heaven he implicitly states that men and women are not given up in marriage. Now he doesn’t state that there is no sexual activity, but we could easily Infur that from other biblically teaching the sex is only acceptable within marriage, so no marriage = no sexual relations. So the Koran, which Is “the prophets” writings are in contradiction with what Jesus taught. So the prophet was wrong in his teachings, and The bible doesn’t have good thinks to say about false teachers and prophets.

      • Brad Young

        Sorry for the typos and grammar. I typed it up on my iPhone.

        One other thought, even though the claims of 72 virgins in heaven are from Islamic tradition, and not the Koran. The Koran does promise virgins to all men in heaven. This is in sharp contrast to the teachings of Jesus, when asked about heaven he implicitly states that men and women are not given up in marriage. Now he doesn’t state that there is no sexual activity, but we could easily Infur that from other biblically teaching the sex is only acceptable within marriage, so no marriage = no sexual relations. So the Koran, which Is “the prophets” writings are in contradiction with what Jesus taught. So the prophet was wrong in his teachings, and The bible doesn’t have good thinks to say about false teachers and prophets.

  • http://twitter.com/jasonbnorth Jason North

    Or perhaps he’s simply saying that Christian has more clearly defined God as a 3-dimensional being, and that in itself is irreconcilable w/ Islam. That makes sense.

    • http://www.bloggingtheologically.com Aaron Armstrong

      Hey Jason, I really appreciate your thoughts on the topic. While I think I get where you’re coming from in talking about a 3-dimensional manifestation of God, the big key with the Trinity is not a question manifestation, but nature. If God merely manifested Himself in three forms, then we’re left with modalism (an ancient heresy that denied the Trinity and has been making the rounds again).

      When you get a chance, definitely pick up a copy of Thabiti’s book; it’s very much worth reading (and it’s a quick one, too). It’ll give you a good sense of the real differences between the two religions.

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