Do Muslims and Christians Worship the Same God? - page 3



Do Muslims and Christians Worship the Same God?
by Andy Bannister, Director and Lead Apologist for RZIM-Canada

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The brilliance of such explanations is not so much that they bring us nearer to understanding the doctrine of the Trinity but that they show us that we don’t need to be embarrassed by our incomprehension any more than a Flatlander need be embarrassed for failing to understand the cube.

First, the God of the Bible Is a God Who Is Relational

This is the thrust of the whole story of Scripture, from the opening pages to the very last chapter. In the opening chapters of Genesis, we read of how God was to be found, walking and talking in the garden with Adam and Eve. God walks and talks with Abraham (Gen. 17–18), speaks to Moses face to face “as a man speaks with his friend” (Exod. 33:11), and, indeed God speaks with His people throughout the Old Testament. When human beings disobey, when sin comes between God and man, God seeks out and pursues humankind, indeed the story of Scripture is the story of God winning us back. And at the close of the Bible, in Revelation 21:3, we are promised that in the age to come “the dwelling of God will be with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people and God himself will be with them and be their God.”

The Bible uses highly relational language to describe God. He is described as a father, as a husband, as a friend. He is the relational God, the God who reveals Himself by name – Yahweh – and the Bible’s call is for us to be in relationship with Him. That’s what it means to be a Christian.

For the Qur’an, on the other hand, there is no such relationship to be had with Allah. Allah, the god of the Qur’an, is so distant, so transcendent, and nowhere does the Qur’an invite its readers to enter into a relationship with him. According to the Qur’an, Allah did not walk and talk in the garden with Adam and Eve. He is not present with his people in heaven. And he did not take on flesh in the person of Jesus. The only “relationship” that exists between humans and Allah according to the Qur’an is that of master and servant, not father or friend. Consider these words from Muslim theologian, Shabbir Akhtar: “Muslims do not see God as their father… Men are servants of a just master; they cannot, in orthodox Islam, typically attain any greater degree of intimacy with their creator.”

Just servants. In contrast, Jesus Christ said, “I no longer call you servants, but friends” (John 15:15).

This lies at the heart of the difference not just between Christianity and Islam, but also between Christianity and every other religion, and it is arguably what reveals Christianity to be far more than a “religion.” Religion says that if we follow the right rituals, obey the right rules, have the right mystical experience, then we can satiate the spiritual hunger within. Christianity, on the other hand, says that none of our efforts can ever bridge the gap between us and God. But the gap can be bridged from God’s side. Do all religions lead to God? The truth is that no religion leads to God; only God can lead us to God, and that is what is offered in Jesus Christ.

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