Do Muslims and Christians Worship the Same God - page 5

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

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The Bible is very clear that one of God’s primary characteristics is love. In Exodus 15:13, Moses and the Israelites sang of God’s “unfailing love,” a theme that runs throughout the entire Old Testament. Turning to the New Testament, the theme of God’s love continues and is summed up in the amazing line in 1 John 4:16, “God is love.” Love is not something the God of the Bible does,but something He is. Indeed, we love and serve a God who is Trinity – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – and so at the heart of who God is lies a loving relationship.

When we turn to the Qur’an and its depiction of Allah, we see something very different. Nowhere are we told that Allah is love; indeed, because he is not triune, it would not be possible for him to be loving unless he first created something to love.

There’s another fascinating feature in the Qur’an, when one looks at how it uses the Arabic word yuhibbu (love) in connection with God. Of the twenty-eight times the word appears in the Qur’an, twenty-two of them (79 percent) are negative – the Qur’an telling us who Allah does not love (those who reject faith; those who disobey; those who do wrong; those who boast; those who are ungrateful, the list goes on). The remaining six times the word is used, it’s used conditionally (Allah loves those who do something for him first).

Indeed, because of this, some Muslim theologians go further. Islamic scholar Murad Hofmann wrote: “Allah is self-sufficient … this fundamental self-description excludes that Allah is in love with his creation … [I]t is safer and more accurate not to speak of ‘love’ when addressing His clemency, compassion, benevolence, goodness, or mercy.”

This is a profound contrast from the Bible’s understanding of God, who we are told on numerous occasions, loves everybody, even the sinner. This is beautifully illustrated in the most famous of the stories that Jesus told, the so-called parable of the Prodigal Son, where the father, who represents God, is full of love and compassion both for his younger, errant son and his older, uptight, hyper-religious son. The Bible claims that God loves us so much that He made the first move; as Romans 5:8 says, “God demonstrates his own love for us in this – while we still sinners, Christ died for us.”

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