I just finished reading Michael Savage’s “Abuse of Power”. It is a good read. I enjoyed it very much like James Bond stories I’ve read in the past. However, at the end of the book is a statement that a Jew, a Christian and a Muslim all prayed to the same God. As big a fan as I am of Michael Savage, I couldn’t disagree more on this point. Oh, it feels good and we think we are being nice by saying we are all children of God — the Brotherhood of Man and all that — but when you examine all the particulars, you are forced to admit that Allah, the god of the Qur’an, is not the same as YHWH, the God of the Bible. If you disagree with this assessment, then show me where I’m in error. This kind of statement (that we all believe in the same God or that it doesn’t matter what you believe) is all about warm fuzzies and completely devoid of critical thought.
Theology means the study of God; his nature, his characteristics, his essence. Theology answers the questions, “Who is God?”, “What is God like?” and “How does God relate to human life?” Every religion has it’s own theology, with its own answers to those questions. In the vernacular, theology is a deep subject. It’s not something that can be glossed over so easily. Many, many scholarly works have been devoted to the subject and many students have earned doctoral degrees trying to grasp the subject. You may like to feel that everyone has the same God, but your ignorance doesn’t make it so.
If you are talking about Christians and Jews, they do believe in the same God (the God of the Bible). Christianity developed out of Judaism. Christ was a Jew and his earliest believers were Jews. The Apostle Paul was a Rabbi who had formerly been in the Sanhedrin, and a close study of the New Testament clearly indicates that he never stopped being a practicing Jew. (Confusion over Messianic Judaism can be cleared up by referring to the Jewish New Testament and Commentary by David H. Stern.) The Bereans who were called more noble because they checked the Scripture daily to make sure Paul was preaching the truth, were checking Jewish Scripture (the Tanakh). Christians believe, as the New Testament says, that Jesus is the same today, yesterday and forever. Because of that, both OT and NT reveal the same God. Jews and Christians believe in the same God. Unbelieving Jews simply haven’t yet accepted that Jesus is their Messiah.
However, It may not be stated with any factual basis, that Muslims share the same relationship with Jews and Christians. The god of Islam — the god of the Qur’an — is not the same as the God of the Bible. Yes, there are several shared characteristics between Allah and YHWH, which is to be expected, since Mohammad was influenced by the Biblical religions. However, at base, there are glaring differences between Islam and the Biblical religions which serve to undercut our foundational God concepts.
The most insidious aspect of the ecumenical movement to foster unity among the so-called “Abrahamic” religions is the fact that Islam gives lip service to Biblical figures while redefining them to fit their own beliefs, which are contrary to the Biblical record. It’s one thing to say you revere the Biblical patriarchs and even Mary and Jesus, but then change their stories and identities to suit your own anti-Scriptural bias. Remember, Islam came along almost 700 years after Christ, claiming they knew God’s true revelation — that the Bible had been corrupted, due to human fallibility. In essence, Islam tosses out God’s revealed truth and replaces it with lies from Mohammad.
Jesus teaches us to love our enemies, to be winsome in reaching out to non-believers. (By the way, loving someone doesn’t mean letting them destroy you.) In stark contrast to that, Mohammad taught that Muslims need to aggressively fight those who do not believe in Allah. And to Muhammad, fighting meant going to war. And going to war meant killing people. The Crusades were a response to Muslim Jihad — the slaughter of entire towns who refused to convert to Islam. Now days Muslims try to say that Jihad doesn’t mean that; that the Qur’an doesn’t really teach to “kill the infidel”. And yet if you look at the real world, that is exactly what is happening. Muslims all over the globe are killing “unbelievers” — not only non-Muslims but Muslims of opposing sects. And they are doing it because that’s what their Imams teach them. That’s what they learn in their mosques. Remember, Jesus taught you can know a tree by the fruit it produces.
[UPDATE: Christian feelings of guilt about the Crusades is common and based on a distorted view of history. See The Politically Incorrect Guide To Islam (and the Crusades) by Robert Spencer.]
I’m not saying all Muslims are bad people. I’ve known some Muslims who were very nice people. I also realize there are “moderate” Muslims who want to live at peace with non-Muslims. But these folks are secular or “liberal” (meaning they do not conform to strict traditional practices) and they do not have the authority of their “holy” books or influential “holy” leaders and they reject Shariah law. (Shariah law seeks to undo Western Civilization and return to harsh punishments, no legal equality for women or non-Muslims and replace liberty with theocracy for all, regardless of your beliefs.)
The most basic God concept (Remember, I’m talking about theology.) in Christianity is accessibility. We believe that God is approachable, that we can know him and walk with him — right here, right now. We believe we can come to him as his child and call him “Daddy” or “Papa” (Abba). Islam teaches no such thing. The god of Islam is unknowable and getting into his “paradise” is a matter of following religious practices which go counter to those in Christianity. We are taught to pray in our “closet”, away from others, not making a big public deal of it, as Muslims do. They are told when to pray, what to pray and how to pray. We are to pray without ceasing, which means walking with the Lord and having a living relationship with his Spirit.
Islam is just a religion. Christianity is a relationship. You must know there is a difference between what is true and what is false. 2 Corinthians 6:14 (NIV) says, “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” The phrase “yoked together” is often interpreted as representing marriage, but really includes any dedicated partnership or teaming up with others. That is exactly what is happening when someone claims Muslims, Christians and Jews all believe in the same God. They are trying to combine righteousness and wickedness together. But it cannot happen. If the light shines in the darkness, there is only light. The darkness is separate, outside and beyond the light.