Muslims and Christians believe in same God, but do not worship the same God

Interesting thoughts here, from Dr. William Abraham, of Perkins School of Theology:

"My thesis is this: Christians and Muslims believe in the same God; they do not worship the same God. Christians and Muslims can both identify their God as the one and only Creator of the world who is all good, all powerful, and worthy of worship and obedience. Both Christians and Muslims believe that this God exists; they disagree with atheists and agnostics on this score. Both Christians and Muslims are realists with respect to truth."


"In the context of worship Christians insist on the identity of God as laid out in the Apostles' or Nicene Creed; they speak of God as Father; they name God as 'Father, Son and Holy Spirit.' The practices of the Church show that we pray to the Triune God, that we baptize in the name of 'The Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,' and that we praise God as the Triune God.

"These are not incidental phrases; they are canonical; they are constitutive of the identity of God in the Church. All of this is resolutely, systematically, and canonically rejected by Islam."

Abraham said that these differences cut so deep that in this context, it is natural that we do not worship the same God. [...]

Abu Daoud says: it seems like he is trying to go half way between the two temptations of denying that Muslims believe in the true God AT ALL, and the other one of pluralism in saying that they do believe in the true God AND worship him rightly.


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Anonymous said…
I'm a little confused; it seems his premise says one thing, but the rest of the article totally disregards it. How can the difference merely be that we "worship" different gods when it is so obvious that the core tenants of our faith are in direct contradiction with each other. Does he mean that we (both Christians and Muslims) are monotheistic but we have incredibly different views of God? -- Umm Daoud
E. Twist said…
I start from the notion that lex orandi, lex credendi is true. Belief and worship bifurcated as has been done here.

It is an interesting thesis, but ultimately untenable.
E. Twist said…
read: cannot be bifurcated as has been done here.

sorry for the typo
Lucian said…
Hi! I just wanted to draw Your attention to these two articles. Do You think that this is a sign for God trying to reach to Muslims? (I also know of a story from the life and wonders of St. Nectarios of Aegina who repeatedly appeared to a Muslim woman, asking her to take care of his grave and relics; I think she's still there).
Jeff said…
I'm afraid that it seems to me the formula has to be: "We both worship the same God; Muslims are mistaken in some things they believe about Him."

These half-way house formulations always seem to me to run up against the problem that all sorts of people may have mistaken ideas about God...lots of Christians have false ideas about what the Trinity means; others have false ideas about what the Incarnation means....we may confess one belief with our mouths but have a different notion before our minds when we pray. Children and retarded people may have the oddest notions about God.

Many of us may be praying to ourselves in fact when we say, "Lord, Lord". And some of those who profess no God may be in fact seeking the God Who Is Love and facing Him with all their hearts.

Vatican I teaches Catholics--as does the Epistle to the Romans--that all men can know and in some sense DO know God through reason alone, from His Works.

Is this God not the One True God, about Whom they know little?
Samuel said…
He could be saying that Muslims do believe in (the true) God, but wrongly. One can believe in something real but in a wrong way, just as Muslims believe in Jesus, and even call him Messiah, but not as Lord and Savior (which for us Christians is wrong).

Of course, all those differences are 1400 years old---nothing new there. Yet, the similarities between Christianity and Islam suggest a commonality in the way they think of God, even if in different ways---which perhaps helps communication between them. Those commonalities arose (I think we can agree) from the fact that Muhammed believed in the God of the Jews and Christians (children of the book, children of Israel) and the belief that the Arabs branched out of Abraham's son Ishmael. (The Arabs, whether Christian or Muslim, are children of Abraham.) In the end, our differences with Islam's beliefs about God are about as different as our differences with the Jewish conception (which might be more closely aligned to Islam's non-Triune monotheism). In that way, Christianity is more Hellenistic than the Jewish-Muslim combo.

Jeff: And some of those who profess no God may be in fact seeking the God Who Is Love and facing Him with all their hearts.

For some reason this reminded me of that notorious atheist Anthony Flew who in 2004 gave it up and switched to belief in God (albeit deism). So it looks like he was a seeker all along (and perhaps still is).

Jeff: Vatican I teaches Catholics--as does the Epistle to the Romans--that all men can know and in some sense DO know God through reason alone, from His Works.

Flew cited science (His Works) as his main reason for his belief change. 40% of American scientists believe in a personal God, and there are many more who believe in God in some way. Galileo, Newton, Darwin, Einstein, Dirac, and many others---founders in their fields---have always felt that something's fishy going on: that there seems to be some Intelligence behind it all. Newton was the most explicit of them all after one reads Book III of his Principia where he shows how his belief in God lead to his theory of gravitation and the laws of physics (a rare combination of theology and science quite uncommon today). The Christian geneticist Francis Collins (who was director of the National Human Genome Research Institute) wrote The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief, in which he explains that belief in God is wholly consistent with science (though he's no 6-day creationist). A number of other scientists, like Paul Davies, although they don't believe, are starting to make comments and express views that come pretty close.

Ooops, I've wandered off topic (I wouldn't blame Abu Daoud for banning my IP address as a result!).
Brother Abu Daoud,

His position does not make much sense to me. Muslims ATTEMPT to worship God just as Jews ATTEMPT to worship God, but He receives neither as it is not in spirit and truth.

Peace to you brother,
From the Middle East

PS - Interestingly, I posted a parable on this very topic today!

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