(or) same thing, different name…
In an interview for christianitytoday.com made in 2011, Miroslav Volf, professor of theology at Yale Divinity School, was asked this question: “Do Muslims and Christians worship the same God?” he answered: “I think that Muslims and Christians who embrace the normative traditions of their faith refer to the same object, to the same Being, when they pray, when they worship, when they talk about God. The referent is the same.” Afterwards he goes on to explain his position to a greater detail, yet his initial statement remains.
In a world of multicultural societies full of pluralistic prospects we experience a natural tendency to link similar looking concepts and consider them to be the same. We incline to connect ideas that are foreign to us to those we are already familiar with, thus looking rather for similarities than differences. Today many would share Volfs perspective and suggest that the Muslim “Allah” and the Christian “God” is virtually the one same god, only perceived from different angles. In the following lines I will not attempt to give, what is in philosophy called, “a killer” argument, that would decisively disqualify one of the alternatives. No, the intention of this paper is more modest. Both similarities and differences of the two theologies will be highlighted and the conclusion, whether the referent is the same, will stay with the reader.
Only one God
With regard to the broad spectrum of world religions Islam and Christianity is at this point truly very close to each other. In fact this parallelism is taken to be one of the most impressive. Yet this is not to say that a great many other religions do not recognize a figure of a high god. Egyptians worshipped Ra, Isis or Osiris, while Greeks gave their praise to Zeus or Jupiter. Nordic people among others feared Odin and Thor while in China “Yu-huang-shang-ti” was originally taken to be the greatest sky deity. Hinduism exalts Brahma, Vishnu and Siva while Mahayana Buddhism follows the example of Buddha. Hiebert, Shaw and Tienou further in their book offer a list of several other tribes that hold this belief: “In sub-Saharan Africa, belief in a creator God is taken for granted by almost everyone. The Masaii call this god “Engai,” the Yoruba “Olorun” [“ Lord of the Sky”], the Dinka “Nhialic,” the Mende “Ngewo,” the Ibo “Chukwu,” and the Fon “Mawu.” The overriding issue with all these other belief systems is that they at the same time recognize multiple high or lesser gods or goddesses, ending up in polytheism. Their belief is nowhere confined to only one god. On the contrary both Islam and Christianity make indisputable claims about only one true God.
Det. 6:4: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one” Mk. 12:32: “Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. 1 Cor. 8:4: “…We know that “An idol is nothing at all in the world” and that “There is no God but one.” Exod. 20:3: “You shall have no other gods before me.”
The last verse is mentioned as one of the Ten Commandments given by God directly to Moses when he was on the mountain of Sinai.
Surah 112 “…He, Allah, is One.  Allah is He on Whom all depend.  He begets not, nor is He begotten.  And none is like Him.” Surah 57  He is the First and the Last, and the Outward and the Inward; and He is Knower of all things. Surah 4 “Lo! Allah forgiveth not that a partner should be ascribed unto Him. He forgiveth (all) save that to whom He will. Whoso ascribeth partners to Allah, he hath indeed invented a tremendous sin.”
The last verse in Islam is associated with an unforgivable sin called “shirk” (associating). As suggested, Allah, if he pleases, can forgive other sins yet if someone breaks his commitment to the only one God, he falls beyond Allah’ remission. Thus it appears that this strong monotheistic attitude is an undeniable bond between the two religions. Read the rest of this entry »