Do Christians and Muslims worship the same God?

The political turmoil in the world has brought to the forefront many questions about Islam. Some of these questions stem from curiosity about the beliefs of Muslims. Some of these questions stem from declarations made on the news or other pundits. One particular declaration demands careful consideration. A few weeks ago Pope Francis weighed in and repeated the common assertion that Allah is really the same as Jehovah. Is this claim true? Is the God of Quran the same as the God of the Bible?

Certainly Allah and Jehovah have much in common. They are both creator gods who rule supreme over all creation. They are both almighty, compassionate and just. They both offer eternal bliss to those who worship them. Neither shares worship with other gods, but declares himself to be the only true God. Even their common names seem to hint that these gods may be one and the same. In the Old Testament, God is identified as El and Elohim. Both words are generic Hebrew names for deities. The name Allah is rooted in the generic Arabic word for a deity. The similarity between the two terms even carries across in their English transliterations. Many have used these linguistic similarities to argue that El and Allah are just different names for the same God.

On the surface, these sound like reasonable arguments. With a little bit deeper digging it soon becomes evident that, despite some similiarities, the God of Christianity and the God of Islam are nothing alike. Consider three major differences. Allah is a single God, no deities are equal with him and his person is single. Jehovah is a triune God. No deities are equal with him and His person is triune. The Quran distinctly teaches that Allah has no parts, nor persons. The Bible distinctly teaches that Jehovah is one God who consists of three persons. Allah is not a Triune God, Jehovah is. Closely related to the first difference is the difference in their relationship to Jesus. Allah has no Son and none are equal with him. Jesus is not the Son of Allah. Jesus is not Allah made flesh. Jehovah has a Son who is fully God. Jesus is God made flesh, the second person of the Trinity. Jehovah is Jesus. Jesus is not Allah, Jesus is Jehovah. A third example is that of the grace of god. Allah saves according to his grace. His salvation is given to those who earned his grace by their submission to him. Allah’s grace is granted to those who deserve it. Jehovah saves according to His grace. His grace is given to those who do not try to earn it. The Bible presents God’s grace as something that cannot be merited. As Paul says in Romans 11:6, if grace is earned it is not grace. Though many similarities exist between Allah and Jehovah, even a brief comparison reveals the differences make it impossible for the two gods to be the same.

Consider someone who claims to have met your wife. As he talks about her he has some basic details correct. She is female, lives in your house, cooks meals for the family and likes to watch TV with you. As the conversation continues it becomes apparent that the other also believes your wife to be an 8 foot tall, green skinned ogress who rips the heads off small dogs. If you were protest that your wife is not actually a violent, green monster it would be ludicrous for the speaker to insist you are both talking about the same person. The similarities between the character being spoken of and the actual spouse in question do not outweigh the monumental differences. Though there are many similarities between Jehovah and Allah, the monumental differences render it impossible for them to be the same. Only one conclusion is possible, Christians and Muslims worship very different Gods.

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