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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What does Jehovah mean?

The name Jehovah is probably familiar to many who attend church on a regular basis. Even those who do not attend church may be aware of it because of a visit from a couple Jehovah’s Witnesses. Though the word may be familiar, it is not necessarily understood. What exactly is Jehovah? The simple answer is that Jehovah is the proper name of the God of the Bible. Ancient religions had gods such as Zeus, Odin or Ra. Modern religions have gods like Allah or Vishnu. The title “god” is a generic title that is applied to all deities in all religions. To distinguish one deity from another, many of them had specific names. The God of the Bible tells us His name to distinguish Himself from all other deities. The name of God has come down to us today as Jehovah.

The name Jehovah is found early in the Bible, it’s first use being in Genesis 2. Jehovah is found throughout the book of Genesis, but in Exodus 3 God explains the significance of His name. For generations the nation of Israel was enslaved in the land of Egypt. God spoke to Moses and told him to go to Pharaoh and request permission for the Israelites to leave the country. In response, Moses asked God what he should tell the Israelites when they asked who sent him. The Israelites were in a land that worshiped hundreds of gods. When Moses informed them God had sent him to deliver them, they would naturally want to know which particular god was doing the sending. “And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.” (Exodus 3:14) God says His name is “I AM”. The name “I AM” is the word that has been translated into English as Jehovah. Jehovah means “I AM”.

The simple definition is not a full explanation of the name Jehovah. In telling Moses who He is, God is telling Moses something important about His nature. Jehovah, or I AM, is a declaration that God is eternal. He is not “I was” or “I will be”. He is I AM. He is changeless. What He is now He always has been and always will be. He is self existent. He simply is. He does not owe His existence to another god before Him. He is not dependent on some outside agency. He exists because He is God who has always existed. The name Jehovah declares the eternal, changeless, self-existent nature of God.

Of course, when God spoke to Moses He did so in Hebrew. The name He gave to Moses would have been written in Hebrew, which is quite different from English. A close English approximation of the Hebrew word is YHWH. The word Jehovah is a rough English transliteration and pronunciation of the Hebrew name. Though some people make a big deal out of saying Yahweh instead of Jehovah, the English translation is a legitimate and proper use of God’s name. Most English translations of the Bible translate YHWH as LORD, and print the name a little differently to inform the reader that the original is speaking of Jehovah. Any time a Bible translation has the word Lord in all capital letters, it is indicating the name Jehovah. Jehovah is the proper name for the God of the Bible, a name that distinguishes Him from all the false gods and that declares to man His infinite nature.