July 12, 2024

This morning I opened my email inbox to find a Special Edition of the Occasional Bulletin of the Evangelical Missiological Society. The Topic: Wheaton and the Controversy Over Whether Muslims and Christians Worship the Same God” was compelling and realigned my plans for today to read through the 32 pages.

After an introductory article by Robert J. Priest, the president of EMS, the bulletin includes 22 short articles that briefly address the question: “What are the missiological implications of affirming, or denying, that Muslims and Christians worship the same God?” I was happy to see in the word from the editor that “While our Occasional Bulletin is normally only available for EMS members, this special issue is open to the public.” So I am free to share with you the link to the bulletin.

I encourage you to read through the bulletin. Many of the writers think that the question needs to be refined in some way and that there is a “yes” and “no” response. There is discussion of what we mean by “worship” and “same”. Various authors point out similarities between Christianity and Islam as well as important differences. But as you will see, the question cannot be answered simply nor is it the kind of question to begin our outreach to Muslims.

My own take on the question is that it is poorly framed and can lead to a misunderstanding of both Islam and Christianity. As monotheist we share a basic understanding of God with both Muslims and Jews. Yes, we seek points of contact as Paul did in Acts 17 as a bridge to declare the gospel of Jesus Christ who is “the way, the truth and the life” and the only way to the Father (John 14:6).   But the Doctrine of the Trinity and the Incarnation are essential for a Christian understanding of God and these doctrines are repudiated by both Islam and Judaism. Witness to the religious Other is not a matter of the least common denominator.

Gary Ridley,
SEND U Missiologist

3 thoughts on “EMS Occasional Bulletin on Same God Question

  1. Did Paul worship the same God as we do, while he persecuted the followers of Jesus? It is interesting to know that the first question Paul asked on the Damascus Road was: “Who are you Lord?” The answer was: “Jesus” Saul/Paul is much like followers of ISIS today. They believe they are serving God. We must pray that their eyes be opened so that they ask the question: “Who are you Lord?”

  2. Again, I think that the question of the same God is the wrong question to ask. Paul writes that the Jews have a . zeal for God but not according to knowledge. (Romans 10:2) and that the Greeks worshiped the unknown god in ignorance. There are similarities in the concept of God but not equation. Sameness implies equation which would misrepresent both Islam and Christianity. If the question were, Do Muslims and Christians worship a similar God?, then the discussion could more forward toward more clarity and less confusion.
    Thanks for your comment.
    Gary J. Ridley

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