In the December issue of Themelios Fred Farrokh (a Muslim-background Christian who currently serves as an international trainer with Global Initiative) has written an article looking at how Muslim scholars view the question, “Do Christians and Muslims worship the same God?”(subsequently referred to as SGQ). The article is available online at this link.
Farrokh points out that Muslim scholars answer the SGQ with an emphatic and unequivocal “NO“. At most they would say that we share the concept of a creator God.
The article abstract notes:
This article looks at this age-old question from the Islamic point of view, noting that Muslim scholars have not mirrored their Christian counterparts in moving toward theological reconciliation. … While Muslim scholars have largely minded their Unitarian orthodoxy, Christians have been much more lax in standing for their belief in one loving God, eternally co-existing as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. (p.464)
Farrokh cites the special edition of the Occasional Bulletin of the Evangelical Missiological Society published in January 2016 in which there was not a consensus on the question. (See our blog post on that edition). Farrokh then turns to two interfaith efforts by Muslim scholars: the 2007 “A Common Word between Us and You” and the 2016 “Marrakesh Declaration“. Farrokh applauds the desire on the part of Christian missiologists to improve relations with the Muslim world but states that,
The EMS query constitutes an anthropocentric version of the SGQ. It could be better rendered theologically: Is the God presented in the Qur’an the same God presented in the Bible? (p 465).
The author writes,
Muslims are not moving toward Christians on the SGQ, because to do so would necessarily require them to abandon the foundational tenet of Islam – Tawhid (Divine Unity). (p 465).
He then cites evidence from the two documents mentioned above. In writing about the “Common Word” document, Farrokh states:
Though this document highlights values cherished by Muslims and Christians alike, such as love of God and love of neighbor, the Muslim scholars nevertheless fail to hold out an olive branch to their Christian counterparts regarding the SGQ. Instead, they immediately follow their initial insistence on acceptance of Muhammad with one of his hadith statements that Allah ‘has no associate,’ a clear admonition against belief in the Sonship of Christ and the Trinity. (p 466)
Later in the article the author points out Islam and Christianity can only agree on a creator God who “brought forth and sustains creation” (p 471).
Muhammad’s theological position closes the door on reconciling Islamic Unitarianism with biblical Trinitarianism. Therefore, it is no surprise that Muslims are not moving toward Christians on the SGQ.
Muslim and Christian scholar-leaders may find theological common cause on a number of issues. These could include: theism in the face of secularism, creation/origins, as well as standing against abortion on demand. The mutually exclusive positions of the Bible and the Qur’an on the identity of Jesus Christ, however, rule out any rapprochement on the SGQ. (p 471)
Farrokh’s concluding thoughts are:
The current debate over the SGQ has precipitated a crisis for Christians. Muslims themselves do not seem embroiled in a parallel season of anguish and hand-wringing regarding the SGQ. Since Islam is a strictly Unitarian faith which denies the Trinity and the divinity of Jesus, any affirmative response by Evangelicals to the Same God Question can only hasten our rapid decline into a mainline manifestation of “Evangeliberalism,” and the ultimate extinguishing of our missional candle.
The cost of moving away from biblical Trinitarianism is the loss of fellowship with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. This loss renders Christians unable to help Muslims toward salvation in Christ, regardless of the status of inter-communal relations. Christians can encourage the ongoing process of Muslims coming to Christ by minding well the guiding light of biblical orthodoxy. (p 472)