Do Christians and Muslims Pray to the Same God?DO CHRISTIANS AND MUSLIMS PRAY TO THE SAME GOD?
Many times in the last few months we have heard it said that Christians and Muslims pray to the same God. We pray to Jesus, Muslims pray to Allah. It’s all the same, or so we are told. I heard about a deacon who prayed, “Lord, Yahweh, Allah, or by whatever name you are called, God.” It sounds clever and cute, but then the mind wonders, “Why didn’t he add Krishna and Buddha to the list?” Ramesh Richard, a professor at Dallas Seminary, has an excellent discussion of this question on his website: www.rreach.org. He points out that the word “God” means different things to different people and that Jesus is the sticking point: “As long as Christians don’t introduce the name of Jesus into deity, we could all pray to the same God.” As followers of Christ, we do not share a “generic” God with other religions. Because we believe that Jesus Christ was fully God and fully man, we cannot and will not use the word “God” in any way that does not include the Lord Jesus Christ as God. We fully agree that Muslims, Christians and Jews all worship one God but that does not end the discussion. “Jews, Christians and Muslims believe in one God, but not in the One God. All three believe in one God, but not in the same God. We really do invite all people to believe in the same, One God–the Lord Jesus Christ.” How does this truth impact how we should relate to our Muslim friends, neighbors and coworkers? We ought to be kind and courteous toward the beliefs of others and it behooves us to give others room to practice their faith even as we seek room to practice ours. We can live together, work together, talk together and sometimes we can be very close friends. We can pray for our Muslim friends, and if they pray for us, we can receive it as an act of kindness on their part. It’s not impossible for people from widely different backgrounds to get to know each other and to have close personal relationships. However, in our quest to be good neighbors, we should not give up the heart and soul of Christianity. Surely at this season of year, when we celebrate the entrance of God Incarnate into the human race, we should gladly proclaim that Jesus Christ is God, which means that there is no God apart from Jesus Christ. We do not do our Muslim friends any favors if we deny or downplay this truth. We must not leave the impression that “we have God with Jesus and you have God without Jesus.” The New Testament will not permit us to say a thing like that. Let me paraphrase a bumper sticker I saw that seems to say it very clearly: No Jesus, No God Know Jesus, Know God.