I received a question about whether Islam and Christianity worshipped the same God. The respondent said that since there is only One God, then we must worship the same God.
My response is below:
You are quite right in saying that there is only one God. The issue comes down to referent. What does it mean to refer to something?
Consider if you and a friend are walking down a street, and you see a man and woman coming towards you. The man seems to express care and concern for the woman.
Now imagine that you say to your friend, “That woman’s husband is kind.” Suppose, however, that your friend knows the pair and knows that they are brother and sister. Suppose as well that he knows the woman’s husband to be a cruel man.
What can we say about your comment then? Are you referring to the right man but are mistaken about his identity (mistaking him for a husband instead of a brother)? Are you referring to the wrong man but are mistaken about his character (thinking her husband is kind when really he is cruel)? This is the difficulty in discussing whether Muslims or Christians worship the same God. A Christian could just as easily say that the Muslim is referring to the right God but is mistaken about his nature and how to properly worship him as he could say that the Muslim refers to a different God altogether.
It may be more helpful to talk about whether the Muslim or the Christian conception of God is superior. Christians conceive of God as essentially loving, a maximally great being who loves even his enemies. This is not the Muslim conception of God. The Muslim conception is of a God who loves only those who love him first. Neither is he essentially loving, as he can choose to be loving or not to be loving.
I recommend you review Question #459 from the Reasonable Faith website for a more comprehensive response.
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