On December 17 on this page I addressed the question of whether Muslims and Christians worship the same God. I gave the same answer given by Vatican II, and by the Catholic Church since the Council: yes. Muslims and Christians do worship the same God, even though Islam holds an imperfect understanding of the divine, since it denies Christ’s divinity and thus, by implication, God’s triune nature.
As the Church declared in Nostra Aetate (1965): “[Muslims] adore the one God, living and subsisting in Himself; merciful and all- powerful, the Creator of heaven and earth, who has spoken to men. . . .Though they do not acknowledge Jesus as God, they revere Him as a prophet.”
This argument prompted several critical replies, almost exclusively from non-Catholic Christians, including distinguished thinkers such as Albert Mohler, Andrew Walker, Matthew Cochran, and Peter Leithart. (To say nothing of a raft of outrage from TCT readers.) Each, with differing emphases, correctly documents what Christians believe are the inadequacies of Muslim theology given how God has progressively revealed himself through history as taught in Scripture. I do not dispute this point; it is actually consistent with my argument.
Consider this example: Lois Lane is in love with Kal-El (Superman’s birth-given name), and believes him to be non-human because he was born on Krypton. Now imagine that Lana Lang is in love with Clark Kent (Superman’s newspaper reporter alter ego), and believes him to be a human being because she thinks he was born of human parents, Martha and Jonathan Kent. Lois does not know that Kal-El is really Clark Kent, and Lana does not know that Clark Kent is really Kal-El.
Are Lois and Lana in love with the same man? Of course they are, even though one of them is clearly mistaken about some of her beliefs about Kal-El/Clark and his nature. The reason for this is that there is only one being that is essentially Kal-El.
In the same way, there is only one being that is essentially God: the uncaused, perfect, unchanging, self-subsistent, eternal Creator and sustainer of all that which receives its being from another. As St. Paul puts it in his sermon on Mars Hill, “The God who made the world and everything in it, he who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by human hands. . . .[I]n him we live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17: 24, 28)
If this is who you worship, you worship God. Nevertheless, you would do well to heed the concluding remarks St. Paul preached that day in Athens: “While God has overlooked the times of human ignorance, now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will have the world judged in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.” (Acts 17: 30-31)
The ellipsis in the excerpt above represents much… go now and read the rest.
Lots of clarity offered on what has become serious fodder for blogs and social media of late, most of which is filled with bluster and ignorance.
Crossposted at Brutally Honest.