Allah or Yahweh
This is the eighth in a series of posts about Islam. For more articles in this series, click on the links at the end of this article.
“Do Christians and Muslims worship the same god?” You might have heard this question asked before, and you might have even asked it yourself. As an Arab Christian, this is one of the top questions I can predict I will be asked by a Western believer when they first meet me.
The Name of God
As an Arab Christian, I do worship Allah. Let me explain. The word Allah is the Arabic word for God. It is the word for God used in the Arabic Bible. It is the word I use when I sing to God in Arabic hymns and worship songs. It is the word I use in my daily prayers. I worship the Allah who revealed himself in the Bible.
As an Arab Christian, I also do not worship Allah. Let me explain. Merely naming another deity by the same name does not render this deity true. If someone you know worships an idol (work, entertainment, nature, Buddha, the Flying Spaghetti Monster) and calls this idol “God,” this does not make the idol truly God, nor does it make God this idol. This is in part what universalists do. Some claim they worship Jehovah, but they are not worshiping the biblical Yahweh. Every time I hear someone say “I believe in god,” my reply is, “Which one?” In a similar manner, those who worship the Allah spoken of in the Quran do not worship the one true God, for they deny his Triune revelation and his revealed character.
Does our God listen to Muslims praying? Surely. He is benevolent, making the sun to rise and the rain to fall on the righteous and the unrighteous (Matt 5:45). In his omniscience and omnipresence, he surely hears the pleas of those who do not worship him, even if they do not pray to him. However, his benevolence does not render their acts worship, but rather it shows them all the more to be idolatrous. God has revealed himself in the Bible, and unless he is worshiped according to his revelation, anyone—regardless of what they call themselves—who worships him in any way that diminishes his revelation and does not honor him as Lord and holy, would not be worshiping him in spirit and truth.
The Nature of God
The Bible is clear that there is only one God, eternal, Triune, manifesting himself as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He is holy, loving, and gracious. While the Muslim Allah is reactive as he shows love in response to the good works of people, the Christian Allah (Yahweh) is proactive as he creates by his love the desire in believers to do good works. Yahweh does not depend on our works for love because he has known this love eternally in the Persons of the Trinity. But the monad Allah of Islam did not know love from eternity because he is singular, and as such he acquired love in response to people’s works. This shows a lack in Allah’s character, even a need. Any deity that shows such flaws is not perfect. Any such deity is not immutable. Any deity or idol that needs to improve is not worthy of worship. Our God has no need for us or our works, for he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything (Acts 17:24-31).
The Standards of God
Furthermore, Yahweh’s standards are perfect and unchanging. In his holiness, he must punish sin to extend forgiveness. The standards of the Allah in the Quran are different. In response to advice by Moses, Muhammad bargained with Allah when Allah demanded too much piety and prayers. Allah responded by cutting down on the requirements and lowering his standards. Once more, this Allah is not immutable. Even more, Allah does not demand a sacrifice for sin, but he may simply overlook the trespasses of some, which is a total affront to any justice, let alone divine justice. While Allah is capricious, Yahweh is merciful and gracious without ever violating his justice. Indeed, it was in his justice that he poured his wrath on Jesus as our Lord and thereby paid for sin on the cross. God’s wrath was satisfied, God’s justice was upheld, and mercy and grace are extended to sinners.
Jesus Christ, truly God and truly man, is the great I Am (John 8:58). Anyone who denies this truth does not worship the one true God. He is eternally existent. God is eternally Father because of Jesus. Father and Son are eternally loving because of the fellowship with the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit. Yahweh is eternally good, eternally perfect, lacking nothing, immutable yesterday, today, and forever. He needs nothing and no one. But all need him, and everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
For more articles in this series on Islam, click on the links below: