Christians and Muslims
Christianity and Islam are monotheistic religions, that is, both believe in one God. However, that does not imply that Christians and Muslims worship the same God. Two men may be married to one woman, but that does not necessarily mean that they are married to the same woman!
The modern Catholic Church has defined her relations to non-Christian religions in a document entitled Nostra Aetate. The section on Islam begins thus:
On the basis of such teaching, most modern Catholics (unlike their forefathers) are convinced that they and Muslims worship the same God. As Pope Francis said in a recent tweet, "We Christians and Muslims believe in God, the Creator and the Merciful."
Is this true? Is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ the same as Allah? What does the Bible teach about God? What does the Koran say?
The True and Living God
Following the ordinance of our Lord, Christians are baptised in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. The baptismal formula of the initiation rite reflects the Christian doctrine of the holy Trinity. The disciples are baptized in the singular name of God (for God is one), and yet, three distinct persons are mentioned, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
The biblical doctrine on the Trinity is correctly expressed in the Nicene and Athanasian creeds:
These definitions were forged in the furnace of great controversies in the early church. Heretics troubled the church with false doctrines about God, especially Arius, who denied the Deity of Christ. In response, the orthodox Fathers laboured in the Scriptures to formulate the true doctrine of God. They understood the fundamental importance of this doctrine, and rightly warned that: 'This is the catholic faith, which except a man shall have believed faithfully and firmly he cannot be in a state of salvation.'
The importance of the doctrine of the Deity of Christ cannot be overstated. Unless the Son is truly God and 'one with the Father', Christians would be idolaters, for we regard Jesus as our Lord and Saviour and gladly worship him. If Jesus were not God, we would be found trusting in a creature for our salvation. But we confess that Jesus is not merely another prophet, but the Son of God. The Jews in hid day understood well what he meant by that title: 'For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God' (John 10:33). They did not believe his claim to Deity and condemned him to death for blasphemy. But Christians understand his claim and believe him; we trust and worship the Son of God; we live and die for our Lord. For in Christ we know God in truth:
The Son is the true God; any other god is an idol.
Islam vehemently rejects the doctrine of God as revealed in Holy Scriptures.
Islam denies the Trinity:
Islam denies the Father and the Son:
Islam denies the Deity of Christ:
Clearly then, the Koran denies:
The conclusion is inevitable: the god of Islam is not the same God of the Holy Scriptures. Christians do not adore the same God as Muslims. Muslims are not merely ignorant of the Triune nature of God and the Deity of the Son: the Koran explicitly negates the doctrine of Christ as taught in the Bible. Rather than adoring God with us, Muslims pray to their god that he might destroy us because of our faith in Christ, the Son of God. 'The Christians say: The Messiah is the son of Allah; these are the words of their mouths; they imitate the saying of those who disbelieved before; may Allah destroy them' (Sura 9:29-30).
The Catholic Position
The Roman Catholic Church upholds the doctrine of the Trinity (Catechism paragraphs 261-267). It is therefore astounding that the Catechism contradicts everything the Catholic Church has taught about God and states that Catholics and Muslims worship the same God:
According to the Catechism, 'together with us (Catholics) they (Muslims) adore the one, merciful God.' Pope John Paul II repeats this statement even more clearly. Addressing Muslim youths, the Pope said: 'We believe in the same God, the one and only God, the living God, the God who creates worlds and brings creatures to their perfection' (What Dialogue Means for Catholics and Muslims, US Conference of Catholic Bishops).
How could Catholics and Muslims worship the same God since Muslims deny the Trinity, the Sonship and the Deity of our Lord? Quite frankly, the statement that Catholics and Muslims adore the same God is false. I will not speculate on the motives of the modern Catholic hierarchy for making this false assertion. However, it should be evident to every Catholic who has complete confidence in the infallibility and unchangeableness of the Roman magisterium, that in fact the Vatican's teaching on this matter has changed and that it is both fallible and mistaken.
Dr Robert Reymond comments on the odd stand of Roman Catholicism on Islam:
The Christian response to Muslims should be twofold. Firstly, we must separate ourselves from Islam and clearly state that it is a false religion. 'Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds' (2 John 9-11). Christians do not have any ecumenical relationship with Muslims. We cannot participate in their idolatry by saying that we worship the same God. On the contrary, we must warn them that since they do not abide in the doctrine of Christ, they do not have God.
Secondly, we have an evangelistic responsibility towards Muslims. They have been indoctrinated against the Son of God. We must proclaim Jesus, the Son of God, the Lord from Heaven, the Saviour of the World. We must proclaim that he died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the Scriptures. This is our message to Muslims, and to the rest of the world, 'He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him' (John 3:36).
© Dr Joseph Mizzi