Do Christians and Muslims Worship the Same God? Absolutely Not. Here’s Why.

My article in PJ Media on a much-misunderstood topic:

The Qur’an says that Christians and Muslims worship the same God (29:46), and so does the Catholic Church. The Irish Catholic newspaper recently considered this question and offered an argument from authority, which is the weakest of all arguments: Christians and Muslims worship the same God because the Catholic Church’s Second Vatican Council says so in the documents Lumen Gentium and Nostra Aetate. But a closer examination of the evidence shows this to be false.

Besides the obvious differences regarding the Trinity, the crucifixion, and the divinity of Christ, there are deeper differences that are often overlooked.

  1. Free will. There are numerous passages of the Qur’an, as well as indications from Islamic tradition, to the effect that not only can no one believe in Allah except by his will, so also no one can disbelieve in him except by his active will. “And to whoever God assigns no light, no light has he” (24:40).

The issue of free will versus predestination has, of course, vexed Christians of various sects for centuries, as different biblical passages are given different weight in various traditions. Calvinism, of course, in its pure form is notorious for its doctrine of double predestination, the idea that God has destined people for hell as well as for salvation. But this position is largely unique to them in the Christian tradition, which generally holds that God desires all men and women to be saved, and gives them the means to attain this salvation. The idea that God would create men for hell is in total conflict with the proposition that God “desires all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4), and that he “takes no pleasure in the death of anyone” (Ezekiel 18:32).

The situation in Islam is, on first glance, even worse, with the Qur’an’s testimony on this, as on other matters, appearing to be hopelessly contradictory. The Qur’an, says the Qur’an, is “nothing but a reminder to all beings, for whoever of you who would go straight; but you will not do so unless Allah wills, the Lord of all Being” (81:27-29). Those who would “go straight” — follow Allah’s straight path — cannot do so “unless Allah wills.”

The Qur’an goes significantly further than that, into a more or less open determinism: “If Allah had willed, he would have made you one nation; but he leads astray those whom he wills, and guides those whom he wills; and you will surely be questioned about the things you have done” (16:93). Even though everything is in Allah’s hands, even the decision of the individual to obey him or not — for he leads astray those whom he wills, and guides to the truth whom he wills — human beings will still be held accountable for the things they have done.

Allah even sends people to hell based not on their deeds, but solely upon his fiat: “And if we had willed, We could have given every soul its guidance, but the word from me will come into effect: I will surely fill hell with jinn and people all together” (32:13).

The Qur’an repeats this idea many times: Those who have rejected Allah do so because he made it possible for them to do nothing else. And indeed, given the fact that in the Islamic scheme of creation and salvation, human beings are the slaves of Allah, not his children, the rejection of free will is not altogether surprising. Allah tells Muhammad that “some of them there are who listen to you, and we lay veils on their hearts so that they don’t understand it, and in their ears heaviness; and if they see any sign whatever, they do not believe in it, so that when they come to you they dispute with you, the unbelievers saying, ‘This is nothing but the fairy-tales of the ancient ones’” (6:25-6).

There is much, much more. Read the rest here.

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