Who is God? Answers from Christianity and Islam


This is the third installment of my series on Faith and Families. These weekly videos are generally based on the lectionary passages for the upcoming Sunday and seek to find ways families can discuss passage, along with providing a family activity that relates to the message. This week we are going off lectionary to explore Christianity and Islam’s view of God.

Who is God?

Christianity and Islam have different, but not opposing, answers. In this video and in the text below, I explore the essence of their answers.

God in Christianity

There is a verse in the New Testament that claims “God is love.” It’s one of only two passages in the New Testament that define God. The other passage states, “God is light and in him there is no darkness at all.”

Love is how Christianity defines God. For the New Testament, God’s love is universal. As Jesus says, it extends even to those we call our enemies.

God is defined as love in the New Testament, but how does the New Testament define love? If you’ve ever been to a wedding, you’ve heard 1 Corinthians 13. It goes like this:

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.


Who is the ‘we’ in ‘the God we serve’? Yale scholar takes up Christian-Muslim question

275168-Miroslav-VolfMiroslav Volf, founding director of the Yale Center for Faith and Culture, is visiting Oklahoma City as guest lecturer for the McGaw Lectures at Oklahoma  Christian University.

OC leaders said the Yale scholar’s presentation tonight, April 12, is free but people were required to request tickets for admittance and all of the tickets have been distributed.

Obviously, there’s widespread interest in Volf’s lecture, likely because his presentation is to be based on his 2011 book “Allah: A Christian Response.” In it, Volf, Yale’s Henry B. Wright Professor of Systematic Theology, addresses the question “Do Christians and Muslims believe in the same God?”

Volf took some time today to answer a few questions on this thought-provoking topic:

Q: Why did you decide to write your book “Allah: A Christian Response”?

A: The occasion for writing the book was a conference we had organized around the question of what binds Muslims and Christians together, if anything binds them together. That conference itself was the result of a very famous letter that 138 Muslim scholars had written addressed primarily to Pope Benedict XVI, but to all the Christians, called “A Common Word.” In this text, they claimed that what binds Muslims and Christians together is a command to love God and to love one’s neighbor. That was kind of a revolutionary document. I was an author of a Christian response with an equal number or even greater number of signatories from the Christian side. A result of that was that I started asking myself, OK, so let’s assume that that’s true, that what binds Muslims and Christians together, and Jews too, is love  of God, love of neighbor –- do we mean the same thing by “love”? Do we mean the same thing by “neighbor”? Who is my neighbor is the famous question from the New Testament. Then finally, do we mean the same thing by “God”? So when I have examined these three questions that I asked myself, I thought … where are some ways the One whom we worship can be said to be the same? That then became the question that I sought to explore — in a sense, to help first clarify what is the truth of the matter from a Christian standpoint and then help in mutual understanding among Muslims and Christians.


Steve Chalke: Some Muslim teaching is closer to Christ than some churches’

muslimSteve Chalke, pastor and founder of the Oasis charity, has told Christian Today he believes parts of Islamic theology better reflect God’s character than some Christian teaching.

In an interview to coincide with the release of his new book Radical, Chalke explained how he had come to the conclusion “Muslims and Christians worship the same God”.

Within Christianity there are vastly different interpretations of God, Chalke said, citing issues such as human sexuality, women bishops and speaking in tongues on which he disagrees with some other Christians.

“As individuals we all worship different shades of the same God,” he told Christian Today.

“There are Christians who worship a militant, violent God. There are Christians who worship a God who doesn’t want women in leadership. There are Christians who worship a God who says if you are gay you will burn in hell. There are Christians who worship a God who does not believe in global warming.”

He added: “I don’t separate from them even though they have a very different take on God’s character from me.”

He cited the theologian Miroslav Volf, who took a similar line in his book Allah: A Christian Response.

Chalke went on to describe certain elements of Islamic belief such as the theology of ummah or community, which he found “very attractive”.

“I know some emphases in Islamic teaching come closer to the teaching of Christ and the Bible than some teaching in Western churches,” he said.


Can Wheaton College survive its never-ending controversy over Muslim and Christian worship?

wheatonWhen Wheaton College professor Larycia Hawkins stands before a group of her peers next month for their judgment, at stake will be not only Hawkins but the future of evangelicalism.

Or that’s how it can feel these days on the campus of the Illinois college sometimes dubbed “the evangelical Harvard.” Evangelical debate has been intense about whether the hijab-wearing political science professor went too far in saying Christians and Muslims worship the same God. The debate has raised larger questions: How large is the evangelical tent, and who decides who is included?

There is no official hierarchy for one of the country’s largest faith communities, and the debate over whom can be labeled an evangelical is particularly relevant as presidential candidates clamor for the “evangelical vote.”

This week, Wheaton’s faculty council, which represents the college’s 211 faculty, unanimously voted to recommend the administration withdraw its efforts to fire Hawkins and to end her administrative leave, citing “grave concerns” about the process.

The dispute is splitting those affiliated with the college, the alma mater of evangelist Billy Graham and considered one of the standard-bearers of U.S. evangelicalism. Alumni have flooded the college with letters and the evangelical magazine Christianity Today — without picking a side — warned that the issue “threatens to undo” the college.


Muslims and Christians are more similar than you think

History (1)Recently a professor at Wheaton College in the US was put on ‘administrative leave’ after she donned a hijab to show her solidarity with Muslims and expressed that Christians and Muslims worship the same God. Wheaton College is an Evangelical Christian institution which holds firmly to fundamentals of the Evangelical church. The Statement of Faith of Wheaton College defines Evangelical belief in God as,

“WE BELIEVE in one sovereign God, eternally existing in three persons: the everlasting Father, His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, and the Holy Spirit, the giver of life; and we believe that God created the Heavens and the earth out of nothing by His spoken word, and for His own glory.”

While we all like to believe that we can distinguish God in Islam from God in Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism or any other religion for that matter – we tend to forget that we are talking about an entity beyond our human comprehension.

Essentially, the idea of God is a personalised perspective and every individual understands God through the relationship that he or she develops with Him. In other words, since we cannot comprehend God, what we think is God – is basically our relationship with God.

While the idea of Divine Unity in Christianity is similar to the idea of God in Islam, the concept of Trinity is rather unclear to many Muslims and does not concur with the Islamic understanding of God. However, if we refer to the Holy Quran, we are reassured that from the Islamic standpoint, Muslims and Christians do indeed get their theological message from the same Divine entity, who was Abraham’s God.

In the Holy Quran, God has stated not to argue with the People of Scriptures, except in the best manner excluding those who have committed injustice, and have unity and faith unto whatever has been sent down from His side. He tells believers to discard all bigotries and separations. Moreover, God clearly states that Muslims, Christians and Jews have the same God. (Al- ‘Ankabut: 46)


Wheaton College seeks to fire Christian professor over view of Islam

Screen-ShotWheaton College has begun the process of firing a professor who said Muslims and Christians worship the same God, the teacher and the west suburban school confirmed Tuesday.

Larycia Hawkins, a tenured political science professor who in December demonstrated solidarity with her Muslim neighbors by wearing a hijab, said at the end of last year that the college appeared ready to force her out after she had rejected recommendations to resign. This week she received word from Provost Stanton Jones that the termination process had begun.

“The Notice is not a termination; rather, it begins Wheaton College’s established process for employment actions pertaining to tenured faculty members,” the private evangelical college said in a statement confirming the latest development.

Hawkins, 43, announced last month that she would don the hijab as part of her Advent devotion to show support for Muslims who have been under scrutiny since mass shootings in Paris and San Bernardino, Calif.

Though the college did not take a position on her wearing the headscarf, some evangelical Christians said her statement should have spelled out what makes Christianity distinct from Islam. Not doing so put her in conflict with the statement of faith that all Wheaton faculty members must sign and live out, they said.


How controversial is it to say Christians and Muslims worship the same God?


A tenured Wheaton College professor could soon be terminated because of a Facebook post in which she wrote that Christians and Muslims worship the same God.

In a post last December that included pictures of her wearing a headscarf, Larycia Hawkins, who teaches political science at the private evangelical Christian college in Illinois, shared her religious sentiments.

“I stand in religious solidarity with Muslims because they, like me, a Christian, are people of the book.” Hawkins wrote. “And as Pope Francis stated last week, we worship the same God.”

Hawkins was referring to Pope Francis’s speech in which he said thatChristians and Muslims are “brothers and sisters.”

The Pope’s expression of theological unity between Christians and Muslims may be uncontroversial among many of the world’s Catholics and some mainline Protestants, but many Evangelicals take a different view.

A December 22 statement released by Wheaton College clarified that their decision to suspend Dr. Hawkins was due to theological reasons entirely based on Hawkins comments, which violated the college’s statement of faith, and not because she wore a hijab, as some news outlets had reported.

“While Islam and Christianity are both monotheistic, we believe there are fundamental differences between the two faiths, including what they teach about God’s revelation to humanity, the nature of God, the path to salvation, and the life of prayer,” the College wrote in the statement.