Recently I’ve seen several posts on FB, and several other comments on FB posts, that accuse prominent Christians (Rick Warren, Miroslav Volf) of teaching that the Allah of Islam and the Judeo-Christian Yahweh are the same.
An aside: I should note here that I reject equating Allah with Yahweh. The New Testament tells us that Jesus is the clearest, fullest statement of who Yahweh is. Allah does not reflect the things that Jesus teaches us about Yahweh, therefore I reject the notion that Allah = Yahweh, except on only the most basic mythic level (i.e., purportedly the God of Abraham).
But this post isn’t about whether Allah = Yahweh. It’s about whether Christians who urge Christians and Muslims to cooperate and dialogue are betraying the gospel when they do so.
The insinuation is that, by likening or equating Allah and Yahweh, these leaders are compromising true Christianity and forsaking the gospel. Does this necessary follow? Are they saying that there is no difference between Allah and the God of the Bible, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ?
Their basis for equating Allah with Yahweh is that Christianity, Judaism, and Islam are all generally thought to share the same basic stories about God and Abraham; we all trace our origins back to the wanderer from Ur and his covenant with God. You can develop the claim further; Volf certainly does. But that’s the basic assertion.
(Read HERE for a solid but mostly negative review of Volf’s book, Allah: A Christian Response.)
Based on this assertion, one can argue that Allah = Yahweh. You can further argue that Yahweh has been misunderstood and misinterpreted, caricatured into the Allah of militant Islam. This is likely Warren’s position, and (whether factually correct or incorrect) it is not itself antithetical to the gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ. (Volf’s position is more nuanced, of course.)
So here is the argument:
- Christians and Muslims share a set of origin stories featuring Abraham. That’s a statement of fact.
- Christians and Muslims, while sharing a set of origin stories, have separate and irreconcilable faiths. That also is a statement of fact IMHO. The picture of Jesus in Islam is antithetical to Christian faith.
- Christians and Muslims, while of separate and irreconcilable faiths, should be willing to work together and dialogue in recognition of our shared spiritual ancestor, Abraham. As I understand it, this is where both Warren and Volf are.
The final statement is more controversial, but I think it follows the example of Jesus (his actions toward the Samaritans are the first-century equivalent of 21st-century Christian interaction with Muslims.)
As Jesus said, “I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.” (John 10.16) C.S. Lewis depicts this beautifully in The Last Battle.