My Mom and COVID 19

Please see the important, special note at the bottom of today’s post.

As I write today, my mom is awaiting the results of her recent COVID test. She’s one of millions who’ve been tested this week, but her results matter to me more than all the rest. She’s my mom.

I wonder if there’s a similar dynamic lighting up the question of whether or not the God of the Bible and the Allah of Islam are the same person. This matters to us because something very close to our hearts seems to be at stake.

Three things I think:

  1. The question gets deep in a hurry. The emotion intrinsic to the debate is equaled by its complexity. As such, I’m hesitant to embrace short, “It’s obvious, you dumb dumb!” sorts of answers.
  2. There are places where the question is dealt with kindly and respectfully. I particularly appreciate this short video from Croatian theologian Miroslav Volf and this blog post from the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary.
  3. This matters to me because I so want Muslims to live. I believe I’m driven by practicality that says, “If Muslims simply have an incomplete view of the God we all serve, the leap of faith is less.”

While I ultimately want us all, including me, to walk in line with truth, to see things as they really are and live accordingly, I’ll admit I’m biased. I want the leap of faith to be as small as possible so that as many as possible will find life in Jesus.

Tune in next week for the basic arguments against God and Allah being the same entity.

If this question is important to you, if it stirs emotion and nudges you to engage, I’d love to hear from you. Why is this question important and what’s your thinking? Please comment here.

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9 Comments

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9 Responses to My Mom and COVID 19

  1. Rich

    Are Allah and the God of the Bible the same entity? I find there are a couple of aspects to this question: one regarding absolute truth and one about experienced truth. Sometimes I like to ask questions of the one asking this question like: Do Mormons and Baptists worship the same God? Do Evangelicals and Catholics worship the same God? Or how about, do you worship the God of the Bible, or your understanding of the God of the Bible?

    We lived with Muslims for 20 years and discovered that some of what they believe about God is much closer to the biblical God than what we believed. Was their revelation incomplete or in error in places? Without a doubt. But then, so in mine. We are all in process of moving toward God or away from him. I get to know him so much better because of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and I want to share that with Muslims. Hopefully that knowledge bring humility, not antagonism.

    • shanedar

      Wow, Rich, that’s very good. I have a little voice in the back of my head saying, “Hey, maybe you should have had Rich write this post!” Thank you.

  2. N8

    Yesterday, I used WhatsApp to inform a Global Outreach Worker my church supports in South Asia that we had voted to double his support from the previous year. He’s a Muslim Background Believer who has access to sharing the gospel among his own people in ways that most of us could never achieve.

    Here’s his reply: “Praise Isa , The Messiah. Our God is the provider for all of us. You know we are praying for our new peoples whom we are with & our extended family. We altogether a greater family to hold each other for reaching our own tribe. Allah answer our prayer through you & [your church]. Thanks God. I am sharing this news our extended family.”

    Instead of cutting and pasting this message and sending it to the rest of the Global Outreach team, I decided to paraphrase it. I knew that his use of the word Allah would greatly complicate the relationship. I know this word to simply be the Arabic word meaning God. Just like the Spanish word for God is Dios. For me, it’s a non-issue. Pick up any Arabic Bible and you’ll find that where it would say “God” in English, it says, “Allah,” in Arabic. I’m not talking about the Qur’an, I mean the BIBLE.

    Would you end support if you got such a message from the field?

    I know this man personally. He and his wife are successfully planting multiple house churches in their own Muslim-majority country and are affiliated with a globally-known agency. Notice that I’m not mentioning any names, because by personal experience I know that there are those who would actively work to defund them. This lack of unity in the kingdom makes me feel very tired.

  3. Colleen K Snyder

    “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except by me.” Conversely, “No one comes to Me except the Father draw him.” I feel that Muslims are no closer to, nor farther away from, Life everlasting than any other man. You can “know” the God of the Bible… and still miss eternity. You can “know” Allah… and still miss eternity. The question will always be, “Who do you say I am?” I know Baptists that don’t know Jesus. If “knowing” God were enough, Jesus would not have said, “Narrow is the way that leads to eternal life.” And there would be no need for missionaries to European countries, or evangelistic meetings here at home. No one is “closer” than anyone else. We all start at ground zero. The leap of faith is no smaller for “Christian churchgoers” than it is for Muslims. The leap is always the same: Who is Jesus? Or so I believe.

  4. David W. King

    I think we can agree that both Muslims and Christians believe that God is Spirit and that He can only be known spiritually and that He created the material universe including all people. But while Christians believe that He is fully revealed in Jesus Christ, Muslims believe that He is revealed primarily in the Qur’an. Christians believe that He is worshipped spiritually in prayer and obedient actions, Muslims seem to believe that He is worshipped primarily in observing the five pillars of Islam (Shehada, ritual prayer, almsgiving, fasting and pilgrimage).

  5. Steve Wibberley

    Are Allah and our God the same? Allah is simply the word for God, so the title has the same meaning. However two entities having the same title does not make them the same. The essence of the being makes them the same, not the name.
    Having lived in the Middle East for many years, having many Muslims friends and many discussions, I remember a conversation with an old and close friend. Since he was near death and worried, I commented that he could trust Allah. “Are you kidding?” He asked me. “Allah is not trustable! He can send a good man to hell and an evil man to heaven. How can I trust him?”
    In contrast, the God of the Bible is loving, gracious, a hater of sin and lover of the sinner who provided a way of salvation, who is just and righteous. This is not Allah, who gave no assurance of salvation, is not just or loving as my Muslim friend pointed out.
    That doesn’t mean we should not use the “bridges” in Islam to help people see the true God, using their partial understanding and helping them to see the faulty view they have.
    However, after reading through the articles and comments you attached, here are some very important points that I will quote here.

    “Muslims [may] believe in the same God, but do not worship the same God. I’m not sure you can truly worship God outside of Jesus Christ.” ”
    “Jesus did not begin to exist when he incarnated as a man. Jesus is eternally co-existent with God, and therefore, the men of God in the old testament did worship God and Christ, in faith, even though they did not fully understand. There was no change in the essence of God, ever. Jesus is God’s eternal Son. The term “Son of God” does not refer to Christ’s physical body – it refers to his true spiritual identity. Before Jesus was incarnated, this was all done in faith through obedience of God’s plan that had not been fully revealed. After Jesus came to earth and completed the sacrificial system in space and time, his name and identity as the Son of God became known, and those who know about him must choose to accept or reject him.

    No matter what conception of God is in the mind of any person of any religion, they cannot be acceptable before God. Any worship of God without acceptance of Jesus is like Cain’s vegetable offering when what God asked for was a blood sacrifice. Without Christ’s sacrifice there is no forgiveness of sins, and no unforgiven sinner can approach a Holy God.

    Another important point, Jesus said we should worship in spirit and truth: the Holy Spirit and Jesus as truth are essential to true worship

  6. Kenneth Munn

    First let’s consider this question. Is God the same as God? Not if we consider the concept of god in Mormonism. The statement: “As we are, God once was; as God is, we may become” reveals much of the problem. In the above statement God of the Bible is certainly not the same as God in Mormonism. If we only look at the name, Allah comes from the same root used for the Creator God used in Aramaic and Hebrew so in that sense they are the same. What makes a difference is not the spelling of the name but rather the characteristics of each. Is John the same as John and John? Not if we are describing John the Baptist, John the Apostle and John the guy in jail for murder. They have the same name but not the same characteristics, at least in all respects. Nabeel Qureshi came to the conclusion that the characteristics of God of the Bible were not comparable with the Allah of the Qurán but they are compatible with Allah of the Bible as Arabic Christians know Him. Having said that I do think there are “handles” in the Qurán that can be useful to bring in a more complete knowledge of the True Allah.

  7. Brad

    My experience is similar to Rich’s. I lived overseas for about 12 years and often found that some (maybe much) of what some Muslims believed about God was more in line with Scripture than what many nominal Christians in America believed. I’ve always likened it to this…

    I grew up believing I was a Christian because I went to church regularly. I prayed on my own on rare occasions. I had never opened a Bible. I wouldn’t have scored high had you tested me on the major tenets of Christian theology. No one had ever clearly explained the gospel to me (it was never discussed in my home). But I did have some concept of “God”. Then in high school, I heard the gospel clearly explained and began to dig into the Bible for myself (as well as minimal instruction from others). I realized that much of what I’d believed about God was right, and much was not right. Reading the Bible and exposure to good teaching was correcting my beliefs about God and bringing it more in line with sound biblical doctrine. With this growing revelation and discovery of the true character of God, I didn’t change how I referred to him. To me, He was (and is) still “God”. I’m sure my beliefs are still being shaped to be more in line with sound doctrine, but I think 10 or 20 years from now, I’ll still be calling God “God”.

    Many Muslims use the word “Allah” for God. Like me (and all of us, I dare say), some what they believe is right on. A lot of it isn’t. In my ministry to Muslims, I never saw a need to have them start calling “Allah” something different once their theology was more correct. That would have been weird. It would have been like me, with my greater revelation, starting to call God something like “All Powerful One” or maybe “Best Dude of All”. It is interesting to debate whether God and Allah are the same, but to me what matters most is that our understanding of who God/Allah is is in line with sound doctrine.

    BTW, I didn’t know my wife, Janelle, well at all when we began dating. I called her “Janelle” back then. I know her much, much better know (and after nearly 20 years of marriage, I’m still learning), but I still call her “Janelle”.

  8. Jim Young

    When asked as written, “…whether or not the God of the Bible and the Allah of Islam are the same person.” my answer, as much as I may not want it to be so, just can’t get around the way I see it taught by the respective sources. Neither, as I understand them anyway, gives much wiggle room to include some melding to a happy medium.
    I am not thrilled about the exclusivity of each, believe that, but seems to be the case when a serious reckoning is given.

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