Paul Derengowski, ThM
Recently, Wheaton College political professor Larycia Hawkins was suspended from her post for stating, “I stand in religious solidarity with Muslims because they, like me, a Christian, are people of the book. And as Pope Francis stated last week, we worship the same God.”
Others concur with her stance, not seeing an appreciable difference between the two religions (actually three, if Judaism is included). Writing for the left-leaning Huffington Post, Kelly James Clark argued,
Muslims and Christians worship the same God if one or both are either directly acquainted with God (perhaps through a religious experience) or if both are part of a chain of testimony that traces back to someone who was directly acquainted with God (say, Abraham). Worshipping the same God does not require either person to get their description of God just right (or even right at all).
Of course, those among the Muslims are absolutely ecstatic that someone would agree that Allah is the same deity as that found among Jews and Christians, if for no other reasons than credibility and acceptance. What they often fail to do, though, is take into consideration what the Bible actually says about Jesus amid all their efforts to equate Allah with him. Moreover, to them, it is no big deal to reject those foundational teachings, since all things are relative when approaching the subject. It is why a popular Islamist website concluded, when asking whether Muslims worship the same God as the Jews and Christians,
Let there be no doubt – Muslims worship the God of Noah, Abraham, Moses, David and Jesus – peace be upon them all. However, it is certainly true that Jews, Christians and Muslims all have different concepts of Almighty God. For example, Muslims – like Jews – reject the Christian beliefs of the Trinity and the Divine Incarnation. This, however, does not mean that each of these three religions worships a different God – because, as we have already said, there is only One True God.
Although several articles have been published on the question, very few have actually provided a biblical response. Most of them center on faulty equations and philosophical gymnastics that defy revelation, which is tragic, given the absolute clarity of the Bible on the subject. If Jesus is who the Bible declares him to be, then there is no possibly way that Christians and Muslims are worshiping the same God. Conversely, if Jesus is who the Muslims have depicted him, as just another human prophet, at best, then neither the Christians nor Muslims are still worshiping the same God. In fact, one or both are worshiping an idol.
It is the object of this article to make the case that Christians and Muslims worship a different God. By showing whom the biblical Jesus is and then what Islam has taught about him. We will first look at the corruption and integrity of the Bible, since so many Muslims wish to discredit it, even though reality does not support the contention. Second, we will examine the biblical record concerning Jesus’ deity and how that comports with the reality of there being only, one, true God. Finally, we will look at statements from the Koran and other Islamic statements that express the Muslim vehemence over equating Jesus with God. In the end, it should be quite clear that when discussing theology between Christians and Muslims, two very different discussions are taking place, with the latter actually expressing something akin to what John the Beloved wrote in his first letter, after his Gospel, concerning the spirit of anti-Christ (1 Jn. 2:22-23).
Corruption of the Bible
Very few Muslims have ever read the Bible; much less do they know anything about its composition. Instead, what they often project when an allusion is made to the Bible is something they have already heard taught about it by an imam, sheik or mullah, who also has not read the Bible either, but is going on something they have derogatorily heard about it. As Muslim writer, Cyril Glassé observed, “the Gospels and Psalms have found no place in an Islamic canon and their contents are mostly ignored and unknown to Muslims,” even though tidbits of the Books of Moses (Pentateuch) may have found their way into the Koran.
So, if one ever comes across a discussion about the Bible from the Muslim perspective, it is usually filled with all kinds of prejudicial hostility toward it, even though the Muslim wishes those listening or reading his views to understand how much the Muslim “loves” the Bible. A classic example of this is seen Maulana Muhammad Ali’s book, The Religion of Islam. In it, he parrots the Islamic position on the Bible by repeating arguments that many atheists fondly use. To him, and other Islamists, the Bible was a divine revelation given by God, but it has since undergone unscrupulous changes that necessitated the introduction of the Koran to correct it. According to Ali,
It [the defective Bible] mentions many incidents which, so far from conveying any ennobling lesson, are derogatory to the dignity of prophethood and, sometimes, even of an obscene nature. An uneducated Jew or Christian would prefer that his sacred book did not contain such statements as that Abraham, that great and revered patriarch of all nations, was a liar, that Lot committed incest with his own daughters, that Aaron made the image of a calf and led the Israelites to its worship; that David, whose beautiful Psalms are the texts of sermons in churches and synagogues, committed adultery with Uria’s wife, and that Solomon with all his wisdom worshipped idols to please his wives! The Holy Qur’an speaks of all these great men but it accepts none of these statements and rejects most of them in unmistakable words (149).
Since the Bible, in other words, contains commentary that demonstrates the reality of fallen human nature in action, regardless of the status or calling in life of those individuals, the Muslim rejects that reality as defective. The biblical text has “somehow, been falsified” or “altered.” Of course, missing from such a determination is the fact that the Koran contains episodes where the beloved “prophet” of Islam was engaged in his own faux pas, and yet the Koran is not considered “falsified” or altered.” See Surah 80 where Muhammad is guilty of mistreating a blind man and Surah 66 where Muhammad is chastised by Allah for withholding sexual favors from one of his many consorts, the latter of which is as sordid as anything King David or Solomon ever did.
Nevertheless, when the Muslims are not attempting to falsify the Bible by discounting the reality of human behavior recorded in it, even by those acclaimed to be almost bigger than life itself, a second line of attack comes in the form of alleging egregious scribal alterations and emendations that have totally changed the text beyond recognition. Again, only the Koran has been able to expose and correct these alterations, at least according to Muslims. The reality is that the Muslims are troubled by some of the doctrines taught in the Bible that they feel require rejection. According to Ali,
“… [the Koran] condemns many of the doctrines taught by the followers of the earlier scriptures, and this shows that while their origin is admitted to be Divine, it is at the same time pointed out that these books have not come down in their original purity, and that the truth revealed in them has been mixed up with errors due to alterations effected by human hands.
Please note: the Muslims never actually get around to producing the manuscript evidence to support their textual critical claims. Instead, they merely rehash preferential rejections, like many other non-Christian groups and persons, which have long since been dealt with, even though they are prejudicially ignored as well. Moreover, the Muslims exalt the Koran as a text that has never been altered, even though such a claim is patently untrue. Between the abrogation of earlier texts and the loss of others through Uthman’s “corrections,” when the Koran finally arrived at its current form, the Koran has been altered, significantly, and that beyond recovery!
So, while the Muslims assert that the Bible lacks textual integrity due to “man’s interference and interpolation” that “are cruel and unjust and vitiate man’s beliefs and actions” (Aijijola, The Essence of Faith in Islam, 96), the reality is the Muslims fail to support their assertions with anything more than prejudice. And if the Muslim can get the Christian to acquiesce to the idea that the Bible has been corrupted, then he knows that the Christian will have no defense when it comes to doctrines like the deity of Jesus.
That said, just what gives the Bible integrity? If the Christian is going to stand on the principles of biblical inerrancy and infallibility to further support beliefs that the Muslim vehemently rejects, does he have a legitimate reason why? What has textual critical efforts revealed for several decades now, which counters the Muslim arguments of biblical “corruption.” What does the manuscript evidence report and how does it prove the fact that Christians and Muslims worship a different God, particularly as seen in the deity of Jesus? If the Christian cannot come up with something more than dreaming, then does not the Muslim have a case?
The Integrity of the Bible
For something or someone to have integrity is for that thing or person to possess “the quality or state of being complete; unbroken condition; wholeness; entirety,” at least according to Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. Webster’s goes on to include in its definition the qualities of perfection and “the quality or state of being of sound moral principle; uprightness, honesty, and sincerity.” When we turn to the Bible, it is because of its origin in the person of God that it possesses the same qualities as He or that which exemplifies integrity. Moreover, it is because the Bible repeatedly demonstrates sound moral principles, uprightness, honesty and sincerity, all of which stem from its Author, that critics of the Bible repeatedly attack it. For they know that if they can possibly sway anyone to believe that the Bible lacks integrity, in any aspect, then they know, like the serpent did in the Garden of Eden with Eve, the door is wide open for the introduction of all kinds of subjective and autonomous reasonings to fill the void.
The Bible, though, has integrity for a variety of reasons, starting with the author Himself, who is God. Second Timothy 3:16 tells us, “All Scripture is inspired by God,” which simply means that God spoke it into existence, although in certain instances portions of Scripture were “written by the finger of God” (Ex. 31:18; Deut. 9:10). Elsewhere, the Scripture makes it clear that God did the writing of Scripture (Ex. 32:16; 34:1; Deut. 4:13; 5:22; 10:2). Later, we read that no prophecy of Scripture originated through one’s own interpretation, “for no prophecy was ever made by human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God” (2 Pet. 1:21). Whatever the case, whether it was God speaking or writing Scripture, or whether it was the Holy Spirit, who is God, moved men to proclaim or write, as well, the divine source for Scripture lays solely in the person of God, who cannot lie. Therefore, Scripture itself possesses that same quality. Absence of the ability to lie is the presence of one aspect of integrity.
Of course, as was seen above in the criticisms presented by Ali, there are those who level charges of manipulation or simply alleged contradictions found in the Bible. Manipulation leads to charges that the original text has changed and that without remedy. No one knows for sure just exactly what the biblical message was, with the exception that with the introduction of the Koran, in this instance, we can now see how that message has changed by comparison. The Koran, since its text has been preserved inviolable for the past fourteen centuries has the sure word from God and unless the Bible agrees with it, then one cannot know what God truly revealed.
The main problem with Islamic accusations of textual manipulation is twofold. First, the Muslim never produces any manuscript or textual evidence to support his claim. It is always mere conjecture based on subjective preference. He does not like what the Bible has recorded; therefore, because it does not match his preconceived notions, it must be false. Second, rarely, if ever, does a Muslim read the Bible in the context in which it has been written; much less does he read it at all. So, instead of reading passages about Jesus’ deity, for instance, in context, verses are stripped from their context and then presented in a way that misrepresents them. Often, straw man arguments are presented that couch Trinitarianism in Modalistic thought, which is then imposed upon the Christian to defend, when they are totally irrelevant. In short, that is not how one makes a case to prove textual manipulation. Instead, that is textual manipulation itself!
Clearly, those who have taken the time to examine the textual critical evidence are convinced that what the biblical writers produced millennia ago are what we possess today in the Old and New Testaments. That, although, there are numerous textual variants, those variants do nothing to impact a single doctrine, nor change the overall message.
Old Testament Integrity
On the Old Testament, Gleason Archer (A Survey of Old Testament Introduction, 24) wrote, “Do we have any objective evidence that errors of transmission have not been permitted by God to corrupt and pervert His revelation? Yes, we have, for a careful study of the variants (different readings) of the various earliest manuscripts reveals that none of them affects a single doctrine of Scripture.” Elsewhere, Old Testament scholar Bruce Waltke (NIDOTT, 1.65) concluded from work done on the BHS (Biblia hebraica stuttgartensia) that 90 percent of the OT text is certain and the remaining variants “are insignificant and do not affect doctrine.” In fact, “Most text-critical work is boring because the differences are inconsequential.” Ellis Brotzman (Old Testament Textual Criticism, 168), accounting for all the factors involved in transmitting the Old Testament into its current form (hand copying, the ebb and flow of the nation of Israel, writing materials and climatic conditions in Palestine), concluded, “It is important to remember that the Old Testament text has been in continuous circulation since the time of its initial writing. Its text is far better attested than any other document of comparable age.”
Millar Burrows (The Dead Sea Scrolls, 303-4), who spent many years examining the Dead Sea Scrolls and contrasting them with the Masoretic Text, which became the basis for the current OT, expressed surprise over the continuity between the MT and the DSS, even though there was still much study left to be done on the scrolls. He wrote,
Many of the differences between the St. Mark’s Isaiah scroll [which is the only scroll that possessed a whole book of the Bible] and the Masoretic text can be explained as mistakes in copying. Apart from these, there is a remarkable agreement, on the whole, with the text found in the medieval manuscripts. Such agreement in a manuscript so much older gives reassuring testimony to the general accuracy of the traditional text. It does not, however, prove that the latter is the original text of Isaiah. What it shows is that any major changes that occurred in the transmission of the text had already been made before the beginning of the Christian era. In other words, a virtual standardization of the text had come about more or less automatically two or three centuries before the Masoretes made it official. As Hempel puts it, the decisive history of the text of the Old Testament had already been completed by the time of Jesus, not only in the books of the law, of which no jot or tittle should be altered, but also in the books of the prophets.
Shemaryahu Talmon (Qumran and the History of the Biblical Text, 326), who was a professor of Bible at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, affirmed that the discovery of the DSS had a major impact upon textual critical and comparative textual research and studies. That said, he, like Burrows et al, came to the conclusion that even though the variants were numerous, they did not rise to the level of agnosticism and corruption that the Muslims and other biblical critics often project. Instead, he observed,
The scope of variation within all these textual traditions is relatively restricted. Major divergencies which intrinsically affect the sense are extremely rare. A collation of variants extant, based on the synoptic study of the material available, either by a comparison of parallel passages within one Version, or of the major Versions with each other, results in the conclusion that the ancient authors, compilers, tradents and scribes enjoyed what may be termed a controlled freedom of textual variation.
In short, the Old Testament text was set long before Jesus ever walked the earth. Although it has its share of variants, those variants have no bearing upon the biblical message. The person who reads the OT can know, with full assurance, that what he is reading is the same text as that which was written to the original recipients. Therefore, based on textual critical validation, the Muslim argument concerning the OT and a lack of integrity is invalid. Can the same be said about the New Testament?
New Testament Integrity
From the New Testament perspective, it is conceded that the NT text also contains thousands of variants. The most popular New Testament apparatuses, the Nestle-Aland 28th edition and United Bible Societies 4th edition, contain extensive citations, along with detailed explanations concerning textual groups and family text types to which all the variants belong. To the uninformed, or in some cases, the misinformed, all of the variants could easily be misconstrued that no one could possibly know what the biblical authors actually wrote. However, NT scholars are even more assured as to its content than as was the case with the OT.
A.T. Robertson (An Introduction to the Textual Criticism of the New Testament, 22), on speaking of the Textus Receptus or the Greek manuscript used to formulate the King James Version, stressed that when it came to variants and variation in the NT, what might be considered “substantial” would “hardly form more than a thousandth part of the entire text.” In other words, anyone willing to pick up the New Testament and read it can know its content with a 99.999% accuracy rate! This conclusion is drawn by others, as well. Sir Frederic Kenyon (Our Bible and the Ancient Manuscripts, 55) concluded, “It cannot be too strongly asserted that in substance the text of the Bible is certain. Especially is this the case with the New Testament…The Christian can take the whole Bible in his hand and say without fear or hesitation that he holds in it the true Word of God, handed down without essential loss from generation to generation through the centuries.”
New Testament Greek professor J. Harold Greenlee (Introduction to New Testament Textual Criticism, 58-60) wrote, “There is virtually no evidence that heretical or destructive variants have been deliberately introduced into the mss” and whatever intentional doctrinal changes that have occurred were toward orthodoxy. Matthew Black (New Testament Textual Criticism, 56) coincides with each of the aforementioned by opining, “most variants are insignificant, and that no doctrine of Scripture ultimately rests on a disputed passage.” Finally, a favorite textual critic of biblical sceptics, Bruce Metzger, who is regularly misinterpreted concerning his research, not only affirmed the “scrupulous fidelity” of many of the scribes who wrote the NT (The Text of the New Testament, 206), but at the end of his monumental work The Canon of the New Testament still viewed the Bible as God’s word contained in Scripture (288).
Therefore, do we know what the biblical writers wrote when God moved them to write? Unequivocally, without hesitation, and beyond the shadow of a doubt, the answer is yes! Again, that is not to say that there are no problem passages. There are. But, overall, after years of examination, which includes thousands upon thousands of hours poring over the extant manuscript evidence by those more than qualified to engage in the textual critical process, when anyone picks up a Bible that is faithful to those same manuscript witnesses, he or she may say with confidence that they have the word of God within their hands. And that being the case, when one turns to theological passages dealing with the person of Jesus as God, one may rest assured that what God has revealed about the subject is the unadulterated truth.
Nevertheless, what specifically does the Bible say about Jesus’ deity? Did Jesus ever claim to be God? Were his actions consistent with something that only God could do? Is there anything significant about his name or the titles ascribed to him that could possibly lead to the conclusion that he was God? Finally, what did the NT writers say about Jesus being God? If the Bible is trustworthy, as seen by the testimony above, then so will its testimony concerning the person of Jesus and it needs to be consulted to discover answers to our questions that only it can provide. Moreover, if what the Bible says about Jesus is true, then what everyone else is saying about Muslims and Christians worshiping the same God is patently false.
The Deity of Jesus
Jesus’ Claim to be God
Jesus never came right out and declared to the world, using the specific phrase, “I am God.” That was not his mission. His mission was to seek and to save that which was lost (Matt. 18:11; Lk. 19:10). At the end of his mission he glorified God the Father as his primary goal (Jn. 13:32; 17:1) while seeking and saving those whom God called to redemption through Jesus (Rom. 3:24; Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:14). That said, Jesus made many claims to be God, indirectly, which is why the Jews frequently sought to execute him for blasphemy.
In John’s Gospel, we read of an occasion when Jesus healed a lame man by a pool called Bethesda (Jn. 5:1-18). Rather than place the man in the pool, Jesus simply healed the man’s sickness of thirty-eight years by asking him if that is what he wished. The Jews became aware of Jesus’ action, but because he did it on the Sabbath, accused him of lawbreaking. Jesus equated his works with his heavenly Father, which made the Jews livid. John records, “For this cause therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal to God” (v. 33). The Jews, in other words, understood Jesus, perfectly, to be claiming to be God, because they also understood that there was only one God and did not believe Jesus to be Him.
Later, after Jesus claimed to be the shepherd of God who leads his sheep, or an accolade that only pertains to God the Father, Jesus made two startling claims that enraged the Jews all over again. First, Jesus promised those who were in his hands eternal life and no one would be able to undo what Jesus did (Jn. 10:28). He goes on to say the same thing about God the Father and then claims “I and the Father are one” (Jn. 10:30). Although some have twisted Jesus’ claim to mean something other than a declaration of deity, it is clear from the context that the Jews understood perfectly what he was saying, for they picked up stones to execute him, accusing him of blasphemy (Jn. 10:31, 33, 36 cf. Lev. 24:16; Matt. 26:65; Lk. 5:21). Upon further reasoning with the Jews, Jesus again asserted his equation by stating, “that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father.”
Elsewhere, Jesus equated himself with God by claiming to be “the light of world” (Jn. 8:12; 9:5 cf. 1 Jn. 1:5), the great “I AM” (Jn. 8:58 cf. Ex. 3:14), “the truth” (Jn. 14:6 cf. Num. 23:19; Heb. 6:18), the one capable of forgiving sin (Matt. 9:6 cf. Isa. 43:25; Mk. 2:7), the person who gives eternal life (Jn. 10:28 cf. Tit. 1:2), the “Lord of the Sabbath” (Matt. 12:8 cf. Ex. 16:23), the judge of whom everyone will be held accountable (Jn. 9:39 cf. Eccl. 12:14; Rom. 14:10), and the one who is omnipresent (Matt. 28:20 cf. Ps. 139:1-12). Oftentimes, those who raise the question about Jesus making specific claims about his godhood overlook his indirect statements, mainly because of the faulty idea that argues that unless something specific is stated, then the opposite must be true. However, when that bit of illogic is exposed, it is quite evident that what Jesus did say, and is ignored, makes it clear that he was not just a man, but God Himself, incarnate.
Jesus, the Name of God
There is something very special about the name of Jesus, as it applied to the savior of humanity. Not only does it have a direct connection to God’s name found in the OT, it is directly linked to God the Father and the Holy Spirit (who is God) in the NT (Matt. 28:19). Add to that the fact that biblical names in biblical times carried with them much more significance than names do today and the name of Jesus becomes much more special as well.
The name “Jesus” derives from the Hebrew verb yeshua, which means “save,” “help,” or “deliver.” Foerster (TDNT 3.289) explains that, “The full form יְהוֹשֻׁעַ [yehoshua] is a sentence name, in which the subject comes first and represents a form of the divine name יהוה [yhwh], and in which the verb is a subsidiary form of the verb ישע [ysha] which is also found in names like אְֶבִישׁוּעַ [Abishua], אְֶלִישׁוּעַ [Elishua], and מַלְכִּישׁוּעַ [Malchishua or Malachiah], and which means “to help.”
Two biblical references make it clear that Jesus was Yeshua or Yahweh. The first is found in John 1:23, where John records John the Baptist’s response to a question concerning his identity when he was asked by certain ones sent by the Pharisees to inquire who John was. The Baptist replied, “I am a voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as Isaiah the prophet said.” Lord is the English translation for the Greek word κυρίος [kurios], which is a further rendering of the Hebrew word יהוה [Yahweh]. As the “voice” of Isaiah 40:3 served to prepare Israel for the introduction of Yahweh Elohim, John the Baptist applied that reference to himself to prepare the New Testament Jews for the introduction of Jesus. In John’s thinking, therefore, Jesus was Yahweh!
A second reference that identifies Jesus with Yahweh is found in Romans 10:13. Citing the OT reference of Joel 2:32, the Apostle Paul concludes his argument involving Jesus as the righteousness of God by stating, “Whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved.” Lord is, once again, the Greek translation of κυρίος [kurios], which is a further rendering of the Hebrew word יהוה [Yahweh]. Paul, in other words, sees Jesus as Yahweh, or the one who not only saved His people in the OT, but also as the one who will redeem the elect in the NT.
Jesus, therefore, not only possessed God’s name, it would be the only “name under heaven that has been given among me, by which we must be saved,” declared the Apostle Peter (Acts 4:12). The name of Jesus has been endowed with such authority that one day “every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:20-11). Jesus’ name is magnificent and majestic if for no other reason than it belongs to Almighty God who shares it with Jesus and the Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:19)!
Jesus and His Follower’s Claims
Although we do not have testimony in writing from each of Jesus’ followers, what we do possess affirms that they believed him to be God in the flesh. The first of those statements, at least chronologically speaking, is found in the letter to the Galatians. There, the Apostle Paul asserted that his call to service was not through the agency of men, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, the latter of which raised Jesus from the dead (Gal. 1:1). Although Jesus was incarnate in a human body, like other men, Paul’s focus was upon Jesus’ divinity, meaning that Paul’s call was from a divine source, not a human source. Elsewhere, Paul would point out that the fullness of deity dwelt in the incarnate person of Jesus (Col. 1:19; 29).
A cohort of Paul’s, the Apostle Peter also subscribed to the reality that Jesus was not just another man. He was indeed God himself. In his opening to Second Peter, he wrote, “Simon Peter, a bondservant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ.” His commentary is followed-up with accolades that could only belong to God. Not only does Peter call Jesus the Lord, which was discussed above, but he speaks of Jesus’ “divine power,” “godliness,” “glory” (perfection?), and eternality as it relates to his kingdom (v. 11). Although Peter early on was seemingly fickle in his behavior around Jesus, the crucifixion, resurrection, and infilling by the Holy Spirit had a dramatic effect upon him to the degree where he lauded Jesus’ name as the only one given under heaven whereby man must be saved (Acts 4:12). It is high praise for something that rightfully only belongs to God.
James, Jesus’ half-brother and eventual pastor at Jerusalem, initially doubted who Jesus was, even to the point of trying to entice him to face execution before his time (Jn. 7:3-ff.). Nevertheless, after Jesus was crucified, resurrected, and appeared before James (1 Cor. 15:7), James’ whole perspective changed concerning Jesus. Jesus was not only “Lord” to him (Acts 15:26; James 1:1), but James tailored his only letter after the order of Jesus’ famed Sermon on the Mount! While James’ letter is not a long theological treatise expounding upon the deity of Jesus, clearly, whom he thought Jesus was previously, was nothing like that which James later accepted him to be.
John the Beloved probably presents the strongest arguments in favor of Jesus’ deity found anywhere in the Bible. It is why so many non-Christians either despise his letters or why others have gone out of their way to pervert them. In the opening statement from John’s Gospel, we immediately see what John believed about Jesus when he wrote, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Later, in verse 14, John tells us that the “the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us,” signifying that he was writing about Jesus. The theme of Jesus’ deity permeates John’s Gospel (1:23, 33; 2:23-25; 5:18; 6:44; 8:58; 10:30, 33, 38; 17:11; 20:28; 21:17). Add to that John’s statement about Jesus as “the true God” (1 Jn. 5:20) and that anyone who “does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God” (2 Jn. 9), and it becomes crystal clear that John believed Jesus to be deity.
Islamic Rejection of Jesus’ Deity
The Islamic rejection of Jesus’ deity has nothing to do with either biblical integrity or what those in the Bible had to say about Jesus, including the comments of Jesus himself. It has to do with a perverse acceptance of heretical teaching that Muhammad subscribed early on and then incorporated those heresies into the Koran. As pointed out in the article “The Cult of Islam,” several religious factions, ranging from the Arians to the Gnostics to the Monophysites,” were all present in Arabia while Muhammad was both growing up and while he was making his journeys throughout the Middle East as a caravan tradesman. Moreover, Muhammad was surrounded by varying tribes of Jews, all of which were in abject rebellion against the person of Jesus.
A common misperception inherent in the Muslims doctrines of tahweed (monotheism or one god) and shirk (partnership or associating someone or something with God) is the idea that Jesus was a created being. In fact, such a misconception is actually a carryover from the days when the heretic Arius argued for Jesus’ creaturely status. The Muslims perpetuate this error, often quoting Jehovah’s Witnesses’ literature to either make the Islamic case the Jesus is a creature or to equate biblical Christians with the Watchtower, both of which are fallacies, to denounce Jesus’ deity. When that happens, one ends up with statements like those found in Bilal Philips book The Fundamentals of Tahweed: “Modern day Christian belief that Prophet Jesus was God incarnate; that the Creator became His creation, is another good example of this type [Shirk by Humanization] of Shirk” (34). Not only does Philips misrepresent biblical Christianity, he engages in the logical fallacy of building a straw man. Neither do Christians believe, nor does the Bible teach, “the Creator became His creation,” but that Jesus was always God (Heb. 13:8), who took on a human nature through the incarnation (Phil. 2:5-7).
Therefore, what the Muslim brings to the table when discussing either theology or Christology is nothing more than a rehash of the heretical controversies that began sometime in the early second century with the Gnostics and has continued to rear their ugly heads ever since. The only thing that has changed is the names. Not only is Neo-Gnosticism in vogue and endorsed by those in Islam. The Arians are now the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons, while the Modalists are the Unitarian Universalists, along with several Word-Faith or Oneness Pentecostal personalities such as T. D. Jakes. They all, however, reject Jesus’ deity either throughout outright denunciations or through cleverly worded statements to try to retain an air of Christianity about them. Interestingly, such rejections were the same ones used by Muhammad when he rejected Jesus’ deity, as well as the Muslims today who do the same.
Whether it is Dr. Hawkins, Pope Francis, or Kelly James Clark, to assert that Muslims and Christians worship the same God is misleading at best; an absolute canard at worst. It reflects an ignorance of not only what the Bible says about God, specifically in the person of Jesus Christ, but also an ignorance of Islamic theology and history. The Bible makes it clear that Jesus is God and the Koran makes it clear that Muslims reject Jesus’ deity (Surah 4:171; 5:75, 116; 19:30; 19:88, 92; 43:59). Therefore, Christians and Muslims cannot possibly be worshiping the same God, when the question is asked.
Should those perpetrating the falsehood choose to attack the Bible, stating that it has been tampered with beyond recognition, the evidence does not support that effort either. Although both the Old and New Testaments are replete with variants in almost every verse written, none of those variants has any bearing upon the truth recorded in them. We know exactly what the authors conveyed and when their light is shown upon the subjects of God, Jesus, or false prophets and “gods” they promoted—Allah would be an idol, if it existed, at least in conceptual form during biblical times—the conclusion is unmistakable. God, revealed in the person of Jesus, is not the same being as Allah!
Therefore, it should be kept in mind that when the question is raised the easiest way to debunk the notion that Christians and Muslims worship the same God is simply to ask what the Muslim believes, or what Islam teaches, about Jesus. Since the Muslims reject Jesus’ deity, then they also reject that Christians and Muslims worship the same God. And since the Muslims reject Jesus as God, then regardless if one is a university or college professor, a high-profile religious figure, or a journalist writing an article on religion, the Muslim has already provided the answer. Is there really any point of going on from there, in some kind of ecumenical or politically correct avoidance of the answer, when the Muslim has made it that obvious?