There’s a kerfuffle at Wheaton College, where a tenured professor has been suspended after (and apparently for) opining on Facebook that Christians and Muslims worship the same God. The Washington Post may have garbled the story; I’ve not tracked it to primary authorities.
I may be grabbing a third rail here, but I’m hoping it’s a teachable moment instead.
“Do Christians and Muslims worship the same God?” is an equivocal question that can be defensibly answered “yes” or “no.”
I’m well aware that Islam teaches that Allah has no son, which is unmistakably unChristian.
I’m also aware that a Bible teacher on WMBI spoke of Jesus and Mary as if Jesus was water and Mary a mere conduit — an aqueduct or pipe to get Godbaby to earth. Such a Jesus is not human any more than water is pipe. Jesus took His humanity from Mary. The teacher on WMBI was teaching heresy, a deep theological error about Christ and thus about the Triune God.
Do I worship the same God she worships? (I’m inclined to think so.)
I’ve further heard Gloria Osteen say that “Jesus was man until God touched him and put the spirit of of the living God on the inside of him.” That, too is serious Christological heresy and thus misrepresents the Triune God.
Do I worship the same God Gloria does? (Objection! Assumes matters not in evidence, namely that the Osteens worship anything other than money!)
Do WMBI teacher and Gloria worship the same God?
I’ve read Jonathan Edwards’ Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, and sat under plenty of contemporary Protestant pastors who think God is fundamentally angry and vengeful — whence the bumper sticker “Jesus is coming again (and boy is He pissed!).” I personally professed belief that God consciously passed over some sinners because He would somehow be glorified by
their damnation the contrast between their damnation and the glorious salvation of the elect.
I’m now, thank God, in a Church that truly (and correctly) believes that God is fundamentally gracious and loves mankind, and truly wills that all be saved (though few Orthodox believe all actually will be; we don’t, in Calvinist terms, think grace is irresistible).
Do I worship the same God today I worshipped as an infralapsarian predestinarian? To that last one I will venture to answer “Yes. But I badly misunderstood Him then, having been taught error and even eagerly sought out doctrines that would ‘make logical sense of things’.”
I am fully prepared to say that Islam is grossly mistaken about God. I’m fully prepared to admit that its error is even worse than predestinarian Calvinism, Nestorian (or is it Adoptionist?) Osteenism or Docetist WMBIism.
I’m not prepared to say that its error is off the scale, worse than beyond a notional scale of perfect truth to infinite error. I’m not prepared to say unequivocally that Islam and Christianity worship different Gods.
UPDATE (12/18/15): Not surprisingly, many have commented about Wheaton’s action and whether Christians and Muslims worship the same God. Many of those comments reminded me of my most glaring omission: Jews. Although the denial of the trinity and of Christ’s deity are not as central to Judaism, as it predates Christianity, Judaism is otherwise parallel to Islam in its view of the God of Abraham. Yet few deny that Christians and Jews worship the same God.
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“In learning as in traveling and, of course, in lovemaking, all the charm lies in not coming too quickly to the point, but in meandering around for a while.” (Eva Brann)