With the irruption of virulent immigrant Islam inside the West (formerly known as Christendom), we get this question quite often, “Do Jews, Christians and Muslims worship the same God?”
Ecumenical types like to say Yes. Muslims like that too, since it gives them status with the Christians, as if they somehow belong here among us.
Before answering the question, let me question the question.
Aside from the mushy meaning of “same,” what is the outcome if we answer the question in the affirmative. What does that mean? You might ask the same question intra-religiously. Do Calvinists and Arminians, Catholics and Baptists worship the same God? Same Trinity, yes, but with –to them– significant shadings of character. And for Mormons and Orthodox…galaxies apart, despite both claiming Christ as the Son of God. Would Aristotelian Maimonides approve of the monistic One God of Hasidism? Would even David recognize Maimonides’ Hellenized/Arabized deity?
What does your answer get you? That is the real question.
Well, as I say, in the current case with Muslims, I think a Yes means the legitimization of Islam. And dulls Christians’ already catastrophically compromised sense of doctrinal identity into the morass of the Church of Nice, the besetting sin of contemporary Christians. People who want to say Yes are chronic peacemakers, dhimmis willing to throw truth under the bus for the sake of concord.
If the answer really is Yes, and this is supposed to make a happy difference, then look to the history of Christians under Muslim rule (including now) or Jews under Christian rule, for how really benevolent the results are. It is a dishonest question.
Despite the drift of the question, to have antagonistic groups lay rival claims to a single “same” Deity does not, in real history, lessen their enmity but increases it. Like siblings battling viciously over who is truly respecting their common Dad’s final wishes.
The real answer to the question, though, is NO.
Simply put, Jews worship a single law-obsessed Deity who prefers them to every other people on earth.
Christians claim that this single Deity shifted his preference to the Church, through the embodiment of his Word as his Son, let most of his Law go, and eventually revealed Himself to include a Spirit as well. The Trinitarian God of Incarnation.
And Muslims –Semitic brothers of Jews but with a Christian missionary sense– claim that the One God, likewise an obsessive legalist, formerly tried to perfect Jews and Christian, but they failed Him. Either by corruption or by re-introduction of polytheism. So they cannot see God truly.
Allah and Jehovah are far more alike than either of them is to The Trinity. But the intra-Semitic battle between Abraham’s sons –Isaac vs Ishmael– lead them to claim the same God but to assert that his affections have radically changed. This is not trivial.
There is nothing to be gained for Christians to play this game. Jews will happily tell them that their Three In One is abominable polytheism and idolatry, not the God of Moses. Muslims will copy that, substituting not only Muhammed but claiming Jesus as a Muslim prophet who condemns the “cross-worshippers.” And Christians must look on the pre-Gospel Jewish God as incomplete and the post-Gospel Muslim God as, in the words of St John of Damascus, mutilated.
The differences are real and consequential. To deny or minimize them is simply to lie. And one must then ask, as one so often must, “Cui bono?”