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Allah = Yahweh?

Doc Hawk carries a mixed bag of theology

By Becca Robb | Echo


Hawkins’ words inspire us to look deeper into our beliefs and how they affect our treatment of others.

Hawkins’ words inspire us to look deeper into our beliefs and how they affect our treatment of others.

Professor Larycia Hawkins disturbed many Christian circles when she proposed in December that Muslims and Christians “worship the same God.”

Though I admit that this statement seemed borderline heretical to me when I first read it, I’m more willing to support her position after considering the theology behind it.

Hawkins said Christians and Muslims worship the same God. She did not say they follow the same religion. Some might argue that pious Muslims also worship Yahweh, but just aren’t aware of it.

On his blog, theologian John Stackhouse explains Hawkins’ original statement by saying, “When pious Muslims pray, they are addressing the One True God.” Stackhouse points to stories passed down from Christian missionaries, who report that converts from Islam to Christianity often claim they didn’t discover a new deity, but came to understand the true God better.

Do Muslims and Christians worship the same god? Yes and no.

Yes, because both religions trace their roots to the God of Abraham and to parts of the Old Testament story. No, because now we understand aspects of God previously unknown to people in Abraham’s time.

The aspects that differentiate between Allah and Yahweh boil down to two core issues:

First, Allah does not include the Trinity.

Second, Islam does not recognize Jesus Christ as the only way to life.

These declarations are both written in The Qu’ran: “And do not say, ‘Three’; desist – it is better for you. Indeed, Allah is but one God. Exalted is He above having a son” (Surah An-Nisa 4:171, Saheeh International).

Both Islam and Christianity trace their history back to Abraham in the Old Testament. But perhaps the most profound and wonderful aspect of the Old Testament is Israel’s story of failure and yet faith, which is made complete in Jesus Christ. Because Islam doesn’t recognize Jesus as God’s son and the gospel-fulfilling Messiah, Islam lacks a fundamental element of God.

Granted, even the Old Testament followers didn’t have the concept of the Trinity or knowledge of Jesus. However, we do now. And the New Testament doesn’t leave much room for interpretation when it declares, “No one who denies the Son has the Father” (1 John 2:23).

Hawkins was brave to say what she did so publicly. I admire her efforts to reach out to people of another faith. I admire her boldness and bravery to wear a hijab for 15 days. I admire her heart to love Muslims instead of fearing or even hating them.

Admittedly, we don’t have the full picture here. We only know what Hawkins and Wheaton’s administration have chosen to make public.

We do know that the main trajectory of Hawkins’ original post appears to be pursuing reconciliation, not advancing her theological perspective. It’s unfortunate that we have focused on this single line and all but forgotten her original purpose. Perhaps the larger issue at hand is how we’re going to treat Muslims—if we will treat them with contempt, or if we will love them patiently and without fear.

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