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Do Muslims and Christians Worship the Same God?

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On December 15, Wheaton College, an Evangelical school in suburban Chicago, placed one of its tenured political science faculty members on administrative leave. The school’s official press release states that the college placed Dr. Larcyia Hawkins on leave “in response to significant questions regarding the theological implications of statements that. . . [she] has made about the relationship of Christianity to Islam.” What were those statements?

According to a report in Christianity Today, Dr. Hawkins drew international attention after she publicly announced on Facebook that she would don the Muslim hijab as part of her Advent worship in order to “stand in religious solidarity with Muslims because they, like [her], a Christian, are people of the book. And as Pope Francis stated last week, we worship the same God.”

In order to make sure that the wearing of the hijab by a non-Muslim woman would not offend Muslims, Hawkins sought advice from the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), which told her that it was permissible. Wheaton is not concerned, however, about her change in wardrobe. As its president, Phillip Ryken, notes, “The College has no stated position on the wearing of headscarves as a gesture of care and concern for those in Muslim or other religious communities that may face discrimination or persecution.”

It is clear then that what concerns the school is Professor Hawkins’ theological statements about Muslims being “people of the book” with whom “we worship the same God,” the latter of which was called “unbelievable” and “really jaw-dropping” by Denny Burk, a well-known Evangelical Biblical studies professor.

Before I go on to show why Dr. Hawkins is right about Muslims and Christians worshiping the same God, and thus should not be dismissed from the Wheaton faculty for implicitly denying the school’s Statement of Faith, it’s important to point out that she’s wrong about Christians and Muslims being “people of the book.”

First, the vast majority of Christians do not think of their faith in that way. Catholics, for example, though believing in the authority of Scripture, do not understand their faith as one founded on a book. As the Catholic Catechism explicitly states, “[T]he Christian faith is not a `religion of the book.’ Christianity is the religion of the ‘Word’ of God, ‘not a written and mute word, but incarnate and living.’ If the Scriptures are not to remain a dead letter, Christ, the eternal Word of the living God, must, through the Holy Spirit, ‘open (our) minds to understand the Scriptures.’”

Dr. Larcyia Hawkins
Dr. Larcyia Hawkins

Second, in Islamic theology, the phrase “people of the book” refers only to followers of other Abrahamic religions (such as Jews and Christians) and not to Muslims themselves. This is similar to the sort of error made when non-Catholics mistake the Immaculate Conception for the Virgin Birth.

Just as it can be confusing when a religion based on a book (the Qur’an) refers to historical predecessors that rely on a book (The Torah, the Bible) as people of the book, it can be confusing when two terms applied to the relationship between two individuals (Jesus and Mary) each refers to something strangely miraculous about one or the other’s prenatal existence.

Now on to the big question: Do Muslims and Christians worship the same God? To answer it well, we have to make some important philosophical distinctions. First, what does it mean for two terms to refer to the same thing? Take, for example, the names “Muhammed Ali” and “Cassius Clay.” Although they are different terms, they refer to the same thing, for each has identical properties. Whatever is true of Ali is true of Clay and vice versa. (By the way, you can do the same with “Robert Zimmerman” and “Bob Dylan,” or “Norma Jean Baker” and “Marilyn Monroe”).

So the fact that Christians may call God “Yahweh” and Muslims call God “Allah” makes no difference if both “Gods” have identical properties. In fact, what is known as classical theism was embraced by the greatest thinkers of the Abrahamic religions: St. Thomas Aquinas (Christian), Moses Maimonides (Jewish), and Avicenna (Muslim). Because, according to the classical theist, there can only in principle be one God, Christians, Jews, and Muslims who embrace classical theism must be worshipping the same God. It simply cannot be otherwise.

But doesn’t Christianity affirm that God is a Trinity while Muslims deny it? Wouldn’t this mean that they indeed worship different “Gods”? Not necessarily. Consider this example. Imagine that Fred believes that the evidence is convincing that Thomas Jefferson (TJ) sired several children with his slave Sally Hemings (SH), and thus Fred believes that TJ has the property of “being a father to several of SHs children.” On the other hand, suppose Bob does not find the evidence convincing and thus believes that TJ does not have the property of “being a father to several of SHs children.”

Would it follow from this that Fred and Bob do not believe that the Third President of the United States was the same man? Of course not. In the same way, Abraham and Moses did not believe that God is a Trinity, but St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, and Billy Graham do. Does that mean that Augustine, Aquinas, and Graham do not worship the same God as Abraham and Moses? Again, of course not. The fact that one may have incomplete knowledge or hold a false belief about another person – whether human or divine – does not mean that someone who has better or truer knowledge about that person is not thinking about the same person.

For these reasons, it would a real injustice if Wheaton College were to terminate the employment of Professor Hawkins simply because those evaluating her case cannot make these subtle, though important, philosophical distinctions.

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Francis J. Beckwith

Francis J. Beckwith

Francis J. Beckwith is Professor of Philosophy & Church-State Studies, Baylor University, and 2016-17 Visiting Professor of Conservative Thought and Policy at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Among his many books is Taking Rites Seriously: Law, Politics, and the Reasonableness of Faith (Cambridge University Press, 2015).

  • Rick

    Any similarities between Muhammadism and Christianity ends with Abraham.
    1. Islam teaches that God made a covenant with Ishmael and not Isaac.
    2. Islam is patrilineal, Judaism is matrilineal
    3.Jesus was a rabbi and healer. Muhammad was military, political, and religious leader
    4. God sacrificed His son for us, Islam sacrifices its sons for Allah
    5. Islam permits multiple wife’s, Christianity believes marriage is one man and one woman
    6. At the point of dying, Muhammad cursed his enemies, Jesus forgave His crucifiers
    7. Islamic calendar uses lunar months and year one is the Hijra, a Christian calendar is solar and year one is Anno Domini.
    8. Muhammad wrote a book for his followers, Jesus created a church for his followers
    9. There is no evolving morality in Islam. Whatever Muhammad did is permitted because he was the one true prophet and perfect man.

    • Alicia

      Thank you Rick. Your list could go on and on. I find very worrisome and scary people’s ignorance of the teachings of Islam while embracing the brilliant PR slogan – Islam is a religion of peace.
      Everyone should read the Kouran !

      • Bill G

        I find it interesting that the claim “Islam is a religion of peace” is always asserted but never supported or argued. I don’t believe I’ve ever heard an apologist for Islam say, “Islam is a religion of peace because…” and then quote the Koran or anything.

    • Jon Rogers

      Thanks Rick. These are some of the other key differences to which I referred in my reply to Michael deLorme above. Has any one of us found in Islamic text, teaching or example anything which comes close to the notion that God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten Son..? Emmanuel? That we need a Saviour because humanity broke faith with God at the outset and that His atoning sacrifice was the only way to repair the relationship and redeem creation? As I mentioned, the differences are too vast for anyone to assert with authority that Islam worhips our God.

  • JimmyD

    Thank you for this article but I’m not totally sold on the idea. In the last book of Lewis’s Narnia, Aslan explains to a virtuous young Calormene (Emeth?) that whoever does good in the name of the Calormene’s Tash (a demonic god reminiscent of a Moloch or Baal) is in fact acting in the name of Aslan. I believe he also states a bad work in Aslan’s name is in the name of the demon Tash. Aslan is a Christ figure.

    I’m sincerely wondering whether Muslims, particularly the jihadists, are in fact worshipping a demon, just as the worshippers of Baal or Moloch, or the Aztecs, or worshippers of certain Hindu gods, etc.

  • DeaconEdPeitler

    I thought the Catholic Church a few years back instructed us not to refer to God as Yahweh?

    • David Casper

      That restriction only applies during liturgies like Mass or Adoration. The reasoning is that Yahweh is probably not an accurate term, and using it amounts more to misunderstanding Hebrew and possibly offending Jews than it does actually describing God. The same reasoning and restriction was applied to the name Jehovah. But we are still free to use those terms in our personal worship and conversations – just not in corporate liturgical worship.

      • DeaconEdPeitler

        Thanks for the explanation

      • Phil Steinacker

        Sure, but I challenge any notion which suggests that what words we use to worship, or any concerns on how we worship in any way, is the business of Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, atheists, and so on.

        Interestingly, there is a prayer still in the Talmud used by the 1st century Jews, prior to the Roman destruction of the Temple, to flush out the identities of any Christ-believing Jews in the Temple and the synagogues. This prayer, read aloud by all, accomplished this by denying Jesus as the Son of God and therefore God Himself, and cursing Him. Naturally, it worked as intended, and was the prime instrument by which Christian Jews were expelled from Jewish places of prayer and worship.

        I read about this at length some years ago, and cannot recall the name of the prayer, but the articles and blog posts on this topic which I read at that time provided links to the Torah online, and specifically to that prayer. It clearly did what I described above.

        I mention this because, as offended as I or any Christian might be, it is NONE of our business whether Jews – even though very few of whom are observant any more – deny or curse Jesus to the extent we would or should demand they cease using this prayer today. I suspect that it is uttered only by the Orthodox Jews, and some of their more radical subsets like Hasidic groups.

        Yet, these changes came about through the continuing “ecumenical” “dialogue” the Church maintains wit6h Jewish groups, who make insufferable demands on the Church about matters which are not their business. How can one be authentically offended by something which occurs where one does not wish to go? If one busies oneself in uncovering the private actions of another faith, then yours is the responsibility for being offended – not the other faith.

        I can’t so anything about the cowardly or misguided decision by the Church to kowtow to Christ-denying Jews or anyone else so inclined, so I cannot overtly disobey something outside my province to act. However, I do deny and repudiate the authority of the modernist Church to prohibit conversion of Jews, and I do so by actively working with a secular Jewish friend of mine who is seeking by bringing her to Christ as best I can. Likewise, I have a young Jewish friend with a more extensive background in Judaism who is open to learning more about Jesus. I would be derelict if I refused to work with him over time, and so I intend to continue to do so as far as his openness continues..

      • Richard A

        The letter was issued by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments in August of 2008, and so clearly any specific direction in it would pertain to the liturgy and other public worship. But if you read the reasoning that underlies the norms, and respect the traditions of the Church which inform that reasoning and of the Jewish people before that, you would find yourself not using God’s name at all. The Church’s tradition does not have to do with the tetragrammaton’s being inaccurate, but with our constant practice of just not pronouncing His Name, based largely on showing respect for His holiness.

        If the name of God is so holy that the Church never pronounces it publicly in her worship of Him, why would you consider yourself “still free to use those terms in our personal worship and conversations”?

  • Francis Miller

    Thanks for a clear and helpful essay on a very timely topic. I also think that being supportive to faithful Muslims is to be a faithful and practicing Christians, in my case Catholic Christian. Adopting practices of Islam, even for ‘solidarity’ purposes, seems to be a path requiring great caution.

    • Jon Rogers

      Perhaps Francis you would do well to apply caution at the start of your sentence. Many Islamic scholars would argue that to be a “faithful” Muslim is to adhere closely to the example of the Prophet and the directives in the Koran and the hadiths; many of these directives have been shown to be intolerant, brutal, mysoginist, homophobic and “politically incorrect” to the maximum extent. Strict application of Sharia Law is another goal of “faithful” Muslims, as is the supremacist elimination of any other religion. Are you really comfortable, as a Catholic Christian, supporting such features and goals which are undeniable beliefs and behaviours of “faithful Muslims”? Great caution is required indeed.

      • Phil Steinacker

        Great points. Implicit in your comment is the reality that we don’t see “cafeteria” Muslims left alive in Middle Eastern countries. Many of those so inclined emigrated to Western nations, but it is in their new host countries where their children are recruited to accept the very elements you describe. The newly fervent Muslims in western nations often attack the “cafeteria” Muslims around them.

  • Manfred

    Is this a joke? How did this column get past the editors? Allah never existed. Islam is a man-made fiction. Why don’t you write about Star Wars with its remark “May the Force be with you”? “..St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, and Billy Graham..”? Graham is a member of a man-made religion and you place him with Augustina and Aquinas?
    Why don’t you take this column back and consider another topic? I, for one, do not care what Ms. Hawkins thinks about anything.

    • Phil Steinacker

      Absolutely correct. Many saints contemporaneous to the rise of Islam and for many centuries following have declared Islam as a corruption of Arianism, which Mohammed probably encountered before he morphed it into something more pointedly self-serving in the Arab culture of the day.

      In any case, I welcome her suspension and hope she is terminated. Let her teach at a secular college which maybe willing to overlook her alleged Christianity since she manifests it with a sufficient amount of confusion to be of use to the progressive agenda.

  • Michael DeLorme

    Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, Confucianism—all fail to acknowledge the divinity of Christ. But since they arose before the time of Christ, that failure represents an unavoidable incompleteness in these religions.

    Can someone please tell me, though, how any religion that has arisen since the coming of Christ, yet denies his divinity, can possibly be inspired by the Holy Ghost? Is God incoherent; or is He, rather, the same yesterday, today and tomorrow?

    I continue to assert that there may be multiple millions of good, decent and honorable Muslims in the world. But they are good, decent and honorable in spite of Islam, not because of it.

    Saint John Paul had no reticence in declaring that Mormons who convert to the Catholic faith need to be baptized again because, in their own baptisms, Mormons do not mean the same thing by the words Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Their meanings are not simply insufficient, they are untrue.

    Likewise, Muslims can claim that Allah is simply God understood as One and not as a Trinity, which might be considered as merely insufficient, by Catholics. But Allah is not God; is not Yahweh. Muslims do not mean the same thing by Allah as Christians do by God. Allah is not Abba, Father.

    One might consider Islam another noble attempt, had it arisen before the time of Christ. But the denial of Christ’s divinity in a religion that arose after His life, death and resurrection is either the product of the human spirit…or worse. Its inception cannot have been inspired by the Holy Spirit.

    • kathleen

      Do we believe in the New Testament or not? Didn’t St. Paul say that if anyone should come preaching a Gospel other than that of Jesus Christ let him be anathema??? This article today is confusing and unfortunate. I am surprised it got by the editors of this fine website.

    • Jon Rogers

      Well argued. I would add that another key and distinct-from-Islam attribute of the Judeo-Christian God is the know-ability of His will, and the consistency of derived standards of good and evil, as set out in scripture and as applied in the many covenants, culminating in Christ. Faith and reason coexist comfortably in Judaism and Christianity and in fact inform one another. By contrast, it is my understanding that Islam refuses to “fetter” Allah within the confines of human reason and that the notion of good and evil as ordained by Allah can be as varied as the interpretations of the Koran and hadiths by most persuasive Imam; or by the blatant opportunism of His Prophet.

      These differences and others appear to me too vast to point to the same God.

      • Michael DeLorme

        Thank you. I watched on YouTube an informative debate at Thomas More College between Peter Kreeft and Robert Spencer, “Resolved: the only good Muslim is a bad Muslim.”

        As much as I respect Kreeft, though, I found him as I do Father Beckwith much more optimistic than I’m able to be regarding Islam.

  • Nancy Lynne

    Did Dr. Hawkins check with any Christian authority to see if a Christian wearing a hijab would be offensive to her fellow Christians?

  • Nancy Lynne

    Can Dr. Hawkins be unaware of the fact that Muslims are discriminating against and persecuting Christians and Jews? Why is she not standing in religious solidarity with her fellow Christians and with Jews? Why is she putting on this wacky outrageous show?

  • Michael Paterson-Seymour

    Islam is a broad church and it is probably nearer the truth to say that some (most) Muslims believe in the same God as Christians, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

    However, it is a cardinal tenet of some Sufis, for example, that the words of the Shahadah, “there is no God but God” should be understood to mean that He alone is being and that the self and the created world are illusions. Thus, we have Bayazid Bastami (804-874), known as “one of the six bright stars in the firmament of the Messenger,” exclaiming, “Oh, God, how long this “you” and “I” remain between You and I. Take this “I” from me so all that remains is “You.”

    Not surprisingly, he taught that all religions are “vehicles and a path to God’s Divine Presence.” He believed that experimental union was the root of all religions, so all provide a path to Enlightenment. Hence, the trance-like state which is the object of the Dervish dances and other ascetical exercises.

    • Michael DeLorme

      I’ve seen footage of Dervish dancing at Walid Shoebat’s website. Eerie and unappealing.

  • grump

    6,000+years of recorded human history and the species still is arguing over who, what and how many gods there are. Some of the Eastern religions have more than 30 million while Christianity is down to 3. Is it any wonder agnostics and atheist abound?

  • Don Bryant

    As an Evangelical Baptist I agree with your “yes.” I would go a bit further and say we are cousins, even if not savingly so. I think the very restrictive view of General Revelation held by most Evangelicals does not sreve us well.

  • Beth

    Thank you for this article. This is something that I have been trying to understand for a very long time. I have heard it said that Islam is a Catholic heresy. Can anyone comment to this?

    • Michael B Rooke

      Some scholars ascribe Islam’s view of Christianity as being obtained from the Ebionites.
      See the wiki and also New Advent.

    • JR

      You will find among the sources of the Quran references to theologies that were found among heretical Christian sects in Arabia. In the east you had a proliferation of heretical sects like Nestorianism. The argument is that they adopted some of these heresies and so are sharing in the heresies from the Church. This is somewhat the argument of the great Catholic English writer Hilare Belloc in his book The Great Heresies. It goes back however all the way to St John Damscene who lived to see the rise of Islam and also viewed it as a Catholic perversion. Not all Catholics see it that way. Some see it as a different religion altogether and since Mohammed was not a baptized Catholic he could not be a heretic who fell away from the Faith and so Islam is not heretical. A false religion for sure but not heretical.

      • Beth

        So, a false religion–which has been my thought. From that point of view, why does the Church refer to Islam as one of the three Abrahamic religions? To me, this reference point gives it an air of authenticity. Or perhaps ‘The Church’ does not but only some of it’s prelates? Many good comments to read here. Will have to refer back to this article again. Thanks, again.

        • Phil Steinacker

          I’m disappointed in our ecclesial Church leadership at the highest level has accepted without question and challenge to the Islamic claim that they worship the same god as we. The foundation for this spurious claim is that the predominant Arab ethnic culture can legitimately trace its origins to the birth of Ishmael to Abraham and an Egyptian maidservant to his wife Sarah. Mohammed, in re-writing Judaic and Christian scripture, cherry-picked and even twisted outright the inconvenient facts, and theologized the connection of the Arab race to Abraham but in service to a new false demon/god.

      • Jon Rogers

        Excellent point.

      • Phil Steinacker

        God points, but Belloc and others contend not so much that Mohammed is a heretic but that he encountered the still-lingering but nearly exhausted Arian heresy. He corrupted Arianism further by incorporating it into salient but modified elements of Christianity and Judaism to manufacture a self-serving ideology bent on world domination, all the while masquerading as authentic religion.

        Any study of the attributes islam finds in allah reveals that god NOT to be the true God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob despite claims by islam that this is so. Those attributes are NOT consonant with those of the authentic Abrahamic God of Catholicism and Judaism. For example muslims often refer to ever-merciful allah, but there is NO concept of mercy in Islamic theology, such as it is.

        The historic Catholic view that ANY god worshipped by pagans is, in fact, a demon serving Satan, whether Ba’al or the pantheons of Greek, Roman, or Hindu gods & goddesses. Therefore, the correct assessment by many Catholics and Protestants is that islam is a satanic religion, not because they overtly worship Satan but because they worship a false god which, by definition, is a demon serving Satan.

    • Edward Radler Rice

      Within the Quran, one can find much that deals with Jesus Christ, directly and indirectly. However, the Jesus presented in the Quran is a poor, confused composition, whose various constituent parts were believed by heretical groups of Christians (and non-Christians) in the second, third, fourth, and even later centuries. In this period, the standard of Christian faith is firstly the testimony of the Apostles (especially present in the Gospels) and subsequently, the Nicene Creed, which was proclaimed at the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD. There were many false – in light of the New Testament and the Church Fathers – competing beliefs about Jesus in the period following the Resurrection, Pentecost, and the Council of Jerusalem through the ebb and flow of imperial persecutions concluding with the ascendancy of Constantine. Faithful Catholic bishops had a hard time dealing with what probably seemed to them to be a rabid, heretical pack of Hydras. The Docetists of the third century, for example, did not believe that Jesus died since they held that he wasn’t truly human. Well, the fact that the Quran explicitly denies that Jesus was crucified is based on the heresy of Docetism. The Council of Nicaea, too, contended with heresy, specifically, Arianism, which taught that Jesus was not God. In the Quran, Jesus presents himself as simply a prophet; it denies that Jesus is divine, the Son of God, just like Arianism. So along with polytheists and diaspora Jews who may have had non-Catholic ideas about Jesus, there were many confused Christians in the Arabian Peninsula as well. This was the religious environment in which Islam arose in the 7th century on the Red Sea side of the central Arabian Peninsula.

      • Jon Rogers

        Very helpful context; thanks.

      • Phil Steinacker

        Thank you for adding some of the other heretical antecedents to the formation of this ideological movement which I had forgotten or missed outright.

    • Beth

      Thank you, Edward, JR, and Michael for taking the time to respond and giving me some direction on where to find more information. God Bless you.

  • Mktingguy

    I disagree, Professor. While Sally Hemings and I may now have different perspectives on Thomas Jefferson, there exists an objective truth about him that, with more information and understanding, will cause our perspectives to grow closer together. Our thoughts and opinions will tend to be more congruent and align as we approach an understanding of the one Thomas Jefferson. None of that exists between the “Gods” of Islam and Christianity.

    Rather than the same God, Christians and Islam worship something more akin to identical twins with distinct, different personalities. They might look the same in form, but deep down in substance they aren’t. The theologies show no signs of convergence and on the big points strongly disagree — divinity of Christ, the Trinity, etc. They are and will always be different religions, because they worship different Gods. So, to me, Dr. Hawkins’ wearing of the hijab does condone and support the behaviors and beliefs of that other, different Islamic twin — as she apparently intended. One would think that, during Advent, she might have done something more appropriate to bring her closer to her Christian God.

    So, I think Wheaton College did the right thing!

    • Ernest Miller

      Mktingguy…I think I understand your comment but would like to restate it to be sure.

      Mr. Beckwith argues that Fred and Bob, notwithstanding their differences, believe Thomas Jefferson to be the same man. However, the Truth is either Jefferson is an adulterer or a loyal husband, but not both. Morally, there is a vast difference between any two men, one an adulterer, the other a family man. Furthermore, a man is not so much defined by his physical presence but by his character. Certainly this would be true of a god.

      The Catholic God is a Holy Trinity with Jesus the source for Salvation and the Holy Spirit the source of wisdom and knowledge. Mankind has recorded history as proof.

      On the other hand the Islam concept of ‘God’ denies Christ’s divinity and in so doing demonstrates that their knowledge is inconsistent with the Holy Spirit. Hence, from a theological description a different ‘God’ from our God.

      In sum, who are we to second guess the First Commandment? Did I follow you correctly?

      • Mktingguy

        Sounds right to me. The TJ argument doesn’t really work for me. There is only one God. But, how Christianity and Islam understand that inherently-unknowable God is different, very different in my opinion. As each religion’s concept of God is different, it suggests to me that we have “different” Gods. I think Dr. Hawkins is obligated to “support” our God and not give credence to other views. That’s why, I think, Wheaton acted as they did.

  • Monica

    There is a difference between not acknowledging something that has not been revealed to you and denying something that has been revealed to you.

  • Michael Randolph

    If Catholics and Mohammedans worship the same God, then why get your head chopped off for refusing to worship Allah?

    • Jim Powell

      fyi… ISIS has killed more Muslims than Christians. Significantly more. It’s a Western myth that ISIS is out to get Christians alone. Peaceful Muslims who do not submit to their radical claims are just as quickly disposed of.

      • Omnia Vincit Veritas

        What serious person claims that ISIS is out to get Christians alone? This appears to be your own myth about a so-called Western myth that falsely lumps all Westerners together.

        Nevertheless, it is an undeniable fact that Christians are indeed targeted by ISIS and other Islamic terrorists because of their Christianity. In this regard I recommend many of the works of the recognized Middle East expert Raymond Ibrahim that you can easily find online, plus his book “Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians,” can be very helpful to you.

        Moreover, the fact that ISIS and other Islamic terrorist groups kill other Muslims is basically a ‘so-what?’ fact since the terrorist groups claim that the Muslims they kill are not true Muslims (and you rightly point out that they “are just as quickly disposed of”). Also note that from the very beginning of Islam and throughout its 1,400 year history, Muslims have killed other Muslims, and oftentimes the killers have included historically recognized leaders of Islam (not just so-called radicals). The fact of many targets does not diminish the reality of singling out individual targets because of what they believe, etc.

        Lastly, it should be clearly understood that despite the existence of many peaceful Muslims, Islam in and of itself is not a religion of peace as is wrongly proclaimed by many who do not want to confront the overall ideology of Islam that contains ongoing support (not just applications for a particular time or place) for violent actions against unbelievers (“kafir”), and the more militant practitioners of Islam follow these perpetual directives of Islam that the peaceful ones either ignore or follow indirectly in their support of their more militant fellow Muslims.

    • DeaconEdPeitler

      Good point.

    • Phil Steinacker

      That’s because the common muslim reference to an all-merciful or ever-merciful allah is a fiction. The only way to attain mercy from islam is to submit without reservation.

      The Catholic understanding of God – also embraced by some but not all other Christians – is founded upon the gift of free will. God the Father will allow you to walk away fro Him and His Son, to which He will only say, “Thy will be done.” This decision of His should pour shivers down our spines as we contemplate the ramifications of His faithful adherence to His gift to us.

  • pj_re

    This seems an obvious parody, but in case it is not, if two people both knew a Francis Beckwith and were wondering if it was the same person, and one said, “My Francis Beckwith preaches peace and love” and the other said “My Francis Beckwith preaches global conquest and coercive subjection of the world’s peoples”, we might reasonably conclude they were different Francis Beckwiths.

    • Elizabeth Hall

      Good point. This made me think of another difference. The peaceful Francis Beckwith has a son named Jesus, but the coercive Francis Beckwith denies having any children. Both can’t be true.

  • Jon S.

    Sorry, but I find Professor Beckwith’s argument (and so that of at least the last three popes) to be fallacious. I think I can identify the fallacies of circular argument and equivocation. In a nutshell, the problem with this argument is that it leads to concluding that all human beings have always worshiped the same God, which makes the term “the same God” meaningless.

    When discussing whether Christians and Muslims worship the same God, it is crucial to identify whether we are talking about the God being worshiped OR what is the minds of the worshipers.

    If we are talking about the God being worshiped, then key premises are worship is an act of faith and faith is the acceptance of Divine Revelation.

    It would be more sound to argue that Muslims INDIRECTLY worship the one true God worshiped DIRECTLY by Christians since the one true God has revealed Himself indirectly in anything that is objectively true, good, and beautiful and since there is some objective truth, goodness, and beauty in Islam. The same can be said for any religion.

    God did not reveal Himself to Muhammad as the Divine Being described in the Qur’an called “Allah” who, among other things, chose Muhammad to be his greatest prophet.

    If we are talking about what is in the minds Christians and Muslims when they worship, it would be more accurate to claim that Christians and Muslims worship SIMILAR Gods.

    To say that Christians and Muslims worship the same God seems to me to avoid, albeit with good intentions, honest dialogue to get at the objective truth about Who God is and how He reveals Himself.

  • HornOrSilk

    Good article, but the ignorant masses will go screaming, ignoring the very foundations the church had in its apologetics to defend itself in Rome.

  • ECT

    I also wonder how this article made it past the editors. I appreciate the clear and patient comments of dissent by those who actually understand why we do not worship the same God. I followed the logic, and it is an example of sophistry.

  • Your blog and my blog (Catholic Stand) yesterday distinguishing how we view God differently are good compliments to each other – you show he’s the same God while I show how the differences in understanding him are important.

  • Professor, I would warmly encourage you to read Muslim sources of faith (The Koran, The Hadiths and Tafsir) to familiarize yourself with what Islam says about the Deity they worship, in order to better inform your judgement. You may notice that Catholic teaching since Vatican 2 has basically affirmed your position. Keep in mind, however, that read in continuity with Catholic tradition, the teaching office of the Catholic Church has much more often disagreed with you and agreed with Wheaton College concerning Muslims and their faith.

    Islam has a rich legal tradition, easily approachable in English, of how Islam impacts the Public Square. I would urge you, rather than assume, to familiarize yourself with it.

  • JR

    I dont know about this. I’ll have to think about it. I do know that Dr. Beckwith is not some wishy washy liberal interfaith holding hands person. I know because he wrote as an evangelical Protestant an excellent critique of a book co written by an Mormon and Evangelical “Are Mormons Christian?”. In it he critiques the LDS concept of God forcefully and rigorously. So I dont want to dismiss this out of hand. However I have to ask, so then did Aristotle believe in the same God as Abraham and Moses? Was his “Unmoved Mover” his “Prime Mover” classic theism? I believe using this same argument he makes for Islam you could do so with Aristotle. I’ll have to ponder on this article but the reasoning is not airtight from my vantage point. Like I said Im going to have to think about this one.

    • Michael Paterson-Seymour

      Not a few Christians would answer yes. To deny that Aristotle believed in the One God is tantermount to denying that God can be known by reason, independent of revelation; a position condemned by the First Vatican Council

      • JR

        So at what point is there sameness and differentiation? I’m not denying a pagan’s ability to reason to God. However does Aristotle’s Prime Mover meet the criteria of classical theism like the Omni attributes? Aristotle denied his “God” knew everything.

        How about the Mormon god? Is he the same god as in classical Christianity? They formally believe in the Bible, imperfectly, but refer to their god as Jehovah.

        St Paul refers to counterfeit Christs. So for him there is a point we should differentiate claims by others to have the same God or Christ.

        I think that a discussion of this sort needs a fuller treatment then an article.

    • RainingAgain

      I would think a Christian has much more in common with Aristotle than with a typical Muslim.

  • Richard A

    At the risk of identifying myself as a heretic, I respectfully disagree with the statement that “Christians and Muslims worship the same God.” The God we worship is displeased when His followers strap on explosive vests and blow themselves up in crowded marketplaces. The God we worship is displeased when His followers saw the heads off the adherents of other religions. We’ve encountered before the god who is pleased by such things. I’m beginning to admire Cortes’ approach to dealing with him.

    • Jon Rogers

      Not a heretic by any measure, Richard.

  • Don Bryant

    As an Evangelical Protestant, I agree with your “yes.” I think I could make the case we are cousins and have a familial relatinship, if not a unity in Christ.

  • Seth Brotherton

    It’s not that simple. Fatherhood or sonship in man is an accident(we can exist as individuals if we do not have a father or a son). In God, these relationships are subsistent and definitive. And of course we do worship the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; a God that was not explicitly non-trinitarian. The god of Muhammad and the Koran, on the other hand is not a Father, because he does not have a Son, since he “has no wife.” Abraham worshiped a personal God who is one in nature and had not yet revealed his tripersonhood. We worship a God who is three persons in one nature. Muslims worship a god who is not three persons in one nature. Unless we worship a nature devoid of personhood, Christians and Muslims do not worship the same God.

  • Edward Radler Rice

    More critically, does the New Testament and the Quran point to and lead people to the same God?

    Do Jesus and Muhammad point to and lead people to the same God?

    • Jon Rogers

      Another excellent point.

  • 3C4

    The woman offers more confusion. She should be fired.

    • RainingAgain

      She’ll soon become a Muslim.

  • Mike Hurcum

    The real comparision is , “Which of the two is Cain and who is Abel?

  • Edward Radler Rice

    The God of the Quran and the God of the New Testament – do they actually have “identical properties,” the properties accorded to God by classical theism, namely, divine simplicity and conservation, omniscience, omnipotence, and omnipresence?

    • No. Only omniscience, omnipotence, and omnipresence. NOT divine similicity and conservation- which are concepts that limit God to human reason

  • I worship Jesus, which a Muslim cannot/will not do. “Immanuel” = God with us. As Thomas said, “My Lord and my God.”

  • Msgr. John R. Schulte

    The professor makes a good point, but it is not the full argument. One might wonder why the symbol of Islam is the crescent moon. One sees it on many, many flags of nations with large muslim populations. It has been used since the beginning of Islam. The reason is that “Allah” was one of the many gods of the people of Mecca. He was the moon god. Once one knows this, one has to wonder how he could be the same God/god as the God of Abraham or the Father of Jesus Christ. One may also wonder why the great shrine in Mecca is a large cube into which is inserted a meterorite. All Moslems who are able, must make a pilgrimage to that shrine at least once in their lives and walk around that cube. That shrine was there before Mohammed took over Mecca and it was considered sacred because the people thought the stone had fallen from the moon – the home of the moon god, Allah. If I am mistaken about any of these points, I will gladly accept correction. I have read these things in various sources at different points in my life. With all these things in mind, I find it almost impossible to equate Allah and our God.

    • Jon Rogers

      Excellent points.

    • Bev Malona

      It is what I’ve read too. The revisionists have wiped history off the slate and buried reality.

  • Papist

    If Allah exists, he is a demon, not God.

  • Edward Radler Rice

    Since Dr. Beckwith links to a solid Edward Feser analysis of classical theism, I wanted to throw in a Feser article dealing with Islam: see Does Islam Need a Luther or a Pope?

  • So the real answer, as usual, is it depends on the Christian and it depends on the Muslim. Both religions have fragmented into so many different schools of thought that despite being offically monotheistic, I have grave doubts that either truly are. Oh, no one Christain worships many gods, but I have my doubts that Westboro Baptists follow the same God I do. Likewise, I have good five pillar Muslim friends who claim, not without reason, that those who add the sixth pillar of violent Jihad are not worshiping the same Allah they do.

    • Jon Rogers

      If only that sixth pillar were the only defining difference.

  • Howard Kainz

    Muslims don’t seem to agree about adoring the same God. See the Koran [9.30]:
    “And the Jews say: Uzair [Ezra] is the son of Allah; and the Christians
    say: The Messiah is the son of Allah; these are the words of their
    mouths; they imitate the saying of those who disbelieved before; may
    Allah destroy them; how they are turned away!”

  • James S.

    Christians may call God “Yahweh” and Muslims call God “Allah” Ouch. I’m American but I happen to live in Beirut. I go to a Maronite Church and I’ve learned to recite the Nicene Creed in Arabic. We use the word “Allah” for God.

    • I intentionally used “may call” for a reason. Every word matters.

      • James S.

        I take your point about every word matters, but why not re-write: “Both Arabic speaking Christians and Muslims call God ‘Allah,” which would seem to go along with the tenor of your argument. Seems to me I recall a case in Indonesia some years ago in which a group of Islamic fundamentalists sought a court injunction barring Christians from using the word “Allah” to refer to God. The use of ‘Allah’ pre-dates Islam. Also, there is no capitalization in Arabic. In English we write Allah to mean God, but in lower case the word also means god, as in the English paraphrase of the Islamic “shehada,” or profession of faith: “There is no god but God and Mohamed is His prophet (or His messenger).” Cheers, James S.

  • Edward Radler Rice

    According to Rev. James V. Schall, S. J.,

    “It is the religious responsibility of Islam to carry out its assigned mission of subduing the world to Allah. When we try to explain this religion in economic, political, psychological, or other terms [including classical theism?], we simply fail to see what is going on. From the outside, it is almost impossible to see how this system coheres within itself. But, granted its premises and the philosophy of voluntarism used to explain and defend it, it becomes much clearer that we are in fact dealing with a religion that claims to be true in insisting that it is carrying out the will of Allah, not its own.

    If we are going to deal with it, we have to do so on those terms, on the validity of such a claim. The trouble with this approach, of course, is that truth, logos, is not recognized in a voluntarist setting. If Allah transcends the distinction of good and evil, if he can will today its opposite tomorrow, as the omnipotence of Allah is understood to mean in Islam, then there can be no real discussion that is not simply a temporary pragmatic stand-off, a balance of interest and power.” –

    So true or false: divine simplicity cannot be an attribute of Allah?

    According to Feser, divine simplicity “entails that God is immutable or changeless, and therefore that He is impassible.”

    If mutable, then classical theism does not define Allah.

  • sagehen

    Let’s look at this argument from another angle. Instead of asking “what does it mean for two terms to refer to the same thing”, we might more aptly ask what it means for one term to refer to two different things. The name “Cassius Clay” refers to both an 19th century abolitionist and a 20th century athlete. They hold significant commonalities – both were from Kentucky, and both promoted civil rights for Black Americans – but they are not the same person in any sense at all. In the same way, we cannot resolve the question of whether Muslims and Christians worship the same God simply by noting that the names “Allah” and “God” are synonymous.

    Even in the case where two names are used to refer to the same person, it is not strictly accurate to say that they are the same for all purposes. Sometimes, as when Jesus changed Simon’s name to Peter, it holds great significance. Simon would have been the same person biologically had he never been called by our Lord, but he wouldn’t have been the first pope; and no one else could have made himself the first pope even if he happened to be named Peter.

    We also can’t say that just because Islam and Christianity share a common belief in classical monotheism, which specifies only one Supreme Being, both religions necessarily worship the same Supreme Being. It may mean that one (or both) of these religions has misidentified the one true God and worships a false idol. We would not accept the claim that a monotheistic satanic cult worshipped the same God as Christians and Jews do, nor would we deny the
    existence of Satan; we would merely note that Satan is not the Supreme Being, but a subordinate one. More significantly, we would look beyond the name to the attributes of the deity in question. We would not reach common ground if the cult decided to call Satan by the name “God” or “Allah”.

    As with the example of Thomas Jefferson, we need not insist on complete agreement on all aspects of God’s nature in order to say that Muslims and Christians worship the same God. We can even disagree, as Christians and Jews do, about the Trinity. But if a person wants to claim that Thomas Jefferson rejected the notion of inalienable rights, or that God countenances irrational and cruel offenses against fundamental human dignity, we ought to seriously consider whether that person has confused Jefferson (or God) with some other figure altogether.

    Finally, there is a difference between worshipping the same God and acknowledging the existence of one true God. Even if we want to assume that Christians and Muslims sincerely hold many of the same general precepts about the nature of God, there is no question that the relationship that Christians understand themselves to have with God is radically different from the understanding that Muslims have – so much so that it seems profoundly misleading to equate them in a practical sense even if it might be possible to do so on narrow
    theological grounds.

  • Mike

    I appreciate the reasoning here, but the Koran is basically a corrective diatribe against Christianity and Judaism. Islam cannot accept John 3:16 because God cannot have a Son. Allah is “merciful,” but he does not provide a plan for salvation or a sin-bearer. There is an on-going dispute among Arabic-speaking believers about who is “Allah.” Is he God or the devil? On the other hand, Arabic translations of the Bible use “Allah” for God. I’m not sure what else they would use.

  • In Europe as well as here in the U.S. we are seeing an invasion of Christian countries by Muslims, orchestrated by our own governments. Everywhere you look there is capitulation to Islam, called dhimmitude. Islam is not compatible with western civilization. Those that are apologists are very foolish in their thinking This college professor is yet another victim of the leftist brainwashing in our education system. The Saudis have been allowed to infest our schools and universities, history is being purged and rewritten to serve the purposes of the globalists/socialists.
    There is nothing in common whatsoever between Christian belief and Islam. There is only one way to heaven, through Jesus Christ.

  • Jon Rogers

    Nicely put.

  • kendallpeak

    So Christians believe in the One God who said Jesus is His only begotten Son. Muslims believe in the one god who says Jesus is not his son. Some god. This is more pc hogwash, typical nonsense from the university class.

  • kendallpeak

    Hawkins asked CAIR if it “was permissible” to put a scarf on her head. What silly nonsense.

    • DeaconEdPeitler

      This is what qualifies these days in academia…nonsense.

    • TVinOK

      She was attempting to show solidarity with Muslims. She checked to make sure what she intended to be a sign of solidarity and sympathy wouldn’t be offensive to those she was trying to support. I’m not sure how that qualifies as “silly nonsense.”

      • kendallpeak

        Actually, she is bending over backwards to appease a hostile force. Doesn’t work.

  • James

    First, for the sake of argument, let us understand “God” as the ultimate principal of a “religion,” or even of any individual’s existence. Just because the ultimate principle is referenced as “God” does not mean the ultimate principle is in any way the same from the different perspectives of groups or individuals. The ultimate principle of the Animist is each and every component of nature. The ultimate principle of the Atheist could simply be his own person.
    Secondly, Mohammed is historically a highly suspect figure. He was a maniac barbarian tribesman with a method to his madness. In an attempt to consolidate tribes he confected a belief system, drawing heavily upon Judaism and Arianism, thus bringing a mode of unity to bear and support his imperialistic agenda. To regard him as authentically the recipient of any revelation from the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – the Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Ghost, is total absurdity. By their fruits you shall know them. Christian northern Africa was exterminated by the sword of Mohammed within a hundred years. That Christian historians and philosophers would give deference to this fraudulence known as Islam is symptomatic of our current state of disorientation.
    That the construct of Mohammed evolved into some semblance of civilizing force is, however, miraculous – was it perhaps their intimate contact with Christianity in Europe which finally brought some sense to the beast?
    Third, in my grievously poor understanding of the sociology of religion, Islam is categorized in the ranscendental line, representative of the type referred to as “Submission,” emphasizing its apprehension of God as an irrational dictatorial force. Christianity, referenced as the intersection of the Transcendental and Immanent categories of religion is typed as “Existential-Ontological Theism,” and has its apprehension of God as Father, an intimate, as Abba – Papa.
    No, Allah and the Most Holy Trinity are not the same, any more than Abraham is the Father of Islam. Islam does not even have a theology — the study which, through participation and reflection upon a relgious faith, seeks to express the content of that faith in the clearest and most coherent language available. Islam is irrational and disordered to its core.

  • Andrew del Rio

    So, do Muslims and Christians worship the same God? What exactly is Beckwith’s conclusion? Isn’t the real question “How is the referent of ‘Allah’ picked out by Muslims?” If classical theism is true, but Islam is false, then you might think that there are multiple ways of picking out a referent for ‘Allah,’ some of which pick out the one true God of classical theism and some which do not. The same is true if Christianity is false. Granting that Islam and Christianity are not both true, shouldn’t we expect the answer to be that sometimes Christians and Muslims refer to and hence worship the same God, and that sometimes they don’t? This could also explain the difference of opinions on this complicated issue.

  • Fr. Peter Morello, Ph.D.

    I knew here would be an explosion of comments mostly negative when I read the title of Prof Beckwith’s article. The reason is the seeming insoluble conflict. Benedict XVI as well as John Paul II perceived Islam as defective. Both firmly held there should be dialogue. That is what Beckwith is saying. The three world monotheistic religions believe in God as they understand Him. It should be remembered that Judaism once was Christianity’s most adamant deadly opponent. So were other Christian denominations absolutely murderous and hostile to Catholicism beginning with Elizabeth I. At the English College there are portraits of the forty or more Englishmen who came to Rome to study for ordination to return to England knowing torture and martyrdom awaited. Are Catholics prepared in the name of Christ to assume the intolerance of radical Islam and annihilate close to one quarter of the world’s populace.

    • Rick

      Catholics don’t purposely make false assumptions or murder people, rather we seek truth and defend the faith that is Christ.

      • TVinOK

        Might want to brush up on your history, Rick.

        • James

          You might want to put down the black legends and access some scholarship.

    • RainingAgain

      Father, we have defended ourselves for centuries. The Muslims have always been the aggressors in terms of forcibly imposing their faith. Dialogue is suicidal with a religion that does not see it as a means of co-existence, but as a ruse to gain advantage.

    • Edward Radler Rice

      “Are Catholics prepared in the name of Christ to assume the intolerance of radical Islam and annihilate close to one quarter of the world’s populace. [?]” Say what? With all due respect, are you saying that if we don’t dialogue, the only other option is an annihilating intolerance, Father?

      If Professor Beckwith is trying to dialogue with Muslims, Father, then he is speaking to them through classical theism as he highlights in the article. Can a Muslim – can anyone – apply that perspective, that lens – classical theism – to Islam? Or better yet, can Islam fit into the categories of classical theism? I’m not Muslim, but from what I have studied that may involve squaring the circle… He mentions only one Muslim philosopher.

      It would be better to say that the Catholic Church believes in God as He has revealed Himself – as Father, Son, and Spirit, Triune, Tripersonal, rather than saying we believe in God as we understand him – as if its just up to us and our weak minds. Also, Catholicism – the Catholic Church – is not a denomination.

      • Fr. Peter Morello, Ph.D.

        Edward the rhetorical point is Catholics are not prepared to force conversion or annihilate. The Christian option if we are not forced to defend ourselves is rational discourse. This I believe is Beckwith’s premise finding a window for dialogue in the belief in one God. There are moderate Muslims and compatible similarities in all three monotheistic religions.

        • Edward Radler Rice

          “If we are not forced to defend ourselves…”
          Although it may not be in vogue, I am a fan of rational discourse – apologetics.

          Historically, dialogue, which seems to suggest amicable conversation, along with tea and cake, between Catholics and Muslims, save for the chat between St. Francis and the Sultan, which led to the Friars Minor taking custody of the Holy Sepulchre, has born very little fruit. (I mustn’t forget all the Catholic-Muslim dialogue over $$$ in order to work out the right price to free Christian slaves through the course of centuries. And of course we cannot forgot all the tea and cake pleasantries involved in the Islamic conquest of the Byzantine Empire and the sieges and final sack of Constantinople; the siege of Otranto, Italy; the two sieges of Vienna; the Islamic conquest of Jerusalem… and most of the Iberian Peninsula… all the naval engagements in the Mediterranean crucible… )

          The Quran is a manual of war – Allah-sanctioned, -ordained, -orchestrated war.

          Islam needs a Paul. But unlike Old Testament Judaism, it cannot produce one.
          Islam needs Peter, and Matthew, and Mark, and Luke, and John, but unlike Judaism, it cannot produce them.

          Owing to its anti-Nicene perspective, it short circuits developments toward the truth of the Catholic Faith.

          Does Christ Jesus want us to defend his members, his children?
          Can you imagine him saying,
          Jihadist, jihadist, why dost thou persecute me!
          ?

        • DeaconEdPeitler

          What you suggest implies that Muslims are inclined to dialogue…that they are rational when it comes to their religion. Where is the evidence for this?

          Where did this category of “moderate Muslim” come from? Is there a companion category of “moderate Catholic?”

          I think it is safe to say that “moderates” are, in fact, non-believers.

          I think the operative question all of us will have to ask ourselves sometime in the future is this: “With a gun pointed to your head, will you profess faith in the God of Catholicism (swearing that Christ is truly the divine Son of God) or will you swear faith to the god of Mohammed who is named Allah (and thereby deny that Christ is the Son of God)? Mark my word, that day will come and you WILL have to make a choice. Which will it be? Do you know now?

          • Fr. Peter Morello, Ph.D.

            Throughout history. Jewish historian Ben Ami Scharfstein In A Comparative History of World Philosophy says “Al Farabi 10th cent., Ibn Sina (Avicenna) 11th cent, Ibn Rushd (Averroes) 12th cent. are very special instances of tolerance stemming from scripture understood philosophically.” During the Arabic renaissance there was a move toward reason in deference to Koranic intolerance in the rediscovery and study of Aristotle. Frederick II King of Sicily and Holy Roman Emperor 13th cent. invited Islamic scholars to teach at the royal court in Palermo and at the University of Naples where Aquinas first encountered Aristotle. That trend exists today among some Muslim scholars in particular the prominent Cairo school of Islamic studies.

          • Fr. Peter Morello, Ph.D.

            First let me say to you who presume judgment my faith is owed to Christ not to you.

        • James

          The Moslem entity holds us as beneath contempt. We need abandon a vacuous exhortation to charity, the erroneous arrow of Christian pacifism, which masks cowardliness with feigned virtue leaving the innocent as fodder for maniacs. Christians are not required to observe a pacifist stance in the face of barbaric injustice, and that is the ugly face we are staring into at this moment in history, even though it be wrapped in rags.
          Given what the west has endured from this horde that feeds on its own as well as those they regard as infidels, it is
          nothing less than irrational to allow this madness to continue. If Islam is so noble a “religion,” then its adherents had better man up and eliminate the psychotics among them. This would demonstrate a vein of reason running through this
          erroneous construct and absolve us of having to do it for them.
          Religion can be defined as is the group of structures that grow up around the giving and receiving of a revelation. Through such structures faith is expressed in the world. There was no revelation, there is no faith or reason in this erroneous construct that is merely the cut and paste crafting of a mad man.
          I recently heard a convert from Islam quote a phrase from one of their foundational texts, “…paradise is to be found in the shadow of the sword…” Can we lay ours down with their swords literally and ideologically over heads of our innocents? Can we abandon Christian reason and serve as apologists for this madness?

    • James

      I’m struck by a few of assumptions. Just because John Paul and Benedict were willing to engage in dialogue with Islam is meaningless. Despite my great admiration for both of them – and indeed devotion to John Paul, their view on a host of issues – particularly John Paul, is more than questionable. Just on the individuals they advanced in the hierarchy one could question their stability of judgement – we live with the consequence today.
      Despite the ecumenical effort so lauded for the past fifty years, let us be perfectly honest. Protestant communities have no interest in the ecumenical effort beyond the deconstruction of Roman Catholicism and the concurrent justification of their own aberrance – theological and moral. Those Catholics who have some interest in this project are grievously duplicitous and heterodox or simply naïve. Having spent ten
      years working in a transdenominational seminary of great repute, I assure you, this is the “oikoumene” reality.
      The fact that Judaism was once our fierce enemy has nothing to do with the issue of Islam. Those familiar with contemporary Judaism know full well that there is little love lost among our older brothers for Catholicism or the other expressions of the Gospel. Nor should the fact that Christianity, Judaism and Islam are monotheistic. One god
      is meaningless. Who the god reveals their-self to be is entirely to the point. Allah
      has no resemblance with the Most Holy Trinity. Honestly, in the current theological climate, one can honestly question whether mainline left-wing protestants believe in the Most Holy Trinity, the divinity of Christ, etc. Let’s stop pretending that courtesy in religious affairs is an adequate substitute for Truth.
      No one is endorsing the annihilation of Islam. But perhaps a virile call to conversion might touch a few hearts should our clergy, including the pope, muster and degree of conviction and raise their voice to evangelize Moslems.

  • lwhite

    Praise be to Allah! According to the theory that Allah and the Triune God are the same, what does it matter how I worship Him? I need not believe that only Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life because Allah does not believe it. (Nor do the Jews). I need not believe Christ instituted a Church because Allah (and the Jews) don’t believe He is Divine and the Son of God so clearly, He is simply another prophet or merely a man who invented a religion.

    It also doesn’t seem to matter if I choose to become a Jew because now we are told, they also believe in the same God as Catholics and we are forbidden to approach them in an attempt to teach them anything about Catholicism.

    Gee, I wonder why Christ Himself and the Catholic Church forgot to teach this important doctrine, only revealed after 2000 years.

    No wonder millions have left the Catholic Church.

    • anglicanusepapa

      Absolutely spot on!

    • anglicanusepapa

      Absolutely spot on!

  • givelifeachance2

    So if there is only one God as we Catholics aver and the Muslims claim to worship one God, then it is indeed formally true that if they worship it is of the same entity. But do they really worship the one God? Do they really give him the reverence He is due. Perhaps they give Him what they know to give. But that does not mean they could not learn more about Him and the reverence He is due.

  • Charles McEwan

    However if the God worshipped by muslims rewards the ‘believers’ when they kill infidels then that is a very different God from the one worshipped by Christians.

  • Chris Metzger

    “But doesn’t Christianity affirm that God is a Trinity while Muslims deny it? Wouldn’t this mean that they indeed worship different “Gods”?” You should have just stopped there. I wonder how many times before Prof. Hawkins chose to quote Pope Francis, but of course taking his words out of context is always easy to advance one’s agenda. His referenced words were spoken in a pastoral rather than doctrinal context, spoken at an ecumenical and interreligious event. As if any person with even a cursory religious knowledge would actually think that the Trinity is part of Islamic doctrine. . .

  • Gabe Jones

    The Thomas Jefferson analogy is a little weak. In fact, I think it helps makes the opposite point, because the actual facts will support either Fred or Bob, so one of them will know the “real” Thomas Jefferson and have an accurate image of him, while the other will have an image of something more akin to a construct of his imagination. Although, we worship God, not Jefferson, so the historical facts don’t matter to the same degree as the truth of God’s characteristics.

    For this example, let’s use “relationship” instead of “worship.” As Christians, we believe that God calls us to have a relationship with Him – not just worship Him. Thus, we should be familiar with some of His characteristics as we would be with any friend or relative with whom we have a personal relationship. If you have a friend – let’s call him Steve – and you know that Steve has children, it helps you enter into a deeper relationship with Steve. Another person who believes that Steve does not have any children would not really know Steve at all, or at least in any meaningful way. Furthermore, if they vehemently denied that Steve had children, we would assume that they must be referring to someone else, or simply did not want to understand who Steve really was. One could be aware of Steve, acknowledge that He exists, but have no relationship whatsoever.

    Similarly, we know that the one true God has a son who was incarnate by the Virgin Mary, became man, and died for our sins. Muslims do not believe in a God with those same characteristics, so how can they enter into a deep relationship with Him in any meaningful way? Though they may claim to “worship” the same being, it cannot be the same being as the Christian God, because the God they are praying to does not have the same characteristics. That’s not to say that a Muslim could not come to a deeper understanding of God by realizing the truth of the Incarnation, but at that point, they wouldn’t really be Muslim now would they?

    • Here’s a better one. Lois Lane is in love with Kal-El, who she believes is essentially Kryptonian. Lana Lang is in love with Clark Kent, who she believes is essential Terran. Are Lois and Lana in love with the same man? Yes. Is Lana mistaken about Clark’s birth name and birthplace? Yes.

  • Josh Craddock

    Francis: Abraham Lincoln was real. But Abe Lincoln Vampire Slayer is fiction, and ostensibly basing it on a real person doesn’t make it any less of a fiction. Saying that people who believe Abraham Lincoln was real and people who think Abe Lincoln Vampire Slayer was real believe in the same person is nonsensical.

  • Bill G

    “First, the vast majority of Christians do not think of their faith in that way.” …Similarly, the vast majority of Catholics do not think of their God in a Muslim way. By your rationale, Catholics and Mormons worship the same God, too.

  • Dr. Beckwith, reducing the question of identity to a matter of properties is inappropriate when dealing with personal beings. The question is not *what* do Muslims and Christians worship but *who* Muslims and Christians worship. This is not a question of niggling over the right properties, but whether it’s the right person.

    If I start talking about Bruce Willis, the star of movies like Die Hard and Looper, while you’re talking about Bruce Willis, the professional plumber from Nebraska who rooted your drain last week, then we’re not in disagreement over Bruce Willis’ properties, but are talking about two different people.

  • Michael Bauman

    Even though there’s only one God to worship, we do not worship the same God. The only God who is, is Trinity. Further, the Son is God. With either point, Muslims do not concur.

  • Michael Bauman

    It’s not about classical theism. It’s about revelation. And the revealed God is Trinity. We are not mere, blank, theists. We are Trinitarians. The Trinity is essential, not optional. You can’t simply set it aside at will. If it is not Trinity, it is not Christian. The ecumenical councils, not classical theism, define Christian theology.

  • Big Giant Head

    Let’s see – the only way to the father is through Jesus, and only those who believe in Jesus have the right of calling themselves children of God. (Yeah -this is in the ‘book.’) John writes that the logos was made flesh – God incarnate. Muslims reject Jesus’ divinity. Do the math. Not only do we NOT worship the same God, Muslims are completely and totally lost. Professor Hawkins probably needs to find another line of work.

  • Dave Fladlien

    As I have looked through this mountain of comments, I see one problem occurring over and over again, though some seem to be trying to point it out too: there are two discussions going on at once. First is the discussion of Who we believe in, second is the discussion of how we perceive Him in Whom we believe.

    If we view it that way, I have no problem at all with the idea that all Christians, and Jews, and Muslims believe in the same, one God. However, while believing in the same God, we *perceive* Him very, very differently. And when our perceptions differ, the actions we take, actions which follow from our perception of Him, also differ, in some cases drastically.

    So the simple answer becomes: yes, we believe in the same God, however we perceive Him differently, and so our actions and attitudes differ and at times differ very greatly.

  • seek

    Charles — not necessarily. It would mean the concept (signifier) was being interpreted differently. The God is the same — the understanding is different — as the author explained in the second to last paragraph.

  • bernie

    I believe in God, the Father almighty. Islam does not believe in a Father God. They “have no father but Adam”, the poor fellow who got us all into trouble. A Catholic believes God is Goodness and Love and can neither be, nor do, anything else. The World and Man are good. The Muslim’s fictionalized idea transcends good and evil and can command submission to either, which is why Muslim’s kill the “infidel” in submission to their make-believe god. There is a diabolical aspect to Muslims who do something evil, irrational and inhuman out of some sort of psychological disorder called “submission”. Rather than Prof. B’s puzzling comparisons, I prefer the analogy of a South seas volcano. The Islanders keep throwing babies into it, and it seems to stay quiet for a while and, if it does not, they throw in more babies – sort of like the Devil who hates babies. Allah and the volcano have much in common. The Catholic God loves every man woman and child since He created them. He respects their free will. He redeemed each and every one. He doesn’t even want to lay pain on us. ‘Love thy neighbor’ does not mean let him kill you if it makes him happy. There is a reason the “White Fathers” moved their apostolic efforts out of North Africa. They made absolutely no progress. Making believe Muslims are our long lost prodigal brothers, in today’s political context, is an absurdity. If Muslims want to live in the West, let them assimilate into the Western civilization which is built on the Sacrifice of the Mass repeated over and over and over again. See Rev Jerry Podkorsky’s article of Dec 16 entitled, “My Fellow Cultists – third paragraph from the end. Its the best one paragraph summary of Western/Christian culture I have ever read. Thank you Fr. Podkorsky! Forget it Prof. B!

    • kathleen

      Bernie, thank you for all that. So good! And Fr. Podkorsky’s article should be read and re-read in light of this article by Prof.Beckwith. I pray that Prof. Beckwith would read and study all that convert Prof.Scott Hahn has written about the Holy Mass, and his delight in finding the fullness of Faith. Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Why all this discussion by Christians? No need, just read the Gospels and the Catechism of the Catholic Church – the one approved by St. John Paul II, 2nd edition.

  • Vince Whirlwind

    In the book and subsequent movie, The boy from Nebraska, I think he was only 4 years old, died and came back, after visiting with Jesus, and his unborn sister who he didn’t know about. He also reported that heaven is filled with animals. As Catholics, we don’t believe there are animals in heaven. So was he lying? Or did Jesus choose to reveal to this youngster a vision of heaven that his little 4 year old brain found wonderful? It’s my opinion he saw animals.

    Did the aboriginal North Americans, who worshipped The Great Spirit, pray to the same God as the Christian immigrants? It’s my opinion that they did. It was also the opinion of Black Elk, a Catholic convert.

    Did The Aztec civilization sacrifice to the same God that Juan Diego prayed? It is my opinion they they did. I think Our Lady of Guadalupe portrayed that on the tilma and its’ symbolism.

    Ask one of TJ’s slaves to describe him, he’d be an obsessive compulsive, whose personality was shaped by a tumultuous childhood, and who liked to sample the merchandise. Then, ask one of TJ’s contemporaries, one of his fellow Founding Fathers to describe him. You’d get a drastically different story. He was beyond reproach, a genius. They’re describing the same man. Relevant? Ya, it depends on who ya ask.

    My point, God chooses to reveal Himself to different peoples, in vastly different, unexplainable ways. Who are we to judge? Remember, He has other sheep, that do not belong to “our” fold. (Jn 10:16). He leads “them”, and quite a few obviously hear His voice….there’s what, 1.6 billion of “them?” What are we missing here?

    God…Allah…The Great Spirit…Quetzalcoatl, whatever you call Him/Her/It…put Muslims on this earth for a reason. I’m dying (literally) to find out why. I have a hunch.

  • Dave Hahn

    What about what the saints say. Some of these people were around when it got started.

  • Rick

    Ecumenical councils and dialogues need to be tapered with reality and dare I say, a dose of good old-fashioned Roman stoicism. Let us not forget the fall from the garden. Only when Jesus comes the second time will the lion lay down with the lamb again. With all our hubris set aside, Catholics can only do their best, but we cannot create a utopia here on this corrupted earth. To think we can is heretical.

  • anglicanusepapa

    Ridiculous article and totally flawed! I will rely on the dogmatic teachings of Holy Mother Church as declared by many previous Church Councils and popes, including Pope St Pius X, which have infallibly taught that Catholics and the Muslim infidels in no way worship the same god. And please don’t cite Vatican II or the new Catechism of the Catholic Church as being authoritative on this subject as no newer council or pope can contradict earlier dogmatic (infallible) teachings of earlier popes or Church Councils. Vatican II is in error on many things such as this and so called freedom of religion, and has no authority when it contradicts earlier Dogmatic Councils and Infallible Teachings of earlier popes. Vatican II was in no way binding on the faithful as it was only a ‘pastoral council’ (declared to be so by several popes including Pope Benedict XVI) and NOT a Dogmatic Council.

    It is distressing to read this modernist drivel on a supposedly solid traditional Catholic site. This author should be banned from any more articles here.

  • Bev Malona

    Impressive until the conclusion. The key words are Logos, Gnosis, and Dualism.

  • Brian

    What I think he is saying is all Abrahamic religions are trying to worship the same God, the God of Abraham. Worshipping the right God and worshipping the right God in the right way are two different things. If you say those who worship the right God but in the wrong way do not worship the same God as us who, through revelation worship in the “right” way you must also say Jews and Protestants worship a different God. So in that basic way we must worship the same God. Many here seem to equate this statement as a confirmation of truth in the Islamic faith. It is not. If your cat kills a bird and brings you it’s head even though this may displease you, is not the cat in it’s own way trying to worship you?

  • Michael DeLorme

    Every time there is a new act of jihadist terrorism, the Council on American-Islamic Relations goes into overdrive, worried that peaceful Muslims will be tarred with the same brush.

    What I’d like to know is what and where, precisely, is the cultural face of peaceful Islam? As far back as the 1950s, the public was able to see the human face of Catholicism, in Bishop Sheen’s televised “Life is Worth Living.” It wasn’t just theology, it was public relations going on. People whose skepticism or suspicions were cultivated by sources like Paul Blanshard’s 1949 book “American Freedom and Catholic Power” were able to have their low opinion of Catholic life allayed.

    Today, that double effort of both disseminating teachings and engaging in public relations is carried forward by Mother Angelica and an array of apologists like Father Mitch Pacwa, Scott Hahn, Patrick Madrid and Colin Donovan. Protestant Christianity has had figures like Billy Graham, Pastor Schuller and Pat Robertson.

    Why can’t Islam put forward some kind of weekly program that explains the tenets of the religion in an engaging way? Or why not a program showcasing the daily lives of peaceful Muslims—something the public can draw on even as it reacts in a justifiably righteous way against Muslim extremist outrages?

    How about the more worldly aspects of peaceful Muslim life? One winces at the controversies surrounding Bill Cosby; yet none of his alleged sins takes anything away from the show he starred in for so long. Would it break the bank if CAIR invested in the production of a show depicting the daily lives of a Muslim version of the Huxtables?

    Again, I think of actors like Pat O’Brien, Spencer Tracy and Bing Crosby, all of whom played genial Catholic priests in performances that, while they may not have overcome skepticism—may in fact have increased it in the cynical—nevertheless worked to counteract the more sinister colorings of anti-Catholics.

    Surely, there must be Muslim “characters” worthy of portrayal by a modern day Bing Crosby. How about a Muslim Fred Astaire? Or a Muslim Buckminster Fuller nagging his imam to build a Geodesic Dome of the Rock?

    As things stand it seem, unfortunately, the only public face that Islam shows is a face of extremism. No, not the extremism of jihadi violence, always. But even moderate Islam, peaceful Islam seems culturally extreme in that it shows a hidden face in the burqa; awakens its neighbors (as in Hamtramck, Michigan) at 6am with calls to prayer.

    If Islam won’t take the route of exposing its gentler side to the public, then it can’t complain if non-Muslims find it a secretive religion, at best; and a sinister one at worst. I say to CAIR: help us to know you.

  • Leif Kristiansen

    Beckwith is yet another Peter Kreeft that knows nothing about Islam. This is proved by the fact that he calls Islam an Abrahamic religion. But Islam is not related to Judaism and Christianity. It is related to Nazism and Communism. Islam is fundamentally a totalitarian ideology (“one will to dominate them all”) transformed into what looks like a religion. Unfortunately Beckwith does not know that.

    Muslims and Christians definitely do not worship the same God. Are “Yahweh” and “Satan” just two names for the same thing?

  • Fr. Peter Morello, Ph.D.

    Jesus of Nazareth is the perfect image of the heavenly Father who alone reveals the true nature of God. Yet men seek God in many ways. When lecturing in Athens the Apostle Paul refers to this reality when speaking of their statue dedicated to an Unknown God.

    • Rick

      True. I worked with a young Hindu girl. She is a meek, gentle, intelligent, and loving girl (about the same age as my daughter). It is clear to me that God is in her because she has love in her heart. She and I talk about religion often.

  • Diane

    I am sick and tired of this mumbo jumbo with people who think that they are more intelligent than God. The ONLY way to the Father is through His Son, Jesus Christ. Period. We should be converting the world to this, instead Islam is out to convert the world to them. Jesus, please return soon!

  • Charles Bellinger

    Both may be worshiping the Creator of all that is, of course. But it all depends on how the question is framed. Are we asking about GOD or about HUMAN BELIEF SYSTEMS about God?

  • Em

    Wow. That is some of the weakest “theology” and philosophy I’ve ever read. Christians and Muslims worship the same God because both have the same “properties”? Are shittin’ me? Two electrons can have the EXACT same properties (eg, spin, mass) and yet they are not the same electron.
    Of course, if something remotely resembling humans’ conception of “God” exists, then He is transcendent, and manifests whatever “properties” whenever, and to whomever, He wishes.

  • drgibbons

    The profound confusion of some of these comments shows clearly how far we have to go in educating even faithful Catholics.

    Just because Muslims are almost completely wrong about the attributes of God, they do get a few crucial basic points right: God is one. He is merciful. He is the all-powerful creator and ruler of the universe who will judge us at the end of time. They get these basic truths about God right, and that is in fact a LOT to get right.

    This certainly does NOT mean (and Beckwith certainly does not say) that therefore the whole religion of Islam is OK and we should all just be nice and ignore everything wrong about Islam. Muslims do not *in fact* hold the faith of Abraham, but we do respect their attempt to do so, and their knowledge that everyone ought to do so, as steps in the right direction. Their worship and prayer, in so far as it is directed toward the one and only creator God (regardless of all their false beliefs about His attributes, teachings, and will), is *in fact* directed toward God himself, who is indeed the one and only creator God. If one sincerely prays to the one God of all, there is nowhere else for one’s prayers to go.

    When we argue with them about the nature of God, we are arguing about who He truly is, not about whether ‘our God’ is better than ‘their God’. We are saying that our understanding of the one God is more perfect than theirs, not that there is some totally different God different from the eternal One. It is our obligation to sift the true from the false and do our best to lead people with false beliefs to the truth.

    This is why the Catechism says that “The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator,
    in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims; these profess to hold
    the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful
    God, mankind’s judge on the last day.”

    Muslims “profess to hold the faith of Abraham” (although in fact they do not) but they do, in fact, “adore the one, merciful God”.

    I’ll add another two analogies to the heap that might help to illuminate the point that Dr. Beckwith is trying to make.

    Analogy 1: When I send a letter of praise or petition to someone who has only one address (in the case of God, eternal unity), it matters not at all how profoundly deluded I might be about that person’s characteristics and desires. The letter still goes to that same address. The recipient might scorn most of the things I am wrongly praising him for, and anyone who really knows the man might rebuke me for requesting whatever I did, but he is still the recipient in fact.

    Analogy 2: When the serpent in the garden told Eve false things about God, he was still speaking of God — the one and only creator — even though he was speaking falsely about God.

    If we can’t see the distinction between speaking false things about a particular being and speaking about a completely different being, then we are in deep trouble in all sorts of areas. For example, slander laws no longer make sense. We would just have to say that the slanderer is actually speaking of some false fantastical person, rather than speaking falsely about the offended party. I could go on and on with the absurd things that follow from refusing to allow that one can speak about God very falsely while still in fact speaking about God.

    Similarly, one can worship him very badly while still, in fact, worshiping him. If this isn’t true, then we all need to think long and hard about how many of our own prayers are in fact perfectly true and worthy of God.

    • MercyMe

      It is my understanding that Allah created mercy for himself.

    • veritasetgratia

      A Catholic uses the word mercy with a particular idea about what it is. Don’t assume Islam thinks of mercy in the exact same way Catholics do. If you go searching in the writings of some of our Catholic saints, I think you will be very surprised to hear a rather unpolitically correct understanding of Islam in terms of its religious nature. When you have a religion which teaches that women are worth half what a man is worth, that does not believe in original sin or the need of a saviour, that woman is the possession of the man, plus
      he can if he wants take sexual slaves to be there at the ready for him to indulge his passions, do you not question the effect those ideas might have on any person if they decide to live them out? Did you know that if a muslim does not forgive someone who has
      wronged him, then God is expected to not forgive that same offender as well?
      When Catholics are encouraged to develop a life of virtue, to confess sins in thought, word and deed, to endeavour not to put obstacles in the action of Christ’s Grace in our soul, how could there be another group of people who can indulge their ‘passions’ without harm to their souls? The CCC wrote a very restrained verse on islam.

  • Michelle in Detroit

    In Christianity God is Father – a blasphemous statement in Islam in which the believer is only a slave and never a son. In Christianity, salvation is only assured if we repent, turn away from sin and believe in Christ who died for our sins. In Islam, salvation is only assured if you die killing the infidel (salvation by murder if you will.) Even Muhammad said he was a sinner who did not know whether he would go to heaven. Christianity teaches that Satan was the author of death, that he desired to be worshipped and to enslave those who worship him. I saw the conversion testimony of a man who left Islam to become Christian. He said as he studied the Bible, he discovered that the Christian understanding of Christ was their anti-Christ, and their Christ, was the Christian understanding of the anti-Christ. Christianity and Islam worship the same God??? Only someone who hasn’t studied Islam and Christianity side by side could say that.

  • Ernest Miller

    Michael…that’s a big ‘but’…especially when considering the descriptive concept ‘pure’. Can a god be pure when ordering murder?

  • Darren Exendine

    BLASPHEMOUS!

    1 Corinthians 1:18-31King James Version (KJV)

    18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.

    19 For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.

    20 Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?

    21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.

    22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:

    23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;

    24 But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.

    25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

    • Rick

      Quoting the bible is fine, but please make your point in your own words.

      • kathleen

        Rick: The Bible is enough. We can’t improve on it. Read it yourself – again – and meditate on it. Read the New Testament especially. And be sure to read what St. Paul, St. Peter, and St. John said. Enough said!

  • Drew

    There are some people with small brains that could use a little “opening” on this comment thread.

  • Drew

    Arab Christians refer to Yahweh as “Allah” (God in Arabic)

    And Muslims tell Christians that they worship the same God. What more do you need?

  • John II

    This thread contains many useful and thoughtful counterpoints to Mr. Beckwith’s peculiar exercise in schoolboy logic. All I have to add to the responses is a bit of personal experience.

    Once or twice a year for several years, I taught the Qur’an as part of a survey of medieval literature. We had time to cover about half the text, sampling what I judged were representative suras. (To put this regimen somewhat in context, other readings included the Song of Roland, St. Thomas on Natural Law, and Dante’s Inferno.)

    As part of my course preparation each year, I always read the Qur’an throughout (not such a lengthy task) in order to modify the assigned selections as I deemed necessary. Gradually, over the first five years or so, I found myself moving from a kind of mild curiosity to something approaching dread. There was something off–radically cold and oddly imbecile–coming through to me from the readings.

    Then I read Pope Benedict XVI’s lecture at Regensberg (not to mention the violent Muslim reaction to some of his allusions to the Muslim understanding of Allah–I mean, Arbitrary Cosmic Will as against the Christian understanding of God as the Logos in perfect harmony with the moral law sewn into the fabric of creation). Then I happened on a story of Cardinal Pell’s first-time reading of the Qur’an cover-to-cover on a lengthy flight from Australia to Rome. Apparently he was staggered by his first sustained encounter with the Muslim Book: “This is just . . .evil,” he reported.

    The story has it that the illiterate Mohammed had scraps of the Qur’an dictated to him by the angel Gabriel over several years. After Mohammed’s death, scholars were assigned the task of gathering the scraps from oral reports and assembling them by an odd principle of organization in the Book that came to be the Qur’an. After many years of reading the Qur’an, I’m inclined to believe the story of Mohammed’s visitations by an angel. But the angel wasn’t Gabriel.

    And I think that a corrective to Mr. Beckwith’s schoolboy logic might perhaps be several successive readings of the Qur’an–until one starts to feel the chill. It is no favor to the world’s one billion Muslims to pretend that they are not in the thrall of something radically evil.

    • kathleen

      No, the Angel wasn’t Gabriel. Why doesn’t every Christian get it? Read the New Testament.

    • MercyMe

      Thank you.

    • veritasetgratia

      Really good to hear your thoughts. I hope that many more people weigh in on this question because once again Catholics are so divided on it! Robert Spencer cites an occasion in conversation with a Muslim he recited the spiel each Muslim recites about Allah and the prophet, at the conclusion of which the Muslim said to him “well now you are a Muslim!” Robert objected. He said “I didn’t mean one word of it – I was just talking with you “. The Muslim countered with -“it does not matter whether you meant it or not, by saying it, you are now a Muslim” (or words to that effect!). If that’s how deep islam needs to be in a ‘believer’, one wonders how many Muslims are held captive in Islam within family and community by just sheer fear. So if the fear and coercion disappeared, just how many Muslims would there be?
      I must confess to bristling everytime I hear the phrase “the 3 Abrahamic religions” – I think Abraham would turn in his grave. He was pagan, heard God speak, knew it was God – a good God who promised life. Ismael’s descendants became the arab tribes who were pagans. Some arabs became jews. In the early Christian era, some arabs became Christian. Islam wasn’t making converts with the arabs until violent coercion was used. Men of faith recognise the Father’s voice. Jesus said “those who are of the truth hear My Voice”. It’s a voice which promises life.

    • Jim

      What you’re referring to this arbitrariness is called the ‘Whim of Allah’. There is no fixed order or right and wrong or even fixed this order there is not even physics there is not even cause and effect all this is shirk. There is only ‘Whim of Allah’. This is why Allah does not love you this is why Allah has no relationship with anything he has only is arbitrary will; a whim. It is shirk to think Allah could have partners.

      This of course is silly.

    • DeaconEdPeitler

      To refer to Dr. Beckwith as a schoolboy is rude.

  • Kenneth Brownell

    Jesus is very clear in John’s Gospel that anyone who does not acknowledge him does not have the Father. He made this point on several occasions in debate with the Jewish religious authorities. With the incarnation of the the Son and the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost God has revealed himself more fully. To reject this revelation is to reject God as he has revealed himself. Tragically Judaism has drifted away from worship of the true God and Muslims worship a god other than the true God. That the Roman Catholic Church teaches differently shows how wrong it is on this as well as a host of other matters.

    • breadwild

      The best argument I’ve heard all week. Thank you.

  • floridahank

    The Holy Bible shows the Truth,
    Matthew 7:15
    “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.

    Matthew 24:5
    For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many.
    If you study the Holy Scriptures, the Islamic religion is not only totally false, it takes its followers to Hell — clear and obvious if you have an open mind.

  • floridahank

    Matthew 7:15
    “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.

    Matthew 24:5
    For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many.

    • veritasetgratia

      mohammed never claimed to be the saviour. Muslims don’t even expect a saviour.

      • Dajjal

        Muslims expect the Mahdi or 12th Imam according to the Twelver Shi’ia. The Mahdi is really the Anti-Christ. Read Sahih Muslim Book 41 and Book 88 of Sahih Bukhari to learn more.

  • Interesting how she took the effort to get “approval” from CAIR, as to not offend any Muslims. But yet didn’t even approach the college first with her idea in which she signed an agreement with (probably knowing that she would get rejected). Her intentions were probably honest but still, to me, that’s not a person of integrity. Even though her actions had some theological implications that were arguably incorrect, that is not the type of teacher or example you want for students. It wasn’t like she was working in an unfavorable environment or a place she didn’t enjoy teaching at. It’s not like she had to rebel against the school and prove a statement without letting the school know first. She could’ve first confronted or discussed with the school faculty. She purposefully went against a signed a contract agreement that clearly emphasizes the belief of not only of the Christian school but her core Christian belief. She could’ve approached her “solidarity” movement in a more intelligent way. She moved strictly on emotion and didn’t think of the repercussions.
    Also, as an adult as a mentor to her students. She should’ve stopped thinking about herself to make a statement (which she obviously knew she would cause controversy…unless she was that naive).
    And also to be an example to her students how to follow rules and an agreement she signed (whether it’s “religious” or not). And we wonder why “religious” islamic extremist form….or even extreme liberal Christians. When you start bending the rules or twisting the truth, you open a door to a whole slew of ideologies, interpretations, etc. that could potentially spawn into something more dangerous or “cult-ish”.
    I guess the good thing is that bringing this age old controversy into light might be a good thing.
    Muslims and Christians don’t agree or believe several “theologies” so maybe this will help people understand a bit more about each others “religions”. I wish people would focus more on the “relationship” with God instead of the “religion” of a Church. This would be a great first step to understanding the one true God.

  • breidenc

    But in fact, they are two different gods. Allah is arbitrary and unreasonable. Yahweh cannot, as our tradition demonstrates, go against His own nature (Love, Justice, and REASONABLE). He cannot call what is evil, good, and what is good, evil; but Allah can. Their very natures, therefore are utterly different. That was the point of Pope Benedict XVI’s Regensburg Speech, in which he quoted from a Byzantine Emperor, which the Muslims misinterpreted, and then ultimately proved the Emperor’s assessment of Islam correctly by their violent, unreasonable actions.

  • James S.

    Anyone here skilled in metaphysics, I recommend a short passage on the difference between the Christian and Islamic God in Jacques Maritain’s “Seven Lectures on Being,” Sheed and Ward, 1945. Thus:

    “The formula of the Mahometan — “God is God” — means that God is so rigorously one and incommunicable as necessarily to render impossible the mysteries of the Trinity and the Incarnation. It has an exclusive and negative significance. The error here is to apply the principle of identity to God, as it is applied to a creature, delimiting Him and confining Him within Himself. He is a God immured in a transcendence of death. The superabundance of the Divine Being is denied, a superabundance which must be infinite as that Being Itself. Islam denies this superabundance of the Divine Being which, as revelation alone can inform us, is manifested in God by the plurality of Persons and, as unaided reason would have to disclose, by the fact that God is Love, a truth which is also denied by Mahometan orthodoxy. For Mahometans consider that to say God is Love is to ascribe a passion to Him. That is why the mystic Al Hallaj was crucified by the doctors of the Koran.”

    My comment: I’m no philosopher, but I think what Maritain is driving at is that the Islamic profession of faith — “There is no god but God and Mohamed is His prophet” — is actually the application of the Principle of Identity (an operation of thought which belongs to the domain of the finite) — “God is God” — to God Himself, Who is infinite. My guess is that this is an error similar to saying God is “a Supreme Being,” which is true only if the speaker understands that supreme is not a species subsumed under the genus being, otherwise God would be only one type of being among several. As St. Thomas demonstrated, God cannot be put into a genus. God is a Supreme Being only if that statement is understood as meaning that God transcends being itself. In a like manner, God transcends even the Principle of Identity which is implied in the Islamic profession of faith. Thus, the Islamic conception of the Deity is “immured” as Maritain says, in a kind of delimiting transcendence. To escape this metaphysical trap, Maritain refers to the revelation granted to St. John: “God is Love.” Putting that concept of the Deity at the center of a metaphysical system allows the philosopher to conceive of God as overflowing in being. It also opens the door to a peak at God’s trinitarian nature.

    Maritain goes on to say that Islam never developed a theology embracing the idea that “God is Love.” The closest is came is the “Bismala” or “In the name of God, etc.” a rubric spoken often throughout the day whenever the speaker proposes to undertake a certain action. The typical English translation is: “In the name of God, the Compassionate and Merciful.” Yes, God is compassionate and merciful. But He is also Love.

    A final note, there is an expression in Islam — “God has ninety-nine names” — and not infrequently in an Islamic country can one can see the wall around a school yard or around a mosque with ninety-nine names in calligraphy: Compassionate, Merciful, etc. Ninety-nine is just short of a hundred, symbolizing the fact that the finite mind can grasp only some of God’s attributes, but it cannot grasp the essence of God Himself. This would seem to be consistent with the Thomistic position which holds that natural reason is capable of proving God’s existence as well as describing some, but not all, of God’s properties.

  • veritasetgratia

    St. Thomas Aquinas Teachings are
    Authoritative, wrote :

    “He (Mohammed) seduced the people by promises of carnal pleasure to which the concupiscence of the flesh urges us. His teaching also contained precepts that were in conformity with his promises, and he gave free rein to carnal pleasure. In all this, as is not
    unexpected; he was obeyed by carnal men. As for proofs of the truth of his doctrine, he brought forward only such as could be grasped by the natural ability of anyone with a very modest wisdom. Indeed, the truths that he taught he mingled with many fables and with doctrines of the greatest falsity.

    He did not bring forth any signs produced in a supernatural way, which alone fittingly gives witness to divine inspiration;for a visible action that can be only divine reveals an invisibly inspiredteacher of truth. On the Contrary, Mohammed said that he was sent in the power
    of his arms – which are signs not lacking even to robbers and tyrants. What is
    more, no wise men, men trained in things divine and human, believed in him from
    the beginning (1). Those who believed in him were brutal men and desert
    wanderers, utterly ignorant of all divine teaching, through whose numbers Mohammed
    forced others to become his follower’s by the violence of his arms. Nor do
    divine pronouncements on part of preceding prophets offer him any witness. On
    the contrary, he perverts almost all the testimony of the Old and the New
    Testaments by making them into a fabrication of his own, as can be seen by
    anyone who examines his law. It was, therefore, a shrewd decision on his part
    to forbid his followers to read the Old and New Testaments, lest these books
    convict him of falsity. It is thus clear that those who place faith in his
    words believe foolishly.” – Summa Contra Gentiles, Book 1, Chapter 16,
    Art. 4. Footnote: 1. Sura 21:5, Sura 44:14; Sura 16:103, Sura 37:36″
    Individually, when we meet muslims we must allow that they are caught in a coercive trap very often and perhaps their heart is not in it? Therefore, I think we should be gentle and understanding to encourage them. But, for the Grace of God, go I!

  • Dajjal

    Allah is not Jehovah. Allah has no son 23.91. Muslims do not worship what we worship 109. If the Muslims had been exterminated at Badr, Allah would no more be worshiped Bukhari 4.52.164. For details and links, search for: “Allah Is Not God” and “Islam Is Demonic” You will find them in the Kab Ashraf page at Scribd.

  • skilzbot

    Isn’t Dr. Beckwith begging the question:

    “The fact that one may have incomplete knowledge or hold a false belief about another person – whether human or divine – does not mean that someone who has better or truer knowledge about that person is not thinking about the same person.”

    The very point at issue is whether Muslims are indeed holding beliefs about the same God as Christians and Jews, and that claim he gives no reason to believe. That is, he’s just assuming the Robert Zimmerman/Bob Dylan analogy is what is going on when Christians and Muslims refer to God. But whether the analogy holds is what we’re wondering. Moreover, if Beckwith is right, then we can ask the same questions of other faiths. For example do deists worship the same God as Christians? Was Steve Job’s fuzzy,nebulous Fate that he talked about in the famous Stanford commencement speech also God? If not, why not–since they are incomplete notions of God? If so, well, that seems strange.