Why Muslims and Christians Worship the Same God

Note: Professor Beckwith’s earlier column on this subject provoked much controversy among TCT readers and others. Many people thought he was affirming some kind of simple identity between what are obviously two very different faiths. Herein he clarifies some points both on Catholic doctrine about this subject and on the relationship between Christianity and Islam. – RR

On December 17 on this page I addressed the question of whether Muslims and Christians worship the same God. I gave the same answer given by Vatican II, and by the Catholic Church since the Council: yes. Muslims and Christians do worship the same God, even though Islam holds an imperfect understanding of the divine, since it denies Christ’s divinity and thus, by implication, God’s triune nature.

As the Church declared in Nostra Aetate (1965): “[Muslims] adore the one God, living and subsisting in Himself; merciful and all- powerful, the Creator of heaven and earth, who has spoken to men. . . .Though they do not acknowledge Jesus as God, they revere Him as a prophet.”

This argument prompted several critical replies, almost exclusively from non-Catholic Christians, including distinguished thinkers such as Albert Mohler, Andrew Walker, Matthew Cochran, and Peter Leithart. (To say nothing of a raft of outrage from TCT readers.) Each, with differing emphases, correctly documents what Christians believe are the inadequacies of Muslim theology given how God has progressively revealed himself through history as taught in Scripture. I do not dispute this point; it is actually consistent with my argument. Let me explain.

The Church’s view rests on the distinction between “general” and “special” revelation. The former concerns those truths about God that can be known through unaided human reason; the latter, those truths about God known only through Scripture, Sacred Tradition, and/or the Holy Spirit speaking through the magisterium. (Many Protestants also accept this distinction, though they only include Scripture under the category of special revelation).

In order to better grasp this distinction, let’s consider an argument for the existence of a Creator God offered by the Persian Muslim philosopher, Al-Ghazali (1058-1111 AD): the “Kalam Cosmological Argument.” It figures prominently in the work of Evangelical philosopher and apologist William Lane Craig. He summarizes the argument in this way:

1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
2. The universe began to exist.
3. Therefore, the universe has a cause of its existence.

After defending each of the argument’s premises, a philosophically informed Christian, like his Muslim colleague, will go on to show (through various arguments) that the universe’s first cause must necessarily be the uncaused, perfect, unchanging, self-subsistent, eternal Creator and sustainer of all that which receives its being from another. (Craig would put it a bit differently, and for that reason is not a classical theist, which raises the even more awkward question of whether all Christians worship the same God, a topic for another essay).


“There is no god but God.”

Suppose Abdullah, an Arab atheist, after being persuaded by this argument, comes to believe, as the Christian believes, that such a Creator exists. Do Abdullah and the Christian believe in the same God? It seems that they do. The Christian, of course, not only believes in this God, but worships Him as well. He also believes many more things about God that general revelation alone cannot provide. These include that God is a Trinity, that the Second Person of the Trinity was incarnate in Jesus, and so forth. According to the Christian faith these beliefs can only be derived from special revelation, the Bible.

Soon after his change of mind about God’s existence, Abdullah joins a local mosque where he is taught to believe that the Creator (whom he calls “Allah”) is worthy of worship, is not a Trinity, cannot beget or be begotten, and so forth. These beliefs are not entailments of the general revelation that led him to Allah, but rather, are deliverances of what Muslims believe is special revelation, the Qur’an.

Do Abdullah and the Christian still believe in (and now worship) the same God? Yes, but with a caveat: Although they worship the same God, they cannot both be right about the Trinity and the Incarnation. Assuming that Christianity and Islam are mutually exclusive options, either the Christian or Abdullah knows more about God than general revelation can deliver. But that is precisely why it is proper to say that they worship the same God, even though one of them is clearly mistaken about some of his beliefs about that God.

Consider this example: Lois Lane is in love with Kal-El (Superman’s birth-given name), and believes him to be non-human because he was born on Krypton. Now imagine that Lana Lang is in love with Clark Kent (Superman’s newspaper reporter alter ego), and believes him to be a human being because she thinks he was born of human parents, Martha and Jonathan Kent. Lois does not know that Kal-El is really Clark Kent, and Lana does not know that Clark Kent is really Kal-El.

Are Lois and Lana in love with the same man? Of course they are, even though one of them is clearly mistaken about some of her beliefs about Kal-El/Clark and his nature. The reason for this is that there is only one being that is essentially Kal-El.

In the same way, there is only one being that is essentially God: the uncaused, perfect, unchanging, self-subsistent, eternal Creator and sustainer of all that which receives its being from another. As St. Paul puts it in his sermon on Mars Hill, “The God who made the world and everything in it, he who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by human hands. . . .[I]n him we live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17: 24, 28)

If this is who you worship, you worship God. Nevertheless, you would do well to heed the concluding remarks St. Paul preached that day in Athens: “While God has overlooked the times of human ignorance, now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will have the world judged in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.” (Acts 17: 30-31)

            Deo Gloria.

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).

  • Mactoul

    Why wouldn’t this argument work for a philosophical Hindu as well? He may believe in the First Cause and call him Brahma or Ishwar.

    • ThirstforTruth

      Excellent point. Also if God chose to reveal Himself through His Word, in Scripture, what He has revealed to the Muslim conflicts with what He revealed
      to Christians. God is Truth; He does not dissemble so therefore, both revelations cannot be Truth. Interestingly, it was written here earlier, that Thomas Aquinas considered Islam to be a heresy of Christianity. Part of that heresy, it would seem, would be the denial of God as Trinitarian and loving.
      True, there is only One God but He must be known AS He exists. Only Christianity as taught by the Apostles is that God and we know that to be true through His Word. Muslims do not believe in THIS God ….only in the God distorted and fractured by Mohammed. Otherwise, why would Jesus instruct His apostles to go and preach the Good News to all the Nations assuming most did not have this knowledge. Mohammed came hundreds of years later and distorted this truth. We cannot worship a distortion of Truth which is what his God has to be.

    • JonWRowe

      I think the argument not only works for Hindus, but that in the tradition of “natural religion” (general revelation) thinkers in the past have argued that Hindus do in fact worship the same God.

  • PCB

    Sadly, Prof. Beckwith, no matter how many logical analogies and examples you offer, you will never change the minds of those who have already made-them-up on this question – such a self-concession takes an operation of great humility. Furthermore, when you cite Vatican II, you only increase the level of incitement for those who refuse to believe any truths emerged from this Council…

    • Aqua

      And what ideas do you offer that Allah and God are essentially the same? Equating Karl-El as Clark Kent to Allah as Tri-Une God is not a logical analogy. It is illogical. It is like saying 2 + 3 = 7 is a math equation. Math is true, therefor the equation is true. The natures of Allah and God are incompatible. The equation does not compute. It is not logical. Furthermore, it is not of the Faith; which for a Christian happens to mean something.

      Humility? The Church has never taught this, ever. They have always taught the opposite. Indifferentism is a named heresy.

      I think humility demands you provide some evidence that Allah is the same God as Triune God at the root. It’s a bold claim. It’s not part of the Deposit of Faith. In humility, where is the proof? Where has this been taught as a Catholc dogma, before this innovative, heretical age?

      • PCB

        Firstly, in your seemingly knee-jerk reaction, you interpret my words to suggest I agree with Prof. Beckwith. Regardless of my view on the matter, I trust and accept that Beckwith is not misrepresenting the sources he cites in his opening paragraphs as the basis and support of his assertion. Secondly, I know as a Catholic, I am blessed to worship the One True God, and all others (non-Catholics), sadly, are lacking in this fullness. Honestly, beyond my continued prayers that all peoples might come into the fullness of the Catholic Faith, it really makes very little difference to me, this argument. I view it as unnecessarily divisive, futile, and driven mainly by less than Christian motives. Lastly, I was merely pointing out (rightly as it turns out, based on the explosion of refuting responses) to him that he wasn’t going to get anywhere with his latest approach here. I stand by my comments, though I do apologize if you took offense. I humbly decline to answer your demand; please don’t interpret this as indifference. I simply have nothing to add that your words do not already speak for themselves. Peace Aqua.

  • MartinK

    Thanks Mr. Beckwith for this piece. I thought your original piece was good too but this was a helpful elaboration.

  • teomatteo

    my question is do we worship a concept of God? Is God’s essence/beingness simply a concept that we worship? Then Dr Beckwith’s argument would be logical. I am probably asking a very simple and heretical question. Please correct me here.

  • Michael Randolph

    By this reasoning, we worship the same God as Freemasons and Deists. How does this differ from idolatry? The road to hell is paved by religious indifferentism.

  • Walt

    On Tuesday Fr Schall succinctly stated that the one true religion is not a “philosophical speculation but a revelation…”. The issue with Islam is not its natural speculation about God but it’s lack of revelation. We can not pay homage to a book that is not true.

  • Edward Radler Rice

    Alright, Professor Beckwith, you lumped me in with the rafters…

    Here’s the crux of the matter. In your mind, “philosophically informed” Muslims – you have noted two now, Al-Ghazali and Avicenna, would argue “the universe’s first cause must necessarily be the uncaused, perfect, unchanging, self-subsistent, eternal Creator and sustainer of all that which receives its being from another.”

    In other words, the unchanging God of classical theism.

    I asked in response to your earlier essay, “Can Islam fit into the categories of classical theism?”

    As I posted before, according to Rev. James V. Schall, S. J.,
    “When we try to explain [Islam] 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.”

    Allah’s omnipotence contradicts the classical theist’s understanding that God is changeless.

    (Furthermore, Edward Feser notes that divine simplicity “entails that God is immutable or changeless, and therefore that He is impassible.” So true or false: divine simplicity is an attribute of Allah? If Allah is mutable, then classical theism does not mesh with Islam’s understanding of Allah.)

    At best what you are arguing is that only philosophically informed Muslims worship the same God as Christians.

    Here’s the argument then:
    1. God is the unchanging God of classical theism.
    2. Some Muslims worship the unchanging God of classical theism.
    3. All muslims worship the unchanging God of classical theism.

    Is that a good argument?

    Professor Beckwith, in my estimation, you have not responded to Fr. James Schall…

  • Mktingguy

    Ok..under your way of thinking, everyone in the world worships the same God since there is only one creator God. Granted that, what becomes important is what various groups or religions believe about God. Your article’s headline and article miscommunicates and leads readers to think you assert that the beliefs of both Christians and Muslims are the same.

  • Manfred

    Let me see if I have this straight: The One, True God sends His Son, who is also Divine. to earth.This living Son preaches eternal salvation for the just, love thy neighbor and permanent, monogamous marriage.
    Six centuries later, the same god sends a prophet to earth with the message to kill your neighbor if he does not convert to Islam. This god also encourages polygamy, citing four wives as the ideal number for a man to have.
    There is nothing de Fide in Nostra Aetate. Islam is a primitive, heresy which enforces sharia law by stoning of its members, cutting off of limbs for various offenses and public executions for other offenses. No reader of TCT, including the writer of the first and second columns on this subject, would ever want to live under its authority.

  • Richard A

    My focus is more on the worship than on the God (by their fruits we shall know them). My God would be mightily displeased if I were to strap on an explosives-laden vest and blow myself up in a crowded shopping mall. Many Muslims believe that their god is greatly pleased by exactly that, and the supposed majority that doesn’t believe that haven’t convened a council or regional synod to anathematize that practice and others like it. (I’m quite well aware that Islam is structured much differently from Christianity. If their god is so great, he should have come up with a better way to protect his revelation). The Aztecs worshiped a god like that.

  • innotnowwhen

    Islam teaches that the Koran is uncreated and co-eternal with God. How many god’s do they believe in? The pre-dominant attribute, of God, according to Islam, is his Will. According to the strictest teaching of Islam, man does not have a free will. God can cause a person to do evil and then punish that person for doing the evil which God willed (i.e. God cannot be bound by any concept of reason).
    According to Al-Ghazali (mentioned above and probably “venerated” only second after Mohammad, “cause and effect” do not exist outside of the immediate cause of God. There are no secondary causes. If a jihadist kills another person, God caused him to do it because no person can act outside of the will and cause of God. Etc., etc., etc. . . .
    Given the above, do Christians and Muslims really believe in the same God?

    • John II

      The short answer is no. But Mr. Beckwith won’t take no for an answer.

      The Lois Lane/Lana Lang business is a false analogy, astonishingly obvious in its juvenile fabrication but also an ignoratio to boot. If Mr. Beckwith were less taken with his logic-games and more interested in the concrete responses of his critics, he’d have to consider an analogy closer to what his critics are saying.

      Lois Lane is in love with Superman and Lana Lang is infatuated with Lex Luthor, who’s wearing a rather shabby Superman costume. Both think they’re in love with Superman.

  • 11bravo

    This is assuming your readers think Islam is even a religion, which millions in western civilization are concluding “it is not!”.

  • Emina Melonic

    Mr. Beckwith,

    I just wanted to express my gratitude for your
    intellectual engagement with Islam. I am a Bosnian Muslim
    who has written a few columns for TCT. I greatly appreciate one
    person’s engagement with faiths and cultures other than their own, and
    we sure do need it in these times. It is unfortunate that leftist
    rhetoric sometimes claims the word “dialogue,” and as a result people of
    a more conservative persuasion shut down when they hear it, often times
    dismissing the writer as a utopian fool. That has been my experience. But the truth is we have to
    move beyond this and begin to listen to one another. The point is to
    begin (and this by the way also means for Muslims to engage as well, it is never one sided). The dialogue itself may end badly, it may end neutrally, or it may end well. There is no
    reason to be totally naive and idealistic about the outcome of the
    debate. But cynicism and truly close minded dismissal of the other is
    not a good approach either.

    Best wishes,
    Emina Melonic

  • Paul Janke

    I am now curious about the arguments against the “same God” thesis. It seems very clear that Islam, Judaism, and Christianity believe in the same God. Maybe the fulcrum is in the legitimacy of the Bible as the true inspiration of God. I’ll have to research previous comments to the first article.

  • Alicia

    Thank you, it is very clear. It always was. However I dislike the sentence that Muslims and Christians worship the same God implying that Islam and Cristiany are both good and OK.
    I am one of the outraged TCT writers who posted a long list of differences in the teachings and doctrine between the teachings and revelations of God. Many of Allah’s teachings in the Kouran are outrageous. I am also very upset with pope kissing of the Koran. It’s a heresy !
    Of course, everyone who worships God is worshiping the same God because there is only one God. But the differences in doctrine should be clearly explained too.
    Don’t worry Dr. Beckwith, your essays are very clear. God bless

  • grump

    Pretty tortured logic. “There is no God but Allah” clearly contradicts the core belief of Christianity that Jesus Christ is God. “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” Theologians are always trying to find ways to say, as Satan did in the Book of Genesis: “Did God really say…?” Scripture, properly studied and interpreted, is unambiguous when it comes to answering the question, “Who is God?”

    Islam is a false religion, plain and simple. That its followers claim that “Muhammad,” a child molester extraordinaire and promoter of violence against “infidels,” is its sole “messenger,” clearly disqualifies it as a faith that can be reconciled with Christianity.

  • nosidam

    Seems since there is only one God then in our own different ways of understanding– whether we know Him truly or not, we either worship this Creator or do not worship Him. The Creator is the Creator. People have been seeking the Higher Being forever. Some find Him and some do not. And some think they do but are all confused and deceived.
    The devil loves this! That is why Jesus come here! To save and be Truth.
    But the One Creator God still is, was and never changes. We humans change.

  • Arthur

    I understand the point, if it focuses on a technical detail rather than the substantive point at issue. A loving God Who came among us and acted as He did FOR us, is hardly the same God who did not do that AND commands his followers to kill or subjugate in HIs name. That latter sounds more like the God of our OT, the correct nature of Whom was clarified BY HIM when He came to us.

    It is clearest using the Kent/Kal-el analogy offered. Indeed, technically, each woman is loving “the same man”–if each limits the definition to Clark/Kal-el to one phase and not what he actually IS. If one referred only to the God of the OT, the point made in the essay is defensible. After Christ’s actions and message as we know it from the NT, we can hardly say they worship the same God as do we.

    If the time of day it 2 AM and I sat it is so, and you say it is 6 PM, we both indeed are speaking of time and of a clock which tells time, but we are not speaking about the same time. The principle of non-contradiciton CANNOT be contradicted 🙂 :)… or else we have no ability to speak with each other.

    We do NOT worship the same God. Only that we call the highest Being, the Creator by the same name.

  • Cheryl Jefferies

    But, if Muslims have an imperfect view of God, then, they cannot be said to worship the same God. God is God and God is perfect. God does not need us to be, to exist. But, it is in one’s “interpretation of God” that God begins to be understood and perceived by Man. Correct? I suppose some will say that is a circular argument. So be it. But…my true question here has to do with the final quotation from St. Paul. I realize he was talking to pagans, to Greeks who worshipped stone idols and many different stone idols. However, when he says that the world will be judged by “a man” whom God “appointed,” he makes Jesus sound merely human, not divine. God could have chosen a true merely human man, any man, and raised him from the dead. I understand that. But, Jesus was not just merely a man “appointed.” Jesus was God…Logos…the Word of God made flesh. Fully human and fully divine. And, we do believe in the Triune God, correct? God, the Three in One. St.Paul’s statement makes it sound as though he would not have believed in a Triune God. I understand that that argument arose much later and ended with us having and using the Nicene Creed. But, that quotation, like many things taken without deep study of the Bible, truly bothers me. I am not a scholar. But, can someone please tell me why St. Paul would have, even when speaking with pagans, described Jesus as “a man…appointed.” That makes Jesus sound like some Secretary of State rather than the very Word of God made flesh. Sorry for my obtuseness. It’s probably a silly question, but…

    • Michael Paterson-Seymour

      The Apostles did not enter into the mysteries of the Holy Trinity and the Incarnation in their preaching to the world. It was reserved for the instruction of catechumens.

      Thus, St Peter: “Men, Israelites! hear these words, Jesus the Nazarene, a man approved of God among you by mighty works, and wonders, and signs, that God did through him in the midst of you, according as also you yourselves have known; this one, by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, being given out, having taken by lawless hands, having crucified — you did slay…” (Act 2:22-23)

  • fondatorey

    There’s another historical reason for this which is that Islam began as a heresy of Christianity, led by a charismatic prophet figure. So the worship would have originally been directed at the correct Person but became gradually more and more filtered through their prophet’s misdirection.

  • ThirstforTruth

    Also…to the point as to whether the same God is worshipped by all the Abrahamic religions, especially Muslims and Christians? Dr Beckwith answers affirmatively based falsely on what is held in the mind of the believer as being only secondary to His Existence. This is only partly true and I beg to think differently.
    His argument speaks to accidentals, not to essentials. Trinitarianism is essential to understanding Who God is in His very Being. It is not that Muslims don’t know or understand God in His Being, they deny His Essence. They only acknowledge really that a higher power exists, and then through the distortions provided by Mohammed, go on to create their own idea of God…just an idea that exists only in their minds, not in reality.
    THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE GOD is a true statement. But this God has revealed Himself, through Himself, the Second Person of the Trinity, the Word. Islam denied the Word through Mohammed and Aquinas called that the heresy….not a religion. Because this heresy grew through military force, it has become, in the world’s myopic eye, a major religion now. Saying we believe in the same God, is really carrying ecumenism too far and is close to being heretical itself. Personally, I don’t think even the phrase that we are all Abrahamic religions is entirely accurate. We can trace the origin of each to Abraham but A’s faith was realized in Jesus Christ, not in Mohammed.
    A person can be known by many different names e,g, Norma Jean and Marilyn. It is the same person known by different names. Muslims and Christians can call the Prime Mover by different names e.g. Allah or God but in so doing, Muslims are actually creating their Allah through Mohammed’s distorted thinking of Who Allah is and by his definition a very different sort of Being from the Christian God. We could even say that Allah was created ( by Mohammed) but God was not. As Christians, we believe God revealed Himself in His Son, not in Mohammed. Pretty simple I would
    say….to state, THERE IS ONLY ONE GOD and He is not ALLAH. Muslims really do not believe they are the same; at least not according to the Qu’ran. Otherwise, why would they have to go about preaching with the sword their heretical views. Christ taught by love and example and Truth stating I AM THE WAY. With all due respect ot Dr Beckwith, I prefer to stand with Thomas Aquinas on this matter.

  • Nathan

    Doesn’t worship require perfect trust? So if one denies what God has revealed (general or special) you are doubting Gods word and therefore not in perfect trust of God and not really worshiping the one true God

  • Dan

    If we worship the same deity, then Christians could recite with Muslims the shahada: “There is no god but God, and Muhammad is his prophet.” This statement of belief is for Muslims indivisible; the only god is the one for whom Muhammad speaks as prophet. We Christians must deny this and therefore reject the god invented by Muhammad. Christians would also have to ignore 1 John 2:23: “No one who denies the Son has the Father…” and Galatians 1:8: “But even if we or an angel out of heaven should preach a gospel to you contrary to what we proclaimed to you, let him be accursed!” (This would directly apply to the ‘Angel Gabriel’ who allegedly spoke to Muhammad about a false version of Christ, almost as if Paul anticipated it.)
    How generous are Christians required to be here? If I behaved like Muhammad or Joseph Smith and proclaimed a god who spoke to me (and conveniently gave me all the women I might desire), would Christians be required to agree that my followers and I adored the true God so long as we met certain minimum entry requirements for monotheism? Do the Pastafarians worship the same God? Is it even possible for a monotheist to break the First Commandment anymore under this understanding? After all, Muhammad created his own god and is given full credit by Nostra Aetate. Why not the next ‘prophet’?

  • James

    Theism in itself is not an argument which can be employed to affirm Roman Catholics, other Christians and Moslems identify and worship the same Supreme Being, they having entirely different understandings of the nature and character of a Supreme Being. The origin of Islam, its progenitor, its non-existent revelation, its texts, its historical, moral and psychological composition, bespeak loudly and unequivocally exactly the opposite. “Allah,” mirroring his “prophet,” is an irrational notion hell-bent on his course. “Paradise is found in the shadow of the sword.” Syllogisms do not abrogate the facts, nor does should inductive reasoning be employed to mask reality. Mixing these modes of reasoning disserves the Truth.
    There appears currently a cultural drive of an obsessive/compulsive nature, to see diversity as an illusion, that it is all really “all one.” This surely has been virulent since “the council,” but has its origins in the West earlier in the modern period. Symptomatic of this is the recent nauseating pantheistic celebration on the façade of St. Peter’s Basilica. These notions are illusions – falsehoods. Illusory. Delusional thought processes lead to tragic consequences, and they appear to be unfolding before us. It is mournful to witness ecclesiastics, civic leaders and scholars persisting in this absurd perspective – primarily rooted in infantilism – all the while
    leading the culture over the cliff. Moronic, irresponsible, cowardly and ultimately
    Dr. Beckwith wisely notes the very real question that can no longer be avoided. Do all Christians worship the same God? More pertinent is do all those self-identifying as Roman Catholic believe in the same God? This cannot be answered from a disposition driven by a whining, mendaciously articulated need for “concord and unity.” This engagement requires a viral fortitude that appears tragically absent as Kasper Katholicism championed by the current pontificate descends upon us.
    Do spare me the bogus consolation of “…we’ve been through worse…” That verbal
    pharmaceutical has lost its potency.

    • Michael Paterson-Seymour

      “entirely different understandings of the nature and character of a Supreme Being”

      But the Holy Fathers teach that the Divine nature is utterly unknowable.

      St Gregory of Nyssa says, “The true knowledge and vision of God consists in this—in seeing that He is invisible, because what we seek lies beyond all knowledge, being wholly separated by the darkness of incomprehensibility” and St John Damascene says, “God is infinite and incomprehensible and all that is comprehensible about Him is His infinity and incomprehensibility”

      • James

        There are, and have been since the beginning, two schools of Christian mysticism. The Apophatic, or “via negativa,” – speaking about the nature of God in terms of what He is not, and the kataphatic, or “via positiva” speaking in terms of God by what we know of Him. Eastern Orthodox mysticism is characterized primarily as apophatic – illustrative of it is the “Jesus Prayer,” “The Philokalia” and the beautiful work “The Cloud of Unknowing.” The Latin rite
        is more of the kataphatic — Francis of Assisi, Thomas Aquinas, Teresa of Jesus, Francis de Sales. But these “schools” are not mutually exclusive – St. John of the Cross is one example of a merge of the two ways of articulating Christian spirituality. Perhaps it is best to think of the entire Roman Catholic theological enterprise as kataphatic, at least when it is being faithful to revelation and the magisterium. Its mission is through participation and reflection upon the Faith, to articulate its content in the clearest and most coherent language available.
        I recall a story about St. Thomas Aquinas. Weeks before he died he observed that his work was merely dust. Of course, it was in a way, and it wasn’t in another way. Ultimately, in the Face of Almighty God, Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, there are no words, only loving worship.
        This response is fairly inadequate at best, but time is tight. It is a
        wonderful area to research. Really rich!

  • lwhite

    This alone is proof positive that since Vatican II, a new theology has emerged that not only contradicts the perennial teachings of the Catholic Church, but teaches blasphemy against Jesus Christ.

    This is a Modernist heresy so blatantly diabolical that no faithful Catholic would ever imagine it was revealed by the one, true, Triune God or the Holy Ghost.

    Tragically, Professor Beckwith has been thoroughly indoctrinated into Modernism and I pray daily that he, and all the other Modernists who have rejected the true teachings of the Catholic Church, re-convert.

  • Jim M.

    All this means is that Muslims credit someone with the same, or similar, attributes as those possessed by the true God. But the arguments do not establish that the two beings are the same one. Some of what Muslims claim about their deity is incompatible with the true God. And this should be expected since they rely upon a false “revelation” from their alleged deity. Oh, they do pull a bait and switch by tipping the hat to the authentic revelation we know as the Old and New Testaments, but then they claim them to be corrupted and hold up their false revelation, the Quran, as perfect. There is also the problem of the worship itself. Since the true God in his essence is unknowable, he must not only reveal himself, but he must reveal what is proper worship due him. We know that the central acts of worship are the sacraments, most especially the Holy Mass. All our our private worship depends upon these for their authenticity as true worship of the true God. So I remain convinced that they do not believe in the same deity, and the worship they pay to that being they call “Allah” cannot properly be called true worship of the one, true God.

  • Howard Kainz

    You are putting too much emphasis on some documents from Vatican II. As Roberto de Mattei mentions in his book on Vatican II, the additions about Islam were the result of ecclesial/political negotiation. There was a fear among “periti” from the East that the contemplated statements about Judaism would give the impression of Zionism, so additions were made regarding Islam.
    The God of Christianity is a God of love. In Islam, Allah certainly loves Muslims, but there is no indication that this love extends at all to non-Muslims.

    • kathleen

      Thank you for your comments on this article. It helps clarify some questions I have regarding Islam and Mohammed. Didn’t St. Paul say that if anyone should come speaking or proclaiming a Gospel other than that of Jesus Christ, let him be anathema? Mohammed claimed to have received parts of the Koran from the Archangel Gabriel sometime in the 600’s after Jesus Christ. ??? I don’t think it was the Archangel Gabriel. Another angel perhaps… Let’s pray for the Muslim people and their conversion.

      • Paul Vander Voort

        The Muslims are going to convert in droves but to a false religion that teaches we all worship the same God. We do not all worship the same God —- Satan has committed identity theft.

    • Martha Rice Martini

      Yes, the politics of Vatican II does more to explain the current Catholic view of Islam than anything else. In the wake of the Holocaust, the Council decided to counter anti-Semitism with a muscular statement of God’s eternal regard for His covenant with the Jews, however incoherent and unsubstantiated by Scripture. See Cardinal Dulles’ subsequent critique. And then, to even the playing field, it extended a similar courtesy to Islam.

    • Thomas

      Professor Kainz, you’ve uncovered the “hermeneutic of continuity” in Vatican II. It was the by-product of ecclesial/political negotiation. Just like the Council of Nicaea and every council since.

  • Impossible! Our Lord stated clearly that no one can get to the Father except through Him. Jesus only and always identified Himself by the name “I AM.” “I AM” is the name God gave
    Moses to tell the people His name. There is only, from beginning of all time to the end of all time, One Triune God. Man can not divide what God has made whole [One}.

    There is a Father. There is a financial provider. There is an Alcoholic. The teenage son rationally needs and emotional only wants and cares about the ‘financial provider’, choosing to ignore the fact that this same person is also his Father, who happens also to be an Alcoholic. As much as the son denies, even hates the father and the alcoholic, the three are one person. They cannot be separated.

    I trust this real-world analogy better typifies the One Triune God who created all things, over the sacrilegious comparison of God to a cartoon character to promote the make-believe Ecumenistic world-view.

    It is not easy being a “real” Catholic today when the Devil’s “make-believe” ‘just love one another’ games appear easier and more fun to play within. But then comes what cannot be avoided — judgement — when every knee shall bend and voice proclaim One Triune God; whether you are hell-bound or Heaven-sent. This is why Our Lord taught us to Evangelize, to bring Home a great harvest of souls through His Church, because outside His One Triune God Church there is no salvation. Man can not divide what God has made whole in One Triune God, as in One Holy Marriage between man and woman, as in His One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. Impossible!

    • sez

      By that logic, the Jews are not worshiping the same God as Christians are. Yet Christianity is the fulfillment of Judaism, and Jesus was a Jew.

      You wrote: “…the Devil’s “make-believe” ‘just love one another’ games appear easier…”, implying that the author was advocating syncretism, but that is not the case! Consider: Do not Calvinists and Catholics worship the same God? Yet Calvinists believe in double predestination, which Catholics reject. Catholics can reject that error very strongly – never succumbing to syncretism – yet still easily say that yes, we worship the same God as Calvinists.

      Also, if you are truly Catholic, you will try to accept the teachings of the Catholic Church, rather than reject them. And it is the teaching of the Church that Muslims and Christians worship the same God.

  • JGradGus

    This question was also addressed in an article entitled “Debating the Nature of God.” The author said the question may be moot, like the question ‘Is the glass half full or half empty?’ Some good points were made but this was interesting —

    “But there’s another way to look at the question of whether or not Muslims, Christians, Jews and others worship the same God. To wit, five good, kind, prayerful God-fearing adults – a Protestant, a Catholic, a Jew, a Muslim and a Mormon – survive a shipwreck and each ends up on his or her own life raft floating in the ocean. They all pray to God asking Him to save them. Will God listen to only the prayer of one of these individuals because the others don’t have their theology correct?

    “In all likelihood, God will hear all of their prayers because we are all His children regardless of what name we give Him, or what the doctrine that we follow says about His nature. But the doctrine we each decide to follow will make a big difference in how we live our lives and probably in how we will be judged by Him when we die.” http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2015/12/debating_the_nature_of_god.html

  • Gunnar

    First of all. Thank you for revisiting this topic, and thank you for a thoughtful article. I do, respectfully disagree with the conclusion, however.

    This is not like Superman. In you analogy, Superman/Clark Kent, himself, has revealed partial truths about himself to Lois and Lana. Here, God has revealed nothing to Muslims. What they believe is a fiction.

    This is more like Bizarro and Superman. Both have the same DNA, but one is an authentic revelation, Superman, and the other man-made by Lex Luthor (Bizarro). They can both fly, etc., but they do not have the same identity.

    To take this back to the world of academics, this issue of identity was raised by Pope Benedict XVI at Regensburg. Are reason and Islam incompatible? This is no small point. When St. Paul preached to the Greeks, he pointed to the unknown God–the Logos or logic of creation. This, of course, a rational, supreme being is at the center of Christian thought about who God is, and is in fact the identity of Christ himself (reason or Logos).

    In contrast, most Islamic thought is that God is supreme, so supreme that he can contradict himself and is unbounded by what humans identify as reason–he can be irrational. In other words, God does not have a “nature” properly speaking because that would limit him, and he is unlimited.

    With this in mind, it seems to me that the God of Christendom is God; God who is even known to those without revelation, but armed with reason; whereas the god of Islam is fan-fiction. If the only essential element of God is his omnipotence, then yes we worship the “same” God. But if to worship the same God the God of both religions must have the same nature then we don’t
    I think that the right way to look at this is via nature; if the God of both religions is not of the same stuff as the other, they cannot be the same. God is a rational being in Christianity, he is not in Islam.

    In this way, Muslims and Christians talk past each other, we use similar vocabulary to discuss who we identify as God, but we are talking about two different entities, completely different in their natures and in most of their particulars.

    In other words, Muslims believe that they worship the one true God. And we believe we do too. So in that way we worship the same God. But if you look at the claims, they are mutually exclusive in a way that cannot be reconciled as identifying the same being. In contrast, the God of Judaism or natural reason can be identified as being the same as the God of Christians: a supreme being, where a part of its omnipotence is its supreme reason and rational nature, as opposed to an irrational power.

  • Mike Hurcum

    For me it is simple. I trust in God how can any one be trusted God Man or Spirit if he Changes his mind daily???

  • Aqua

    And to support your contention is the new video from Pope Francis, conveying his prayer intention for 2016. Four faiths; one god; united in love; Bhuddism, Islam, Catholicism, and Judaism. Equal. No distinction.

    • Fred

      That prayer intention is pure heresy!

  • Kate

    Of course there is no God but God. The Catholic Church teaches that Jews, Muslims and Catholics worship the same God, as monotheistic children of Abraham. But as a practical matter, the “Gods” envisioned and understood by Muslims vs. Christians are radically different Beings. Allah and the Trinity are so different, that from a practical standpoint, most people are going to view them as different deities. I believe God hears all prayers sincerely addressed to God, as He is understood, by all believers throughout the world. The ignorance, heresy, and misunderstanding between the God of Islam and the God of Christianity is a chasm so wide that for all practical purposes they will always be viewed predominantly as different Gods. He hears the prayers of all. But the poor person who has to defend that Islam’s God and the Christian God are the same will never overcome the majority perception that they are not…and for good reason.

  • Manfred

    One can only wonder why the editors of TCT invited Mr. Beckwith to write on this subject TWICE?

  • What if Lana Lang was in love with a fellow who was calling himself Clark Kent but actually was (and behaved like) Lex Luthor? Would Lois and Lana still be in love with the same man?

  • bernie

    Certainly, God is utterly “incomprehensible”, as a respondent reminds us, but that does not mean we know nothing about Him. In Isa. 9, 6, we read, “What name shall be given him? Peerless Among Counselors, the Mighty God, Father of the World to come, … to give it (the world) lasting foundations of justice and right, so tenderly does He love us, the Lord of Hosts.”. We know quite a bit don’t we?

    Surprisingly, in all the commentaries made so far, I found the word “father” only twice, and in ways not associated with the discussion. Catholic Christians recite, “I believe in God, the Father Almighty”, and it is in these words that we divide belief in the nature and reality of God. Islam utterly rejects God as Father, and chooses to believe in a God that can do evil if he wants, and can demand that we do the same. Certainly, these thoughts are utterly “incomprehensible” and incompatible with the idea of a “Father”. They cannot be a statement about God, at all. They are utterly false. In fact, it describes the diabolic Creature’s own prideful recipe for disaster – that he and we can do what we want, just like our first parents.

    In a Paris airport’s waiting room, I tried to tell a Muslim next to me about our Father, God. He stood up immediately and walked away, sneering over his shoulder as he said, “I have no father but Adam !”

  • Fr. Peter Morello, Ph.D.

    When we speak of god it is not precisely a First Principle as we find in Aquinas, Al Ghazali, Ibn Sina although intellectually it is correct. That is the dilemma. Beckwith’s appeal to similarities among the three great monotheistic religions [in reality however Hinduism and Buddhism do not historically adhere to a singular divine being any more than did Montezuma and the Aztecs who slaughtered hundreds of thousands at his coronation in honor of the sun god] is essentially an intellectual proposal. The incomprehensible God was revealed in his true nature to mankind not simply as an intellectual truth but historically and exclusively in one revelation alone which is that of Jesus Christ. We cannot make the definitive argument that all religions believe in the same god on that incontrovertible fact. Although Beckwith’s argument has some merit in that the Church recognizes all religions attempt to worship god however imperfectly. Human nature is ordained by God for this. That is why we find spiritual and apparently holy people like Mohandas Ghandi and Anwar Sadat. There writings and words speak to a benevolent god not entirely unlike our true Christian God. That is likely in spite of their religion.

  • veritasetgratia

    An eminent MSC priest in Australia has written on this subject and quoting 3 Vatican II documents including Nostra Aetate has concluded that Muslims and Christians do not worship the same God. He is an expert on the rise of Islam and speaks Arabic and other languages.

  • Quo Vadis

    I have read many of fine comments here which discuss Professor Beckwith’s premise.

    My general conclusion is the Catholics always seem to go out of our way to “accommodate” the beliefs of other Christians, non-Christians and particularly followers of Islam. Yet we receive little if any tolerance for our beliefs from them.

    Seems to me Jesus made the issue very clear by his teachings and the Church by Her Dogma and Doctrine as revealed over the centuries. There is too much squishiness in Bishops and others these days who are supposed to guide the faithful on these issues….

  • GRB

    Is this doctrine? If they were worshipping the one true God, would they be worshipping Jesus and the Holy Spirt? They worship part of God so that sounds like a made up God. Unless you tell me this is Church doctrine, I don’t buy it.

  • Randall B. Smith

    Prof.Beckwith is taking a beating here for merely re-stating something the Catholic Church teaches and has proclaimed officially in a Dogmatic Constitution of an Ecumenical Council.

    He might to good purpose have taken up the question whether all Christians believe in the same God; indeed, all Catholics. Some appear to believe that the God Catholics worship has willed the damnation of all people except Catholics. He hasn’t. Quite the contrary.

    By some of the reasoning being adduced here, only Catholics with “just the right” theology are worshiping God at all. Thus, it would seem, if you hold any mistaken beliefs about God, your prayers are for nothing and to no one. Do you really want
    to hold to that standard, especially those of you who feel comfortable denying
    the teaching of an ecumenical council of the Church? I dare say that by this standard you’d not likely find more than a dozen people in history (a.k.a “the Fathers and Doctors of the Church”) who actually worshiped “God.”

    Then your problem would be that most of those profound men and women of faith understood the importance of “negative theology,” the realization that our concepts about God fall far short of God’s reality.

    We don’t boast in Christ because with Christ we’ve got a hold of bat we can beat others over the head with and shove our “privilege” in their faces. That’s the sort of thing Christ criticized the Pharisees for: thinking the gift of the covenant made them “privileged” rather than “gifted” and thereby even more obligated to others, especially the weak, the powerless, and our fellow sinners.

    We welcome Christ because He is the incarnation of God’s love. We believe that God’s love is available to all and that love is calling all people to a greater communion with Him. The means by which that love has been communicated
    — the sacrament of God’s love — IS Christ. All those who receive God’s grace receive it because of Christ’s sacrifice and through Christ — with the source of this love sadly unbeknownst to them.

    Our conviction is that such people would be better off in the long run knowing God
    better and more “personally” than understanding God less and in ways that may
    well lead to sin and error. So for example, misunderstandings of the faith are what lead too many Christians to unnecessarily alienate potential converts from the fullness of the faith. They don’t preach “the good news.” They draw lines and dare people to cross them.

    All stages on the way to the fullness of faith and union with God are “imperfect”
    and “incomplete” from the perspective of the end to which we are journeying. On that journey, Catholics are supposed to accept the guidance of the authentic teaching of the magisterium with a religious submission of intellect and will. When they don’t, they’re simply making up their own “church” in their minds and getting further from the true Church.
    If you think the God who became man to atone for our sins and who died sacrificing Himself on a cross is happy with you shoving people away from the salvation He won for humanity, then you really don’t know Him; you don’t know Him at all.

    • Aqua

      I would just be happy if the Pope proclaimed Jesus our Lord as the Way, Truth and the Life. Proclaimed Him as the answer to all of life’s questions. As the Narrow Gate that leads to life. As God incarnate, the Message of Good Will to men. As an exclusive Message of deliverance and salvation from sin slavery and unhappiness. His Bride, the Church, walks with us gently through life and into eternity. Nothing else on earth can do what Jesus, God among us, and His Bride can do for mankind.

      “Beat people over the head with the message of salvation”? Isn’t it a good thing to tell people that God revealed Himself to us specifically in the Person of Jesus Christ? This is not controversial! This is Gold! We have the Pearl of Great Price! Proclaim it boldly! I converted to the Catholic Faith due to these bold claims. I would convert to nothing less.

      We DO have a claim to ultimate Truth here. We have the Gospel that leads to eternal life. We have God Himself. We have seen Him. We receive Him today. Diluting that to make it marketable is not acceptable. Nowhere in the Bible is the salvation message diluted.

      Allah leads to death. Jesus leads to Life. Judaism, Hinduism, Bhuddism, Mormonism; all lead to death. Jesus offers the free gift of life if we “lay down our nets and follow Him”. The Good News does not leave men and women in their mistaken belief. It is a call to greatness, nothing less will do. “Stop! Put down your nets. Sell all that you have. Follow me.”

      If we do not proclaim that boldly … we do not really know Him at all.

      • GRB

        Most excellent. Just because one teaches in a Catholic university does not automatically afford him or her the last word or even the true word no matter how much he or she insists.

    • bernie

      You haven’t got the shoving thing right. Who is shoving whom?

    • Fr. Peter Morello, Ph.D.

      Your reasoning Randall actually is reductionist although your intent to defend Beckwith is commendable. I don’t agree with some comments either. You however reduce the singular true faith to the authenticity of the faith of Christian believers. Rather the irreducible authenticity of the Roman Catholic Faith stands on its unique merits as instituted by the one true God Jesus Christ who provides the faithful whether or not they are deficient in their faith with grace through baptism and the sacramental means for reconciliation and salvation which no other faith possesses. For example if a non Christian attains salvation it is through the work [grace and words] of Christ alone and not through the tenets of their religious beliefs. Furthermore I don’t know who these Christians are who are so intolerant that you castigate. Is it because they disagree with Beckwith? I’ve taught and served in Africa, Europe, traveled to the Middle East, served the Church in the US and without question Christians are far more tolerant of other religions. The issue is that people are starving for the truth of their Catholic faith and they receive intellectual musing.

    • What he said!

      • Edward Radler Rice

        One does not not have to be a “classical theist” to be saved for crying out loud. All of our classical theism will be blown away as “so much straw” at least according to that classical theist par excellence, The Dumb Ox, if our eternity is paradise.

        Come on, Francis, how does your perspective as found in this and your earlier article jive with Fr. Schall and his take on Islam’s voluntarism?

        That’s what I want to know…

    • Michael Randolph

      Let’s say you have three doors. God is behind one of the doors. The first door is marked Judaism, the Second door is marked Islam, and the third door is marked Christianity. If God is the same for all three religions, then it doesn’t matter which door you chose. In reality though, you only find God by choosing door three. If you only know of doors one or two, then it’s understandable that you might choose one of those. If you know about door three, you reject God by not choosing it.

    • Michael DeLorme

      Apparently Saint John Paul didn’t know Him very well. He denied that Mormons believe the same thing by the words “Father, Son and Holy Spirit” as most Christians do. He issued a statement clarifying the truth that if a Mormon decides to convert to Catholicism he needs to be re-baptized—unlike someone converting from, say, Presbyterianism or Methodism.

    • Edward Radler Rice

      With all due respect to you, sir, and Professor Beckwith, I simply want to know where do we find the evidence that Muslims (at least a large minority?) are classical theists either at the beginning of their religious journey or later through the study of philosophy. (This is, from my reading, what Beckwith is arguing; classical theism is simply crucial for Beckwith.) Beckwith himself brings up the example of William Craig and writes that he isn’t a classical theist. Moreover, we all know that there are differing, at times competing, interpretations of conciliar teaching. Perhaps I missed it, but I have not read a single word regarding damnation of anyone is this forum, by the way. You may recall that on Crisis Magazine, Robert Spencer in 2012 posted an article titled, Do Catholics and Muslims worship the same God? In 2014, Tim Staples over at Catholic Answers posted an article titled, Do Muslims worship the same God Catholics do? Both articles are worth reading. I think that philosophical understanding of God as developed in classical theism is important in coming to a knowledge of the Trinity and Christ’s revelation. If a whole boatload – a lot of boatloads – of Muslims became (and remained) classical theists, would Islam change positively or deteriorate because of people abandoning it?

    • James

      You draw a mighty wide safety net. To my mind it is stretched far too wide providing little or no insurance to either yourself or Dr. Beckwith. No one here holds Moslems of a civil and peaceful comportment in any disrespect, but their cultural ideology is of itself insupportable, groundless; a confection of cut and paste notions contrived by a barbaric madman.
      If you look more thoroughly through the comments you will actually find the
      issues of “Do Catholics believe in the same God?” Do Catholics and Protestants believe in the same God?” alluded to, and the necessity of asking those question well over due, given the metamorphoses we have been enduring under the gaze of the clerical class for the last fifty-six years. Well time to explore those issues amply, and to greater purpose. Apophatic spirituality has been referenced as well.
      As for “re-stating something the Catholic Church teaches and has proclaimed officially in a Dogmatic Constitution of an Ecumenical Council.” One assumes you are referring to “Nostra aetate,” “Lumen gentium” and perhaps “Ad gentes.” Under what political – international and ecclesiastical stress – were the documents produced? Let us pick up our copies of Roberto de Mattei, Romano Amerio and H.J.A. Sire. The bloom is now long off the rose. “The council” is getting a little old, particularly when its documents have been as abused as the entire enterprise was when it happened. It really doesn’t cut the mustard the way it used to. The heterodox find it antiquated, outmoded and irrelevant (ah, remember when it was ever so “relevant?”) The orthodox faithful are tired of being hit over the head with an event that has only led to a Roman Catholicism well into looking and
      smelling like hell on earth. I’d be more assured if you were drawing from Trent and “Summa contra Gentiles.”
      I assure you I mean no disrespect to either you or Dr. Beckwith, but is it
      not time to put aside this unrelenting social psychosis, this baseless
      compulsion to equate all belief systems as equally credible and worthy of assent? It is heartbreaking to witness Christian historians and philosophers giving deference to the fraudulence known as Islam – but it is, nevertheless, symptomatic of our current state of cultural and ecclesiastical disorientation.

    • Dave Fladlien

      “If you think the God who became man to atone for our sins and who died sacrificing Himself on a cross is happy with you shoving people away from the salvation He won for humanity, then you really don’t know Him; you don’t know Him at all.” Thank you for this comment. I could not have said it better.

      This is exactly the point. If we step back from the philosphical for a moment, and consider “what is the will of God”, Scripture answers that question precisely: it is that every person comes to know Him. That knowledge is not perfect in any of us, and is more imperfect in some than in others. Since we live by our perceptions, if someone’s perception of God is sufficiently out of harmony with reality, then that person’s actions will be out of harmony with God’s will as well. That means the person’s perceptions and consequent actions are wrong, not that the person knows the “wrong” or a “different” God.

  • Other Joe

    Both arguments in both of the posts are clever, clear, pretty, neat and fit perfectly into their assigned holders. In that, they are like all academic angels-on-pinhead explorations and exactly as meaningful in the experience of persons not sheltered within the ivory graced walls of the towers of babel. The rest of us, shoe-less while we wait our turn at the security checkpoint with our papers clutched in uneasy hands, understand the much bigger problem – truth actually. The differing visions of what God is have massive consequences in one’s life. The fact that both radically opposed visions may be seen to apply to a kind of blank word standing for the ineffable may tickle the academic vanity, but the point so made, while obviously true, is so insignificant as to be lost in the noise of of a world that encompasses murder and mayhem in the service of terror. You made your point adroitly. Too bad for the reader the point is vanishingly small and of no practical or moral value.

  • Michael DeLorme

    I agree that if Abdullah is persuaded by the cosmological argument, that
    he has begun to believe in a rudimentary and minimalist version of the
    one true God—as Aquinas demonstrated that the Greek notions of the
    Uncaused Cause and the Unmoved Mover are what we know as God. It is an
    incomplete notion, but not an untruth.

    However, as soon as he goes into a mosque and adopts the Muslim notion of God,
    he accepts an untruth—just as surely as if he adopts the Mormon
    version of the Trinity.

    There are only three major world religions which claim to be revealed:
    Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Judaism, through the inspiration of the
    Holy Spirit, promised the Divine Messiah. Christianity, through the
    Conception of the Holy Spirit, brought forth the Divine Messiah. Islam,
    through the inspiration of ?, has denied the Divinity of the Messiah,
    from its inception.

    Islamic teaching in denying the Divinity of Christ cannot be promulgating either an incomplete truth nor an innocently mistaken teaching such as does, say, Taoism—since it postdates Christ’s Self-revelation. It is an emphatic untruth.

    Allah is not Abba, Father.

  • Brian Seibert

    …The very terms “General” revelation and “Special” revelation reveal the initial flaw in the professor’s treatise, General revelation is the word itself, I.E. the Bible. Special revelation is the blessed Mother’s appearances through time. Tepeyac and Lourdes were not simple friendly visits, they were reintroductions to the ultimate truth. Fatima was clearly a warning, with archangels providing the script.

  • Edward Radler Rice

    I’ve edited Beckwith’s title: Why Muslims and Christians believe in and worship the God of classical theism. Classical theism is the issue for Beckwith.

    “Classical theism’s ancestry includes Plato, Aristotle, Middle Platonism and Neoplatonism. It entered Judaism through Philo of Alexandria (§4), reaching its apogee there in Maimonides (§3). It entered Christianity as early as Irenaeus and Clement of Alexandria and became Christian orthodoxy as the Roman Empire wound down. Though more and more challenged after 1300, it remains orthodox [for Christians]. Classical theism filtered into Islam as early as al-Kindi (§§1–2). Al-Ghazali attacked it as the view of Islamic Aristotelians, and it suffered in Islamic orthodoxy’s successful reaction against Aristotle.” – Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy (under God, concepts of; sixth point, classical theism).

    One man marries two women at different times and without the ladies’ knowledge. The man marries the first woman without any deception or manipulation on his part. In other words, the woman knows him as he really is in truth and marries him based on her knowledge of and trust in him. However, the man changes overtime. He is no longer the trustworthy, truthful man he once was. The man marries the second woman through deception and manipulation. This second woman does not know that he is already married, nor does his first wife know he has married another woman. The second woman does not not know who the man really is because of his lies.

    Which marriage is or was based on love?

    Which marriage is real? [Of the two, which marriage, if brought before a Catholic Church tribunal, would perhaps be declared invalid and for what reason(s)]

    This marital analogy (following Professor Beckwith’s use of Superman / Clark Kent) is one way of considering the relationship between God and the Church (Christians) and his relationship – if we assume that Allah and the Trinity are the same God substantially – with Islam and Muslims. There are myriad ways of augmenting the analogy from either the Christian or Islamic perspective.

    I don’t think this analogy works based on my understanding of Islam’s dominant understanding of Allah in contrast to classical theism. Professor Beckwith relies on classical theism to understand God and belief in and worship of him on the part of Christians and Muslims.

    God is the unchanging God of classical theism, according to Professor Beckwith. Let’s assume that he’s right.

    Here’s the argument:

    1. There is one God, only one – the unchanging God of classical theism.
    2. To believe in and worship God a person must be a classical theist.
    3. Islam understands God as classical theism does – it promotes classical theism. (In other words, Muslims are classical theists.)
    4. The Christian Church believes in God in accord with classical theism.
    5. Therefore, Christians and Muslims believe in and worship the same God.

    Is there anything wrong with this argument?

  • Edward Radler Rice

    Here’s a syllogism:

    Francis Beckwith believes in and worships God.
    The God that Beckwith believes in and worships is not the God of classical theism.
    Christians believe in the God of classical theism.

    If Francis Beckwith isn’t a classical theist does he worship the God that Christians worship?

  • Alicia

    In the Kouran, Jesus is mentioned like 27 times and Mohamed only 7 times. Our Blessed Virgen Mary is the only woman mentioned in the Kouran. There is a whole chapte dedicated to her. I’ve sometimes wondered if the Holy Spirit had anything to do with this to convert Muslims who carefully studied and questioned Islam’s teachings.
    There is a video of an interview with a former Muslim who was led to Christianty by the Kouran. Very interesting.
    I posted this video on Facebook. Apparently the book says that God is the Word: God Later on in the book, it says that Jesus, the teacher, is the Word. Things like this.
    This convert went for help to his univesity’s Muslim theology professor for help, and the professor was confused and couldn’t help.
    Go figure, evangelized by the Kouran.
    I think Our Lady, along with the Holy Spirit, is doing her thing too.
    There have been around 6 or 7 million Muslin converts in Africa and 1million in Indonesia. In Muslim countries no less. Imagine.
    Our Lady could have chosen any town, but she appeared in Fatima, named after a Muslim princess who convered to Catholism. Was she sending a message ? After all, Fatima is a revered woman by Muslims because of Mohamed: his daughter I believe.
    Lets pray for conversions. I firmly believe that the Holy Spirit and Our Lady are not idly standing by.

    • Howard Kainz

      I’m sure Our Lady isn’t idly standing by. But which Mary are we talking about? Islam teaches that Jesus was the son of Mary, the daughter of Imran, the father of Moses and Aaron, and thus the sister of Aaron. And the “Trinity” according to Islam is God, Jesus and Mary. It’s a very mixed-up religion.

  • Ron Cram

    At first, it was difficult for me to see how any Christian scholar could get this question wrong (as Francis Beckwith and Edward Feser have), but I think I have the answer and can point us in the right direction.

    The error stems from the concept of classical theism, a philosophical framework that describes “the God of the philosophers.” Classical theism describes God in a manner that is consistent with Christianity, but lacks the specificity of Christianity.

    The question is “Do Muslims and Christians worship the same God?” Beckwith and Feser are taking the question as “Is the God of the Quran eternal, immaterial, necessary, omnipotent, omniscient, perfectly good, etc.” By redefining the question in this way, Feser and Beckwith are assuming all Christians worship the God of the philosophers. We don’t. We worship the God of the Bible.

    While the concept of classical theism is sometimes useful, this is the wrong test to apply in this situation. Christians don’t worship the God of the philosophers. We worship the God of the Bible, the God who acts in history, who parted the Red Sea and raised Jesus from the dead. We can say much more about the God we worship than we can about the God of the philosophers.

    If you worship and praise God only for his attributes and never for his mighty acts, then you’re doing it wrong. See Psalm 145 and 150.

    Here’s the real question: “Is the God of the Quran the same as the God of the Bible?” The answer to this is obviously “No.”

    The source of the Bible and the source of the Quran are not the same. The God of the Bible has a Son. The God of the Quran does not. The God of the Bible loves unbelievers. The God of the Quran says unbelievers should be killed. The God of the Bible offers us a choice. The God of the Quran says “convert or die.” The God of the Bible offers grace as a way of salvation. The God of the Quran offers works as a way of salvation.

    None of the essential elements of God’s personality or plan are the same in the two religions.

    While philosophy can help us think clearly on some issues, sometimes it leads us astray. We need to think biblically about this issue.

    Let’s test the idea of classical theism in a different way. Let’s say I created my own religion and I wrote a “holy book” called the Ranqu. In the Ranqu I talk about the all-powerful Creator God who revealed himself to Abraham. I describe this God as eternal, immaterial, necessary, omnipotent and omniscient. But I explain that this God was evil and capricious, that he lied to Abraham and made promises he didn’t keep. This God created evil angels but one of them rebelled and became good (Lucifer) and led other angels in the rebellion. This evil God destroyed Sodom because the city was full of goodness.

    Under the theory proposed by Edward Feser and Francis Beckwith, is this God the same God as the God of the Bible and the God of the Quran? If it isn’t the same God, why not?

    I think it’s clear that an all-powerful Creator God such as I’ve described would be recognized as a “God of the philosophers” but not as the God of the Bible. Christians do not worship the God of the philosophers but the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Jesus.

    Some have tried to complain that if you say Muslims do not worship the same God because they are not Trinitarians, then you are saying the saints of the Old Testament did not worship the same God. This is false. Under progressive revelation, once Jesus was revealed to be the Son of God anyone who rejects God’s Son is not worshipping the same God as Christians.

    It’s fine to say Abraham, Moses and David worshipped the same God as Christians. In fact, Jesus said that Abraham saw his day and rejoiced. John 8:56

    I should point out that I’m not the first to draw a distinction between classical theism (the God of the philosophers) and biblical theism (the God of the Bible). Blaise Pascal did it in the Pensees.

    Just to be clear, if the question is “Is the concept of God in the Quran compatible with the concept of God in classical theism?” then I would agree with Feser and Beckwith. But I don’t think anyone is asking this question because it is entirely irrelevant.

    The question is “Do Muslims and Christians worship the same God?” This question can be restated as “Is the God of the Quran the same person as the God of the Bible?” The answer is a clear and definitive “No.”

    • Andy Luksik

      tl;dr version: he’s comparing a characteristic (e.g. they both have brown hair) and saying that’s enough to prove they are the same person.
      Good post, btw. 😀

  • samton909

    Wait. Is Pope Francis Kal-El in this analogy, or is he Lois Lane?

  • ZZMike

    Clearly, there is but one God. Apparently, Muslims see Him through a glass, darkly, and unfortunately, that affects their notion of God, of His workings here, and their relationship to Him.