Recently, I’ve heard the question raised over whether or not Christians and Muslims worship the same God. (Stay with me! This will NOT be an essay on religion. I promise.). While I can understand how a person unfamiliar with the Bible might assume that we do worship the same God in different ways, the truth is that we do not. First of all, the Christian God has a significantly different name. “Allah” means “God,” much like the Hebrew “Elohim.” However, like the titles “Mommy” and “Daddy,” this is more of a label that defines one person’s relationship with a “higher being” than a true name. The Christian God does have a name that He has given to Himself: Yahweh. It means “I AM.” This is the name that God spoke to Moses from the burning bush (Exodus 3). It is different from the name of all other gods in a very significant way. In those days to name a god was to control it. To know a power’s name meant that you could harness it. Moses is asking, “whose power shall I wield?” The Lord corrects this thinking by answering with a name unlike any other, “I am that I am.” He is proclaiming to Moses and all people that He exists out of His own power and will. He is uncontainable in name or form. His power is His alone to control, and man’s purpose is to worship Him and work according to His will. God is basically saying, “Knowing my “name” isn’t as important as experiencing who I am.” God has shown his powerful, transcendent nature with this unique name. In the simple act of giving a name at all He reveals that He wants to have a relationship with us, so He gives us a special way to know Him. (Keep reading.)
The God of the Christian Bible and Allah are different in many other ways. The scriptures through which they are revealed are different. The message is different. The view on Jesus is different. The way to salvation is significantly different. Whereas Allah expects humans to earn their salvation here on earth, Yahweh sent His own son, Jesus, to die on the cross for the sins of all humanity. While Allah leaves the responsibility for salvation in human hands, Yahweh took the responsibility to secure salvation for us onto His own shoulders. (PS. That’s amazing!!!) No, they are not the same. Now, let’s take this question a step further. What about the Morman church? Or Jehovah’s Witness? Is their God Yahweh? (Almost there!)
The best litmus test is to apply the second commandment: you will make for yourself no graven images. On the surface this command is pretty straightforward: don’t make idols and worship them, even an idol meant to represent Yahweh. However, there is a deeper understanding that we must apply to our view of God. That is that we are not to fashion even an idea of God that suits our own fancies. The Mormon church and Jehovah’s Witness have done just that. The most striking difference in their view of God is that Jesus is not divine, therefore God is not three yet one. The arguments of Jehovah’s Witness are difficult to refute because they claim that to recognize God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit is to worship three separate Gods and therefore a sin. In their minds it is impossible for God to be both three and one, because we have no human frame of reference for such a thing. Such a being defies logic and they can’t imagine a God that would not obey the logical laws of this world. In fact, this cult (yes, I went there) even works from their own translation of the Bible that better suits their need to deny that Jesus was both God and the Son of God. I chose this particular argument to drive home a specific point: it is not our place to tell God what kind of God He is. We think that if we can’t understand it, it must not be so. The response to such an accusation is simple: while I may not fully understand how God is three yet one, it is what He has revealed about Himself. It is not for me to approve or disapprove based on my human grasp of existence. God is God, and I am not. The entire concept of God requires that He be a being infinitely more powerful and wise than I am. To be unable to understand His unique being seems perfectly logical. I must accept God as He has revealed Himself to be through His Word. All of His Word. That being said, let’s push our argument out just a little further. (Beware. We are about to move into very uncomfortable territory.)
The “Christians” that advocate acceptance of lifestyles that directly contradict the Word of God…are we worshipping the same God? God is very clear about sin in His Word, but we still try to amend His statements about marriage, divorce, sex, homosexuality, tithing, and whatever else doesn’t fit into our agenda. We try to absolve God by making Him some kind of universalist, ignoring that it completely negates the need for a savior or the Bible. Because we have become so accustomed to the axiom, “I’m ok, you’re ok,” we do all that we can to trim away God’s justice from His goodness. We want to benevolence without righteousness. No discipline, no instruction, no punishment, no right vs. wrong. All we want are those “showers of blessings.” We want a God that is palatable, shareable, instagrammable. So we slap concealer over the perceived “flaws” of the gospel so that God looks a little more like us and a lot less like Him, proving that it doesn’t take worshiping a golden calf to break the second commandment. God has not glossed over the difficult aspects of His work in history, nor does He need us to defend Him. We need not excuse, redact, spin, or update what He has said about His own character or His consideration of our human behaviors here on earth. He is the ultimate standard, the objective truth that stands alone and above all else. To believe in God is to believe that He is all good, all wise, and all knowing. This means that we can trust that if He prohibits a lifestyle or behavior, there is a good reason. Even a cursory reading of the last few chapters of Job will show that God is perfectly capable of–not “defending” (for He has no need) but rather displaying His perfect character and justice in the face of human accusation. When I read those Words the hair on my neck and arms stand straight up. God is there, in all of His perfection and glory and goodness, DARING us to open our eyes and see Him as He really is! Not to shame us, but to set us free from self made “gods” that leave us scrambling around trying to secure our own salvation, idols that will never let us know peace. We absolutely must, must, MUST stop carving out images of God to suit our own sensitivities. We are created in His image. It’s not the other way around. When we approach God’s Word we must ask ourselves whether we worship Yahweh as He really is, or have we created another version of God that we find more acceptable? Those gods are reflections only of ourselves, flawed and false. It is an idolatry that harkens back to the Garden of Eden when the serpent whispered, “you will be like God.” We worship ourselves and our own ideals, and while we’re busy munching on that rotten fruit, we’re missing out on the feast of learning who Yahweh really is.
Dear friend, do not be deceived. The Word of the Lord contains many difficult truths to swallow. Some we will not understand without the help of the Holy Spirit. The truth is blatant and harsh, a fact that argues for the validity of the written account of God’s work in history. Who other than a God of audacious truth would lay all of His “skeletons” bare as Yahweh does in His written Word? This is a God that has nothing to hide, nothing to shame Him, nothing to fear from the judgement of man. I challenge you to chase Him into the pages of His Word and dare to look upon Him and His wonders. Take off your human goggles and get REAL with Him! The God you will find there is far better than any we could fashion on our own.