Southern Baptist Convention President J.D. Greear has said that while the Christian and Muslim ideas of God are irreconcilably different, it’s possible to work from some shared assumptions about God in missional conversations with Muslims.
In a recent video posted on gospelcoaltion.com, Greear said that the response to the question, “Are there multiple ways to God and does God receive the worship of Christians and Muslims alike,” is, “Absolutely not.”
“Islam is a false way of salvation,” the Breaking the Islam Code author emphasized. “Islam presents salvation by works, and it outright denies several key things that Christianity teaches about God, like God being a Trinity and the personal nature of God and more.”
But because Muslims say they worship the God of Abraham, some missionaries have found it helpful to start with that observation and take the approach that Jesus did with the woman at the well in John 4, Greear said.
“Jesus essentially said, ‘Who you think you’re worshiping you’re not actually worshiping,’” he explained. “Jesus confronted a Samaritan woman who was worshiping wrongly and had wrong ideas about God. He didn’t say, ‘You’re worshiping a different God.’ He said, ‘You’re attempting to worship the One Creator God the wrong way.’ And I’ve heard people talk about using this approach to Muslims, and I think it has some merit.”
Missionaries on the field, Greear explained, seek to tell people “that this God that we believe has created the world, has been speaking through the prophets, and has revealed himself fully in Jesus.”
“He is a Trinity,” he said. “And Muhammad is not an accurate prophet of him. If somebody explains their statement in this way, I have less problems with them saying Christians and Muslims are attempting to worship the same God, but in two entirely different ways.”
According to LifeWay Research’s 2016 State of American Theology Study, two-thirds of Americans believe God accepts the worship of all religions, including Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.
That same year, Larycia Hawkins, a tenured associate professor of political science at Wheaton College, parted ways with the evangelical school after she declared Christians and Muslims worship the “same God.” The context was her decision to wear a Hijab during advent to show solidarity with Muslims.
The incident sparked a debate among evangelicals about whether all religions worship the same God, and whether God accepts the worship of all religions.
At the time, late theologian and former Muslim Nabeel Qureshi told The Christian Post that when it comes to the “same god” question, the Trinity “makes all the difference”
“We worship a triune God,” he said. “We’re talking about a God who is a Father. The Bible says that over and over and over again that God is our Father. Now, we’re talking about a God who is love — 1 John 4. We’re talking about a God who’s willing to come into this world and, in fact, has come into this world many times both in theophanies in the Old Testament and then the incarnation in the New Testament.”
“None of these things is the Islamic god,” he continued. “He’s not willing to come into this world. He is not your father. Chapter five, verse 18, of the Quran makes that very clear — God is not the father — as does the whole chapter 112 of the Quran. And, he’s certainly not Triune.”
Islam, he pointed out, will take certain Christian terms, such as “Messiah,” and give it a totally different semantic meaning while pretending as if it’s the same word.
“That’s what’s happening with this concept of God,” Qureshi said. “It’ll say that it’s the same God, but the semantic content behind the idea of the Islamic god is very different from the Christian, and in fact the Judeo-Christian view.”