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The 'Same God' Question (Islam and Christianity)

I have been commanded to fight! -- It says so right here!
I have been commanded to fight! -- It says so right here!

Note: This is my attempt to summarize a series of articles by Mr. Ralph Sidway called The 'Same God' Question: Part 1: An Epistemological Malady, Part 2: Allah's Theological Jihad against Christianity, and Part 3: By their fruits you shall know them.

1) Introduction: an epistemological malady?

The traditional Islamic view is that if you want to know what the God of the Bible is like, then read the Koran. Not only must Muslims believe that 'we worship the same God', but this message is always a central component of the presentation of Islam to Christians and Jews.

[This 'Same God' message] provides the lynchpin of Muslims' efforts to convert the 'People of the Book' to the faith of Muhammad. In addition, this belief, once accepted, can lead Christians to support Islamic perspectives in ways other than conversion. For example, embracing this Islamic doctrine wins a measure of respect and even support for Islam from Christians.

[...] the importance of answering properly the "Same God Question" makes our study of this question essential.

In our age of genocide against Christians by Muslims in Africa and the Middle East, the global war on Christians by Islam, the collapse of Christianity in Europe, and the global rise of Islam and stealth jihad everywhere, for sincere Christians to not have ever thought about the "Same God" issue, and to not be sure what they think about it, is deeply, deeply troubling.

Yet as we see from the constant stream of statements from Christian bishops, leaders and writers urging "greater solidarity with Islam", embracing Muhammad as "a prophet" who "brought love, peace, and much more" to the world, and similar affirmations, the avoidance of The Question is an epistemological malady not merely of the average Christian in the pew, but of church educated, elite and shepherds as well. Political leaders look to such positions as grounding their policies towards Muslims and the religion of Islam in general. And the public policies justified by such Islam-embracing pronouncements provide an open door for Islam to advance its influence and control throughout the West. Indeed, this has been going on for decades now.

This must be addressed, and reversed, if Western leaders are to stand a chance of articulating a coherent policy to protect and preserve our civilization, and see it through the new century.

2) What does the Koran say about the Bible?

The first problem for a Christian who affirms that Muslims worship the same God, is that such a Christian has to contend with the Koran, which Muslims believe to be the unalterable, eternal words of God, revealed to Muhammad alone, which pre-existed in heaven before all eternity.

Allah -- in the Koran -- explicitly condemns the foundational truths of the Christian Way, calls Christians "blasphemers" and "deluded", and pronounces curses on Christians (emphasis added):

The similitude of Isa [Jesus] before God is as that of Adam; He created him from dust , then said to him: "Be": And he was.
[Koran 3:59]

Say not "Trinity": desist: It will be better for you: For God is One God: Glory be to Him: (Far Exalted is He) above having a son
[Koran 4:171]

In blasphemy indeed are those that say that God is Christ the Son of Mary.
[Koran 5:17]

They do blaspheme who say: God is one of three in a Trinity: for there is no god except One God. If they desist not from their word (of blasphemy), verily a grievous penalty will befall the blasphemers among them
[Koran 5:73]

Christ the son of Mary was no more than an Apostle; many were the apostles that passed away before him. His mother was a woman of truth. They had both to eat their (daily) food. See how God doth make His Signs clear to them; yet see in what ways they are deluded away from the truth!
[Koran 5:75]

The Jews call 'Uzair' a son of God, and the Christians call Christ the Son of God. That is a saying from their mouth; (in this) they but imitate what the Unbelievers of old used to say. God's curse be on them: how they are deluded away from the Truth!
[Koran 9:30]

In fact, they never killed him [Jesus], they never crucified him -- they were made to think that they did. All factions who are disputing in this matter are full of doubt concerning this issue. They possess no knowledge; they only conjecture. For certain, they never killed him.
[Koran 4:157]

Just to recap the above, the Koran -- Allah, that is -- insists:

- Jesus is like Adam, mere man created from dust.
- God is too exalted to have a son.
- Christians are blasphemers for confessing Jesus Christ as Son of God.
- Christians are blasphemers for confessing the Holy Trinity.
- Because Christians are blasphemers, a "grievous penalty" will befall them.
- Christians are "deluded away from truth" when they confess Jesus Christ as Son of God.
- Because Christians are blasphemers and deluded away from the truth, "God's curse be upon them."

Oh, and furthermore, Allah insists that Jesus was never crucified.

3) Can the Koran and the Bible have the same source?

All this condemnation of Christian dogma and calling down curses upon Christians comes forth in supposed direct -- word-for-word literal -- revelations from the True God.

Now, if Muslims and Christians worship the same God, then Allah = God. Yet Allah explicitly condemns Christian dogma, curses Christians and denies historical fact.

What can this possibly mean? How do we respond to this?

The first response is we need to respect the claims Islam makes about Allah, Muhammad, and the Koran. That is, we need to consider the implications of what Allah reveals to Muhammad through the Koran.

Because it is Allah speaking in and through the Koran, therefore Christian apologists for the Same God position cannot hide behind the relativistic, academic "different conceptions of God" curtain. That is ducking the question. Who is the "man behind the curtain?" Who is the BEING behind the revelation which makes those pronouncements? This is the dilemma of the Same God position. If the Koran is a revealed text, who is the WHO behind the text?

The second problem for a Christian who affirms the Same God position happens to be Jesus' own words and the New Testament witness, which are quite extreme in their own right. [Here the author reminds us that Jesus explicitly claims He is God.]

[...] Christianity and Islam cannot both be from the same source, which is what the Same God Question ultimately boils down to. If we treat each truth claim with respect, that each faith springs from a self-revelation of God, then it is clear the Allah of Islam is directly, and in a specific, vigorous manner, opposed to the revelation from the Christian God. And Jesus' own emphatic testimony about Himself excludes any alternate revelation concerning the nature of God.

Put another way, Allah's self-revelation through Muhammad reveals him as completely opposed to the Christian God's self-revelation through the incarnation of Jesus Christ. Much of Allah's purpose in revealing certain specific verses to Muhammad was clearly to correct (what he saw as) the errors of the Christians. Allah is so vehement in these condemnations of Christian dogma that it amounts to what I term a "Theological Jihad."

4) What does the Bible say about the Koran?

The implications for Christians are set forth with a holy intensity by the Evangelist John in his epistles. Confessing Jesus Christ is the litmus test for who is of God and who is not. John does not give Christians any "wiggle room" on this point:

Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also
[1Jn 2:22-23]

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.
[1Jn 4:1-3]

[...] So, the "Same God Question" asks, can the God who freely gives this New Life through Jesus also be the Allah who commands the opposite through Muhammad?

Those who take the "Same God" position are, I believe, abstracting the question, and divorcing it from the radically different Sources behind the Islamic and Christian revelations. The Same God Question cannot properly be reduced to an abstract, theoretical, conceptual analysis, but rather deserves to be considered as an ontological, super-essential discernment of two diametrically opposed Sources.

5) What are the practical consequences for us?

In a similar way to John's exclusivist writings, the Koranic repudiations of Christian dogma are not abstract, theological points. They too are foundational, activating principles in Islamic faith, prayer and practice.

[...] This wouldn't be of too much immediate existential concern to us if the differences between Islam and Christianity merely constituted theological disagreement, an abstract spiritual debate over origins and eschatology, or even over eternal life and eternal damnation. Apologists make their cases, the faithful persevere, converts are won, apostates are lost, life goes on.

However, because the Koran contains not merely "foundational, activating principles," as I term them above, but explicit commandments, exhortations and obligations to commit certain actions against non-believers, by which the faithful Muslim proves his loyalty and obedience to Allah, therefore the Same God Question is indeed an immediate, existential concern to us.

[...] The condemnations of Christianity in the Koran have real-world implications, as can be seen in the 14 centuries of Islamic jihad and aggression, and in the modern global phenomenon of Muslim persecution of Christians. As Raymond Ibrahim painstakingly documents both in his book Crucified Again: Exposing Islam's New War Against Christians, and in his monthly series Muslim Persecution of Christians, Islam's jihad against Christianity spans centuries, geography, race and language, and takes exactly the same form, whether in Nigeria, Sudan or Egypt (Africa), or in Iraq, Syria, Iran or Lebanon (the Middle East), or in Pakistan, Afghanistan and all the other 'stans (Central Asia), or in Southeast Asia, the Philippines, Indonesia, and so on.

Another reliable source, Open Doors, has just published their annual World Watch List on persecution of Christians for 2015, noting that the persecution of Christians in Muslim-majority countries, while horrific in 2014 and prior years, actually doubled in 2015. Over 80% of the 50 worst nations for persecution of Christians are Islamic nations or have large Muslim populations.

Why is Muslim persecution of Christians so universal, and why has it been going on for 14 centuries?

It certainly can't be a retaliation for the Crusades, as they post-date the creation of Islam by more than four centuries, and were themselves a response against relentless Islamic aggression.

Rather, the Muslim ummah was a completely new military force, which swept out of the Arabian peninsula in the mid-630s, conquering the Middle East and North Africa by the mid-7th century (and well into Central Asia in the East), followed by the Iberian peninsula (Spain), and even besieging Constantinople (for the first time) in the early 8th century. The below map shows the rapid expanse of Islam during the Arab jihad.

Rapid expansion of Islam during the Arab jihad.
Rapid expansion of Islam during the Arab jihad.

What can account for this sudden onslaught of Islamic warriors, beginning during Muhammad's life, and increasing dramatically under the caliphs immediately after the traditional date of his death?

Certainly it must be the sense of Islam's own "manifest destiny," of overtaking all the world for Allah, at Allah's specific command, and initiated by Muhammad himself.

Many do not realize that Muhammad began the global jihad by sending letters to the rulers of the kingdoms of his day, inviting them to embrace Islam, but warning them of dire consequences if they did not. This included even Emperor Heraclius of Christian Byzantium, and Chosroes of Persia, the superpowers of the 6th and early 7th centuries.

6) The theological Jihad

The justification behind the ever-expanding jihad is found in the Koran. Allah, who calls Christians "blasphemers" and curses them, in the Koran also commands Muslims to fight them until they submit:

Fight against those who believe not in Allah, nor in the Last Day, nor forbid that which has been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger and those who acknowledge not the religion of truth [i.e. Islam] among the people of the Book [Jews and Christians], until they pay the jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.
[Koran 9:29]

Kill the mushrikun [unbelievers] wherever you find them, and capture them and besiege them, and prepare for them each and every ambush.
[Koran 9:5]

I will cast terror into the hearts of those who have disbelieved, so strike them over the necks, and smite over all their fingers and toes.
[Koran 8:12]

Against them make ready your strength to the utmost of your power, including steeds of war, to strike terror into the enemies of Allah and your enemies.
[Koran 8:60]

Muhammad himself taught that he had a divine calling to fight against Christians and other non-Muslims, and since he is the perfect example for Muslims, this inspires Muslims to imitate him and fight against Christians themselves. From key hadiths:

The Messenger of Allah said: "I have been commanded to fight against people till they testify that there is no god but Allah, that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah, and they establish prayer and pay zakat."
[Sahih Muslim 1:33]

When you meet your enemies who are polytheists [which includes Christians, due to their worship of the Trinity], invite them to three courses of action. If they respond to any one of these, you also accept it and withhold yourself from doing them any harm. Invite them to (accept) Islam; if they respond to you, accept it from them and desist from fighting against them [...] If they refuse to accept Islam, demand from them the Jizya. If they agree to pay, accept it from them and hold off your hands. If they refuse to pay the tax, seek Allah's help and fight them.
[Sahih Muslim 19:4294]

Allah's Apostle said: "I have been ordered (by Allah) to fight against the people until they testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and that Muhammad is Allah's Apostle, and offer the prayers perfectly and give the obligatory charity, so if they perform all that, then they save their lives and property from me except for Islamic laws and then their reckoning (accounts) will be done by Allah."
[Sahih Bukhari 2:24]

7) Conclusion

The apologists for Islam, which tragically includes many Christians, cannot deny either Allah's commands in the Koran, nor Muhammad's example, nor how those commands and examples have been understood and zealously followed by Muslims for fourteen centuries. By its scriptures and by its fruits Islam is revealed to be anti-Christian, and Allah is revealed as commanding brutal opposition to followers of the Christian God, unless they convert to Islam or at the very least submit to its domination and pay the jizya.

[...] I would go so far as to say that Muhammad -- and therefore Islam -- is revealed to be of the spirit of the Destroyer [...] who is "the angel of the bottomless pit" referenced in the Apocalypse of John [Ap 9:11]. It is this "spirit" which is opposed to the Christian God, and which does all it can to degrade, usurp, assimilate and overthrow traditional Christianity.

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