April 1, 2011
The "Allah" Issue
Do Christians and Muslims worship the same God?
The latest issues of Christianity Today includes an interview with Yale professor Miroslav Volf about his new book Allah: A Christan Response. Volf grew up in Yugoslavia where Christian and Muslim communities have cooperated and clashed. The dedication page of his book says,
To my father, a Pentecostal minister who admired Muslims, and taught me as a boy that they worship the same God as we do.
In the book and CT interview, Volf says there are very clear differences between the Christian and Muslim understandings of God--the Trinity being chief among them. But this alone shouldn't cause us to ignore that which we share in common. And his interest isn't merely theological. He recognizes that living in peace depends on the outcome of this conversation. Volf writes:
“Muslims and Christians will be able to live in peace with one another only if (1) the identities of each religious group are respected and given free room for expression and (2) if there are significant overlaps in the ultimate values that orient the lives of people in these communities. These two conditions will be met only if the God of the Bible and the God of the Qu’ran turn out to embody overlapping ultimate values, that is, if Muslims and Christians, both monotheists, turn out to have a ‘common God’” (pages 8-9).
What do you think? Is this an important conversation to have, or is it a non-starter? And is there a difference between saying the Christian and Muslim understandings of God share some important aspects, and Volf's assertion that we have a "common God"?