For more than 45 years, since I committed my life to Christ, I have struggled with the question of One God. Not as it applies to Christianity, on that I am clear. But One God for Christians and Jews, and Muslims? Same God? Yes? No? If you believe in one God, and one God for all, then Yes, the same God. But…
I am not a theologian, nor have I studied at length the scriptures. I have been involved for many years in various Bible studies, as well as studies of commentaries and sermons of some of the greats of Christianity, such as Luther, Calvin, Spurgeon and others. For the most part, the group discussions and sharing have been very helpful, interesting and stimulating. But, nevertheless the struggle on this one issue continues.
The following statement appeared in an article from the Los Angeles Chinese Learning Center: “Jews and Muslims greatly stress the oneness and unity of God. The affirmation of the oneness of God by Christians is sometimes misunderstood, because Christians believe that the one God is triune (the Holy Trinity)…this is not a denial of monotheism but an affirmation of the complexity of the Divine Being. All three religions believe that this God is the origin and source of all that exists…(and that) God cares about the entire creation and desires the well-being of all. God is just and has provided basic rules for our guidance so that we may be good and righteous, according to God’s intentions.”
Some years ago, my men’s Bible study group focused on the singular importance of Jesus the Christ in the belief of Christians, against a backdrop, also of singular importance, of One God. Then our discussion turned to the question of One God for all? All faiths — Judaism, Islam and Christianity. One God. Here we trip over certain Biblical passages. The same creator we all worship. But how do we resolve what appear to be great differences, even though all three believe that there is one God?
In Judaism, “The belief that Jesus is God, the Son of God, or a person of the Trinity, is incompatible with Jewish theology. Jews believe Jesus did not fulfill messianic prophecies that establish the criteria for the coming of the messiah. Authoritative texts of Judaism reject Jesus as God, Divine Being, intermediary between humans and God, messiah or saint. Belief in the Trinity is also held to be incompatible with Judaism…” Note: Judaism acknowledges the historical presence of Jesus, as excellent teacher, etc., but he does not qualify as the Messiah according to “authoritative texts”. (Reference Judaism’s View of Jesus in Wikipedia)
For the Jew the daily prayer is: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.”
Islam Today has this reference to Jesus: “It is a critical matter of faith for every Muslim to believe in the original revelations that came down to Moses, David, Solomon and Jesus, just as it is important for Muslims to believe in the revelation of the Quran that came to Muhammad…” Here again the acknowledgement of Jesus!
For the Muslim, part of the five daily prayers is this: llahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, God is the greatest, God is the greatest. I bear witness that there is none worthy of worship but God.
Among the Christian prayers, especially on Sunday is this: “I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, the Maker of heaven and earth.”
One great God, worthy of our worship, worthy of our love. A creator God, who made it all, the heaven, the earth, and the people within. So why are we troubled and in conflict by this?
We all agree that there is one God. That seems pretty straight forward and clear. So, how does a Christian resolve what Jesus tells us in John 14: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” I find no such specific statement in either the Talmud or the Quran. However, Jesus is part of the history of both Judaism and Islam, and, of course, is dominate in the Christian faith.
But wait! What about this: “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. John 10:16 Who are these “other flocks” of which we know little or nothing? And who is the “one shepherd”? I suspect that we shall find out…eventually.
At the core, we humans are fairly simplistic. If we don’t understand something, we create explanations, and then, too often, we legalistically adhere to that explanation and soon it becomes holy writ! We want things anchored in proof! We are not all together comfortable with faith within this body of belief that we call our religion. As a Christian I can identify very specific tenets that anchor my faith, and I am sure this is true to those who embrace Judaism and Islam.
N. T. (Tom) Wright, leading New Testament scholar and retired Anglican bishop, insists that the disciples did not believe in the Resurrection because of the Empty Tomb. He says that they believed in the Resurrection of Christ because they saw Him! Isn’t that so much like us? We want proof, real, touchable proof! For some, faith and belief are very fragile.
In the midst of all of the above is the seed of my confusion and dilemma. I have often said that we make God too small, and when we legally apply boundaries to what God wants of us and what we can do. then we create the grounds for our own confusion. Man made, not God made.
In my imagination, I see God looking down on all this, His creation, smiling and thinking: Those humans, they are funny and very entertaining. I gave them free will and look what they have done with it! I still love them!
For What its worth.