Is “Allah” the Same God as “Yahweh”?

Dr. R. C. Sproul answers this question in an article entitled not its nomina, that determines what it is. In different languages, the same flower is known by different names, but it is still the same flower.

When we apply this idea to theology things get a bit more complicated. Indeed the rose adage has been transferred indiscriminately to religion in order to create a theological concept. The concept is: “God by any other name is still God.” Now certainly, it is true that the immutable essence of God is not changed by the alteration of His name. In English, we may say “God,” in German “Gott,” in Greek “Theos,” yet all these names or words are used to point to the same Deity.

Beyond this, however, things get murky. It is a quantum leap to go from saying that God by any other name is still God, to saying that all the great religions in the world believe in the same Being though they call Him different names.

This irrational leap is prodded by the popular analogy of the mountain. This analogy notes that their are many roads up the mountain. Some progress on a more direct route, while others wind about on more circuitous roads, but sooner or later they all arrive at the same place, at the top of the mountain.

So, it is argued, there are many roads that lead to God. They may be different routes but they all end up in the same place—with God Himself. That is, the differing roads indicate no difference in the God who is found. God’s being, then, becomes the lowest (or highest) common denominator of all religions.

The road analogy is buttressed by the democratic truism that all religions are equal under the law. The fallacy in this axiom is thinking that just because all religions enjoy equal tolerance under the civil law, they therefore are all equally valid. That might be true if there were no God, but then it would be better to say that with respect to their ultimate affirmation they are all equally invalid.

To argue that all religions ultimately believe in the same God is the quintessential nonsense statement. Even a cursory examination of the content of different religions reveals this. The nature of the Canaanite deity Baal differs sharply from the nature of the biblical God. They are not remotely the same. This sharp distinction is also seen when comparing the God of Israel with the gods and goddesses of Roman, Greek, or Norse mythology.

The problem becomes even more complex when we consider that sometimes different religions use the same name for God while their views of the nature of God differ radically. Consider, for example, the religion of Mormonism. It claims to embrace the Bible (as well as the Book of Mormon, Pearl of Great Price, and Doctrine of Covenants) and professes belief in the God of the Bible as well as the biblical Christ. Mormons call themselves The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Yet historic Christianity does not accept the Mormon religion as a branch or denomination of Christianity. Why? Because the Mormon view of the nature of God and of Christ differs sharply at essential points of faith. For example, Mormonism categorically rejects the full deity of Christ. Christ is said to be pre-existent, but not eternal. He is highly exalted—indeed revered—but He remains a creature, not Creator, in Mormon theology.

What about Islam? Islam is one of the largest religions in the world. In the city of Jerusalem, the Dome of the Rock is displayed as one of the most beautiful sacred shrines on the planet. Islam claims to embrace the God of the Old Testament. It holds the biblical patriarchs in high esteem and even accords a certain respect to Jesus as a great prophet, but He pales in significance to Mohammed, who is the supreme prophet in the credo: “Allah is God and Mohammed is His Prophet.”

This forces the question, “Is Allah the same God as Yahweh, only under a different name?” Or we could pose the question in a different way: “Is Allah the God of the Bible?”

The answer to these questions depends first of all on the answer to the question: “Is the God of Christianity the God in the Old Testament, that is, Yahweh?” If the Being who is called “God” in the New Testament is the God called “Yahweh” in the Old Testament, then, manifestly, the God of Islam is not the God of the Bible. As Yahweh continues to reveal Himself through the ministry of Christ and the apostles, it is clear Yahweh is very different from Allah. We cannot legitimately harmonize the theology of Christianity with the theology of Islam. They differ sharply at essential points.

The most obvious difference is with respect to the Trinity. Christians confess the triune nature of God. The language “nature” here may be confusing inasmuch as the Christian doctrine of God affirms that God is one in essence (or nature) and three in person. This means that the distinction of persons in the Godhead is not a distinction of essence, which would leave us with three gods. For precision, we must walk the razor’s edge and say that the distinctions of persons in the Godhead is an essential distinction, yet not a distinction of essence. God is one in being (or essence), but it is important to note the personal distinctions of God, because the Bible goes to great lengths to do so.

Here is a crucial difference between the Muslim understanding of God and the Christian concept: The term “god” does not refer to the same being in each religion because Allah is clearly not triune. For Islam, there is no second person of the Trinity who becomes incarnate and effects our salvation and no third person of the Trinity who applies that redemption to us. So we are left with radically different views of God via the person and work of Christ and the person and work of the Holy Spirit.

There are two other vital differences between Christianity and Islam. Islam has no Cross and no resurrection, articles of the faith that are of the essence of Christianity and of ultimate importance to the plan of the God of the Bible. Mohammed made no atonement for our sins when he died. And when he died, he stayed dead.

There are other crucial differences we could explore of how God is understood in orthodox Christianity and how He is understood in orthodox Islam. It is enough for now to say that Allah and Yahweh are not the same. One is the living God; the other is an idol.

A Sinner Does Not “Decide” for Christ

“[The] term ‘decide’ has always seemed to me to be quite wrong. A sinner does not ‘decide’ for Christ; the sinner ‘flies’ to Christ in utter helplessness and despair saying — Foul, I to the fountain fly, Wash me, Saviour, or I die. No man truly comes to Christ unless he flies to Him as his only refuge and hope, his only way of escape from the accusations of conscience and the condemnation of God’s holy law. Nothing else is satisfactory. If a man says that having thought about the matter and having considered all sides he has on the whole decided for Christ, and if he has done so without any emotion or feeling, I cannot regard him as a man who has been regenerated. The convicted sinner no more ‘decides’ for Christ than the poor drowning man ‘decides’ to take hold of that rope that is thrown to him and suddenly provides him with the only means of escape. The term is entirely inappropriate.”

– D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Facts About Spurgeon you may not know…

2013 it will have been 121 years since the great preacher, Charles Haddon Spurgeon passed away. In memory of him I bring to you 32 things you might not know about Charles Spurgeon.

1. One woman was converted through reading a single page of one of Spurgeon’s sermons wrapped around some butter she had bought.

2. Spurgeon read The Pilgrim’s Progress at age 6 and went on to read it over 100 times.

3. The New Park Street Pulpit and The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit—the collected sermons of Spurgeon during his ministry with that congregation—fill 63 volumes. The sermons’ 20-25 million words are equivalent to the 27 volumes of the ninth edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica. The series stands as the largest set of books by a single author in the history of Christianity.

4. Spurgeon’s mother had 17 children, nine of whom died in infancy.

5. When Charles Spurgeon was only 10 years old, a visiting missionary, Richard Knill, said that the young Spurgeon would one day preach the gospel to thousands and would preach in Rowland Hill’s chapel, the largest Dissenting church in London. His words were fulfilled.

6. Spurgeon missed being admitted to college because a servant girl inadvertently showed him into a different room than that of the principal who was waiting to interview him. (Later, he determined not to reapply for admission when he believed God spoke to him, “Seekest thou great things for thyself? Seek them not!”)

7. Spurgeon’s personal library contained 12,000 volumes—1,000 printed before 1700. (The library, 5,103 volumes at the time of its auction, is now housed at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.)

8. Before he was 20, Spurgeon had preached over 600 times.

9. Spurgeon drew to his services Prime Minister W. E. Gladstone, members of the royal family, Members of Parliament, as well as author John Ruskin, Florence Nightingale, and General James Garfield, later president of the United States.

10. The New Park Street Church invited Spurgeon to come for a 6-month trial period, but Spurgeon asked to come for only 3 months because “the congregation might not want me, and I do not wish to be a hindrance.”

11. When Spurgeon arrived at The New Park Street Church, in 1854, the congregation had 232 members. By the end of his pastorate, 38 years later, that number had increased to 5,311. (Altogether, 14,460 people were added to the church during Spurgeon’s tenure.) The church was the largest independent congregation in the world.

12. Spurgeon typically read 6 books per week and could remember what he had read—and where—even years later.
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Nasty? Really?

Visitor to Monergism.com: You are a nasty spirited site to have a topic labeled “bad theology”. Who made you God?

John Hendryx’s response: Perhaps you fail to see the irony in your email. You yourself are making a distinction yet declare that others cannot make distinctions. You have determined that we are wrong and are promoting something that is bad theology YET you declare that labeling something wrong or bad theology is mean-spirited. Are you not doing the VERY thing you claim to despise? Your entire declaration, therefore, rests on an impossible contradiction. Isn’t this the very definition of hypocrisy? Lesson I hope you will take from this: It is impossible to live and communicate without making distinctions.

Drawing Power

When we look at the context of John chapter 6 we discover there are numerous parallel passages that allow us to get a clear glimpse into what is meant here.

“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him…” is in verse 44.

However, including a new heart to believe. He makes certain that those whom he sets affections on will be saved.

– John Hendryx

Friday Round Up

(1) The theological website of Monergism.com continues to house some amazing online resources. I encourage you to bookmark there’s a variety of resources in this week’s Friday Ligonier $5 sale worth considering. This week’s resources cover such topics as worship, parenting, the arts, a Christian conscience, apologetics, the book of Joshua, the Apostles’ Creed, and more.

I can do all things through Christ

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” – Philippians 4:13

Growing up in England, like most young boys of my age, I loved the game of football. I remember a time (May, 1981) when as a teenager, I was given the privilege of representing my High School in a penalty shoot out competition. Every school in the North West of England were allowed to submit one player. I survived the qualification/knock out rounds and ended up fulfilling a boyhood dream, playing at Anfield, Liverpool Football Club’s home stadium, before a crowd of more than 17,000 people. This was a very memorable night for me, to put it mildly – one I still remember with pleasure. At the time, Liverpool were the greatest team in Europe. Three weeks later, they would be crowned the kings of European football, winning the European Cup once again.

As a boy I had stood on the terraces and watched my favorite team play so many times. Now it was my turn to play there in front of the famous Kop and my emotions were mixed. I was both very anxious and extremely excited.

On the Sunday before this big event, a Christian brother, knowing what I would face and knowing that I was more than a little nervous, told me to focus on the text mentioned above, namely the Apostle Paul’s words to the Philippians in chapter 4, verse 13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

At the time, the text was a real comfort to me and without doubt it became the object of my focus. But now years on, though I was inspired by the text, I do not believe I understood the text correctly. Paul was not referring to winning sporting events in that verse.

In our day, we are far too keen to rush to make application of the text. People want “practical” sermons and practical messages. Well there’s nothing wrong with that. The Bible is intensely practical, yet we need to rightly interpret a verse or passage before we attempt to apply it. The one thing comes before the other. False interpretations lead inevitably to false applications.

How do we ascertain the meaning or interpretation of a text? The answer comes by applying the rules of hermeneutics, which is the science of biblical interpretation. One of the rules to apply is that of “context.” Simply taking the time to read a text in its context eliminates so many false interpretations.

The words “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” have a context, and this context allows us to ascertain what Paul meant by his words. The whole book of Philippians provides a context, and we could take a lot of time to document it, but if we simply look at the few verses before the one quoted here, we immediately see what the “all things” were that Christ would strengthen Paul to do:

Phil 4:10 – I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. 11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

So, what were the “all things” of verse 13 referring to? Running the 100 meter race in less than 9 seconds, perhaps? Breaking the long jump world record? How about swimming the Atlantic in a day? No, the context has nothing to do with sports or human feats of skill. The “all things” refer to the trials of life – the good times and hard times, the times of joy and the times of sorrow; the times of prosperity and the times of lack. And for Paul, this contentment in the face of life’s difficulties or joys was not something that came naturally to him but something that he learned (v. 11, 12).

The application is not that a Christian strengthened by Christ will win a soccer penalty shoot out competition. I scored 2 out of 3 by the way, and while still a notable feat against Liverpool’s goalkeeper Bruce Grobelaar, I still rue the fact that I missed one. I am sure that it remains the legend goalkeeper’s most spectacular save in his illustrious career. 🙂

I also remember being somewhat disillusioned that I did not win the whole competition because I was expecting Christ to “strengthen me” to do exactly that. My disillusion stemmed from a false interpretation and application of the text.

No matter what comes our way in our lives as Christians, we, like Paul, are to learn contentment and go through each trial knowing that Christ Himself will strengthen us to do so. Paul did not write this as a mere promise, as good as this would be. It is more than a promise, it is a statement of fact.. “I CAN do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

It is as if Paul is saying, “I am not going under, for Christ strengthens me.. I will not give up, for Christ strengthens me. Sometimes life is a lot tougher than I would like, and sometimes it seems like I cannot bear its pressures another moment and find myself in deep despair (see his words in 2 Cor 4), yet I know I can endure, because of Christ. Its me.. yes, me, Paul, that does it… and I know I can do and will do it.. but I recognize that its not because of my strength but His. This is not arrogance – this is not some form of puffed up pride in my heart. This is something altogether different. This is a Christ centered confidence – not in myself, but Him. He has not left me alone at any point, nor will He do so now. I am confident, no matter what happens in life, with both its times of severe pressure and its times of euphoric joy, I can handle it all, I can do it all, through Christ, who gives me strength.”

Child of God, no matter what comes your way today, you can go endure it, because first of all, you learn to be content in each circumstance, and secondly, you know that the power that sustains you in such times of great abundance or deep poverty, is Christ’s own power, and He is living in you, and will strengthen you. Of this, you can be sure. You can do all these things because Christ will give you strength.