Quite literally, the Islamic term "Allah" translates as "god," but Allah and the Christian God are not the same deity.
Wheaton College suspended professor Larycia Hawkins for making the bold claims, but the action brought the discussions of "Chrislam" to the forefront of American religious dialogue.
"To affirm this truth (of the true Christian God) is not to argue that non-Christians, our Muslim neighbors included, know nothing true about God or to deny that the three major monotheistic religions — Judaism, Christianity and Islam — share some major theological beliefs," writes Albert Mohler, the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
"All three religions affirm that there is only one God and that he has spoken to us by divine revelation. All three religions point to what each claims to be revealed scriptures," he continues. "Historically, Jews and Christians and Muslims have affirmed many points of agreement on moral teachings. All three theological worldviews hold to a linear view of history, unlike many Asian worldviews that believe in a circular view of history."
However, that is where the comparison ends, Mohler writes, saying there is no genetic link between Christianity and Islam.
Christians believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, born to a virgin to fulfill God's promises. He was crucified, resurrected and will return once more. Jesus is one of three in the trinity, therefore, He is God, as well.
In Islam, Mohler writes, to believe this would be blasphemy to Allah.
"Hard times come with hard questions, and our cultural context exerts enormous pressure on Christians to affirm common ground at the expense of theological differences. But the cost of getting this question wrong is the loss of the Gospel," Mohler writes. "Christians affirm the image of God in every single human being and we must obey Christ as we love all people everywhere as our neighbor. Love of neighbor also demands that we tell our neighbor the truth concerning Christ as the only way to truly know the Father."
The debate rages on, however, dividing the religious community as many promote "tolerance" as the answer.
"But we ought to focus now on how that principle of religious tolerance extends liberties to the professor and to the school," writes The Chicago Tribune's editorial board. "Remember that this tolerance protects a fragile freedom. It is rooted less in fear of institutions imposing their beliefs on individuals than on bloody histories of governments dictating which institutions can even exist. Here, we give the individual and the institution wide latitude in the religious realm. Even when it's infuriating or frustrating or just goes against our grain, at our best we're consistently ... tolerant."
Even Pope Francis has claimed Muslims and Christians are "brothers and sisters."
After terrorist attacks around the world, millions gathered for "interfaith" services.
And at Washington's National Cathedral, interfaith leaders gather frequently to pray together to emphasizing moving "beyond tolerance."
But these moves for "tolerance" and promotion that Christianity and Islam are fundamentally the same astounds many, including prominent evangelist Franklin Graham.
"Can you believe this Wheaton College professor who says she's going to wear a hijab for the holidays this year to show solidarity with Islam? Shame on her!" Graham posted on Facebook recently. "She said that Muslims and Christians worship the same God. Well she is absolutely wrong—she obviously doesn't know her Bible and she doesn't know Islam."
To promote the two as the same would doom America to ignore the truth of the gospel.
"We must also understand that the most basic issue is the one Jesus answered with absolute clarity. One cannot deny the Son and truly worship the Father. There is no question that the Muslim is our neighbor, but there is no way to remain faithful to Scripture and the gospel and then claim that Christians and Muslims worship the same God," Mohler writes.
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