What are the differences
between Muslim and Christian
beliefs about God?

The word "Allah" is the Arabic word for God, the word used both by Arabic-speaking Christians before the birth of Mohammed, and by Arabic-speaking Christians today. To a devout Muslim, Allah is in many ways similar to the Christian God. Allah is holy, just, infinite, and all-knowing. Jews, too, worship a holy, infinitely powerful God, and share Christian respect for the Old Testament.

The Qurían portrays God as a just and merciful judge, but doesnít teach that human sin and distress cause Him suffering 1 . It emphasizes the incomprehensibility of God more than His holiness 2 and love 3 .

Christians believe that biblical revelation is progressive 4 , fulfilled in Christ. Although the Old Testament describes Godís supreme love ( Exodus 34:6 ; Psalm 86:5; 103:13 ; Isaiah 49:14-18 ; Jeremiah 31:10-20 ; Ezekiel 34:22-31 ; Micah 7:18-20 ; Hosea 2:14-16 ). With the coming of Jesus and the gospel, Christians have the peace that comes with understanding the means by which God offers mercy and forgiveness to His children. In Jesus, God took human form (John 1:14.). Through Jesus we know the infinite, holy God as "Abba," our "heavenly Father."

    He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.
    (Colossians 1:15-20 NKJV)

For Christians, Godís most loving self-revelation is in His Lamb (Genesis 22:8 ; John 1:36 ;
1 Peter 1:19-20 ) through whom Godís love for the human race was expressed in human form
(
Acts 17:3 ; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 ; Hebrews 2:8-10 ).

Godís suffering and grief at human sin and His love for the lost and rebellious begins in the Old Testament ( Jeremiah 3:1 ; Hosea 3:1 ; Ezekiel 34:12 ) resulting in His relationship with a sinful race ( Hebrews 4:15 ; John 10:11 ). It was expressed vividly in Jesusí parable of the prodigal son ( Luke 15:11-31 ) and the gospel descriptions of Peter denying his Lord. 4

The Christian God loves even the lost and the rebellious, and sacrifices Himself for hopeless sinners. ( Romans 5:8 ). The Christian God is the initiator of the relationship between Himself and our sinful race ( Isaiah 53:6 ; John 10:11 ; 1 Peter 2:24 ).

1. According to Islam our sins cannot offend our Creator. God stands too far above us to be directly concerned by our disobedience. When we commit sin we wrong ourselves; God remains unaffected. The following references are from the Qurían: "Whoever transgresses Godís bounds does evil to himself" (65.1; cf. 2:57; 7:160; 18:35; 35:32; 37:113). Our guilt lies only in our disobedience to our Lordís commandments. From the biblical point of view, however, sin is not just a transgression of Godís law but an offence against God himself (Psalm 51:4; Luke 15:18, 21. Sin affects God personally and does not leave him indifferent. (The Prophet and the Messiah, Chawkat Moucarry, IVP, pp. 99-100)

2. In the Christian view, God sees sin with such seriousness that He alone is able to provide its remedy. The God worshiped by Christians is embodied in the Lamb of Godó the Messiah. Jesus reveals the intensity of Godís concern for the human race. This is a continuation of the theme of Godís suffering and grief at human sin and unbelief that is found in the Old Testament (Judges 10:16; Isaiah 40:11; 53; Jeremiah 3:1; Hosea 3:1).

3. Muslims do not see God as their father or, equivalently, themselves as the children of God. Men are servants of a just master; they cannot, in orthodox Islam, typically attain any greater degree of intimacy with their creator. (Shabbir Akhtar, A Faith For All Seasons, Chicago, Ivan R. Dee Publisher, 1990, p. 180)

4. Christians view biblical revelation as progressive. That is, as we proceed from Godís earliest word to us in the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible) and continue through the historical books, the books of poetry, and the prophetic books, we see that God reveals more and more of His nature and His will to man. The patriarchs, statesmen, poets, and prophets of the Old Testament did not have a clear understanding of the redemption that was to be offered on their behalf through the Lord Jesus Christ. They did not even have a clear understanding of the nature of life after death. However, as God progressively revealed more and more of His nature to the men of Old Testament times, He did make it clear that His greatest revelation was to come in His Messiah. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, revealed Godís nature to us perfectly in the form of a human being. In Jesus Christ (the Greek term Christ actually has the same meaning as the Hebrew term Messiahó "anointed one") we have become aware of Godís love and grace in a manner not possible during past ages. Written by:
Dan Vander Lugt

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