Are followers of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam praying to the same God?
“If England and America are two countries separated by a common language,” then Judaism and Christianity are two religions separated by a common Abraham." — George Bernard Shaw
The three Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam trace their origin to the covenant that God made with Abraham. Yet, the characters and teachings of the God of these 3 religions seem so disparate that one wonders whether they are one and the same God.
This hub looks at the characters and attributes of the 3 Gods in order to highlight the major differences.
Yahweh in Judaism
Judaism is NOT a religion for everyone because it is a covenantal relationship between Yahweh and the Children of Israel. The Old Testament tells the Israelites that if anyone should try to secretly seduce them by saying: "Let us go and serve other Gods, ... you must kill him, your hand must strike the first blow in putting him to death and the hands of the rest of the people following. You must stone him to death, since he has tried to divert you from Yahweh, your God." In that the covenant is only between Yahweh and the Children of Israel, Yahweh is a racist and communal God.
Deuteronomy 6:15 of the Old Testament says: "For the LORD, thy God, is a jealous God among you, lest the anger of the LORD, thy God, be kindled against thee, and destroy thee from off the face of the earth." To this, Richard Dawson, author of the book, "The God Delusion", says: "The God of the Old Testament has got to be the most unpleasant character in all fiction, jealous and proud of it, petty, vindictive, unjust, unforgiving, racist... an ethnic cleanser, urging his people on to acts of genocide."
Amazing Differences Between Christianity & Judaism! - Rabbi M. Skobac
Yahweh and Trinity in Christianity
Christians believe in a triune God. Wikipedia says: "The Incarnation in traditional Christianity is the belief that Jesus Christ, the second person of the Trinity, also known as God, the Son, or the Logos (Word), "became flesh" by being conceived in the womb of a woman, the Virgin Mary, also known as the Theotokos (God-bearer)."
John 3:16 says: "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
1 Peter 2:24 says: "He himself bore our sins" in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; "by his wounds you have been healed." To this, Richard Dawson says: "The heart of New Testament theology, invented after Jesus's death, is St. Paul's nasty, masochistic doctrine of atonement for original sin. The idea is that God had himself reincarnated as a man, Jesus, in order that he should be hideously tortured and executed to redeem our sins... not just the original sin of Adam and Eve, but future sins as well, whether we decide to commit them or not."
Unlike the God of Judaism, where Leviticus 24 says:
"And if a man cause a blemish in his neighbour; as he hath done, so shall it be done to him; Breach for breach, eye for eye, tooth for tooth: as he hath caused a blemish in a man, so shall it be done to him again. And he that killeth a beast, he shall restore it: and he that killeth a man, he shall be put to death. Ye shall have one manner of law, as well for the stranger, as for one of your own country: for I am the LORD your God."
Matthew 5:39 of the New Testament says: "But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also."
If you had no idea at all that the God of Judaism is the same God as the Christian God, would you have believed that they are one and the same God?
Three Things You (Probably) Don't Know About Islam
Allah in Islam
By Muslim tradition, Allah has 99 names. Many of these names are similar to those used by Christians to refer to Yahweh, e.g. "Holy", "Creator", "All-Hearing", "All-Seeing", and "Utterly Just". However, Allah also has other names that sound offensive and are often softened in the English translation of Islamic publications, e.g. "Deceiver" is translated as "Planner". Names such as these could never have been attributed to Yahweh. To resolve this dilemma, Islam says that Allah’s attributes are extensions of his will, and not extensions of his person: “His attributes are viewed as subject to His will and not to His nature.”
In Surah Az-Zumar 39:53 of the al-Qur'an, Allah says:
"O my servants! who have acted extravagantly against their own souls, do not despair of the mercy of Allah; surely Allah forgives the faults altogether; surely He is the Forgiving the Merciful."
I have tried to read the al-Qur'an on my own and I must admit that the feeling is not good at all, with every other sentence seemingly a threat of punishment to non-Muslims. Dr. Moorthy Muthuswamy confirms my uneasy feelings when he says: "About 61% of the contents of the Koran are found to speak ill of the unbelievers or call for their violent conquest; at best only 2.6% of the verses of the Koran are noted to show goodwill toward humanity. About 75% of Muhammad's biography (Sira) consists of jihad waged on unbelievers."
Throughout the holy text, the al-Qur'an seems to be saying that if you do not become a Muslim, then Allah will punish you with eternal hellfire. How could such a God be loving or compassionate, except to only His own followers?
The al-Qur'an also says:
"Nothing is right or wrong by nature, but becomes such by the fiat of the Almighty. What Allah forbids is sin, even should he forbid what seems to the human conscience right and lawful. What Allah allows is not sin and cannot be sin at the time he allows it, though it may have been before or after."
Surah 13:39 further says: "Allah doth blot out or confirm what He pleaseth: with Him is the Mother of the Book." Allah is therefore free to “abrogate” the truth or obligations of earlier revelations by way of subsequent revelations. He is also free to forgive or condemn a sinner, or else to to do the opposite as it so pleases Him.
Abraham is said in the Bible to have lived in the 2nd millennium, and so the the founding of Judaism and the founding of Christianity was less than 2,000 years apart, while that between the founding of Christianity and the founding of Islam was about 650 years apart. These durations may seem long by human standards, but are a mere blink of an eye in cosmic time.
Had it not been for the fact that Islam admits that God can change his Will anytime, I would have thought that the 3 Gods of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are 3 different Gods altogether. Yet given the short time span between the changes of God's Will, I can only conclude that God is very fickle-minded... either that, or more unpalatably, He's suffering from a very severe case of bipolar mood disorder... a blasphemy! How then can one explain a God who had himself reincarnated as a man in order that he should be hideously tortured and executed to redeem our sins, and then 650 years later, called for the violent conquest of infidels? One has only to open our eyes and mind to see the difference in personality between the God of the three Abrahamic religions in order to realize that it would make another good Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde story.
Is it any wonder, then, that the followers of the three Abrahamic religions cannot get along with each other, much less, see eye to eye? As a matter of fact, I would be very surprised if they do!
Personally, I would prefer to consider them as 3 different Gods, but that's not what the Scriptures say.