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Do All Abraham’s Children Worship Abraham’s God?

A number of thoughts deserve attention. First, the approach outlined above isn’t an open-ended endorsement of non-Christian religions—not even of Abrahamic religions. Yes, we share deep monotheistic roots. But we do have profound differences which mustn’t be denied. Second, this approach brings our attention back to where it belongs: squarely on Jesus Christ. The paramount topic of theological conversation between Jews, Christians, and Muslims isn’t about their general concept of God; rather, it’s all about the person and work of Jesus Christ. All of this debate about whether Jews, Christians, and Muslims worship the same God is an unfortunate and potentially fatal distraction.

The life of faith is primarily a loving relationship with God and with one’s neighbor.

Third, now I return to my earlier statement that “There’s no such thing as a Jewish-Christian-Muslim God!” The Bible declares that God cannot be contained by heaven and earth or in any house of worship (i.e. religion) (Isaiah 66:1; Acts 7:49). God informs us, perhaps even warns us, of God’s own holy and ultimate transcendence.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,

neither are your ways my ways,”

declares the Lord.

 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,

so are my ways higher than your ways

and my thoughts than your thoughts.”[8]

Our attention squarely belongs on Jesus Christ.

Therefore, when I speak of “my” God and “my” Lord, I am not claiming ownership of the transcendent God. God is beyond anyone’s ownership! Rather, I am describing a personal relationship with God. The Lord God isn’t defined by or confined to our conceptions about God. In this sense, there’s no “Jewish God” (a God owned by Jews) no “Christian God” (a God owned by Christians) no “Muslim God” (a God owned by Muslims). God is God! For Christians, what is really more to the point is the reverse—not religions’ ownership of God but God’s ownership of believers. The Church belongs to Christ as the bride belongs to the groom (John 3:29). Christians belong to God as those who have heard God’s word in Christ (8:47). And Christians belong to Christ as the gift of the Father to him; therefore, Christ gives the Spirit to them to make known the otherwise unfathomable depths of divine mysteries (16:15). Accordingly, Christian doctrine and theology can affirm that God isn’t the exclusive property of any particular religion and also that God is definitively and decisively made known in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

God cannot be contained by heaven and earth or in any house of worship.

Jews, Christians, and Muslims differ drastically over the deity of Jesus but share common commitment to monotheism. Furthermore, they differ over the nature of monotheism. Christians affirm a version of monotheism that affirms unity in plurality while Jews and Muslims affirm a version which denies the possibility of plurality within the unity of the Divine Being. Yet, and this part is extremely important, all three ardently affirm the doctrine of monotheism in explicit identification with the God of Abraham. That’s why they’re called Abrahamic religions! Thus Christians may with complete theological consistently admit that they worship they same God while nonetheless insisting that everyone needs to know Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. That’s what makes us Christian.

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Category: Living the Faith, Spring 2016

About the Author: Tony Richie, D.Min, Ph.D., is missionary teacher at SEMISUD (Quito, Ecuador) and adjunct professor at the Pentecostal Theological Seminary (Cleveland, TN). Dr. Richie is an Ordained Bishop in the Church of God, and Senior Pastor at New Harvest in Knoxville, TN. He has served the Society for Pentecostal Studies as Ecumenical Studies Interest Group Leader and is currently Liaison to the Interfaith Relations Commission of the National Council of Churches (USA), and represents Pentecostals with Interreligious Dialogue and Cooperation of the World Council of Churches and the Commission of the Churches on International Affairs. He is the author of Speaking by the Spirit: A Pentecostal Model for Interreligious Dialogue (Emeth Press, 2011) and Toward a Pentecostal Theology of Religions: Encountering Cornelius Today (CPT Press, 2013) as well as several journal articles and books chapters on Pentecostal theology and experience.

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