On January 23, 2016 (yes – dated but the post just popped up) Rev. Franklin Graham wrote, “I can tell you – Islam and Christianity clearly do not worship the same God.” Let’s be very clear, scripture confirms the God of Islam and of Christianity is the same, although Christians and Muslims may not worship the same God.
This story popped up in my feed and it begs for an answer. So I’m going to dive into the deep end on this one. (Administrative note: I have zero professional theological training and am entirely unworthy to hold the coat of the likes of Franklin Graham.) Having said that, I’m fully aware this post will ruffle some feathers.
Franklin Graham is picking at straws and his statement is misleading, unfortunately. Here’s why.
In Genesis 16 we learn that Abram had a son, Ishmael, born to his wife Sarai’s hand maid, Hagar. Now Ishmael was born out of Abram’s impatience and Sarai’s doubt. Nonetheless he is Abram’s true firstborn child. This is the same Abram/Abraham that is the father of Israel. Fifteen years after Ishmael’s birth, Abraham’s first wife, Sarah, bore Isaac as foretold by God himself – this is the Isaac of “the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”
The births of Ishmael and Isaac are the points in history where Christianity, Judaism and Islam diverge. The cannon of the three great religions follow the same path until this point when man (Abram/Sarai) tries to intervene and do God’s work for him. After Isaac’s birth, Christianity and Judaism continue to follow Isaac, for we learn in Genesis 17:19-21 that God chose Isaac with whom to make His covenant. However, we also learn that God blessed Ishmael and made him a great nation as well – twelve tribes and all. Islam follows Ishmael, Abram’s true firstborn son.
So from a technical standpoint, Franklin Graham is right, even though his statement is misleading. The God of Islam and the God of Christianity is one and the same. However, considering that Islam doesn’t recognize Jesus as the Son of God and Christianity establishes the Son as the only path to salvation, then it’s safe to say the two religions don’t “worship” the same God.
I’ve written all of that to affirm this: The God of Islam is the God of Christianity – so says God himself. (Gen 16 & 17) And while the three religions may not worship the same way, we can build understanding on that common ground. Plus, if you go back and read those two chapters you’ll also discover why there will never be peace between Islam and Judaism/Christianity. (Spoiler alert!)