Three and a half billion people—the majority of the world’s population—profess Christianity or Islam. Renowned scholar Miroslav Volf’s controversial proposal is that Muslims and Christians do worship the same God—the only God. As Volf reveals, warriors in the “clash of civilizations” have used “religions”—each with its own god and worn as a badge of identity—to divide and oppose, failing to recognize the one God whom Muslims and Christians understand in partly different ways.
Writing from a Christian perspective, and in dialogue with leading Muslim scholars and leaders from around the world, Volf reveals surprising points of intersection and overlap between these two faith traditions:
• What the Qur’an denies about God as the Holy Trinity has been denied by every great teacher of the church in the past and ought to be denied by Christians today.• A person can be both a practicing Muslim and 100 percent Christian without denying core convictions of belief and practice.• How two faiths, worshipping the same God, can work toward the common good under a single government.
Volf explains the hidden agendas behind today’s news stories as he thoughtfully considers the words of religious leaders and parses the crucial passages from the Bible and the Qur’an that continue to ignite passion. Allah offers a constructive way forward by reversing the “our God vs. their God” premise that destroys bridges between neighbors and nations, magnifies fears, and creates strife.
I want to believe him—I tried to believe him. In the end, Volf himself offered the argument (in order to refute it) that convinced me.Let me rewind. My friend Brian Lachine pointed out that Volf always tells you precisely what he’s going to argue before he begins to write. This book is no different. In the introduction he laid out the main planks of his argument. Volf believes that although there are major differences in the way Christians and Muslims understand their monotheistic deity, there is sufficient overlap in their views to state that they worship the same God. This allows for a much healthier and respectful dialogue moving forward, especially as Muslims and Christians increasingly live together in the same countries.Here are the areas of overlap between the Christian and Muslim views of God: There is only one God God created everything that exists God is good God calls us to love him God calls us to love our neighboursIn addition to these points of unity, Volf wrote in depth on divisive issues like the Trinity and the Christian claim that God is love. His broad argument here is that anything most Muslims would deny about the Trinity would also be denied by orthodox Christians. He goes to the Sufi masters to show how there is a strong movement within Islam to describe their deity as merciful, if not love personified.Here’s my problem: the main points of overlap Volf describes are areas that Judaism and Islam have in common. To be sure, Christians worship the same God as the Jewish people, but none of what makes Christianity distinct is covered by the Muslim view of God.Christianity is centred on Jesus the Messiah, who made God the Father visible. Jesus identified with his creation and died for them. All this—what I understand as more central to the faith than more abstract dogma—is anathema to Muslims.I respect what Volf’s doing. In an era defined by suspicion and news-worthy religious extremism, we need to learn how to love each other and to live together in a civil society. Furthermore, I learned a tremendous amount of history and theology from his book. Unfortunately, I remain unconvinced that Christians worship the same God as Muslims by the criteria Volf himself sets: sufficient overlap of beliefs and practice.read more
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Recent disputes like the "ground zero" mosque controversy have their roots in historical conflicts, according to Yale professor and author Volf (Exclusion and Embrace). The author, who grew up in what was then Yugoslavia, explains that Christians' ability to live in community with Muslims depends on their answer to one question: is the God of the Qur'an the same as the God of the Bible? With a conversational tone and the backing of both sacred texts, the author argues that while beliefs about God may differ, the object of worship for both religions is the same (or at least the objects are "sufficiently similar"). Such "claims are spicy," but come after careful consideration. Volf provides a thorough examination of theology to show the complexity of what seems a simple question of terminology. Perhaps the most stirring and involved debate concerns the comparison of the Christian Trinity to Allah. On such a heated topic, readers will appreciate Volf's sense of humor and optimism. Though the text may not convince those who fear religious pluralism, his timely call for Christian love toward Muslims should at least lead to further dialogue, if not increased social cooperation. This is an important book. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.