Are they praying to the same God? (a href="">Zurijeta/Shutterstock

Muslim God, Christian God

Are they praying to the same God?
[ Emphasis and {commentary} in red type by Abyssum ]

By now you will have heard about Wheaton College’s suspension of a professor over a theological matter. An excerpt from the Evangelical college’s statement:

On December 15, 2015, Wheaton College placed Associate Professor of Political Science Dr. Larycia Hawkins on paid administrative leave in order to give more time to explore theological implications of her recent public statements concerning Christianity and Islam. In the interim, College leadership has listened to the concerns of its students expressed through social media, a peaceful demonstration and one-on-one meetings with the administration.

As a Christian liberal arts institution, Wheaton College embodies a distinctive Protestant evangelical identity, represented in our Statement of Faith, which guides the leadership, faculty and students of Wheaton at the core of our institution’s identity. Upon entering into a contractual employment agreement, each of our faculty and staff members voluntarily commits to accept and model the Statement of Faith with integrity, compassion and theological clarity.

Contrary to some media reports, social media activity and subsequent public perception, Dr. Hawkins’ administrative leave resulted from theological statements that seemed inconsistent with Wheaton College’s doctrinal convictions, and is in no way related to her race, gender or commitment to wear a hijab during Advent.

Wheaton College believes the freedom to express one’s religion and live out one’s faith is vital to maintaining a pluralistic society and is central to the very reason our nation was founded, enabling us to live together despite our deepest differences. Equally important is the freedom of religious organizations to embody their deeply held -convictions.

Wheaton College rejects religious prejudice and unequivocally condemns acts of aggression and intimidation against anyone. Our Community Covenant upholds our obligations as Christ-followers to treat and speak about our neighbors with love and respect, as Jesus commanded us to do. But our compassion must be infused with theological clarity.

The freedom to wear a head scarf as a gesture of care and compassion for individuals in Muslim or other religious communities that may face discrimination or persecution is afforded to Dr. Hawkins as a faculty member of Wheaton College. Yet her recently expressed views, including that Muslims and Christians worship the same God, appear to be in conflict with the College’s Statement of Faith.

Two things from me {Rod Dreher}:

1) I am hardly in a position to say, but it seems to me that the conflict between the professor’s statement and the colleges Statement of Faith is not crystal-clear, nor is the absence of conflict. It’s important to note that the college is not passing definitive judgment, only saying that it is suspending Prof. Hawkins until that determination can be made. I support Wheaton’s action here — not because I think Prof. Hawkins is wrong in her theological pronouncement (though she may well be), but because it shows that Wheaton is serious about safeguarding its Evangelical identity. One reason so many Catholic colleges and universities are Catholic In Name Only is because they don’t do this.

I’m quite sure I would draw the theological lines in different places than where Wheaton has, on a lot of things. The point is that I applaud the college for being willing to take a hard, unpopular stand on doctrine — even if I do not necessarily agree with the teaching it is trying to defend.

2. To be honest, I’ve never thought at all about whether Muslims pray to the same God as Christians. The Catholic Church teaches that they do, and that was my belief when I was a Catholic, though I never gave it a minute’s thought. I don’t know what I believe now, to be honest. We know that Muslims do not pray to the Holy Trinity — but this is also true of Jews. Don’t Christians (most Christians) believe that Jews pray to the one true God, even if they have an imperfect understanding of His nature? If this is true for Jews, why not also for Muslims, who clearly adhere to an Abrahamic religion? This is why my tendency is to assume that Muslims do pray to the one true God, even though they have a radically impaired view of Him.

But how far do we go with that? Mormons, for example, are not Trinitarian, which by most orthodox Christian standards put them outside the Christian fold, despite their profession of faith in Jesus. From an orthodox Christian point of view, do they pray to the one true God? Do all non-Trinitarian believers in Jesus Christ? Are they not in the same position as Jews: believers in the one true God,though in possession of a deficient understanding of who He is — which is a very important distinction , but is it meaningful enough to declare that the God to whom they pray is false (as distinct from the same God, seen with {un}impaired vision)?   {The answer to that question is “NO”.}

I’m not sure what I think. I mean, I assume, in charity, that people who intend their prayers to be to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are praying to the true God, whatever they lack in theological understanding. But again, I’ve not given this much thought. How about you? Please, no trolling, and keep your griping about “bigotry” to yourself. This is not about Islamophobia, or headscarves. This is an important theological question, which is why I respect Wheaton for treating it as such.


{The truth is, we worship the God we know.  Since God is altogether OTHER than part of the physical realm in which we live, we cannot know God except as he reveals himself to us.

What can be known about God is perfectly plain to them {pagans} since God himself has made it plain.  Ever since God created the world his everlasting power and deity – however invisible – have been there for the mind to see in the things he has made. Romans 1:19-20

Man’s faith in God did not depend on direct revelation about God through human wisdom such as the prophets of Israel gave to the chosen people.  Faith in God for all men is exemplified by the witness of our Father in Faith, Abraham.


A man is justified by faith and not by doing something the Law {of God} tells him to do.  Is God the God of the Jews alone and not of the pagans too?  Of the pagans too, most certainly, since there is only one God, and he is the one who will justify the circumcised because of their faith and justify the uncircumcised through their faith. Romans 3:28-30


Man’s knowledge of God increased exponentially with the Incarnation of Jesus Christ.  Now man was not dependent on his discernment of God revealing himself through nature but on the testimony of Jesus Christ.  It was only through the testimony of Jesus Christ that man is able to know of the Trinity of Persons in God.

Someone who has come to know God through Jesus Christ is enabled to truly worship God.  All who have not come to know God through Jesus Christ do not really know God and therefore are incapable of that unity with God which genuine worship enables.


In the beginning was the Word; the Word was with God and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning.  Through him all things came to be, not one thing had it being but through him.  All that came to be had life in him and that life was the light of men, a light that shines in the dark, a light that darkness could not overpower.

A man came, sent by God.  His name was John.  He came as a witness, as a witness to speak for the light, so that everyone might believe through him.  He was not the light, only a witness to speak for the light.

The Word was the true light that enlightens all men; and he was coming into the world.  He was in the world that had its being through him, and the world did not know him.  He came to his own domain and his own people did not accept him.  But to all who did accept him he gave power to become children of God, to all who believe in the name of him who was born not out of human stock or urge of the flesh or will of man but of God himself.  The Word was made flesh, he lived among us and we saw his glory, the glory that is his as the only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth.  John 1:1-14

So, do Muslims and Christians and Jews pray to the same God ?  The answer is yes and no}

About abyssum

I am a retired Roman Catholic Bishop, Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi, Texas
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