Allah, Yaweh, and the Father
In religion we emphasize our differences thus dividing us. The Muslim faith has its Sunni and Shite factions, Christianity Protestant and Catholic, and Jewish its Orthodox and Reform. Even under each of these banners there are multiple sects with distinctions of division themselves. After a while it is hard to distinguish who are why all the divisions, often built on theology. But is there any common ground?
The three all have the same patriarch, Abraham, who wondered with his people to a land that was foreign to him. Abraham and his wife Sarah had a problem: they had no children, no heir to Abraham’s fortunes. Dismayed over the dilemma, Sarah suggests that Abraham have a child to Hagar, her hand maiden, which he did producing his first off spring, Ishmael. Later an angel visits Abraham and Sarah and prophesies that in spite of her elderly age Sarah will bear a child, which she does, and names him Isaac. In her jealousy she demands that Hagar and Ishmael be kicked out of the family, thus the beginnings of the Arab/Israeli conflict and later Muslim/Jewish faiths that exist today.
Abraham believed in one God, and even attempted to sacrifice his only son to him until God supplied a lamb in the thicket to become the sacrificial lamb. The Muslim and Jewish faith claim that this happened on what is now known as the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, thus today there is a Muslim Mosque on top of the edifice and the Wailing Wall, a section of Herod’s Temple, beneath. It is also the place where Mount Calvary, the site where Jesus was crucified and the Garden Tomb is located. All three religions claim that real estate as sacred grounds to their faith. That is one thing the three have in common.
The other commonality is that father Abraham was a monotheist, one who believed in one God, and all three also recognize that as a tenant of their faith. Muslims call him Allah, Jews Yaweh, and Christians the Father. All three recognize the same Godhead, but with a different name. God having different names in not new, for in the Jewish faith the name for God El is used 250 times in the old testament, Elohim over 2570 times, El Shaddai 48 times, and Adonai over 300 times. So in essence, can we surmise that all three faiths worship the same God, the God of Abraham?
The difference comes in the way they perceive the role of Jesus. To the Muslims, Mohammad is their sacred prophet. They recognize Jesus as a prophet, but not to the degree of Mohammad. To the Jew, Jesus was a good rabbi or maybe even a prophet. But to the Christian Jesus is the Son of God, the Sacrificial Lamb for the sins of mankind; he is more than a prophet.
So if the Christian Church is to evangelize the world dominated by these three religions, could it not start by drawing together our similarities, father Abraham and his faith, then build on his legacy of redemption, salvation, forgiveness, reconciliation, etc. through Jesus as a fulfillment of Abraham’s faith? Instead of throwing rabbis, imams, and pastors into the theological rings of debate to battle it out through theology quoting from their Korans, Torahs, and Bibles, should we not focus on Jesus and his fulfillment of their faith? Should we not look at relationship rather than religion? Like the three major religions, there is a separation of faith, a schism, a divide, that can only come through one source, Jesus. Jesus is recognized in all three religions, so we can build on that recognition to share his real role in relationship to Allah, Yaweh, the Father.
While on earth, Jesus tried desperately to teach about his Father, Yaweh, Allah, whatever man called him. Over and over again the Jew rejected his teachings, but some got it, some understood. It amazes me that in Jewish cultures, they will embrace many religions, but will reject even their own who recognize Jesus as their Messiah. A tool for a global, world wide evangelism could be just examining the relationship of Jesus to the God of Abraham as the item that could unite us in faith.
It amazes me that on Mount Zion the Jewish faith built their temples, the Muslim faith built their mosque, and if allowed, the Christian faith would have built its cathedral, but on that very same site Abraham received a sacrificial lamb for his son Isaac and all three faiths received their sacrificial lamb in Jesus on the Cross on that very site. Maybe the beginning of world wide evangelism should begin with our similarities, the recognition of Abraham as their patriarch of our faith, his belief in one God, the same God of our faith, and the role of Jesus as the fulfillment of our faith. I know of an effective Christian ministry to the Arabs in the Middle East whose foundation is the recognition of our similarities of faith, but the fulfillment of our faith in Jesus.
In a time of anti-semitism and muslim-bashing in America, the American Christian Church needs to find a way to reach out to their Jewish and Muslim Americans to find common ground in faith with them. As relationships are built, barriers fall, trust begins to be established, and then the door opens to share the fulfillment of our faiths in Jesus. This may be a key in the 21st Century world view of evangelism.