I taught comparative religion at a university for many years, as well as many music classes in world musics and have long believed that Yaweh, Jehovah, and Allah are all the same God and that all three religions agree with this. The difference is in their approach to salvation and of course to Jesus. To the Jews Jesus was a prophet or a trouble maker depending on who you ask. The Muslims revere him too but only Christianity holds Jesus to be God. Personally, I see Jesus as the human form of God.
My question is: is it correct to say that Yaweh, Jehovah, and Allah are the same deity? I have believed this for many decades.
Hello Dr. W,
Thanks for writing. Yahweh and Jehovah are certainly the same God. In fact, Jehovah is simply a different vocalization of the same name Yahweh. Both are desrived from the same tetragram YHWH (or JHVH). The former is more in keeping with Hebrew pronunciation, which does not include a "J" sound in the alphabet. The King James Version contains the Anglicized "Jehovah" but modern scholars favor "Yahweh."
"Allah" is not only the name by which Muslims address the deity, but it is the ordinary Arabic word for "god." The Arabic language already had this word before the time of Mohammed, and it is the word that all Arabic-speaking people (including Arabic-speaking Christians) use when speaking of God. Though the Arabic word was already in use before his time, Mohammed made the word a proper name for the one, true, divine Creator, just as we have often done with the English word "God."
There are two theories among Christians about the Allah of Islam. One theory is that Allah cannot be identified with Yahweh because too many of the former's characteristics are unlike those of Yahweh. These differences largely have to do with differences in the two deities' respective dispositions. This theory, it seems to me, overlooks the fact that there is a real God—whether regarded as Allah or Yahweh, or any other label—who exists independently of the various theological propositions that different religions may propose about Him.
This raises the question of whether people who affirm mistaken propositions about God are talking about a different God, or simply mistaken about the one true God. To those for whom God is nothing but the sum of theological propositions in their minds, then Allah is certainly not Yahweh.
To those who realized that God objectively exists, quite apart from the views men may hold of Him, the alternative can be considered.
The understanding of God held by most Christians is trinitarian. The Jews had no Trinity in their theology—yet Jesus said that the one they called their God was one and the same as His Father (John 8:54). Is the Jewish (non-trinitarian) God the same as the Christian's (trinitarian) God? Jesus seemed to affirm this to be so.
We know that there is only one true God, concerning whom we possess a reliable revelation, and about whom certain non-Christians theorize differently. Paul said that the "unknown god" whom the Athenians "ignorantly worship" is the same God whom Paul came to proclaim to them (Acts 17:23). Although the Athenians did not yet know His name, nor any correct theological propositions about Him, Paul identified Him as the same God who sent Jesus Christ. This suggests that people who believe incorrect things about God may not necessarily be worshiping a different god than the true one. They may be worshiping the only true God ignorantly.
This does not mean that every god worshiped by the heathen could be regarded as a misidentification of the true God. There are false gods who are actually demons (Deut.32:17; 1 Col.10:20), but there is also the one true God who made all things. When Muslims speak of Allah, it sounds as if the latter is the deity that they have in mind. On the other hand, there are features of their Allah which make some feel that he is a demonic impersonator.
We may never know, in this life, whether God sees the Muslim as a worshiper of demons or as an ignorant worshiper of Himself. In God's estimation, the case may differ from one individual to another. This does not have any bearing, however, upon the Muslim's need to be converted and become a disciple of Jesus.
To suggest that some heathen may ignorantly worship "the same God" as we do is not the same thing as saying that they worship Him acceptably. In the Old Testament, Yahweh was quite particular about how Israel must worship Him, and even killed two priests for worshiping Him contrary to His instructions (Lev.10:1-2). It should be remembered that these priests were very well aware of the worship order that they were flouting, and were not innocent. From this story we cannot safely extrapolate how God may judge those who worship Him unacceptably, but sincerely, due to unavoidable ignorance.
The Christian assertion is that Jesus is "the Savior of all men" (1 Tim.4:10). This may not be the same as saying that all men are saved, but could mean merely that all men who are saved are saved by His merits, and by nothing else. Many Christians believe that Christ can only save those who actually hear about Him correctly, and believe in Him. This may be the case, though the Bible is less specific on this point than many believe. The Bible does say that those who believe in Jesus are saved, and that those who disbelieve (perhaps having heard, but rejected Him) are lost. Specific statements about those who have never heard are not easy to locate.
If Abraham and the Old Testament saints were saved—as the Bible affirms they were, though they never knew the name of Jesus and did not know specific details of the Gospel as we know them now—then the same may be true of some individuals of other lands and faiths who, like those in the Old Testament, have less information than we have. God knows all things. We do not. It is He who "will judge the secrets of men" (Rom.2:16).
"The Lord knows those who are His" (2 Tim.2:19), and when there were, as yet, relatively few Christian believers in Corinth, God told Paul "I have many people in this city" (Acts 18:10). I don't know if this statement refers to persons who would inevitably be converted in the future, or to people who were sincere, but ignorant, seekers after God, and were already viewed favorably by Him—as was the case with Cornelius (Acts 10:1-4). Of course, even Cornelius, and those as yet unconverted in Corinth, needed to hear the Gospel in order to become followers of Jesus—but, like Abraham, they may have been viewed favorably by God for their hearts' disposition, even before they had the opportunity to be converted.
According to scripture, God will judge every man, not according to his access to information, but according to his deeds (Matt.16:27; Rom.2:6ff; 2 Cor.5:10; 1 Peter 1:17; Rev.20:13), which is why we need the repentance, grace and transformation granted by Christ through the Gospel.
If persons who "worship ignorantly" can be saved, it can only be as a result of Christ's sacrifice that this is so. Thus, "no man comes to the Father but through [Jesus]" (John 14:6). That Christ may save many, for whom He died, but who never heard or quite understood the Gospel message, is His—not ours— to decide.