In Arabic and in Indonesian both Christians and Muslims use the same name, Allah, for God. Both Christians and Muslims desire to worship the one and only true God. However, unless God’s character is irrelevant, then the Gods that they worship must be different.
The prevailing myth that all Gods and religions are essentially the same prevents people from recognizing behavioral differences arising from different belief systems. That thinking error helps explain why popular culture overlooks mistreatment of women and religious minorities in Muslim majority countries. It also explains why popular media won’t report differences in how fundamentalist communities respond to insults. As a result, Evangelical Christians in America become more stigmatized and less free as fundamentalist Muslim violence spreads, because Christianity and Islam must be the same in the minds of most Americans.
Here are two examples of differences between the Judeo-Christian and Muslim Gods:
Example 1: God as trinity or singularity
The Judeo-Christian God is three persons in one essence, while the Muslim God is a single autonomous entity. The Judeo-Christian God follows standards for interpersonal love and accountability as part of his essence in eternity, because he is a trinity. However, morality in relationships is not an essential trait of the Muslim God because relationships do not exist within a singularity.
In chapter one of He Is There and He Is Not Silent Francis Schaefer writes,
Without the high order of personal unity and diversity as given in the Trinity, there are no answers…. The Persons of the Trinity communicated with each other and loved each other before the creation of the world…. This is not only an answer to the acute philosophic need of unity in diversity, but of personal unity and diversity. The unity and diversity cannot exist before God or be behind God, because whatever is farthest back is God. But with the doctrine of the Trinity, the unity and diversity is God Himself — three Persons, yet one God. That is what the Trinity is, and nothing less than this.
Therefore, the Judeo-Christian God is law-abiding in eternal essence, but the Muslim God has no basis for law and order before creation. Consequently, according to the Qur’an, Allah is the best deceiver. But according to the Bible, God may not lie.
Example 2: God’s image in man or nowhere
The Judeo-Christian God created men and women in his own image and incarnates himself in flesh and blood to restore relationship between God and man. The Muslim God has no likeness and may not be likened to anything in creation. He most certainly did not become flesh and blood. If both men and women are in God’s image, then both men and women are equally sacred, and all people are equal before God (including non-Jews and non-Christians). In Judaism and Christianity, sanctity and equality flow from partaking in God’s image. However, in Islam, human worth flows from the way that God created and fated men and women. Men and women do not participate in God’s likeness, and God does not put his likeness into men and women. Consequently, men and women are not equal before the law in Islam. Neither are Muslims and non-Muslims.
Influence of God’s perceived character in society
People become like what they worship, so character differences between Gods influence social relationships. Furthermore, ignoring the differences insults the people for whom God’s character is important. Differences between God in the Bible and God in the Qur’an result in behavioral differences in faith communities. For example, in most Muslim societies women are less respected than men, and Jews are the least respected minority.
Opposite perceptions of God’s opposite
The Bible does describe a spirit that is deceptive, hungry for exclusive worship, and unaccountable, but it is not God. The Qur’an describes a spirit that fabricates stories about Jesus in order to divert people from the “path of God.” For insight on the identity of the spirit in the Bible that oppresses women and hates Jews, see Genesis 3:14-15 and Revelation 12:13. For insight on the identity of the spirit in the Qur’an that leads people astray and into false beliefs about prophets like Jesus, see Surah 6 verse 112 and Surah 19 verse 83.
Follow-up Q & A:
If Jews don’t worship a trinity, then how can a triune God be Judeo-Christian?
Special revelation is progressive, so the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as revealed in the Hebrew Scriptures can be revealed to be triune. Thus the trinity can be “Judeo-Christian” without being specified as such in either ancient or modern Judaism.
Does this logic mean that Jews and Christians do not worship the same God?
If intentions determine the object of worship then Jews, Christians, and Muslims all worship the same God. But intentions are only part of worshiping in spirit and truth (John 4:21-24). Without perfect truth, there is a bit of idolatry in all of us. Jesus is the only one who perfectly knows, worships, and reveals God. We know and follow God by knowing and following Jesus. He alone completely manifests God’s behavior, knowledge, and character (John 14:6).