Christianity, Islam and Judaism collectively are called the three Abrahamic religions. This is because all three faiths honor Abraham and see him as the beginning of their faith or as starting the religious lineage of which their faith is a part. As such, there are a number of similarities between the three religions. There are also, however, a number of differences.The three Abrahamic religions form a religion family, and no one would disagree with the assessment that they are three very different faiths. What is sometimes debated is whether or not the three religions worship the same God. This question has been hotly debated by laypeople of all three religions, religious experts from all three faiths, academic scholars, theologians and religious historians. There are books written on the subject with evidence both supporting and denying the claim that the Abrahamic religions share a God as well as a distant founder. So, what are some of the arguments for and against the idea that Christians, Muslims and Jews all worship the same God?
In FavorAll three Abrahamic religions are defined as monotheistic. They all claim that there is one God, and they worship Him. In the texts of all three religions, God is defined as the “God of Abraham.” As the name “Abrahamic” suggests, Christianity, Judaism and Islam all trace their faith back to Abraham. He is the one with whom God made His covenant and from whom later faith leaders came. All three religions claim to trace their worship back to Abraham without ever having broken the chain.
Islam and Christianity also both identify Judaism and its stories as the forerunner of their religion. Islam also claims Christianity as a religious forerunner. In Christianity, Christ is the Messiah the Jews were waiting for from the beginning. In Islam, Moses and Jesus were both great prophets sent by God ahead of Muhammad. Both Christianity and Islam seem to agree that they are worshipping the same God as Judaism. They argue that the Jews are worshipping God incorrectly or incompletely, but they do not claim that the Jews are worshipping a different God.
The three Abrahamic religions also share a number of the same stories and the lessons those stories carry. Islam, Christianity and Judaism all honor Moses and the prophets of the Old Testament. Islam also honors Christ. Furthermore, all three religions see worshipping a false or different God as one of the worst if not the worst sin a person can commit. They also agree on the power of prayer and, to a certain extent, pray in similar manners. God even has a similar personality in each faith. When the holy books of all three faiths are read in their entirely, God appears to be kind, merciful and benevolent toward those who are righteous and follow His laws and listen to His prophets. Toward the enemies of His people and the unrighteous, He is harsh, strict and terrifies with His power. These are far more similar than many closely related religions can claim, and there are no other large, distinct religions that are as closely related and intertwined as the three Abrahamic faiths.
In OppositionAll three Abrahamic religions claim to be the correct way to worship the God of Abraham. No one can deny, however, that Muslims, Christians and Jews all worship differently. If all three religions follow the same God, why do they worship in different ways? Did God demand something different of each people? The answer from each religion would be that they are worshipping correctly and the other religions misunderstood or made a mistake that has led to their descendants worshipping incorrectly. Accepting this answer, however, requires accepting that one of the three faiths is correct and the others are wrong.
Arguing that the three religions all come from Abraham and his faith also runs into a similar problem. Jews and Christians both trace their faith back through the line started by Abraham and Sarah’s son, Isaac. Muslims, however, trace their religious lineage to the son of Abraham and Hagar, Ishmael. This may or may not be a problem from a worship or theological standpoint, but it is worth mentioning.
One could argue that doctrine is created by man, but since all three religions have very different rules that are supposedly from the same God, it does need to be addressed. Islam and Judaism both have specific purity codes that prohibit certain foods. Christianity does not. Christianity is defined by the doctrine of the Trinity and the divinity of Jesus. Islam and Judaism both disagree with the idea of the Trinity and the idea that Jesus was the Son of God. Islam holds that He was a prophet. Some Jews agree with this assessment while others believe Jesus was at best insane and at worst an agent of evil sent to lead people astray.
Evil and sin are also ideas on which the religions disagree. Islam, for example, believes that when a person is judged their sins and virtues are weighed against each other. If virtue wins, the person earns Paradise. Christians, however, believe that entrance into heaven depends on God’s grace and Jesus’ salvation. Where sin came from and what role, if any, Satan plays in creating and encouraging sin also varies between the three religions as do beliefs in angels, demons, jinn and other spiritual beings.
Islam, Christianity and Judaism share a great deal of history and have more in common with each other than any other set of major religions on the planet. As such, some people both inside and outside the religions claim that the Abrahamic faiths all worship the same God. Whether or not that is true is a subject of hot debate, and both answers lead to more and equally pressing questions. So far, however, no one has been able to give an answer to the question that satisfies everyone, and it is unlikely that anyone will succeed in doing so. After all, the three Abrahamic faiths together contain more than half the human population. Finding something that 4 billion people can agree on, especially in a matter as important and personal as faith, would certainly be a modern day display of the incredible power all three religions attribute to God. What a miracle to remember that would be.