During the holy season of the Resurrection and the Jewish Passover, I had been approached by those promoting different theologies – some popular, some not so popular – all claiming to worship the one true god. Since what you believe about God is the most important issue you will ever ponder, I thought it appropriate to have a conversation about the God worshipped by the world’s three largest religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The common foundation for all three belief systems is that Abraham and Abraham’s God is whom they worship – or do they? For Catholic and Protestant Christians, who claim that Christ is the son of God and part of the Holy Trinity, the theological differences present an additional and somewhat unique dimension. While all proclaim monotheistic doctrines, Christians also believe their one true God exists in a triune form, known as the “Trinity.” While it is true that the word “trinity” does not appear in the sacred texts, it should be noted that the word “Godhead” does and scholars have argued that Elohim is the plural name for God as opposed to Eloah, which would be singular. If the Christians are right, the deity of Christ should be at the forefront of any serious theological discussion – as it directly impacts the character and nature of the monotheistic God.
Christians believe Christ to be the Messiah prophesized about in over 300 Old Testament prophecies that came true within his lifetime – starting with his virgin birth in the little town of Bethlehem, and ending with his betrayal for 30 pieces of silver and his crucifixion, as detailed by Zechariah and Elijah. It should be noted that spin-offs of the Christian faith, believe that Christ is King and Savior, but do not believe as mainstream Christians do that He is the Son of God. The Jews believe in a future Messiah but they do not believe the Messiah was the historical Jesus, whom Christians also call the Son of God. Jews, like Muslims, believe Christ was a teacher or prophet. Contrary to the Jewish and Christian belief in the Messiah – whether fulfilled in the life of Christ or to be fulfilled in the future, Muslims believe that God has no son and that the Christian faith is polytheistic. The top of the Dome of the Rock expresses this belief in many ways by numerous writings on the top of the Dome stating that God has no son. Therefore, the primary division among the world’s three largest organized religions and many spin-offs all revolve around the deity of Christ. Is he a teacher or prophet, or is he the Son of the living God and part of the Godhead?
As C.S. Lewis so poignantly pointed out, since Christ claimed to be the son of God, he can only be a lunatic, a liar, or the real deal (excuse the paraphrasing). But more importantly, who did Jesus say he was. When Jesus was questioned by the Jews in John 8:56-59, he answered:
Your father Abraham was overjoyed to see My day. He saw it and was glad.” Then the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old and you have seen Abraham?“Truly, truly, I tell you,” Jesus declared, “before Abraham was born, I AM! At this, they picked up stones to throw at Him.
This may seem like an awkward statement to us today, but to the Jews it was blasphemy. They understood that Jesus was claiming to be God – I AM – the God that spoke to Moses and gave him the 10 Commandments. For this claim, the Jews wanted to stone him to death. (More Scriptures that support the theology of Jesus being God can be found in my book “Is Jesus God?”)
While the deity of Christ remains a foundational issue for some of the world’s largest religions, there is something else that God said to Moses on Mt. Horeb that deserves consideration. But first a little history. All three religions acknowledge Abraham as the Father of their faith. Abraham was instructed by God to leave his homeland of Ur (modern day Iraq). Abraham had two sons: Isaac by his wife Sarah, and Ishmael by his wife’s servant Hagar. Ishmael was the elder of the two boys, who was later exiled with his mother Hagar after Isaac was miraculously born to the elderly Sarah. Ishmael is acknowledge by many to be the father of the Arabs, while Isaac is acknowledged to be the father of the Jews.
Here’s where things get interesting. At the time of Abraham, Ur of the Chaldeans worshipped the moon god Nanna, who reigned supreme over all other gods. Today the Arab nations call their god Allah, which name is pre-Muhammad. Scholars are still debating the issue, but there is credible evidence to support the idea that Allah was originally known as the moon good Nanna, worshipped by the Chaldeans in ancient Ur, which is now modern day Iraq, and the primary reason God instructed Abraham to leave Ur.
Now let’s assume that Nanna was not the predecessor of Allah and that Allah is really just another name for God, then we are faced with explaining away the curious symbolism of the crescent moon as being the symbol for Islam. And if we manage to explain that away as well, along with the fact that the crescent moon represents the Allah in the same geographical location as it did back in the time of Abraham, then we still have another hurtle to clear in defending the god of Islam as being the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – and this hurtle is perhaps historically insurmountable.
It is believed by most scholars that Moses lived approximately 425 years after Abraham. During that time frame, Abraham’s two sons – Isaac and Ishmael went on to father separate nations – the Jews and the Arabs, respectively. Within that time span, the Jews – or Hebrews as they were then known – lived in Egypt for 400 years, of which they were enslaved for a substantial amount of time.
Getting to the point. When Moses spoke to the burning bush (which Scriptures acknowledge to be God – see Exodus 3), God identifies himself as the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. He does not identify himself as the God of Ishmael, who historically had existed at the same time as Isaac. This point is too important to miss. The God of the Old Testament, frequently referred to as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, is not the god of Ishmael. And if symbolism plays any role in understanding the faith of these religions, then the crescent moon (the symbol of Islam) speaks volumes. For it is now as it was at the time of Abraham, a false religious system – and one which the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob does not recognize.
About the Author
Mychal S. Massie is an ordained minister who spent 13 years in full-time Christian Ministry. Today he serves as founder and Chairman of the Racial Policy Center (RPC), a think tank he officially founded in September 2015. RPC advocates for a colorblind society. He was founder and president of the non-profit “In His Name Ministries.” He is the former National Chairman of a conservative Capitol Hill think tank; and a former member of the think tank National Center for Public Policy Research. Read entire bio here