First of all, I’m not going to try to answer this question in a blog post, nor am I going to argue the answer in Facebook comments… just wanted to get that out of the way.
This year in the Sunday School class that Caleb and I are leading, we’ve been tackling what we are calling “controversial topics”… the format has been mostly discussion based – with different people presenting different views on a topic and then allowing the class to discuss. One of the main goals of the class is to show that there is a wide range of opinions/beliefs on these topics within the Church and that we can disagree and still fellowship with one another. We’ve also strived to model disagreement in a way that is loving and gracious. It’s helped that on most of the topics we discuss, Caleb and I disagree, and clearly we still love each other.
It’s been fun.
The question “do Christians and Muslims worship the same God?” was our most popular topic by far. We all learned a lot, had great discussion, and even though the class was split on how to answer the question, we left with a greater understanding of the others’ views.
Again, I’m not going to try to answer the question in a blog post. But I did want to share some really interesting (to me at least!) info on how different groups answer this question.
Before we started the series, I took an informal poll on my Facebook and in a few Whatsapp groups. Obviously it’s not scientific, and my husband who is buried in PhD work would have a lot to say I’m sure about what crap research it is, but I found the results quite telling.
It was a simple survey with only 3 questions – religious affiliation, location and a yes or no answer to the main question.
I differentiated between practicing and non-practicing Muslims and Christians, because here in Lebanon, one’s religion is intrinsically tied up in identity. So, whether or not a person practices or believes, he will likely still identify as Muslim or Christian.
83% of those who either practice another religion or don’t practice or identify with any religion said that YES, Muslims and Christians worship the same God.
All but one Muslim, whether practicing or not, inside or outside of the MENA region, also answered YES.
At first this surprised me, but as I did some more research and reading of the Qur’an, I realized that several times this question is clearly answered, that Islam is a continuation or fulfillment of the Christian faith. The Bible is considered a Holy Book (albeit corrupt), so it would make sense for Muslims to answer the question in the affirmative.
100% of non-practicing Christians answered YES.
Now among those who self identify as practicing Christians there was a lot more disagreement. Location also seemed to make a difference in how one would answer the question.
Within Lebanon and the MENA region as a whole, practicing Christians were split nearly 50/50. (To be precise, 51% answered YES, 49% answered NO.)
Outside of Lebanon/MENA, 74% of practicing Christians answered NO. This was by far the highest percentage of NO answers. I suspect but can’t be sure, that most of those answering from outside the region are in the US.
Caleb would warn me about making any kinds of conclusions from a Facebook poll. But like I said before, we pretty much disagree on everything, so here I go.
I won’t call them conclusions though, just interesting observations:
– Practicing Christians in the Middle East seem to be struggling the most with this question – or at least there is the most diversity in answers.
– Practicing Christians in the West is the ONLY group that leaned strongly towards a NO answer.