In “Which One God? Comparing the Muslim and Christian conceptions of God,” the renowned and pioneering historian Bat Ye’or reviews — in, of all places, National Review — Mark Durie’s important new book Revelation? Do We Worship the Same God?, which, alas, does not seem to be available at Amazon.
With the passing of time, hidden challenges, which for a long time had been growing unnoticed and unaddressed, can suddenly emerge into the full-blown light of current events with a force which seems quite overwhelming. Today the Western world, or Judeo-Christian civilization, shaken by jihadist terror, is being rudely awakened to theological realities blurred for decades. From clashes of civilizations to the jihad that is declaring to the planet its genocidal intentions, rational discourse concerning faith is becoming increasingly fraught.
It is within this tumult and confusion that Mark Durie, an Anglican minister, has written Revelation? Do We Worship the Same God?, in which he raises a couple of fundamental questions: Who is God? Is God Allah? Do Christians and Muslims worship the same God?
To answer these questions, he analyzes Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and God in Christianity and Islam. The reader is given a concise representation of Muslim and Christian arguments. Such an endeavor needs both solid scholarship and theological training. Mark Durie possesses both, being a theologian and a graduate in the language and culture of the Acehnese, a Muslim people from the north of Sumatra in Indonesia. In addition, the subjects he addresses, in the current context, request much intellectual integrity and courage.
But how to know the identity of “God” in the Koran and in the Bible? The author stresses that this profound and deep question requires engaging with the very essence of God’s identity. With perspicacity and great objectivity, Durie delineates the diverse aspects of his investigations, but he warns that his book should be seen only as guidance, and not the last word.
Durie’s questioning grows from the Koran’s statement that Jesus is a Muslim prophet, named Isa “” a prophet whose birth, life, teaching, and death are found to be totally at odds with the testimony of the Gospels and with Biblical theology. The Koran “” which for Muslims is the literal word of Allah that cannot be doubted “” affirms that Muhammad’s prophetic message is exactly the same as that expressed by the Torah and the Gospels. Since there are many contradictions between the Koran and the Bible, Muslim orthodoxy considers the scriptures of Judaism and Christianity as falsifications of the primal and unique Islamic revelation. It is this accusation that provided the doctrinal justification for the discriminatory legal status of Jews and Christians living under Islam.
In the first section, the author provides information about and reflections upon the Muslim Jesus (Isa). He stresses as fundamental the Koran’s teaching that Islam is the first, primordial religion, preceding Judaism and Christianity, which are dismissed as invalid traditions, being falsified versions of Islam. Because Christianity and Judaism are thought to be a corruption of the pure message of Islam, anything true in these religions comes from their Islamic roots. Consequently, to obey their true religion, Jews and Christians should “revert” to Islam and accept the prophethood of Muhammad.
This implies, writes Durie, that anyone who opposes Muhammad is not a true Christian, nor a true Jew. Seen in this light, the Koranic verses sympathetic to Jews and Christians refer to those who will see the light and find it to be Islam. If Islam recognizes only itself in Judaism and Christianity, one can wonder whether this replacement theology is not the negation of the very principle of recognition of other religions.
Indeed it is. Read it all.