Suppose, for the sake of argument, that you are an Arian, one of those 4th-century Christians who believed that Jesus Christ was of a similar substance as God the Father rather than, as believed by Christians who follow the Nicene Creed, of the same substance. Do you worship the same God as the Nicene Christians?
In one sense you don’t, because your understanding of the nature of one of the persons of the Trinity differs from theirs. But in another sense you do, because the God in question is the one who, you all believe, created Adam, made covenants with Abraham and Moses, spoke through the prophets, and manifested Himself in Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
This, in an heretical nutshell, is the problem with the question Jeffrey Weiss rings the changes on over at the CNN Belief Blog; namely: “Do Christians, Muslims and Jews worship the same God?” If “same God” means that members of these faiths have identical conceptions of God’s nature, then the answer is obviously no. And by that standard, all Christians do not worship the same God, nor do all Muslims, nor do all Jews.
But if “same God” means that the three faiths are, despite profound theological differences, pointing to one supernatural being in particular, then they cannot be worshiping different gods. Those who deny that such a being exists will, naturally, tend to see nothing more than the different conceptualizations. But for believing Christians, Muslims, and Jews, it’s hard to resist the belief that it’s the same God that all are worshiping, mistaken though the others’ conception of that God may be.
Lurking behind the question these days is the sense that if, a la the Hebrew Bible, there are different gods in play, then it’s my god against your god (cf. Gen. Jerry Boykin), and conflict among the adherents is more likely. Lincoln knew better. As he famously declared in his Second Inaugural about the two sides in the Civil War, “Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other.” Enough said.