This is a question that does pop up from time to time. At the moment it is not a hot topic issue, but a background one (at least for this month). Christianity, Islam and Judaism are often referred to as the ‘Abrahamic’ faiths, and you’ll find in many articles on the Middle East describe all these religions as having the same origin, with the ultimate assumption that they all worship the same God.
For many Christians, this is a confusing question. We hear that Muslims have stories in the Koran about Adam and Eve, about Abraham and Moses, and say they worship the God that these historic figures worshipped. Which sounds, on the surface, like they worship the same God.
The simplest approach to deal with this is to say that Christians worship Jesus as God incarnate. That is, Christian believe that God himself became a human being – Jesus – to die in order to pay for the sins of all who will believe. Christians believe Jesus is divine, died and rose from the dead, and is part of a trinitarian God (that is, God has revealed himself to be three persons in one substance – three in one – Father, Son and Spirit).
Muslims do not believe this, and so the conclusion can only be that Muslims do not worship the same God as Christians.
And this is where people then ask about Judaism. Because Jews don’t believe that Jesus is divine, nor do they believe in a trinitarian God. So do we also conclude that Jews don’t worship the same God?
The answer is no.
Because the source of Islam – Mohammad and the Koran – explicitly reject Christian teaching. Their source documents deny the things that God has revealed through Jesus. And so, in order to become Christian, a Muslim must reject Mohammad and the Koran.
But Jews who want to become Christians do not have to reject their source documents – the Law, Writings and Prophets (what Christians call the Old Testament). These are also the source documents of Christianity, and the two are completely compatible. These are the scriptures that Jesus himself used, quoted and fulfilled. I would guess that most Jews who practice Judaism (actively try to follow the Law, Writings and Prophets) know as much about what Christians believe as the average non-Christian in a western society today – which is close to nothing! As such, they are not rejecting Christian teaching, let alone having Christian teaching rejected by their source documents.
Which is the exact opposite for Muslims.