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Thursday, March 15, 2012

Do Jews and Christians Worship the Same God?

**Disclaimer: I feel like this is an appetizer platter of an answer to this question. There is lots more to it, and I am by no means an expert!**
I've heard people, people of various religious affiliations, inquire about if Muslims & Christians worship the same God before. To me, that's not really a big question that fills my mind with crazy thoughts - Allah's character is altogether different from God's character. Boom. Done.

Since my freshman year of college, however, I've been thinking about the more puzzling question of whether Jews and Christians worship the same God. It all started when I heard a Christian woman talking about "a nice Jewish lady she worked with." According to this Christian, herself and her nice lady co-worker definitely, hands-down worshipped the same God. I wasn't so sure though. I mean where did the Trinity come in? What about Jesus?!

This concept popped up in my small group last night and got me, once again, thinking about it. Since my fiance is super smart and has, like, 18 books on systematic theology, I asked him what he thought. I think he came up with a pretty good analogy (which, like all analogies will break down at some point, but I think it still helps!). And since I'm pretty much the best artist ever (of stick figures that is), I've illustrated it for you :)

A Jew telling a Christian that they worship the same God is kind of like two guys who have the "same car." Guy 1 (the metaphorical Jew in this situation) pulls up to Guy 2 (the Christian) and says, "Hey man, we have the same car! Cool!" Guy 2: "Uhh, no we don't. Your car is just a shell of my car. It's not going to get you very far because it doesn't even have an engine or wheels or lights."
 (Obvi Guy 2 is headed down the right path because he's jamming out to Carrie Underwood.)
Okay, cheesy, I know. But to an extent it totally works. While Jews recognize the God of the Old Testament, they vehemently neglect Jesus. Because the Trinity is God in three persons, but wholly one, they are in essence rejecting God.

In Romans, Paul talks about the "remnant" of Israel that will come to salvation. In order to come to this salvation, they must ultimately accept Jesus as their Messiah, Savior, and Lord. As Gentiles, we're grafted into God's family if we accept Jesus' sacrifice and triumph over sin and death. Romans 11 says that Jews too can remain on this metaphorical tree of salvation if they accept Jesus or, if they reject Jesus then can turn from their sin and accept him and be grafted back in. 

The question of Jews & Christians worshipping the same God ultimately boils down to salvation and thoughts about the Trinity. Jesus said he was the only way, the only truth, and the only life, and that no one can come to the Father except through him (John 14:6)! While God's covenant with the Jews is still in tact, and he desires all peoples, especially his chosen people, to come to salvific knowledge of him, Jews must ultimately accept Jesus to receive salvation. God the Father, God the Holy Spirit, and God the Son are a one-package-deal. Rejection of one means rejection of all.

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