While we enjoyed recently visiting the Ark Experience, a part of the Answers in Genesis ministry of Ken Ham, I was disappointed by the recent article in their Answers magazine March-April 2018 page 51. It is not so much I disagree with the conclusion of the article but rather with the uninformed and “soundbite” quality of it. The article at least provided me an opportunity to discuss what happens when Christians do superficial apologetics. The article appeared under the title “Do Christians, Jews, and Muslims Worship the Same God. The author Todd Friel was correct in pointing out some distinctions between Allah and the God of Abraham. However, the author incorrectly makes the statement that Jesus slammed door on the question of whether Jews Christians and Muslims worship the same God from John 8:19.
First, John 8:19 is being misused here. Mr. Friel uses this verse out of its context. If one examines the verse carefully it is not difficult to see, nowhere is Jesus in that verse accusing the Pharisees of worshiping an entirely different deity rather he is stating that they are not honoring the deity that they are seeking to worship. Scripturally as far as the Pharisees are concerned, The God of their forefathers is the one true God. Let us examine whether the New Testament indicates that the Pharisees do indeed worship the same God that Christians worship Paul clearly states in Acts 23:6, Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee; concerning the hope and resurrection of the dead I am being judged!” The Greek phrase “I am a Pharisee” ἐγὼ Φαρισαῖός εἰμι uses the present indicative form of the verb, this clearly indicates that Paul continues to regard himself a Pharisee even after he was saved. If the author of the article in the Answers magazine truly believes that the Pharisees worship a different God and Paul calls himself a Pharisee after believing we must then assume that Paul indeed worshiped a different deity after his conversion when Acts is being written. Paul is very clear in Romans 10:2 when he states that the Jews have a zeal for God yet without knowledge. Therefore, he indicates, that the Jews and Judaism do indeed acknowledge the same God. It is clear in the verse, Paul is not stating that they are worshiping a different deity. To the author's credit, he does point out, “things get a bit trickier with Judaism because the Old Testament God is “the Father” of the Christian Trinity… (The author adds the statement that Jesus made it clear Jews who worship one-third of the Trinity) do not rightly worship the true living God. It is interesting the author calls it the “Christian Trinity”, so seemingly Trinity belongs to the Christians, not to the Scriptures. This statement leads to all sorts of problems Abraham was not a Christian and he worships the God of the Old Testament. He clearly was not a classical Trinitarian. While he may have known there was some mysterious plurality in the Godhead he did not know the number of persons or the relationship between them, this is acknowledged by sound theologians and indicated by the principle of progressive revelation. Must we therefore conclude he worship the different deity? One can see how the authors lack of knowledge and inability to make certain distinctions and definitions clear in his article lead to a host of problems. Furthermore, as an important part of the historical background of the Scriptures, a true apologist would be more likely to understand that there were different Judaism’s and that the rabbinical Judaism of today is not the Judaism of Abraham’s day or even the Judaism of Jesus’ day.
I am not sure whether Ken Ham will ever see this blog even though we do share a mutual acquaintance in Dr. John C Whitcomb. But I would encourage my brother to make use of budding apologists and allow them to exercise their gifts and calling. This will produce better articles while avoiding unnecessary and harmful theological errors and questions.