The Same God?

February 2009 and September 2010

Given that, from a theological perspective, God is central to human flourishing, what difference does the fact of religious diversity make to such a perspective? Do even the three Abrahamic religions worship the same God?

The consultations immediately preceding The Same God? investigated what it means for human beings to flourish—and of the centrality of God’s power and activity to our highest flourishing considered from the standpoint of Christian theology. But what difference do alternate religious standpoints make to such an account of human flourishing, and how are we to consider the “God” invoked in “God and Human Flourishing” given religious pluralism? Specifically, to what extent can one assume the sameness of the God of Judaism, Christianity and Islam—the three great monotheistic faiths whose followers comprise over half of humanity?

This question has a significant bearing on human flourishing: if God is integral to human flourishing, then whether this majority of humanity is worshipping the same God is a poignant question. Many Christians agree that Jews, Christians and Muslims do worship the same God, although many more Christians hold this to be true with regard to Judaism than to Islam. What remains rather unclear and largely unexamined in scholarly literature is the exact basis on which Christians claim that they do (or do not) worship the same God as Jews and Muslims—a central point of investigation for this consultation.

Select papers from this consultation were published in a volume by Eerdmans Publishing Co. titled Do We Worship the Same God?

Contributing Scholars

Bruce Chilton
Bard College

Bruce Chilton is Bernard Iddings Bell Professor of Religion at Bard College. He is also Chaplain of the College and Executive Director of the Institute of Advanced Theology. He was formerly Lillian Claus Professor of New Testament at Yale University. He is the Founder of Journal for the Study of the New Testament and The Bulletin for Biblical Research. He wrote the first critical commentary on the Aramaic version of Isaiah, and received Evangelical Scholars Fellowship from Whitney Humanities Center at Yale University.

“Alleging the Sameness of God for Christianity, Islam, and Judaism” 

Alon Goshen-Gottstein
Elijah Interfaith Institute

Alon Goshen-Gottstein is the founder and director of the Elijah Interfaith Institute. He has held academic posts at Tel Aviv University and has served as director of the Center for the Study of Rabbinic Thought, Beit Morasha College, Jerusalem. From 1989 to 1999, he was a member of the Shalom Hartman Institute for Advanced Studies, Jerusalem, where he also served as director for interreligious affairs.

“God Between Christians and Jews - Is it the Same God?”

Jacob Neusner
Bard College

Jacob Neusner is Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of the History and Theology of Judaism at Bard College. He is also Senior Fellow at the Institute of Advanced Theology. He has received fellowships from Fullbright Foundation, Guggenheim Foundation, National Endowment for the Humanities, and American Council of Learned Societies. He has written or edited hundreds of books, including Theology of the Oral Torah (1998) and Theology of the Halakhah (2001).

“Do Monotheist Religions Worship the Same God: A Perspective on Classical Judaism” 

Peter Ochs
University of Virginia

Peter Ochs is Edgar M. Bronfman Professor of Modern Judaic Studies at University of Virginia, where he teaches Jewish philosophy and directs a graduate program in Abrahamic scriptural traditions (“Scripture, Interpretation, and Practice”). He is also the Co-founder of the Society for Scriptural Reasoning.

“Do We Worship the Same God?”

Amy Plantinga Pauw
Louisville Seminary

Amy Plantinga Pauw is Henry P. Mobley Jr. Professor of Doctrinal Theology at Louisville Seminary. She is general editor for Westminster John Knox Press’ theological commentary series, Belief, and serves on the board of the Louisville Institute. She receive a Henry Luce III Fellowship in Theology for 2012-2013 for a project on Wisdom Ecclesiology.

“The Same God?”

Christoph Schwöbel
University of Tübingen

Christoph Schwöbel is Professor of Systematic Theology and director of the Institute of Hermeneutics and Cultural Dialogue at the University of Tübingen. He previously taught at the Universities of Marburg, Kiel, and Heidelberg, as well as King’s College at the University of London. Die Religion des Zauberers. He has many publications in both English and German, including Theologisches in den großen Romanen Thomas Manns (2008), Gott in Beziehung (2002), and God: Action and Revelation (1992).

“The Same God? The Perspective of Faith, the Identity of God, Tolerance and Dialogue” 

Reza Shah-Kazemi
Institute of Ismaili Studies

Reza Shah-Kazemi is a Research Associate at the Institute of Ismaili Studies with the Department of Academic Research and Publications. He is also Managing Editor of Encyclopaedia Islamica, the English translation and edition of the on-going multi-volume Persian Great Islamic Encyclopaedia. He is an author who specializes in comparative mysticism, Islamic studies, Sufism, and Shi’ism, and also the founding editor of the Islamic World Report.

“Do Muslims and Christians Believe in the Same God?”

Denys Turner
Yale Divinity School

Denys Turner is Horace Tracy Pitkin Professor of Historical Theology at Yale Divinity School. Prior to his appointment at Yale, he served as the Norris-Hulse Professor of Divinity at Cambridge University. His area of concentration is the study of the traditions of Western Christian mysticism, with special emphasis on doctrines of religious language and selfhood and on the links between the classical traditions of spirituality and mysticism and the social and political commitments of Christianity.

“Christians, Muslims and the Name of God: Who Owns It, and How Would We Know?”

The God and Human Flourishing consultations are sponsored by the McDonald Agape Foundation.