Should Christians Call God “Allah”?

A certain bishop in the Netherlands believes that we should.  I have two comments to make before you read the article below.  First, there are Christians in the Middle East who refer to God as “Allah,” just because it happens to be general word for “God” in the native language they are speaking.  We would still have an incredibly hard time using that term for God, but it is worth thinking about for those who are “on the ground” in those countries.  However, it is emphatically NOT the case that God is unconcerned about who He is.  More to the point, the name of Jesus is the only name given by which men can be saved.  No Muslim will appreciate prayers to “Allah” in Jesus’ name.  Second, notice how this article does not ever treat what the Bible says about God and what God demands.  Rather, the proof against the bishop is that 92% of those polled oppose his idea of calling God “Allah.”  My point here is to notice how easily we adopt the authority of the majority, when God’s Word alone is our supposed to be our guide.

3 thoughts on “Should Christians Call God “Allah”?

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  1. I was just curious to your thoughts on missions, contextualization, and Islam. Specifically, when someone is converted from Islam to Christianity, what can they keep from Islam in order to reach the Muslim people with the Gospel. For instance, can they still go to the Mosque and pray five times a day, etc.

    I have a specific article from the book, Perspectives on the World Christian Movement (Edited by Ralph Winter and Stephen Hawthorne), in mind. The author of this article (my book is packed in a box somewhere and I can’t remember the name of his particular article) addresses this issue in detail.


  2. T. C.,
    Great question. Thanks for the remarks. Actually, it was an article by Ralph Winter’s newsletter, Mission Frontiers, which first got me thinking about this issue related to Islam. I read once of a fellow who continued for some time in his routine of going to the mosque and praying. He tried making his time at the mosque useful to pray for others. In another way, he was going to the mosque out of fear. He was afraid that if he were not seen at mosque others would begin asking questions. Eventually, he was overwhelmed by grief at what was taking place in the mosque and knew he could no longer be a part of it. I suspect that this is the experience of many muslims who convert. As far as what else to keep, I think much of that would be contextual. In China there are muslims who wear a special kind of hat. There is no prohibition for the Christian against this (or other apparel). My guess is, the muslims would end up taking care of the matter, not wishing to have people who are Christian look muslim or partake of muslim rituals and customs. I know many Christians who will not eat pork, etc., because of their muslim background. Certainly, much of the culture and tradition can be retained in Christianity, but not the theology or worship. As you know, in muslim contexts, these lines are not always as clearly displayed.


  3. One more thing, I would add that the bishop in the news article originally referenced for this post was much more akin to Oprah in having us refer to God as “Allah,” than he is related to Ralph Winter!


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