Do Christians and Muslims worship the same god?
Of course they do!
Are you nuts? They most certainly do not!
Wait. Stop. You're right. You're both right. You can say almost anything and still be right if you don't define your terms.
This question keeps making the news, with fervent opinions being expressed regardless of whether or not the speaker knows anything about Christian or Muslim theology. There's no shortage of commentary, for example, on whether or not Wheaton College should fire a professor they believe is deviating from the statement of faith that she signed when she was hired. Personally, I think that's Wheaton's business, not mine, and I don't know enough about the specific situation to have an informed opinion. I will say that I respect Weaton a lot, not the least because they come under attack both for being too liberal and for being too conservative. They must be doing something right. But the issue of whether or not Christians and Muslims worship the same god is at the heart of that controversy.
Just what does that phrase mean, worship the same god?
Does a Christian worship the creator of the universe? Absolutely. Does a Jew? Certainly. A Muslim? I'm sure a Muslim would say he does. So would a good many (though not all) pagans (old-style; I'm not too familiar with the writings of new-style Pagans). And, I venture to say, so do many who call themselves atheists (I was one), whose passionate admiration of the forces of nature (and science, their prophet) is as ardent as anything I've seen in church.
Do we all agree on the basic characteristics, let alone the details, of whatever/whoever caused this world to exist? Absolutely not.
On some issues, and in some situations, we can all stand on the common ground and make progress together. That's not the same thing as saying that we're basically in agreement, or that the differences don't matter.
It's Christmastime, and a group of happy vacationers is on an airplane bound for St. Petersburg. We know they all share a hope that the pilot has gotten enough sleep the night before, and that the maintenance crew has done its job correctly. We watch them eat together, and wish along with every one of them that the baby in seat 20B would stop crying. But as we listen to them discuss their vacation plans, we begin to realize that there are some big differences in what they believe about this "St. Petersburg" that they're heading toward.
The art students in 14D and E have packed boots and heavy coats, and are eagerly discussing their upcoming visit to the Hermitage. The family in row 15, with their bathing suits and sunscreen, is looking forward to time at the beach, and the children hope to talk their parents into a side trip to Disney World. Up in first class, a middle-aged couple is wondering how life has changed in their tiny hometown in Western Pennsylvania since they've been gone. And the writer in the back of the plane is absorbed in visions of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn.
The passengers have a lot in common. They are in the same airplane, and have many of the same interests and concerns. They all know they are going to St. Petersburg. The plane is, indeed, going to St. Petersburg. But somebody—maybe everybody—is in for a surprise when the plane lands.
Commonalities matter. So do differences. Above all, truth matters.