Did Rick Warren Pray to Allah in the Name of a Muslim Prophet?
Rick Warren — who is one of President Barack Obama’s bridges to the evangelical church — managed to pray an inaugural prayer that made nearly everyone happy, with the exception, that is, of the one true God to whom the prayer was supposed to be addressed. While Warren began by quoting the Hebrew Schema, and addressing the biblical God of all creation, who warned, “You shall have no other gods before Me….for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God…” (Exodus 20:3, 5b), Warren went on to invoke the Muslim deity Allah. If that was not bad enough, Warren quoted both the Bible and the Koran, and he prayed in the names of Jesus Christ as well as the Muslim prophet Isa! I felt this perilous travesty needed to be addressed, especially since Time Magazine has dubbed Rick Warren “America’s New People’s Pastor,” and he is influencing millions of people through his books and public persona.
Tragically, Warren’s incorporation of the Islamic deity in the name of a Muslim prophet went over the heads of the vast majority of Christians who heard his inaugural prayer. While Warren’s prayer may have pleased President Barack Obama, who gained countless votes by riding on Warren’s back into the evangelical church, God warned us in His Word that religious syncretism would characterize the great apostasy of the last days (Revelation 17)!
While I suspected that Warren’s prayer would be as inclusive as possible, even I was surprised when Warren actually quoted the Koran and used the oft-repeated Koranic formulation for Allah i.e., “The compassionate and merciful one.” In fact, of the 114 chapters in the Koran, 113 of them begin by describing Allah as “The compassionate and merciful one.”
Near the end of Warren’s prayer, he prayed, “I humbly ask this in the name of the one who changed my life, Yeshua, Isa, Jesus….” Of course, Isa would have been understood by Muslims, who had already heard him praying to Allah, to be the Islamic prophet mentioned throughout the Koran. Warren’s prayer to Allah, in the name of Isa, is absolutely indefensible:
“The priests said not, where is the LORD? And they that handle the law knew me not: the pastors also transgressed against me, and the prophets prophesied by Baal, and walked after things that do not profit.” –Jeremiah 2:8 (KJV)
Not only is “The compassionate and merciful one” a distinct and precise Koranic formulation reserved for Allah alone, but “Isa” is used in the Koran in reference to an alleged Palestinian prophet who, according to the Koran, is not the Son of God and did not die on the cross for the sins of the world. He is not only antithetical to the biblical, historical Yeshua revealed over a thousand years earlier through the Old Testament prophets but, according to millions of Muslims, he will return to renounce Christianity, destroy all crosses, support the mass murder of Jews and forcibly convert the world to Islam. It is believed that Isa will not only destroy Jews and all crosses, but that he will support the coming Muslim Messiah—the 12th Imam or Mahdi—who many Christians believe will be the Antichrist.
Islamic scholar Ahmad Deedat, states that the name Isa (pronounced Ee-saw) is a cognate of the patriarch Esau (Ahmad Deedat, “Christ in Islam, Islamic Propagation Centre International” p. 7-8). This is blasphemous in that God reveals in His word, the Bible, that Esau was a fornicator and “sold his birthright” for a pot of stew (Hebrews 12:15-17). Lest anyone be deceived into believing that Isa is simply another name for the biblical Jesus, it should be understood that Isa is in no way an Arabic transliteration of the Hebrew Yeshua, nor is it another name for the Son of God! In fact, Muslims do not believe that Isa is the Son of God or that he died for the sins of the world.
Arab Christians do not follow the Islamic prophet Isa, nor do they follow the teachings of the Koran. During my last trip to Israel we visited a missionary from our fellowship that was working with Arab believers who reach the Arab community with the Good News of Jesus. During that trip I had the privilege of spending precious time at the home of these Arab Christians who are on fire for Jesus. All of these Arab believers referred to Jesus as Yesua, which derives from the Arabic for Jesus, Yasu! I also spent a considerable amount of time with our Arabic Christian bus driver, who taught me the Arabic Christian praise to Jesus Christ, “Yesua Habibi.” Yesua Habibi is a beautiful Arabic expression, which means, “Jesus, my beloved” or “Jesus, the love of my life!”
The name for Jesus among knowledgeable Arab Christians is not “Isa,” but “Yesua,” which is very close (as you may have observed) to the Hebrew name for Jesus, Yeshua! The name “Yeshua” literally means, “God is salvation.” This is the crux of the matter and underscores the infinite difference between Yesua and Isa! Any Arab Christian who refers to Jesus as Isa is either unaware of its Islamic origin in reference to the false Christ of Islam (Matthew 24:4-5; 2 Corinthians 11:4) or is beholden to pagan Islamic tradition and influence that should be rejected outright.
If you are aware of the differences between the biblical, historical Jesus, and the Muslim prophet Isa, then you may understand why Muslim Arabs refer to Isa instead of the Arabic Yesua, and why knowledgeable Arabic Christians refer to the biblical Jesus as Yesua and not Isa. When God revealed to Joseph that the prophesied Messiah had come into the world, He specified that His name should be called Yeshua, meaning, “Yahweh is salvation.” This was because Jesus was the fulfillment of the promise that Immanuel, “God with us,” had been incarnated in human flesh. God revealed that He was to be named Yeshua because His name was pregnant with prophetic significance and meaning:
“But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins. All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’—which means, “God with us.” –Matthew 1:20-23
The name Jesus, that is commonly used by English speakers, is the Latin form of the Greek Iesous, which in turn is the transliteration of the Hebrew Yeshua, which means “Yahweh is salvation.” One of Jesus’ many titles by which he is called today in fulfillment of biblical prophecy is “Immanuel,” but the personal name given to Him at His birth, Yeshua, not only reveals that God is with us, but a dimension of His purpose in coming into the world: that He came into the world to save His people from their sins, i.e., “Yahweh is salvation.” Thus Peter could exclaim:
“[F]or there is no other name under heaven given to men by whom we must be saved.” –Acts 4:12b
Tragically, Muslims have been taught to reject Yeshua—Yahweh is salvation—and as a result Islam rejects the testimony of God and rejects that Jesus is Yahweh (“God with us”) and that He is salvation (died for our sins); hence the rejection of the historical biblical Jesus and His divine name, Yeshua. In rejecting Jesus for Isa, Muslims reject the original testimony of God in favor of Isa, even as Isa or Esau rejected his birthright for a bowl of stew. Indeed, Muhammad went out of his way to repeatedly deny both the Sonship and the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. In so doing Muhammad engaged in a serious case of historical revisionism, 600 years after Christ, and claimed that Isa, a Palestinian prophet, not the Son of God, was born of Mary. Also in so doing he was able to give the Koran a much-needed historical attachment, nebulous though it was, and at the same time appeal to nominal Christians who he believed would more easily convert to Islam.
The Koran was not only written over 600 years after the fact of incarnation of the Son of God, but was written to make it appear to be another revelation of the one true God who inspired the Bible. The Koran, in affect was (and is) used to blind hundreds of millions of people to the central message of the Bible: that eternal life comes through faith in the Son of God, who died for our sins; was buried and rose triumphantly over the grave (John 3:16; 20:30-31; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4)!
Muslim scholars and historians admit that Muhammad believed that he was possessed by a demon, which led him for a time to consider throwing himself off a cliff. He was then persuaded by his wife to believe that the voices he was hearing belonged to the angel Gabriel. However, the true God had revealed over half a millennium earlier in His holy word, the Bible, that the spirit of Antichrist would deny the relationship between the Father and His Son (1 John 2:18-22; 4:1-4). Moreover, Yahweh had warned that even if an angel from heaven were to preach another gospel than that which was already revealed that he would be eternally condemned (Gk. anathema, Galatians 1:6-9). The Koranic revelation of Allah, the Palestinian prophet Isa, as well as its “gospel,” are as far from the Trinitarian God revealed in the Bible and Jesus of Nazareth as the east is from the west.
While the one true God reveals Himself in the Bible to be the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ, and declares that it is exclusively through the substitutionary death of Jesus, His only begotten Son, that man can be saved from their sins (John 3:16; 10:1, 9; 14:6; Acts 4:12; 1 Timothy 2:5; Hebrews 2:1-3; and 1 John 5:12); the Koran denies all of these essential salvific truths and reveals a totally empty gospel to humanity. Below are a few of the Suras from the Koran that deny the biblical God, Yahweh and Yeshua, the Son of God and Savior of the world:
“Regarding Sonship of Jesus: That is Jesus, son of Mary, in word of truth…It is not for God to take a son unto Him.”
“And they say, ‘The All-merciful has taken unto Himself a son.’ You have indeed advanced something hideous.”
(Koran, Sura 19:88)
“Believe in Allah and say not ‘Trinity.’ Cease! It is better for you! Allah is only One God. Far is it removed from his transcendent majesty that he should have a son.”
(Koran, Sura 4:171)
“That they said (in boast), ‘We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah’; but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them… for of a surety they killed him not.”
(Koran, Surah 4:157)
Such lies contradict the very essence of the gospel and the words of Jesus Christ Himself:
“Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God…For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” –John 3:3; 3:16
It is a very serious thing for Islam to come over 600 hundred years after God sent His son to die for the sins of the world and deny His sovereign testimony. God Himself warns that those who deny that Jesus is the Son of God make Him a liar and reject the life that is found solely in His son:
“The one who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself; the one who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has given concerning His Son. And the testimony is this that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.” –John 5:10-12
Rick Warren’s prayer to the Muslim god Allah, in the name of the false prophet Isa, was first and foremost an affront to the one true God who gave His only begotten Son for the sins of the world. God will not permit the worship of any other gods beside Him, and He forbids us from using the names of other gods in our prayers or worship:
“Now concerning everything which I have said to you, be on your guard; and do not mention the name of other gods, nor let them be heard from your mouth.” –Exodus 23:13
Rick Warren’s prayer to Allah in the name of Isa was not only a serious affront to God, but a serious disservice to non-Believers and immature Believers who could be led to think that they can worship other gods or could easily conclude that Allah and Yahweh are one and the same God. His prayer was also a serious disservice to Muslims, who are in desperate need of eternal life, which only comes through a relationship with Jesus Christ, the Son of God (John 14:6). Sadly, Muslims would easily conclude from such a prayer that there is no serious difference between Allah and Yahweh or Isa and Jesus and therefore assume they don’t need to embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ, to their eternal peril. Tragically, Rick Warren has given fresh feet to a 1,300-year-old lie that has undermined the costly price that Jesus paid for our sins with His precious blood. God reveals in is word that all idolaters will go to the lake of fire (Revelation 21:8) and that only those who have the Son of God have eternal life (1 John 5:12-13).
Dear friend, if you do not know God’s Son, Jesus Christ, in light of heaven and hell and your eternal destiny, I encourage you to turn to Him now in repentant faith so that you may be born of God and have eternal life!
Let us pray earnestly for Rick Warren and those who are being led astray by the present deception, and ask the Lord to give them repentance and deliver them from the power of the evil one who seeks to take them captive to do his will (2 Timothy 2:24-26). Let us also be diligent to stay on guard, lest any of us be led away by false prophets who come in sheep’s clothing, but are inwardly ravenous wolves (2 Peter 3:17; Matthew 7:13-15).
Stay tuned for future blogs, as I will seek to share timely and important biblical insights regarding current trends in popular culture and their relationship to spiritual warfare and the end time prophecy. We will examine popular music, movies, the new spirituality, religious trends, politics, education, evolution, atheism and a myriad of other subjects like Israel, the middle east and the new world order. All of this will be done in the fear and love of God with the view of living for His eternal glory. We will also continue to examine the subject matter of this post, along with a document signed by Rick Warren and other popular religious leaders (called “Loving God and Neighbor Together”), which affirms their worship of Allah as a precondition to a new world order of peace and security. We will also learn effective ways to defend the faith and reach the lost with the gospel of our precious Lord and Savior Jesus Christ… Have a truly blessed weekend!
For Yesua, Habibi!
Pastor Joe Schimmel