Thursday, January 28, 2010


In a letter to Moslems written “on behalf of World Evangelical Alliance” by Dr. Geoff Tunnicliffe, International Director, I found this troubling sentence: “We urge you to realize that the problems of the Western world are not because of Christianity but because of the West’s increasing rejection of it.”

I must profoundly disagree with this statement. I think it would be pretty hard to convince most Moslems of that statement and I’m certainly not convinced. Europe has been a battleground for centuries. When Christianity really did dominate Europe, many things were far worse than they are today. A good case can be made that Christian Europe has exhibited far more violence, injustice and hatred than Islamic Africa, The Middle East and Islamic Asia for many centuries.  Also, I wonder when Dr. Tunnicliffe thinks that the “increasing rejection” began.  In many ways the Western world has increasingly embraced the values of Christ even as it has turned more secular.  I urge "Evangelical Christians" and everyone else to be far more aware of our history.  I suspect most Moslems have a very different perception of our history and are possibly better informed and closer to the truth than a lot of Christians.  A really good conversation about our current difficulties requires this awareness.

The letter is one of many responses to A Common Word between Us and You which you can find at the Common Word website. It is an important and powerful initiative by Moslems to find common ground and build trust and reduce violence, hatred and misunderstandingWhile the response of the WEA is encouraging at some levels, I was delighted to find many far more positive responses by other Christians including my Presbyterian Church (USA) and several Ecumenical and Reformed and Interfaith organizations and leaders.  The Common Word website offers them all.  This is well worth your time and energy.

There is more in the WEA letter that I find troubling which I intend to address in future posts.


Unknown said...

The Congress of World Religions has a long history of discussing and developing commonalities among post-imperialist, post-missionary era religions. They have a wonderful website. The Iona Community has long fostered the trialogue to which you refer. Zoroastrian religion of Persia provided the common historical root from which Judaism, Christianity and Islam sprang. Especially its Eschatology. Augustine was a Zoroastrian, eg Manachean Christian in his early days before going over to Neo Platonism. Since Islam developed in large part as an attempt to develop a better way between the divine and human than Byzantine Christianity's very corrupt version of the faith, there are lots of websites that discuss that historic epoch, too.

Abundancetrek said...

Thanks Ralph. I knew you would have a lot to offer.

irreverance said...

>>I urge "Evangelical Christians" and everyone else to be far more aware of our history.  <<

I agree with what you've said. I'd actually go a step farther. After an awareness of Christian history, I think it's time that Evangelical Christians (and other forms of Christianity as well, though the need among evangelicals seems to be more pressing) accept responsibility for that history. I doubt this will ever happen, though. Indeed, once that process begins, it would mean a distinct abandoning of many things that evangelicals cling to as primary elements of their religion.

No, I argue that awareness isn't enough. Awareness is too often used as an excuse to dismiss the past. It would be a great start, but only a start if we actually take the concept of repentance seriously.

Unknown said...

A better translation of the Arabic word is Muslim. Please do not leave Judaism out of the trialogue.

Abundancetrek said...

Ralph, I am reluctant to change to Muslim now that I've begun this series of posts but I may. Here's a thoughtful but brief article on the subject:

I see that Muslim has a huge edge over Moslem in Google: 57 million to 6 million.

At least I don't call Muslims Mohammadans!

On the subject of a trialogue of Muslims & Christians & Jews, I am all for it but I do see the need for one on one dialogue between Christians and Muslims. Together, we number about half of the world's population and we better start loving one another.

Peace, Joy & Love,

Unknown said...

Maybe the search results indicate that the suggested translation from the Arabic is better than an older, outdated one. Just saying what Jacob adised his sons as they left to beg for food in Egypt. Take a little honey.

Abundancetrek said...

You win! I'm changing the name of this series of posts which, obviously, is not a series yet. Better to change now than later.

Salaam, Shalom, Peace

irreverance said...

Oh, and I almost forgot, here is an interesting book for those who might be interested. I've not actually read the whole thing. It seems that the perspectives are from more conservative theologies.

A Muslim and a Christian in Dialogue