March 3, 2008
The clash of cultures between Christianity and Islam dates back to Muhammad
. The clash is not just a matter of dissimilar cultures. Many Muslims and Christians do not know what they themselves believe. Consequently, their reactions are improper since their information is inaccurate. Confusion through politically correct ecumenism and relativism has prolonged ignorance. (Ergun M. Caner and Emir F. Caner, Unveiling Islam, Kregel Publications, 2002, p. 202.)
The Open Letter and Call from Muslim Religious Leaders to the heads of Christian churches everywhere, sent on October 13, 2007 probably touched very few Christians in the pews. Just another highfalutin discussion about arcane matters of theology, they might have thought if they knew or thought about it at all.
However, this letter deserves the careful attention of every Christian believer for a number of reasons. It tells us a great deal about the state of Muslim-Christian relations today, a topic that is, or should be, of interest to everyone. The responses from Christian leaders also reveal some important things about the state of Christianity.
A Gesture of Goodwill?
This letter referred to as A Common Word Between Us and You (Koran, 3:64) was addressed by name to 27 church officials, beginning with Pope Benedict VXI, and including the Patriarch of Antioch and all the East, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the General Secretary of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches.
The opening (summary) explains that the theme of this Common Word is the recognition that Muslims and Christians make up more than half of the worlds population, and therefore the future of the world depends on peace between these two faith communities.
Much of their letter is devoted to showing that on the basis of the Muslim and Christian scriptures the two religions have in common the foundation for peace in this twofold principle: love of the one God and love of the neighbour. Among other sources, they mention the Koran, 3:64, and the Bible, Mark 12: 29-31.
They assure Christians that they, too, recognize Jesus as the Messiah, though not in the same way as Christians do, but as mentioned in the Koran 4:171 -- while pointing out that Christians themselves never all agreed about Jesus Christs true nature. They write:
As Muslims, we say to Christians that we are not against them and that Islam is not against them so long as they do not wage war against Muslims on account of their religion, oppress them and drive them out of their homes
So let our differences not cause hatred and strife between us. Let us vie with each other only in righteousness and good works. Let us respect each other, be fair, just and kind to another and live in sincere peace, harmony and mutual goodwill