I was just reading this open letter from Muslims to Christians everywhere and a few things occurred to me.
I'm off hiatus now, BTW. I'll be getting back to the comboxes, and anyone interested is welcome to resume the convos there. With the understanding, of course, that I have limited time. But I think most everyone who's ever commented here has been quite good about not bugging me about not getting to their comment in a timely manner, and I appreciate that.
Of note is those to whom the letter is addressed. No one I'd consider a leader worthy of unmitigated or nearly-unmitigated respect. But maybe they're not talking to me.
There's Pope Benedict XVI, a bunch of Orthodox high-ups, the Pope of the Coptic Church (the memorably-named Shenouda), leaders of other historically Christian churches, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the ELCA, the World Methodist Council, the Baptist World Alliance, and the World Alliance of Reformed Churches. It would have been nice to see a bone thrown to someone like SBC Pres Frank Page, John MacArthur, Al Mohler... even Billy/Franklin Graham. As it is, a significant portion of their supposed audience goes unaddressed.
And they lose points for addressing the General Secretary of the World Council of Churches, to be honest.
Reading thru the actual text, I note that this (Muslim-penned) document frequently refers to "the Unity of God". Given that this is not a theological document but rather a start of dialogue ostensibly aimed at producing peaceful relations, it is a little funny to me. Almost like the authors are tossing a few snips at the Trinitarian concept of God while laying out peace. It's what I would do, honestly. But maybe I'm just reading too much into it, and either way it's just a quirky sidenote. All that to say, when a Muslim says "Unity of God," he doesn't mean it the same way a Christian does - "unity" to the Muslim entails an (unjustifiable) assumption of unitarianism.
The document's big gaffe is almost unbelievable in its clumsiness. On the .pdf page 15 of 29, it asks: "Is Christianity necessarily against Muslims?"
The answer, of course, is that this question is silly. Christian doctrine is that men everywhere must repent and request forgiveness for their sins from the Savior Jesus Christ, which will lead to their salvation from that sin and to eternal life. Where did the idea that Christianity might be against Muslims come from, so that they added the word "necessarily"? This alone is almost enough to tempt me seriously to disregard this document entirely, as either disingenuous or just ill-conceived.
A much better question is: "Is Christianity necessarily against Islam?" to which the answer is "yes."
Or one could ask: "Are Christians against Muslims?" to which the answer is: "Any Christian who acts without love against a Muslim who is not attempting to blow him up or something is acting in a sinful manner."
We are then told: "We therefore invite Christians to consider Muslims not against and thus with them, in accordance with Jesus Christ’s words here," based on three out-of-context quotations from Jesus Christ in Matt 12:30, Mark 9:40, and Luke 9:50.
To be honest, when I meet a Muslim in the US, I look on him/her as almost certainly a peaceful person who is a sinner, but also with a greater amount of suspicion than that with which I look upon an Argentine, a Chinese, or a Singaporean.
I'm glad these authors invite me to consider them "with" me (I assume they mean with me in the pursuit of peace on earth), but I have to withhold unconditional acceptance of that from "Muslims" until I see more than a kind of poorly-written document from some Islamic scholars.
Finally, the authors (again, clumsily) seem to lose track of the goal of their document with this closing statement: "Let this common ground be the basis of all future interfaith dialogue between us, for our common ground is that on which hangs all the Law and the Prophets (Matthew 22:40)."
I'm not interested in "interfaith dialogue" as it is usually meant in modern parlance. Followers of Islam need to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ and need to repent and believe it. "Interfaith dialogue" might be a good vehicle thru which such might be accomplished, so on that level it's great. But it must not become the end for the Christian, b/c it is pitiful in its short-sightedness.
That said, I come away from this document a little more hopeful that the attitude expressed therein can lead to more peace in this world. I hate war. May God grant the people of the world reprieve from war. I need to see alot more from the Muslim side, however, before I could have a lot of optimism that the hostility endemic to their religious system has been conquered by modern sensibilities. One document does not erase Qur'anic statements directing Muslims to conduct violent jihad nor their bloody history of military expansion.