Controversy continues to swirl around the predominantly Religious Left and Evangelical Left response to "A Common Word Between Us and You," the statement by 138 Islamic authorities in October.
The Muslim declaration was relatively moderate and invited dialogue with Christians. Mostly left-leaning religious studies faculty from the Ivy League organized "Loving God and Neighbor Together" as a "Christian Response." It offered regrets for the Crusades and the War on Terror, while eagerly accepting the invite to dialogue with Islam. The Muslim statement, of course, offered no apologies for Islamist conquests or terror.
But the predominantly Religious Left organizers of "Loving God and Neighbor" do not represent the only salvation from "ignorance" or "isolation." As head of a group professing to represent over 20 million evangelicals, surely Anderson could have organized his own Christian response that did not rely on left-leaning Ivy League faculty or Jim Wallis's Sojourners. Anderson expressed fear that Christians in Muslim lands might suffer if he declined to sign. Endorsing Christian apologies to Islam in order to protect Christians from being persecuted or killed by Islamic authorities or mobs hardly bodes well for constructive Christian-Islamic dialogue.
Religious liberty scholar Paul Marshall has written: "The [extreme Islamist] people engaged in persecution are neither stupid nor uneducated.... We will not understand persecution if we think it is a mere misunderstanding to be resolved through more education and chatty conferences" (Their Blood Cries Out, p. 220). But many on the Religious and Evangelical Left fervently believe in "education and chatty conferences," equating the West's struggles with radical Islam to a family squabble needing a geopolitical therapy session. The Muslim scholars and clerics who organized "A Common Word Between Us and You" merited a better response than what Brian McLaren et al. have offered.
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