Peacemaking Trends Among Evangelicals and Muslims - Part 1
by Rick Love
I wrote an article for Christianity Today recently titled, Have Muslim-Christian Relations Improved Since 9/11? As I reflected on the topic and did some research, I was surprised at how many evangelical organizations and individuals are engaged in peacemaking. When I wrote the article for Christianity Today I was restricted to 500 words, so I could only mention a few organizations. But I have no such limitations here! Check out these organizations, individuals and books on the topics for both Evangelicals and Muslims.
Peacemaking Trends among Evangelicals
During a conference in Kenya, fifty evangelical leaders from around the world wrestled with the challenge of increasing alienation between Muslims and Christians. The Grace and Truth project was birthed. Nine biblical guidelines for Christlike relations emerged, changing the way Christians relate to Muslims. This same group has more recently developed The Radical Love Campaign – challenging followers of Christ to reach out in love to Muslims. Check it out.
The World Evangelical Alliance (representing over 600 million evangelicals) birthed the World Evangelical Alliance Peace and Reconciliation Initiative in 2008. WEAPRI is led by Steve Tollestrup and has a strong emphasis on Christian-Muslim relations. I have the privilege of serving on the leadership team with Steve.
The Duke Center for Reconciliation, though not distinctively evangelical, is having a profound impact on evangelicals. Under the leadership of Chris Rice and Emmanuel Katongole, this center provides some of the best training and resources available for the ministry of reconciliation.
Under the leadership of Richard Cizik, The New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good (NEP) focuses on public witness for the sake of the Gospel and the common good. Part of this witness includes peacemaking between Christians and Muslims.
The Institute of Global Engagement (IGE) focuses on building respect, reconciliation and religious freedom. Under Chris Seiple’s leadership, IGE hosts numerous conferences aimed at enhancing Christian-Muslim relations and produces a journal of which everyone involved in peacemaking should be aware: The Review of Faith and International Affairs.
Peace Catalyst International is becoming an influential voice for Jesus-centered peacemaking. In a world rife with conflict, PCI catalyzes peacemaking initiatives. Two of the greatest areas of conflict in the world today are between Christians and Muslims and between the West and the Muslim world. Thus, we give special priority to these relationships. We specialize in getting mosques and churches together around meals and shared concerns and have found that this approach changes lives.
The Yale Reconciliation Program may be one of the most promising academic and global peacemaking initiatives of the decade. Though not distinctively evangelical, the Yale Reconciliation program is having a profound impact on evangelicals. Under the leadership of Joseph Cumming, the Reconciliation Program hosted the Common Word dialogue between 75 prominent international Muslim leaders and 75 prominent international Christian leaders in 2008. The Program also recently hosted a gathering of 30 influential, mid-career leaders from around the world in June of this year. The gathering was called, “Building Hope: Muslims, Christians and Jews Seeking the Common Good,” and relationships between high-ranking scholars, leaders and clerics will never be the same. The good will started at the Common Word is trickling down to thousands of churches and mosques around the world. God is using the Yale Reconciliation Program to build hope!
Bob Roberts Jr., a Southern Baptist pastor of a mega church in Texas, recently received the Peacemaking Pastor award from Peace Catalyst International for his “out of the box” bridge building efforts between Christians and Muslims. Two examples: He hosted a Global Faith Forum, called “From a Conversation about Other Faiths to a Conversation with Other Faiths,” where he invited several religious leaders, including Muslims and Jews, to speak to his church. More recently, he hosted a Building Bridges Event at which 2,500 Muslims and Christians gathered at his church. Roberts remains passionate about the great commission and uncompromising regarding the gospel. But he also fervently models love of neighbor.
Carl Medearis is a popular speaker and writer on Christian-Muslim Relations. His book, “Muslims, Christian, and Jesus” is one of the best introductions to Christian-Muslim Relationships on the market. He has recently developed a DVD series and a study guide on the same topic. Carl’s book, Tea with Hezbollah (co-authored with Ted Dekker) recounts faith-building stories that challenge Christians to love their Muslim “enemies.”
Miroslav Volf may not self-identify as an evangelical, but evangelicals certainly identify with him. Ever since the Common Word Dialogue at Yale, Volf has been doing peacemaking between Christians and Muslims. His book, Allah: A Christian Response is not only a profound theological treatise, but also a peacemaking manifesto.
Here are six other noteworthy individuals and organizations:
Joshua Daneshforooz facilitates multi-faith dialogues based on his new book, Loving Our Religious Neighbor. He was recently awarded the Youth Alumnus Award by Westmont College.
Preemptive Love Coalition, led by Jeremy Courtney, does lifesaving heart surgeries for Iraqi children, in pursuit of peace between communities at odds.
Pentecostals and Charismatics for Justice and Peace seeks to encourage, enable, and sustain peacemaking and justice-seeking as an authentic and integral aspect of Pentecostal & Charismatic Christianity, witnessing to the conviction that Jesus Christ is relevant to all tensions, crises, and brokenness in the world.
Abrahamic Alliance International, led by Rod Cardoza, builds peace by uniting Jews, Christians and Muslims to serve the poor, suffering and marginalized in a context of compassion.
Trac5 – facilitates reconciliation between religions, cultures and individuals by combining relational “being” with strategic “doing.”
Fuller Theological Seminary recently started A Journal on Evangelical Interfaith Dialogue.
The Prince of Peace is opening the eyes of many of his followers to understand the peacemaking dimensions of Scripture. Peacemaking has become one of the important new trends among evangelicals. There are encouraging signs of a new emphasis on peacemaking among Muslims as well (which I will address in part two of this series).
I would love to hear from you about other Evangelical organizations or Individuals you think I should have mentioned! Which ones did I leave out?