Home > Brian's Blogs, Uncategorized > The Intent of A Common Word is Good

The Intent of A Common Word is Good

Unlike Andrew, my jaw did not drop after reading the documents he has linked to. Having read A Common Word, the evangelical response, and John Piper’s comments, I’ve come to the conclusion that Piper is correct theologically but misses the point of A Common Word.

John Piper’s video is passionate, exciting, and theologically correct. The evangelical Christian response to A Common Word does not address the uniqueness of Jesus Christ. This was somewhat surprising because A Common Word itself does speak to the uniqueness of Muhammad from a Muslim’s point of view. Because of this, it would have been appropriate for the evangelical Christian response to have included similar points about Jesus Christ. But, it was not necessary given the original intent of the document.

In my reading, the original intent of the document is this:

  1. We both profess love our respective God.
  2. Both of our respective Gods command that we love our neighbor.
  3. If we are to put our faith into action, Christians and Muslims must love one another and live together peacefully even though we theologically disagree.

In other words, these documents are intended to promote peace, not theological unity. In this respect, the intent of A Common Word is good.

Can I prove this biblically? Well, here are a few points to consider: 1) Jesus calls us to love one another (Matt. 22:37-40), including our Muslim neighbor. 2) Jesus calls us to be peacemakers (Matt. 5:9). 3) Jesus calls us to love our enemies (Matt. 5:43-48). 4) Jesus calls us to not hate (Matt. 5:21-26). 5) All people are created in the image of God and must be treated as such (Gen. 1:27-28, 9:6). Finally, Jesus calls us to a redemptive mandate so that those who do not believe in Jesus Christ might come to know him (Matt. 28:16-20), and it is hard to proclaim Christ to people we don’t talk to!! Because of this, building peaceful relations with Muslims is demanded by Scripture, but achieving theological unity with them is not. I believe that the document points toward the former, not the latter. I believe that this is the reason why evangelical leaders such as Bill Hybels, Duane Liftin (Wheaton), Richard Mouw (Fuller), John Stott, and Rick Warren signed the document.

I’ll make an closing analogy. Christians would do well to team up with non-Christian pro-life organizations to promote the cause of life and end abortion. We may come from different theological backgrounds, but we can work together to promote a God honoring cause (and hopefully some may come to know Christ in the process). World peace is a God honoring cause so we should work together with those who promote world peace even if they come from a different theological background.

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  1. January 23, 2008 at 4:43 pm

    Well said brother.
    The intent is good, but at the root it will not prove to bring any kind of peace.
    I also think that the follower of Jesus is the only one who can come to dialog with good intent (because of what God has done in us through Jesus).
    Maybe the reality of this document states that we disagree but we are going to do it in a civil way.
    I like what you said: “it is hard to proclaim Christ to people we don’t talk to!!” Maybe the result will be a harvest of Muslims into the Kingdom of God. Of course just saying this would earn me some kind of fatwa.

  2. Andrew Ford
    January 23, 2008 at 5:46 pm

    I wonder if Muslims would be willing to have a similar conversation with people of the Jewish faith?

  3. Doug
    January 26, 2008 at 3:31 pm

    Talk to Neville Chamberlain about “getting along” and “peace in our time.” Jesus did’t come to bring peace but rather division, brother against brother. Working with non-Christians usually means compromising our beliefs in order that we all just “get along.” The whole idea of world peace is built on the concept that if humans work hard enough and long enough they can achieve anything; God is not needed. We are told that we are strangers and aliens. As such don’t expect “peace in our time” unless we become like everyone else so that they won’t recognize us as such.

  4. brianmcl
    January 27, 2008 at 8:23 am

    Doug,

    Allow me to clarify my remarks. You are correct that there will be no ultimate peace in this life. You are also correct that whatever peace we achieve in this life and our ultimate peace is a result of God’s work.

    However, I don’t agree that striving for peace leads to compromise, primarily because it is a biblical command to strive for peace. We see this even in 1 Peter…we are strangers and aliens but notice how he exhorts us to live in 1 Peter 2:11-4:11. There is lots of love, respect, submit, peace, gentleness, etc in these passages, all based on the example of Christ. Peter says the world will still reject us, but we still live lives of love and peace!

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