More Christian groups are responding to the letter sent by Muslim scholars to church leaders worldwide at the end of Ramadan. Titled “A Common Word Between Us and You,” the letter seeks to find shared values in Christianity and Islam that can lay the groundwork for peacemaking.
The letter finds that common ground in the fundamental commandments to love God and love the neighbor. On this basis, the writers suggest, we can work together in addressing the needs of the world around us.
Early responses came from primarily Catholic sources, and now some Evangelical Christian voices are joining the conversation. Evangelicals were not among those church groups originally addressed in the letter, but, as noted in an article for Christianity Today by J. Dudley Woodberry, professor of Islamic studies at Fuller Theological Seminary, “evangelicals, including Pentecostals, are the fastest growing segment of the church and are the most in contact with Muslims around the world.” Muslims have a particular interest in dialogue with evangelicals because they “take their Scriptures seriously, as do Muslims—a characteristic the Muslim leaders had not found among some more liberal Christians.”
In a statement from the Yale Center for Faith and Culture, signed by Harold W. Attridge, Professor of New Testament; Miroslav Volf, Founder and Director of the Yale Center for Faith and Culture; Joseph Cumming, Director of the Reconciliation Program, Yale Center for Faith and Culture; and Emilie M. Townes, Andrew Mellon Professor of African American Religion and Theology and President-elect of the American Academy of Religion, says, in part:
What is common between us lies not in something marginal nor in something merely important to each. It lies, rather, in something absolutely central to both: love of God and love of neighbor. Surprisingly for many Christians, your letter considers the dual command of love to be the foundational principle not just of the Christian faith, but of Islam as well. That so much common ground exists – common ground in some of the fundamentals of faith – gives hope that undeniable differences and even the very real external pressures that bear down upon us can not overshadow the common ground upon which we stand together. That this common ground consists in love of God and of neighbor, gives hope that deep cooperation between us can be a hallmark of the relations between our two communities.
This unfolding worldwide dialogue among significant scholars, both Christian and Muslim, promises to be a significant step forward in developing genuine respect and cooperation between the two traditions.