Loving God and Neighbor Together:A Response to A Common Word

As members of the worldwide Christian community, we were deeply encouraged and challenged by the recent historic open letter signed by 138 leading Muslim scholars, clerics, and intellectuals from around the world. A Common Word Between Us and You identifies some core common ground between Christianity and Islam which lies at the heart of our respective faiths as well as at the heart of the most ancient Abrahamic faith, Judaism. Jesus Christ’s call to love God and neighbor was rooted in the divine revelation to the people of Israel embodied in the Torah (Deuteronomy 6:5; Leviticus 19:18). We receive the open letter as a Muslim hand of conviviality and cooperation extended to Christians world-wide. In this response we extend our own Christian hand in return, so that together with all other human beings we may live in peace and justice as we seek to love God and our neighbors.

With these words, a group of over 300 Christian leaders have responded to “A Common Word Between Us and You,” the invitation to dialogue extended by a group of Muslim scholars to Christians in October. (See previous posts.) The statement was published as a full-page ad in the New York Times on November 18, 2007. The response goes on to note:

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 loveof 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.

The next steps, the statement declares, will involve bringing together Christian and Muslim leaders at all levels to meet together and together to discern what the love of God and the love of our neighbor requires of us in these days. The full text of the statement is available at the Yale Center for Faith and Culture (and there is an opportunity to add your name as a supporter). Let us pray that this significant movement will continue to move and grow and build the things that make for peace.

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