This whole affair raises at least six questions in my mind:
1. While not seeking to excuse any atrocities committed during the Crusades—including crimes committed by Crusaders against the inhabitants of Christian lands on their way to the Holy Land (the Crusaders were often a sorry lot—no argument there), do the Christian signers of the full page ad recognize that the Crusades were, nevertheless, a response to the Muslim conquest of Jerusalem?
2. Do the Christian signers of this full page ad recognize that Europe had to withstand repeated Muslim invasions for over 800 years; and that, without victories over Muslim forces by the Duke of Aquitaine, at the Battle of Toulouse (721) Charles Martel at the Battle of Tours (732); and, later, the defeat of the Ottoman Turks at Belgrade (1456) and the gates of Vienna (1529), Europe would have been conquered and subjugated by Muslims?
It would seem that, if Christian priests, pastors, and theologians are going to apologize for the Crusades, Muslims ought to apologize for the conquests of Spain and southern Italy, and 800 years of attempts to conquer the rest of Europe. But I am still waiting to see that in print.
3. Would the Muslim signers of "A Common Word Between Us" care to apologize for the continued persecution of Christians in virtually every country and territory where Islam is dominant, from Sub-Saharan Africa to Indonesia and the southern Philippines?
4. What have the Muslim signers of the letter done to end violence between Sunnis and Shiites?
5. Most importantly, do the Christian signers of the full page ad recognise that, to a Muslim, the chief statement of Faith in Islam, "There is no god but God (Allah)," excludes the possibility that God could have a Son and that Jesus Christ is God? That, therefore, when we talk about the deity of Islam and the God of Christianity, we are talking about different gods?
"Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also." (I John 1:22-23)
6. And, finally, do the Christian signers of this response know the meaning of Dhimmitude? If their approach is not tempered by a strong dose of reality, people in the West may soon learn the meaning of the word, much to our regret.
Episcopalians, Other Christians Ask Muslims for Forgiveness
Posted on: November 29, 2007
Seven bishops and other Episcopal leaders joined with a number of influential Christian leaders in signing a letter asking Muslims to forgive Christians. The letter with signatures recently appeared as a full-page advertisement in The New York Times.
“Muslims and Christians have not always shaken hands in friendship; their relations have sometimes been tense, even characterized by outright hostility,” the authors said. “Since Jesus Christ says, ‘First take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye’ (Matthew 7:5), we want to begin by acknowledging that in the past (e.g. in the Crusades) and in the present (e.g. in excesses of the 'war on terror’) many Christians have been guilty of sinning against our Muslim neighbors. Before we ‘shake your hand’ in responding to your letter, we ask forgiveness of the All Merciful One and of the Muslim community around the world.”
Last month 138 Muslim scholars, clerics and intellectuals sent a letter titled “A Common Word Between Us,” seeking common ground between the two faiths. The letter was hand delivered to many Christian leaders including Pope Benedict XVI, the Orthodox Church’s Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew 1 and all the other Orthodox patriarchs, and to the Archbishop of Canterbury and the leaders of protestant churches worldwide. Archbishop Rowan Williams has already responded to the letter in a joint communiqué written with several prominent Jewish rabbis.
Episcopal bishops signing the letter include: Barry Beisner of Northern California, Joseph Burnett of Nebraska, Edwin F. Gulick Jr., of Kentucky, Shannon Johnston, coadjutor of Virginia, David C. Jones, suffragan of Virginia, Peter James Lee of Virginia and George E. Packard, Bishop Suffragan for Chaplaincies. Other Episcopalians signing the letter include the Very Rev. Joseph Britton, dean, Berkeley Divinity School at Yale; the Very Rev. Sam Candler, dean of St. Philip’s Cathedral, Atlanta, and the Very Rev. James Kowalski, dean of the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, New York City.
The letter also includes the endorsement of several prominent evangelicals, among them the Rev. Rick Warren, founder and pastor of Saddleback Community Church and author of The Purpose Driven Life; the Rev. John Stott, rector emeritus, All Souls’ Church, London; the Rev. Bill Hybels, founder and senior pastor, Willow Creek Community Church, and Robert E. Cooley, president emeritus, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. Among those launching the letter in the United Kingdom last month was David Ford, Regius Professor of Divinity and fellow of Selwyn College, Cambridge University.
In a news conference on Nov. 26 at the Cultural Foundation of Abu Dhabi, Muslim scholars invited Prof. Miroslav Volf of Yale’s Center for Faith and Culture in order to thank him and his colleagues for their embrace of “A Common Word.” Both Muslim and Christian leaders have expressed interest in meeting together as a next step toward mutual understanding and peaceful coexistence.
Read it all.