Christian Unity with Islam?

In 2007, 138 Muslim scholars, clerics and intellectuals unanimously came together to declare the common ground between Christianity and Islam. The document that they produced is titled “A Common Word Between Us and You,” and it declares that “love of God” and “love of neighbor” are points of unity between Christianity and Islam.

A group from Yale Divinity School drafted a response in late 2007 titled, “Loving God and Neighbor Together: A Christian Response to A Common Word Between Us and You.” The response has been endorsed by over 300 Christian scholars and leaders, many of whom are associated with the evangelical movement in North America. The evangelical endorsements include Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, Timothy George, Brian McLaren, David Neff, Scot McKnight, Joel Green, David Gushee, Leith Anderson, and Richard Cizik.

Dr. R. Albert Mohler and Dr. John Piper were not among the signatories, and both of them have spoken publicly against “A Christian Response.” The video and audio recordings of their respective responses are below.

Dr. John Piper

Dr. R. Albert Mohler

[audio:http://www.sbts.edu/MP3/totl/2008/AMP_01_08_2008.mp3]

31 Responses to Christian Unity with Islam?

  1. Brandon January 23, 2008 at 12:22 pm #

    I am quite disappointed with the “Christian” response and some of those who signed this document. Clearly, as Scripture teaches and Dr. Piper echoes, we do not worship the same God as Islam. And, it saddens me that it does appear that these who signed/wrote this document are more concerned with ensuring “good” and “peaceful” relationships with man rather than staying true to the ONE True God and HIS Son Jesus Christ.

  2. Benji Magness January 23, 2008 at 12:37 pm #

    Denny,

    You left out John Stott {sadly} in the list of evangelicals.

  3. Nick January 23, 2008 at 12:41 pm #

    Bravo to Dr. Mohler and Dr. Piper!

    The Christian Philosopher, Theologian and New Testament scholar William Lane Craig shared similar sentiments in his audio blog:

    http://www.rfmedia.org/blog/audio/rf_audiocast-2007-12-05-54072.mp3

  4. jeremy z January 23, 2008 at 12:43 pm #

    Two things:

    1) His “friends” are moving in ecumenical work, while Piper is being the resister.
    2) Desiring God really needs to get a better film editor. That should be their desire.

  5. Susan January 23, 2008 at 12:50 pm #

    I heard Walid Shoebat, a former muslim, speaking at last years prophesy conference. He was talking about difference between the names that refer to Christ in the Bible and the names that refer to Allah in the Quaran. I can’t remember all the names for Allah, but I know one of them is “the Destroyer”. Allah is clearly not the same as the our God, the One True God and Creator of the Universe.

  6. Brett January 23, 2008 at 1:22 pm #

    Give me a break, you guys on here only agree with Piper and Mohler on everything and it is despicable. I applaud these people for seeking peace because Christians oppress these people when we are called to love our enemies and seek peace with all men. Amazing

  7. Ben January 23, 2008 at 1:30 pm #

    I suppose I’m confused about Dr. Mohler’s main point. On the one hand, he thinks that using the muslim language of “All Merciful One” is “naivety bordering on dishonesty”, but then he goes on to say that we have had 14 centuries of experience with muslims (and muslims with christians) and that the problem is “NOT that we don’t understand each other”.

    It seems that if we both understand each other, as dialogue partners often do, then what’s the problem with the language being used? We both say that we worship God. It seems to me, especially given the 14 centuries comment, that it would be naive to believe anyone would be confused about the language used in the response. To be honest, I’m perfectly fine appropriating a muslim reference to God for my own purposes. Shrewd as snakes, innocent as doves.

    Is the problem that the response isn’t more like a chick track?

  8. Bryan L January 23, 2008 at 1:46 pm #

    Yes Ben, I think his problem is that the response wasn’t written like a Gospel tract with a call for salvation at the end. It seems like he kind of missed the point of the document and I think it’s a shame that the implies that the Christians who signed it were somehow not coming to it as Christians because they didn’t include the Apostles Creed in it or something.

  9. John Caneday January 23, 2008 at 2:00 pm #

    I appreciate the fact that men like Dr.’s Mohler and Piper have decided to speak out about this. It is disheartening to see prominent evangelicals endorsing this lunacy.

    I was appalled to read the preamble when they, “ask forgiveness of the All-Merciful One and of the Muslim community around the world.”

    How can we as Christians ask forgiveness of a god named by a false religion? This same piece states later on that, “In the Muslim tradition, God, “the Lord of the worlds,” is “The Infinitely Good and All-Merciful.”

    They have chosen to use Islamic descriptions of god, and then asked forgiveness of that god–and as a Christian I know that our God is NOT their god.

    This is appalling and to see the names of men like John Stott and Timothy George on this list is disheartening.

    I could go on and on, but the associations between Christians have with Muslims should be evangelistic–not ecumenical.

    Islam is not only a false religion, but it is so fundamentally anti-Christian that I amazed by those that have chosen to endorse such lunacy and suicidal naivete.

  10. Barry January 23, 2008 at 3:17 pm #

    Did you Piper-haters actually listen to him? He is saying you can’t have common ground around the phrase “love of God” when “God” means two radically different things. To do so is nothing more than equivocation on a large scale.

    Further, in the “Christian Response,” who is being asked to forgive when they write: “we ask forgiveness of the All-Merciful One”? Is the Allah, or is this Yahweh of Exodus 3 and the one “from whom, through whom, and to whom are all things”? This is a name for Allah (see Al-Fatihah, 1:1-7). That’s like my son going up to a stranger and saying “I’m sorry Daddy” just because the stranger at some point was called “Daddy.” The stranger is not his Daddy. I am. In short, he’s not talking to me. The writers at Yale are not referring to the God of the Bible when they ask for such forgiveness.

    Further, I do not claim to be a scholar of Islam, but the last I heard all Christians were “infidels” who were to be forced to submit to Allah and the teaching of his prophet. I don’t understand how that jibes with “love your neighbor.” Muhammad wrote, “None of you has faith until you love for your neighbour what you love for yourself.” Sounds good, but if I am a Muslim, I love Islam, and I haven’t loved my neighbor until I have “loved Isalm for my neighbor.” I could see how this statement jibes with the violent interpretation of the radicals. By forcing Islam, they show their love for neighbor.

    One thing that cheeses me is that the “Christian Response” falls all over itself to apologize and seek forgiveness for all of the sins and violence (and then the note the “War on Terror”). Yet there is no such apology in the Muslim writing. They’ve submitted alright.

    Further, the sin qua non of Islam is “There is no god but God and Muhammad is his prophet.” The God of the Bible did not send Muhammad, so we cannot be talking about the same one. Thus we have come full circle. To sign such a statement, one has to agree that the god of Islam is that of Christianity, and that is essentially Piper’s point. There are two, not one, gods. And he’s right.

    BCJ

  11. Rick Garner January 23, 2008 at 3:24 pm #

    John,
    As a disciple do you see a contradiction in supporting a Mormon for U.S. President
    but unwilling to dialogue with Muslims about peace?

    Have you read
    Is the Father of Jesus The God of Muhammad?
    by Timothy George, 2002?

  12. A. B. Caneday January 23, 2008 at 4:04 pm #

    I am delighted that John Piper and Al Mohler have addressed the issue.

    Many weeks ago, twice I addressed “A Common Word between Us and You'”. I called attention to the fact that many evangelicals endorsed this compromising document in “An Urgent Need for Steadfast Perseverance” and later I discussed more details about the document and accompanying documents in “Be Reconciled to God.”

  13. John Caneday January 23, 2008 at 4:08 pm #

    Rick,

    I contest your assertion that I am “unwilling to dialogue with Muslims about peace.” That is beside the issue. The issue is whether or not there is “core common ground” between Muslims and Christians.

    As far as I am concerned the only meaningful common ground is with respect to morality–and even that is a tenuous statement.

    I see no contradiction in supporting a Mormon for President when I am “unwilling to dialogue with Muslims about peace.” Do you see a contradiction?

    I skimmed the Christianity Today article that George wrote, and I believe I have read that previously. I have also heard him lecture on the same topic. Frankly, my disappointment stems from this familiarity with his previous stand on “common ground.” He seems to “get it,” but then he signed the letter, which makes me think he doesn’t actually get it at all.

  14. A. B. Caneday January 23, 2008 at 4:17 pm #

    Rick,

    The issue is not dialogue with Muslims for peaceful coexistence. The issue is singular devotion to our Lord Jesus Christ or an admixture of religious affections that entails blending Islam and Christianity, as the document actually does.

    Do we have hearts that are singularly devoted to our Lord Jesus Christ or will we allow ourselves to be intimidated by the threat inherent to Islam so that we will compromise our devotion to Christ Jesus? Will Christ be ashamed of us? He will be, if we are ashamed of him.

  15. Ken January 23, 2008 at 4:35 pm #

    Gentlemen: No one who denies the Son has the Father. For all the “respect” Muslims claim to pay Jesus as sinless and a prophet, they deny him acknowledgement of his true nature. They also deny his mission, for they insist he was not crucified for the salvation of sinnners. Jesus is the only God in the flesh, the ultimate revelation of God to men. When Muslims claim that the Quran is a greater, better revelation, they disrepect our Lord.

    Of course we need to be winsome, gentle, humble, and gracious in our conversations with Muslims. But it is certainly not a service to them for us to cover up the gospel that they need for salvation.

  16. Benjamin A January 23, 2008 at 5:09 pm #

    For those who think like Brett, who wrote:
    “Give me a break, you guys on here only agree with Piper and Mohler on everything and it is despicable. I applaud these people for seeking peace because Christians oppress these people when we are called to love our enemies and seek peace with all men. Amazing”

    Seeking peace at the expense of truth is unspeakably wrong. And you applaud this?

    Mohler writes in his new release CULTURE SHIFT pp. 50-51, ” . . . the religion of Islam is at war with the Cross of Christ. Those who love the gospel must be reminded that Islam rejects Christ as the incarnate Son of God and the Cross as the atonement for our salvation. There ultimately can be no reconciliation between the claims of Christianity and the claims of Islam. The enemies of the Cross know this full well.”
    Yes, love your Islamic neighbor as yourself, but please don’t lie to him/her for the sake of ‘peace’. Remember Rev. 21:8 “liars go to hell.” Also the ninth commandment “You shall not bear false witness”.
    The God of Christianity is Triune: Father/Son/Holy Spirit
    The God of Islam is non-triune: Allah
    To speak in “God” language the way they did was shameful. Dishonest. They should know better.
    It’s like saying “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled”. As James said, “What use is that?”
    You love you neighbor by telling them the truth. And if they reject it, you still give them a loaf of bread/cup of water. You can still live at peace with all men even if they don’t agree with your gospel. But a watered down gospel will only confuse the listener.

  17. Rick Garner January 23, 2008 at 5:23 pm #

    AB
    Can you have a singular devotion to Jesus Christ and common ground with pagans?

    John,
    Yes. I do see a contradiction. Mormons and Muslims deny the centrality of Jesus Christ. To be consistent it would seem you would not support the one or dialogue with the other.

    Denny,
    Your title is misleading. Unity does not equal common ground. But I would think you know that. 😀

  18. Ali January 23, 2008 at 6:52 pm #

    Denny, I don’t know whether you have come across the Barnabas Fund, but they have a LOT to do with Muslim’s and their website has some good articles on the Muslim paper and Christian response. Worth checking out.

    http://www.barnabasfund.org/news/archives/article.php?ID_news_items=342

    I apologise for not embedding it – can never remember how.

  19. A. B. Caneday January 23, 2008 at 8:42 pm #

    Rick,

    Can you have a singular devotion to Jesus Christ and common ground with pagans?

    No, not when the so-called common ground, as in the documents under dispute, actually give ground to Muslims as though the god of Islam were the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

    Have you read the documents under question? Any Christian who actually reads the documents that I address on my blog could not endorse those documents without compromising one’s devotion to Christ to one degree or another. Hence, my appeal to believers to steadfast loyalty to Christ. This is very serious. Political correctness is trumping devotion to Christ for all those evangelicals who have endorsed the document.

    Thanks for the exchange.

  20. John Caneday January 23, 2008 at 9:55 pm #

    Rick,

    My supporting Mitt Romney for the presidency is not based on the fact that we have any common ground spiritually. It is that we share common values. Is a shared spirituality a criteria for supporting a political candidate? If it were, it would be exceedingly difficult to support very many candidates for political office.

    Romney articulates and supports many of my core political values that I share–and certainly more than any other candidate running for the presidency.

    Honestly, I have no idea where you see the conflict between my two positions. If you wish to dialog further on this topic please leave a comment for me on my blog so as to not distract from this discussion of Islam and Christianity.

  21. A. B. Caneday January 23, 2008 at 11:15 pm #

    Thank you for sharing your opinion, Patrick.

  22. Ken Fleck January 24, 2008 at 10:36 am #

    Denny, Great post! Appreciate both Piper and Mohler’s responses on here. I have some great links on this topic at the following website:

    http://missionaryroad.com/2008/01/23/john-piper-video-response-to-a-common-word/

    I will definitely link to your site. You have some great resources on here. Let’s keep the wholesome dialogue going on this so that we can spur each other on in grace and truth to fulfill the Great Commission!

    Jesus Christ is Lord!

    Ken

  23. Kris January 24, 2008 at 12:46 pm #

    Denny,

    I think John P brings up a good point about love of God. How can you love God unless you believe Him about His Son?

    But I have a question to you. I think Piper is right about loving the true God, but what if another document was agreed upon that only stated our unity with islam followers is love of your neighbor. Would you agree to that, do you Piper would agree to that? I would.

    Thanks for the space bro. I know your busy but I await your response. Of course my question is for anyone else who cares to answer.

  24. Kris January 24, 2008 at 12:55 pm #

    I forgot to add something. The document would define neighbor as anyone besides yourself.

    Which I have a feeling that defining neighbor in that way would be a point of contention that would exclude some from agreeing with it. After all its seems we are the Samaritans of many and many seem to be samaritans to us.

  25. A. B. Caneday January 24, 2008 at 5:07 pm #

    Patrick,

    I was not entirely clear concerning what you intended with your note, and at the same time I did not want to leave the impression that I was ignoring your comment. Hence, I wrote the only thing I could at the moment, simply to thank you.

    As for offering balance, as you explain in your last note, it is not clear to me what you want to balance, as though anything were out of balance other than that many evangelicals endorsed a letter to which none of them should have added their names, if they had given much thought to the contents of the letter. By the way, some of the names on the letter are my friends, friends who deeply disappointed me.

    I fear that a lot of evangelicals, including my friends, signed the document without adequately understanding what they were actually endorsing. This is one of the problems with signing letters drafted by others, especially others whose agendas are not made transparent.

    Once I signed a published letter, endorsed by many familiar names of evangelicals (including John Piper and several friends of mine). Had I known how that letter would become used and for how long it would be exploited, I would never have added my name to it. I signed that letter for my own reasons, not for all the reasons that the letter writer had for writing it and for exploiting it.

    As a result, I have a policy that I will not endorse any such letter again, and especially a letter such as is under discussion here.

  26. Rick Garner January 24, 2008 at 6:48 pm #

    A.B.
    “I fear that a lot of evangelicals, including my friends, signed the document without adequately understanding what they were actually endorsing.”

    Did you mean or imply that theologians like Gushee, Stott, George and others signed the document without understanding it? Seriously.

  27. A. B. Caneday January 24, 2008 at 8:11 pm #

    Rick,

    You asked, Did you mean or imply that theologians like Gushee, Stott, George and others signed the document without understanding it? Seriously.

    Yes, I am serious, because I have examined the document and its accompanying documents carefully. Out of charity and generosity I would rather think that they did not adequately understand what they signed than to think of my friends signing a document that they genuinely understood. For if they understood it adequately, then. . . .

    (David Gushee, BTW, is a philosopher, not a theologian.)

  28. A. B. Caneday January 24, 2008 at 8:53 pm #

    Patrick,

    I understand your point better. However, I fear that you over-interpreted my comments. Please reconsider what I said in response to Rick. Here is what I said that prompted your response.

    Have you read the documents under question? Any Christian who actually reads the documents that I address on my blog could not endorse those documents without compromising one’s devotion to Christ to one degree or another. Hence, my appeal to believers to steadfast loyalty to Christ. This is very serious. Political correctness is trumping devotion to Christ for all those evangelicals who have endorsed the document.

    I admit that my comment may be too brief and depended too heavily upon an assumption that readers might actually read my fuller comments on my blog, to which I gave links. Yet, given the fullness of what I have said in all my comments on Denny’s page, I did not render judgment about the devotion of any single signatory, and particularly not that of Greg Livingstone.

    I stand by my comment. I honestly do not understand how any Christian who actually reads and evaluates the documents under question could endorse them “without compromising one’s devotion to Christ to one degree or another.” Because of this, as I explained in my note and explain much more fully on my own blog, “Hence, my appeal to believers to steadfast loyalty to Christ.” I made that appeal on my own blog here followed by another appeal here.

    In my second blog entry I quote a letter from a couple who devoted their lives to bringing the gospel to Muslims. They understand the deep ramifications and not so subtle implications of the documents our evangelical friends, colleagues, and leaders endorsed. BTW, one of my uncles went to a Muslim country to serve as a missionary and spent his whole life there. Consequently, I developed a rather keen interest in understanding Islam early in life, an interest that has been sustained.

    I also stand by my statement concerning the power of “political correctness,” which I explained rather fully here. I do not know the motivations of each signatory’s heart that prompted them to endorse the letter. I am convinced, however, that it was wrong for all of them to endorse the letter, no matter what explanation each may offer. Can we not say this, given the fact that we can read the document our evangelical friends signed? My judgment is upon the document and upon signing the document. Devotion to Christ is at stake, whether some measure of ignorance or some form of intimidation prompted them to sign.

    May the steadfast love of Christ constrain us all to love him wholeheartedly lest we cherish the smile and approval of humans and lapse in our devotion to our Lord and engage in spiritual adultery.

    Blessings to all!

  29. A. B. Caneday January 24, 2008 at 11:01 pm #

    Patrick,

    Yes, you may send me a note.

    I will watch for it.

  30. debbie January 25, 2008 at 4:28 pm #

    I worry about some Christian denominations and Jewish people who think we can have an interfaith dialogue. The Desciples of Christ church is one of the main ones that meet with Jews and Muslims on a regular basis. There is no discussion of Jesus being the only truth but that God accepts everyone whether they are Jewish, Christian or Muslim.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. » Piper and Mohler at ETS | Denny Burk - November 23, 2009

    […] John Piper and Albert Mohler sat on a panel last week at ETS to discuss a recent effort to bridge the theological divide between Muslims and Christians. The effort resulted in a document titled “A Common Word Between Us,” and I wrote about it in early 2008 (read it here). […]

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