Archives For Islam

 

Dialogue, Appreciation, Understanding, and Shared Life

A Review of

How Not to Kill a Muslim: A Manifesto of Hope for Christianity and Islam in North America
Joshua Graves

Paperback: Cascade Books, 2015.
Buy now:  [ Amazon ] [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by John W. Morehead

 

One of the greatest contemporary challenges faced by evangelicals and other expressions of Christianity in the West is the understanding of Islam and relationships with Muslims in America and around the world. Joshua Graves provides a helpful contribution to the conversation on navigating these challenges in How Not to Kill a Muslim. Despite the (strategically) provocative title, this volume presents a fair-minded and peace-oriented exploration of its subject matter.

 

The preface of the volume provides a succinct summary of the book’s focus and approach. The book “is primarily focused on the relationship and responsibility of Christians toward Muslims within the context of North America.” It explores the cultural and religious biases embedded within Protestant evangelical Christianity and demonstrates strategies for dialogue, appreciation, understanding, and shared life between Christians and Muslims living in the United States.

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Truthful, Kind, and Trust Building.

A Feature Review of

Christian. Muslim. Friend.: Twelve Paths to Real Relationship
David Shenk

Paperback: Herald Press, 2014.
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

 

Reviewed by John W. Morehead.

 

How should Christians engage Muslims? In America Christian-Muslim relations are strained at best. A recent LifeWay survey revealed that a large percentage of Christian pastors view Muslims and Islam negatively. It is likely that these attitudes are found among rank and file church members as well. In the midst of this situation in our post-9/11 world, David Shenk provides suggestions based upon his extensive experience as a Mennonite missionary and peacemaker on how Christians might profitably interact with the Muslims they encounter.

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How Then do we Pray Together?

A Review of

No Peace Without Prayer: Encouraging Muslims and Christians to Pray Together, A Benedictine Approach

Timothy Wright

Paperback: Liturgical Press, 2014
Buy now: [ Amazon ] [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by Amy Gentile and Liz Strout

 

Notes: This review, a fitting one for the Feast of St. Francis this weekend, was co-written by Amy Gentile and Liz Strout, who grew up in the same Baptist church and later converted to Eastern Orthodoxy and Sunni Islam, respectively. We read and discussed this book together, requesting it for review as we found the topic both timely and personally important.

 

Through the advent of technology, the world has grown increasingly more connected. We no longer have the privilege of remaining in isolated, homogenous communities (ethnic, religious, or sociopolitical). Ultimately, we would argue that’s a good thing, but it is not always easy, especially when there is a long-standing history of conflict and even violence. We must move forward with avenues of dialogue and peace-making, even when it is difficult. It is in this vein that Abbot Timothy Wright writes No Peace Without Prayer: Encouraging Muslims and Christians to Pray Together, A Benedictine Approach. He brings his experiences organizing dialogues between Catholic monks and Shi’a Muslims as well as a generous spirit to this text, setting forward a “framework, adaptable to the widely differing situations in which Muslims and Christians live side by side.” (16) This type of dialogue—whether between Christians and Muslims or any other differing communities—is a necessity in a globalized age, and we should all be echoing the call for dialogue, compassion, and ultimately peace.

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Shedding Light on Fear-Mongering.

A Feature Review of

The Islamophobia Industry: How the Right Manufactures Fear of Muslims
Nathan Lean

Paperback: Pluto Press, 2012.
Buy now: [ Amazon ] [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by John W. Morehead.

 

Human beings are wired to be aware of difference. It is natural part of human nature to forge various social alliances that foster senses of “us,” the insiders, in distinction to “them,” the outsiders. Problems arise when the outsiders become the enemy, and they further function in such a way that one’s individual and collective identity is created by way of opposition to the other. In the United States, this dynamic is all too frequently found in the post-9/11 environment in regards to Islam, where a cottage industry portrays Islam as a monstrous entity, wholly a religion of violence, pursuing terrorism and the overthrow of the US Constitution to be replaced with “sharia law.” The result of this narrative is a frighteningly large number of people adopting “Islamophobia,” an irrational fear of Muslims and the Islamic religion.

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“Could it be that the American Christian tradition is more like Muhammad
than Jesus when it comes to questions of war and peacemaking?

This is the question that Lee Camp poses in a recent video (in three clips) discussing his new book:

Who Is My Enemy?:
Questions American Christians Must Face
about Islam — and Themselves
.
Lee Camp.
Paperback: Brazos Press, 2011.
Buy now: [ ChristianBook.com ]

[ Read our review…  ]

Click these links for  [ Part 2 ]  [ Part 3 ]

 

“Reflecting on Christian Faithfulness
in a Post-9/11 World”

A review of
Who Is My Enemy?:
Questions American Christians Must Face
about Islam — and Themselves
.
by Lee Camp.

Review by Chris Smith.

Lee Camp - Who is my Enemy?Who Is My Enemy?:
Questions American Christians Must Face
about Islam — and Themselves
.
Lee Camp.
Paperback: Brazos Press, 2011.
Buy now: [ ChristianBook.com ]

This weekend marks the tenth anniversary of the tragedies of 9/11. In the days that followed, as we learned more about the men who coordinated the hijackings of planes and who crashed – or intended to crash – these planes into strategic landmarks including the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, there was a huge public outcry, not only against al-Qaeda, the terrorist group who claimed responsibility for the events of the day, but also against the Muslim faith at large. Public opinion of the Muslim community ranged from suspicion to vilification in those days and months following 9/11, which fueled rhetoric that can generally be characterized as depicting a grand conflict between Islam and the West.

As we remember, however, the events of a decade ago, it would serve us well to reflect on the emotions and rhetoric that prevailed in the American public in the months after 9/11. For those of us in the Church, one very helpful tool for such reflection is Lee Camp’s new book, the title of which asks the pointed question Who is My Enemy? Camp is professor of theology and ethics and Lipscomb University in Nashville who earned his PhD as a student of John Howard Yoder at Notre Dame, but is perhaps best known these days as the creator and organizer of the Tokens “Old Time Radio” stage show (Click here for our review of an earlier Tokens show). Camp is also the author of Mere Discipleship, which offers a poignant and compelling call to radically Christ-centered life in the contemporary world.

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“Building Interfaith Bridges

A review of
Allah: A Christian Response.
by Miroslav Volf.

Review by Bob Cornwall.

ALLAH by Miroslav VolfAllah: A Christian Response.
Miroslav Volf.
Hardback: HarperOne, 2011.
Buy now: [ ChristianBook.com ] [ Amazon – Kindle ]

[This review originally appeared on the reviewer’s blog
and is reprinted here with permission.]

Do Christians and Muslims worship a common God?  In the opinion of many Muslims and Christians the answer to this question is a rather simple and stark no.  Muslims might point to the Christian doctrine of the Trinity as proof that Christians worship a divinity far different from the one described by their strict monotheism.  Christians might respond in quite the same way, suggesting that the fact that Muslims don’t accept the Trinity is proof that Allah isn’t the same as the God they worship.  Others might suggest that while the Christian God is a God of love, Muslims serve a violent, wrathful, and vengeful God.  In response to these claims, there would be counterclaims, of course.  The question, however, is an important one because Christianity and Islam claim the allegiance of more than half the world’s population and adherents of these two faiths find themselves in conflicts around the globe.

There is no question that there are differences between the Christian and Islamic faiths, differences that include but go beyond the doctrine of the Trinity, but according to Miroslav Volf, a Yale theology professor who has been in active conversation with Muslims, there are also significant commonalities.  In his view, these commonalities can provide an important foundation for conversations that could help build bridges between the two faith communities.

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In addition to the books reviewed above (Lee Camp’s WHO IS MY ENEMY? and Miroslav Volf’s ALLAH), here are a few books that would be useful in helping churches to reflect on what Christian faithfulness looks like in a post-9/11 world).

(Your purchase of any of these books helps to support the work of the ERB!  Thanks…)

834877: The War on Terror: How Should Christians Respond? The War on Terror: How Should Christians Respond?

By Nick Solly Megoran / InterVarsity Press

$1.99 —  *** SALE PRICE ***

432316: Christian Attitudes to War, Peace, and Revolution Christian Attitudes to War, Peace, and Revolution

By J.H. Yoder;
T.J. Koontz & A. Alexis-Baker, eds. / Brazos Press

$23.49

[ Read our review… ]

834900: The Gods of War: Is Religion the Primary Cause of Violent Conflict? The Gods of War:
Is Religion the Primary Cause of Violent Conflict?

By Meic Pearse / InterVarsity Press

$3.99 – *** SALE PRICE ***

208984: The Crusades Through Arab Eyes The Crusades Through Arab Eyes

By Amin Maalouf / Random House, Inc

$11.99

171420: Christianity and the Crisis of Cultures Christianity and the Crisis of Cultures

By Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger / Ignatius Press

$9.99

523700: The Saint and the Sultan: The Crusades, Islam, and Francis of Assisi"s Mission of Peace The Saint and the Sultan:
The Crusades, Islam, and Francis of Assisi’s Mission of Peace

By Paul Moses / Random House, Inc

$16.99

[ Read an  excerpt…]

 

837465: Between Allah & Jesus: What Christians Can Learn from Muslims A Brief Review of

Between Allah & Jesus:
What Christians Can Learn from Muslims

Peter Kreeft.
Paperback: IVP Book, 2010.

Buy now: [ ChristianBook.com ]

Reviewed by Rev. Warren Hicks.

During Lent, I received a copy of Peter Kreeft’s new book  Between Allah and Jesus: What Christians Can Learn From Muslims courtesy of the publisher, IVP Books.

I had become acquainted with Peter Kreeft through an interview on the Mars Hill Audio Journal last year.  I was interested in his thinking and was intrigued by this book, hoping to find a constructive dialogue about the shared tenets of Islam and Christianity.

That isn’t at all what I received.  I’m still not sure how I feel about this frustrated expectation.  Given Dr. Kreeft’s academic CV I was expecting a philosophical analysis between the two faiths.  When I began reading the first page of the introduction I read the following with some trepidation: “My medium is not essays but fictional dialogues between a pious Muslim and various Christians. For my strategy is indirect rather than direct, showing rather than telling.” (9)

Even given that caveat at the beginning I found myself getting ‘stuck’ and frustrated in the air of brinksmanship in the dialogues between some of the characters that Dr. Kreeft builds in the book.  Dr. Kreeft has published this piece as a precursor to the novel An Ocean Full of Angels that he’s crafting with the same characters.  He further is good about owning some of the problems I found with this work up front: “Without the novel to frame them, the characters in this book are bound to be somewhat thin and flat, even stereotyped.” (14)

I understand the need for clarity and the polarities that Kreeft is laying out here, but some of the dialogue seemed to me to be caricatured and did not fall on my ears as objectively as the author says he intended it to.  I’ll own that this is likely because I find myself toward the ‘liberal’ side of the Christian dialogue as he describes it.

That being said, I have to admit I continue to be uncomfortable with Kreeft’s ‘Liberal’ conversation partner in the dialogues. Libby Rawls is described by the author as a “sarcastic, sassy, Black feminist ‘liberal'” (13).  Contrast is necessary but Libby comes off as reactionary, unthoughtful, morally flawed, emotional and (apparently worst of all for Kreeft and the other characters) illogical.

I don’t disagree that those points of view are an integral part of the project here and are likely necessary to provide the contrast that Dr. Kreeft is trying to draw.  I found it disconcerting that they wound up all in one person who represented any number of stereotypes and groups of Christians.  All this being said, ‘Isa Ben Adam, Fr. Heerema, Libby Rawls, Evan Jellema and Fr. Fesser take us on a ride that can be frustrating and unsatisfying to the nth degree.

I was tempted to give up before the end and write this review. I’m glad I didn’t.  I beg you don’t give up until ‘Mother’ has the last word in this rollicking, rhetorical set of dialogues.

We have a lot to learn from each other.

 

20 Page Excerpt from
Paul Moses’ The Saint and the Sultan:
The Crusades, Islam,
and Francis of Assisi’s Mission of Peace
.
Hardback: Doubleday, 2009
.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]