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Consultation on American Evangelicals and Islam

The tone of the meeting was amazingly constructive and positive. I am persuaded that these women and men are committed to living out their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ in a multi-faith world with true Christian integrity. I believe the Lord will bless that commitment.

The planning team for this consultation included John Azumah, (Professor of Islam and World Christianity, Columbia Theological Seminary & Senior Associate for Islam for the Lausanne Movement), Matthew Krabill (Ph.D. Candidate, Fuller Theological Seminary), and Cory Willson (Assistant Professor of Missiology & Director of the Institute for Global Church Planting and Renewal, Calvin Theological Seminary). Richard J. Mouw (Professor of Faith and Public Life & President Emeritus, Fuller Theological Seminary) contributed his experience and role in the American evangelical community and his efforts to help secure substantial funding from the Henry Luce Foundation. All the meetings were particularly well organized and implementation was first-rate. Special thanks are due to Matt Krabill and Cory Willson for all of their hard work in facilitating!

There were many excellent presentations and panel discussions. Much of the conversation was framed around previous documents put together on the topic of Islam by the Association of Theological Schools (https://www.ats.edu/) and the Lausanne Third Congress (www.lausanne.org/). The journal Evangelical Interfaith Dialogue (http://evangelicalinterfaith.org/) was also a helpful resource. However, the rich diversity and wide range of experience of the consultation participants turned out to be the main resource for the week’s work.

A special edition of the Evangelical Interfaith Dialogue journal will focus on Islamophobia in America and will include contributing authors from Christian and Muslim communities. The special edition of the journal will draw on what is discussed at the intra-evangelical consultation. Selection of Muslim contributors will be based upon existing relationships and ongoing collaboration with participants in the consultation or their ability to speak to Christian-Muslim engagement in the United States. For example, Marsha Snulligan-Haney in Atlanta, Georgia and Jim Mullins in Tempe, Arizona are engaged in ongoing collaboration and relationships with the Muslim communities in their areas. Having contributed to EID on this topic myself in the past (“A Brief Response to Islamophobia by a Pentecostal Observer” (Fall 2016), 40-41, I particularly look forward with anticipation to this upcoming issue. Topics of the special edition will include issues such as:

  • The plurality of “Islams;”
  • The meaning of “jihad;”
  • What is generating the current Islamophobia;
  • Practical resources to help local congregations and communities engage Muslims.

Personally, I found the morning homilies particularly helpful. Rich Mouw opened up the first day with by insisting that Islamophobia involves a refusal to view human beings as God sees them—that is, as created in God’s image. The next morning Jul Medenblik, President of Calvin Theological Seminary, challenged us to remember the gracious blessing of Elisha the prophet in response to the request of the healed Syrian general, Naaman, for forgiveness when returning to serve under his pagan king with the temple presence it involved (2 Kings 5:19). Finally, Mark Labberton, President and Professor of Preaching at Fuller Theological Seminary, boldly exhorted us to fear God rather than man, and thus, to serve God courageously.

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Category: Ministry, Summer 2017

About the Author: Tony Richie, D.Min, Ph.D., is missionary teacher at SEMISUD (Quito, Ecuador) and adjunct professor at the Pentecostal Theological Seminary (Cleveland, TN). Dr. Richie is an Ordained Bishop in the Church of God, and Senior Pastor at New Harvest in Knoxville, TN. He has served the Society for Pentecostal Studies as Ecumenical Studies Interest Group Leader and is currently Liaison to the Interfaith Relations Commission of the National Council of Churches (USA), and represents Pentecostals with Interreligious Dialogue and Cooperation of the World Council of Churches and the Commission of the Churches on International Affairs. He is the author of Speaking by the Spirit: A Pentecostal Model for Interreligious Dialogue (Emeth Press, 2011) and Toward a Pentecostal Theology of Religions: Encountering Cornelius Today (CPT Press, 2013) as well as several journal articles and books chapters on Pentecostal theology and experience.

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