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Duane Litfin: The Real Theological Issue Between Christians and Muslims

Litfin’s “Real Theological Issue” does re-center attention on Jesus Christ. That’s accurate and appropriate. But no, it doesn’t necessarily simplify the conversation. In my tradition we frequently quote Jesus’ words in Luke 11:23: “Whoever is not with me is against me.” Well and good. But earlier in the same gospel Jesus also said “whoever is not against you is for you” (v. 50). Mark’s Gospel has it, “for whoever is not against us is for us” (9:40). Seeking to understand and discuss, either theologically or missiologically, the relation of Jesus to individuals or groups who don’t share our understanding of or relation to Jesus is a complex, intricate, nuanced, and vitally important process. But it isn’t easy or simple.

Be authentic, transparent, compassionate Christians always, everywhere, with everyone.

How to move forward? First, we must be willing to tackle tough questions. Second, we may have to take an unpopular (that is, a minority) stance if our quest for truth and the strength of our convictions lead us there. Third, become agents for change. Fourth, be authentic, transparent, compassionate Christians always, everywhere, with everyone.

Reviewed by Tony Richie



[1] The Quran does not call Jesus the Son of God, and it denies his death, claiming he was raised alive up to heaven. Cf. T. Khalidi, The Muslim Jesus: Sayings and Stories in Islamic Literature (Harvard University Press, 2001).

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Category: Fall 2016, In Depth

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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