Magazine article The Christian Century

U.S. Funds Evangelical-Muslim Project

Magazine article The Christian Century

U.S. Funds Evangelical-Muslim Project

Article excerpt

To encourage cordial contacts between evangelicals and Muslims, Fuller Theological Seminary has received a federal grant for a $1 million project to craft an ethics code rejecting unfair accusations, to recognize a mutual belief in one God and to share like-minded peacemaking goals.

The seminary in Pasadena, California, by its reckoning the largest interdenominational theological school in the nation, already has brought Muslim thinkers to its campus since the September 11, 2001, attacks to reduce misunderstandings between Christians and Muslims, said President Richard Mouw.

"It is a fact that anytime the United States is in hostile relationships with a Muslim country; little kids get beaten up on the way to school in Orange County," Mouw told the CENTURY this month. The project calls for identifying practical peacemaking measures, holding two national Muslim-Christian conferences, producing a book and ultimately teaching insights at local levels.

The initiative marks yet another moderate approach to religio-social issues taken by Fuller in contrast to evangelicalism's hardliners, who have highlighted differences in the two religions. Conservative church leaders recently lamented President Bush's remark in London that Christians and Muslims "worship the same Cod." Some Southern Baptist pastors have called the Prophet Muhammad a terrorist or a "demon-possessed pedophile."

Mouw said the issue "is tremendously complex" as to whether followers of the two faiths, as well as Judaism, worship the same God, but he noted that all three religions claim to be inheritors of traditions going back to Abraham. "I don't want to get into a shouting match with Southern Baptists, but they do seem to rule out frameworks or dialogues to do things together for the common good," he said.

The grant from the Department of Justice came through legislation sponsored by Representative Adam B. Schiff (D., Calif.). He told the Los Angeles Times that the funding does not breach the wall of church-state separation because it does not promote devotional activities. "This is not a proselytizing venture," Schiff said. "This a conflict resolution program."

Yahia Abdul-Rahman, formerly head of the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California with its network of mosques, said he began working with David Augsberger, Glen Stassen and other Fuller professors last year to develop a peacemaking framework. …

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