Top Christian leaders across denominational lines – from the Anglican Communion’s Archbishop Rowan Williams to the Roman Catholic Church’s Pope Benedict XVI to the World Council of Churches’ the Rev. Dr. Samuel Kobia – were quick to welcome the letter signed by some 140 Muslim leaders.
However, after the initial attention and response, not much was otherwise heard from the Christian representatives.
The World Council of Churches, which represents some 590 million Christians, has no public action planned for the time being, its communications officer told Christian Today Wednesday.
“Our colleagues in inter-religious relations will continue working in Muslim-Christian dialogue and relations as it has been the case in the past with the only difference that the insights of the letter, which deserves further study and consideration, will be dealt with within that framework,” said WCC media relations officer Juan Michel.
Meanwhile, the Evangelical Alliance said it intends to follow up on a preliminary meeting it had with the Muslim Council of Britain six months ago. The Evangelical Alliance’s general director, Joel Edwards, and its executive director of public affairs, David Muir, also plan to hold meetings with other faith groups.
“A key part of how I see our role developing is to build very strong and meaningful relationships with other faiths, particularly with Muslims, in the months and years ahead,” Edwards said.
Last week, 138 Muslim clerics, scholars and intellectuals from all the major sects signed a letter calling for peace between Muslims and Christians. The letter entitled, “A Common World Between Us and You,” urged followers of the two faiths to find “common ground” and not simply just for “polite ecumenical dialogue” between certain religious leaders.
“If Muslims and Christians are not at peace, the world cannot be at peace,” stated the letter. “With the terrible weaponry of the modern world, with Muslims and Christians intertwined everywhere as never before, no side can unilaterally win a conflict between more than half of the world’s inhabitants.
“Our common future is at stake,” the letter added. “The very survival of the world itself is perhaps at stake.”
Signers represent the Sunni, Shia, Ibadis, Ismailian and Jaafari branches of Islam.
In response, the World Evangelical Alliance – which represents some 420 million evangelical Christians worldwide – said it will ask its Religious Liberty Commission and Theological Commission to develop an internal process that will guide the community in responding to the request from the Muslim scholars.
“I will also discuss with leaders of various Christian communions about the potential of a collaborative response from the Christian community,” said the Rev. Dr. Geoff Tunniciffe, WEA’s International Director and CEO, to Christian Today.
The Lutheran World Federation also welcomed the Muslim letter and said further study and consideration was necessary.