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Christian Responses

Response from Columbia Theological Seminary

FACULTY RESPONSE TO “A COMMON WORD BETWEEN US AND YOU”

COLUMBIA THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY
DECATUR, GEORGIA

Columbia Theological Seminary
is an educational institution of the Presbyterian Church (USA)
and a community of theological inquiry and formation
for ministry in the service of the Church of Jesus Christ.

We welcome the invitation that comes from A Common Word Between Us and You to seek peaceful relationships between Christians and Muslims. The historical interaction between our faiths is one mostly characterized by suspicion, hostility, and war, and yet, as the letter states, our traditions should be grounded in love of God and neighbor. Ignorance has eclipsed the enriching interactions between our faiths communities, and misunderstanding continues to fuel a dividing fear that undermines the possibilities of a mutual task for peace and justice. The time has come to provide theological information and formation that allows our love of God and neighbor to dictate the normative expressions of our relationships.

Your invitation comes as a challenge to the formation of Christian ministers and leaders. As a faculty dedicated to theological inquiry and the formation of people for many types of Christian ministry, we welcome and will continue to seek opportunities to engage in dialogue with Muslims leaders in our communities and beyond. We make our own the words of Rev. Clifton Kirkpatrick, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA), in his public response to A Common Word Between Us and You,

The words of this invitation call us to redouble our efforts to understand how Muslims and Christians can live together in respect in many different contexts, particularly where conflict threatens the fabric of life. Its call for mutual accountability among Muslims and Christians for communal life and for peace is bold and heartening. We might especially heed the letter’s appeal to Christians and Muslims to cooperate for peace since, as its writers’ note, “our common future is at stake,” and the relationship between our two religious communities may be “the most important factor in contributing to meaningful peace around the world.

 

Acknowledging the imperative we face and the differences between our faiths, we will strive to:

  1. Continue to offer educational events that provide a critical perspective into the complex history of Muslim/Christian encounters and into contemporary dialogues; and
  2.  Provide educational and formation opportunities to our students in our different degree and non-degree programs that generate a growing awareness and action for peaceful co-existence among religions, particularly between Christianity and Islam.

Totally dependent on the grace of God, we will also:

  1. Pray for God’s guidance as we seek depth of meaning and testimony of love of God and neighbor, particularly between Christians and Muslims;
  2. Continue to offer Christian hospitality when Muslim colleagues, friends, and strangers visit our campus, faculty homes, and places of worship;
  3. Discern ways in which we can build religious communities of peace and justice; and
  4.  Follow the words of the prophet Micah,

“He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require from you but to do justice, and to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8, NRSV) and Jesus in the Gospel of Mark, “Here are my mother and my brother! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.” (Mark 3:34b-35, NRSV). Compelled to seek and construct a reconciled and peaceful world, Columbia Theological Seminary Faculty