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‘A Common Word’ in the News

Response to Baptists’ response

The Baptist World Alliance has responded to a Muslim letter that
appeals for Christians and Muslims to cooperate in engendering peace
and religious freedom. Well-Being Australia chairman Mark Tronson,
cricket chaplain of 25 years and Baptist minister of 31 years, has
identified the critical sentence in the Baptist response.

Entitled “A Common Word Between Us and You”, the original letter dated
October 13, 2007 was written by 138 Muslim leaders and scholars, and
was sent to 27 named world Christian leaders including Baptist World
Alliance (BWA) President David Coffey.

In preparation of the formal response, BWA General Secretary Neville
Callam sought comments from Baptist scholars and leaders, including
those living in countries with a Muslim majority, regarding how the BWA
might respond to the letter.

According to Michael Ireland, the chief correspondent for Assist News
Service, a team of Baptist scholars and leaders crafted what eventually
became the formal BWA response at a forum at the BWA Annual Gathering
in Prague, Czech Republic, in July 2008.

Ireland reported that Coffey and Callam sent the BWA response to Prince
Ghazi Bin Muhammad Bin Talal of Jordan, President of the Royal Aal
al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought, on December 19, 2008. This
document can be read in full at the website:

M V Tronson notes that the formal response is naturally detailed,
clarifying and very carefully worded, however in his view, the critical
aspect of the response comes near the end, in a section which reads:

“We recognize, therefore, that both Islam and Christianity are
‘missionary faiths’. We affirm that there is a legitimate kind of
mission in which people can, in appropriate ways, share their beliefs
with others, and in which people seeking God should have the freedom to
explore the way that God is calling them into faith. We believe that as
Christians and Muslims we are faced by an important challenge in this
age of globalization: that each tradition should develop further its
ethical approach to mission, and that we should do this together
wherever possible. We would like to engage in discussion on this
matter, looking at specific local examples where tension or conflict
has arisen between our two communities, and placing these in the
context of our Scriptures”.

Although polite, the message is clear, M V Tronson says, that Baptist
voices from countries where there is a Muslim majority had been heard
in this formal response, that persecution and a clear lack of religious
freedom and evangelism opportunities must be part of any legitimate

“So much nonsense gets aired by those who live in security and safety,
who speak of issues such as ‘tolerance’ that bears no relationship with
the reality that so many face who do not have the luxury of living in a
society that features religious freedom as an essential ingredient as a
human right,” said M V Tronson.

M V Tronson says that becoming friends with Muslim individuals is an
imperative for every Christian and part of any friendship situation is
being able to honestly share one’s personal testimony of Jesus Christ
as Saviour and Lord. “Frighteningly so, there are places where my very
life would be put in serious danger by engaging in such an open