Can We Talk?

Religion: Muslim “A Common Word” statement and the Christian response spark as much controversy as they hope to resolve

After years, indeed centuries, of hostility, is a new and friendlier era in Muslim-Christian relations emerging?

That seems as improbable as the starting point for such a prospect: Muslim ire over a 2006 lecture by Pope Benedict. His talk provoked an immediate statement of defense from Muslim thinkers, followed last October by a dramatic declaration from a broader Muslim assemblage about improving interfaith harmony. A Christian group then seized the moment, issuing an optimistic November response.

That Christian rejoinder has attracted hundreds of endorsers, not only Catholics and liberal Protestants but such evangelicals as Bill Hybels, John Stott, Rick Warren, Christianity Today’s David Neff, and Wheaton College president Duane Litfin. However, some conservatives expressed alarm, and Litfin and others have now withdrawn their endorsements.