Winds Of War: Evangelicals Have Second Thoughts

Remember that letter the Muslim leaders sent to the Christian community that many Christian leaders rushed to accept. Well, some are having second thoughts.

Administrators from one of the most influential evangelical colleges in the country removed their names from a controversial letter addressed to Muslim leaders that some say compromises the Christian faith.

Wheaton College president Duane Litfin, provost Stanton Jones and chaplain Stephen Kellough decided to back away from the letter that they had originally endorsed along with nearly 300 Christian leaders in November in response to an October statement (”A Common Word Between Us and You”) from 138 Muslim scholars and clerics who called for interfaith cooperation for world peace.

Maybe the “let’s all just get along” crowd is getting the message. Muslims may just not be friends of Christians.

“I signed the statement because I am committed to the business of peace-making and neighbor-love,” Litfin stated on Friday in The Record, the student publication of Wheaton College. “I did not savor the document’s unnuanced apology section, but swallowed that in order to be a part of reaching out a hand to these Muslim leaders who had courageously taken the initiative.

Congratulations. Swallowingyour beliefs is the first step towards dhimmitude.

The Christian-endorsed statement – which included such signatories as Rick Warren of Saddleback Church, Billy Hybels of Willow Creek Community Church, and Leith Anderson of the National Association of Evangelicals – urged for interfaith dialogue that would build relations and reshape the Christian and Islam communities. Christian leaders also asked for forgiveness of sins committed against Muslims in the Crusades and excesses of the war on terrors in the letter.

What bulls**t. Where’s the apology from the Muslim leaders for the deaths of Christians at the hands of Muslims now and in the past.

President Bush’s repeated assertions about the peaceful nature of Islam were briefly interrupted when the State Department issued the annual report required by the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998. This year, as in the past, our Muslim-world partners in the coalition against terrorism were prominently featured among the most violent, most intolerant regimes in the world. Religious minorities are persecuted in over 20 states where Islam is the official or dominant religion. The million Christians who have fled the Muslim world in the past five years were hardly seeking sanctuary from the peaceful face of Islam.

With shocking regularity, human-rights groups report the death of Christians at the hands of Muslim militants in Africa, South Asia, and the Middle East.

Titled “Loving God and Neighbor Together: A Christian Response to a Common Word Between Us and You,” the statement emphasized the “absolutely central” commonality between both religions: love of God and love of neighbor.

The response drew sharp criticism from highly respected theologians R. Albert Mohler, Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and John Piper, pastor at Bethlehem Baptist Church, and other Christian leaders.

Piper called the Christian document a “profound disappointment” in the way it was worded and was surprised that even some of his friends lent their support to the letter.

“What’s missing from this document is a clear statement about what Christianity really is and how we can come together to talk with Muslims from our unique, distinctive, biblical standpoint,” Piper said in a public statement last month.

He rejected the letter’s emphasis on the common ground of the love of God, arguing that the love of God for Christians is starkly different from that of Islam.

And Muslim clerics agree. They pray to a different god.

In a move that may hurt Malaysia’s multi-religious social fabric the government has announced that certain Arabic words like ‘Allah’ cannot be used in the literature, gospel and speeches of non-Muslims faiths.

“Only Muslims can use (the word) Allah. It’s a Muslim word. It’s from the Arabic language. We cannot let other religions use it because it will confuse people,” deputy minister for internal security Johari Baharum told presspersons explaining the rationale for the decision.

Back to the Christian response.

The Rev. Canon Dr. Patrick Sookhdeo, the director of the Institute for the Study of Islam and Christianity and a British Anglican, applauded the effort of the Muslim leaders in reaching out to Christian leaders to try to find common ground but he called the Christian response a “betrayal” and “sellout” of the Christian faith.

Following such criticism, Wheaton’s Litfin realized he “moved too quickly” to sign the statement in his eagerness to support its strengths, including peace-making.

Recognizing that the statement could have been written differently to avoid vagueness of the Christian faith, Litfin said he could not support a statement that speaks as if Quran’s Allah and the God of Christians are the same.

“I needed to back away,” he said regarding his retraction.

The man got religion at last.