Evangelical Reflections on a Muslim World Aflame
In another example, in response to the recent protests overseas, the National Association of Evangelicals issued a public statement decrying not only the violence, but also the film that has been implicated in the uprisings. Joining them, groups like The New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good also called on evangelicals to work within their ranks to diminish their community's culpability in religious violence.
And as coincidence would have it, the same week the uprisings began in the Middle East, Rick Love and Peace Catalyst International were holding their Evangelicals for Peace Conference. This gathering in Washington, D.C. brought together evangelicals from a number of perspectives all united in making an impact through Jesus-centered forms of peacemaking around the world.
Brian McLaren should also be cited as another example within the spectrum of evangelicals who has contributed in this area. His new book, Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road?, raises important questions and suggests new ways forward, including the reformulation of Christian identities, still strongly based in Christ, but moving away from hostility toward other religions in identities that seek to extend benevolence. Pastor Bob Roberts and his Global Faith Forum is also helping bring evangelicals together with those in other religions, providing a helpful model for evangelical interreligious engagement.
In addition, the Evangelical Chapter of the Foundation for Religious Diplomacy has been working to prepare evangelicals for interreligious relationships, understanding, and conversations. Through charter members like Paul Louis Metzger, author of Connecting Christ: How to Discuss Jesus in a World of Diverse Paths, we have created models for a new way forward, both in printed text, online forums, as well as in personal interactions. The chapter is continuing its work within the evangelical community through education, advocacy, networking, and conversations.
Although evangelicalism continues to face many challenges in its engagement with a religiously plural world, there are encouraging changes on the horizon. Evangelicals from conservative to progressive must make every effort to work through our disagreements as we engage the religions in better ways and follow the one who said, "Blessed are the peacemakers."
John W. Morehead is the Custodian of the Evangelical Chapter of the Foundation for Religious Diplomacy, the Director of the Western Institute for Intercultural Studies, and has been involved in interreligious dialogue for many years in the contexts of Islam, Mormonism, and Paganism. He is editor of Beyond the Burning Times: A Pagan and Christian in Dialogue, by Philip Johnson and Gus diZerega.