Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Peace Of Christ That All Understanding Passes

Mega megachurch angst reported today in Orange County. The Schuller family hopes to take part of the Crystal Cathedral congregation to a new church, while Saddleback Church is in the midst of a controversy sparked by this article in the Feb. 26 Orange County Register:
Abraham Meulenberg, a Saddleback pastor in charge of interfaith outreach, and Jihad Turk, director of religious affairs at a mosque in Los Angeles, introduced King's Way as "a path to end the 1,400 years of misunderstanding between Muslims and Christians."

The men presented a document they co-authored outlining points of agreement between Islam and Christianity. The document affirms that Christians and Muslims believe in "one God" and share two central commandments: "love of God" and "love of neighbor." The document also commits both faiths to three goals: Making friends with one another, building peace and working on shared social service projects. The document quotes side-by-side verses from the Bible and the Koran to illustrate its claims.

"We agreed we wouldn't try to evangelize each other," said Turk. "We'd witness to each other but it would be out of 'Love Thy Neighbor,' not focused on conversion."
The Register follows up today:

An outreach effort to Muslims initiated by Saddleback Church in Lake Forest has sparked a national uproar among evangelical Christians, with some accusing the Rev. Rick Warren, Saddleback's pastor, of betraying core Christian principles and Warren responding that his beliefs and intentions have been misrepresented.

Since an Orange County Register article published Feb. 26 detailed the outreach effort, evangelicals across the country have taken to blogs, social media and Christian news outlets to debate whether and how Christians should forge relationships with people of other faiths.

Longtime critics of Warren have published lengthy online accusations that the influential pastor, who delivered the invocation at President Barack Obama's 2009 inauguration, has gone too far in seeking theological common ground with Muslims.

Warren's critics accuse him of sending cunning coded messages to Muslims in his inaugural prayer and of being more interested in feeding people, preventing HIV-AIDS infections, and promoting justice than bringing souls to Christ. It's an age-old, tiresome attack on faithful Christians who happen to be called to make life better for all those whom God loves.

Warren does dispute the assertion in the original Register article that he believed Christians and Muslims worshiped the same God. “We worship Jesus as God. Muslims don't,” he writes. “Our God is Jesus, not Allah." This is also a wearisome debate. If we insist, as Warren's critics do, that Muslims worship a different God, aren't we making the fantastic claim that there are more than one? It's a commonplace of interfaith dialogue that the Abrahamic faiths share historical and theological antecedents, especially the monotheistic God of Abraham, Issac, and Ishmael. Islam's critics are really saying that Muslims worship God the wrong way. Whenever tempted to think that may be true, I remind myself that I'd take a different view if I'd been born in Jordan to Muslim parents rather than in Detroit to a mother who happened to write the newsletter for the Cathedral Church of St. Paul. I proclaim Christ crucified and risen, but humbly enough, I hope, to allow for the diversity of God's infinite mind.

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