Christians and Muslims Together

Ray Waddle

Miroslav Volf concludes his 2011 book Allah: A Christian Response by listing 10 theological principles that Christians and Muslims share, reinforcing belief in the same God and defiance against extremism. Summarized, they are:

1. A commitment to reasoned discourse. “Respectful debate about the truth claims of religious groups is one of the best antidotes against religiously motivated or legitimized violence,” he writes.

2. Acknowledgement of a common God, which gives the two faiths a significant set of overlapping ultimate values and moral framework in which to debate their differences.

3. Belief that God is loving and just – the conviction that God is beneficent toward all and merciful toward transgressors. “All human practices must be measured against these values.”

4. Love of neighbors. It follows that, “if we embrace God’s command to love neighbors, the more religious we are, the less extreme we will be.”

5. A healthy sense of the fear of God. “No god but God” is a basic conviction shared by Muslims and Christians. Allegiance to this Creator who commands love of neighbor will reject any form of struggle that is incompatible with love and justice.

6. A stand against injustice. Belief in the God of love and justice should inspire commitment to understand the concrete conditions of injustice and work for solutions.

7. A stand against prejudice. Demonization is a form of falsehood and a cause of extremism. Commitment to justice means learning the truth about others, their motivations and aspirations – and the truth about oneself.

8. A stand against religious coercion. “The command to love neighbors implies granting them freedom to choose their religion (or not to practice any religion),” Volf writes.

9. A stand against disrespect. Extremism is inflamed when others insult sacred symbols. Love of neighbor demands that we refrain from disrespect. We need civility rather than mean-spiritedness in our disagreements.

10. A commitment to pluralistic political institutions, “in which each religious group’s voice can be heard and in which the state is impartial toward all overarching perspectives on life,” he writes.