EVANGELICAL LEADERS PLEDGE COMMON CAUSE WITH ISLAM
They apologize for the 'sins of Christians,' leave the deity of Christ open for discussion.
An attempt by leaders of the
National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) to win friends and influence Muslims is alienating another group — evangelical
Reactions have been negative
and strong. Islam expert Dr. Patrick Sookhdeo has called it a “betrayal” and a “sellout.” Dr. Albert
Mohler, president of Southern Seminary (Southern Baptist), termed it “naiveté that borders on dishonesty.”
Others are just beginning
to hear of it. In November, NAE President Leith Anderson and NAE Vice President Richard Cizik signed onto a Christian response
to an invitation to dialogue from 138 Muslim leaders around the world.
Their response — initiated
Divinity School and endorsed
by other liberal Christian leaders — apologized for the sins of Christians during the Crusades and for “excesses”
of the global war on terror, without mentioning Muslim atrocities. It appeared to leave the fundamentals of Christianity —
especially the deity of Christ — open for discussion.
It even seemed to acknowledge
Allah as the God of the Bible. “Before we ‘shake your hand’ in responding to your letter,” it stated,
“we ask forgiveness of the All-Merciful One and of the Muslim community around the world.”
The very name of the Muslim
communiqué — A Common Word between Us and You — is from a verse in the Quran that condemns “people of the
Scripture” (Christians) for alleged polytheism (the doctrine of the Trinity).
Mohler said the agreement
“sends the wrong signal” and contains basic theological problems, especially in “marginalizing” Jesus
Christ. He also condemned the apology for the Crusades.
“I just have to wonder
how intellectually honest this is,” he said. “Are these people suggesting that they wish the military conflict
with Islam had ended differently — that Islam had conquered Europe?”
Neither Anderson nor Cizik
could be reached for comment. On the NAE Web site, Anderson
asserts he signed the letter as a private individual, although he is identified as NAE president. He also seems to acknowledge
problems with the statement.
“Sometimes we all sign
onto things that are not all that we would like them to be,” Anderson
wrote. “Even after we write and say our own words, we discover that we wish we had done better.”
Gary Bauer, president of the
Campaign for Working Families, told CitizenLink the NAE leaders “have left the (card) table without their pants —
that is, they’ve been taken and may not even realize they’ve been taken.”
Bauer said he already was
dismayed by the NAE’s recent controversial excursions into questionable areas such as global warming.
“Many of us have been
concerned about the NAE getting into all sorts of areas where it has had no previous expertise,” Bauer said. “And
now, I’m afraid, I see signs that they’re going down the same road that the National Council of Churches is going.”
The National Council of Churches
has embraced liberal causes and is affiliated with ultra-liberal groups, such as MoveOn.org and People For the American Way.
Sookhdeo called for Christian
leaders who signed the letter to withdraw their names, saying the confession of guilt puts Christian communities in Muslim
areas of the world at risk.
“I find it difficult
to understand how senior evangelical leaders in the West can join hands with other Christians who actually are betraying the
Christian faith (and) their Christian brothers and sisters in the Muslim world,” he said.