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Christian Engagement With Islam pdf

Christian Engagement With Islam. Ecumenical Journeys Since 1910

  • Book Title:
 Christian Engagement With Islam
  • Book Author:
Douglas Pratt
  • Total Pages
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  • 2 Christian Encounters with Islam: An Historical Precursor 9
  • 1 Relations in an Epoch of Expansion 10
  • 2 Relations in an Epoch of Equilibrium 16
  • 3 Relationships in an Epoch of Exhortation 19
  • 4 Relations in an Epoch of Enmity 21
  • 5 Relations in an Epoch of Exploration 24
  • Part 1
  • Engagement Underway: 20thC Ecumenical Journeys
  • 3 World Council of Churches: c. 1910-1970 31
  • 1 Nineteenth Century Dialogical Antecedents 32
  • 2 Early Twentieth Century Developments 33
  • 3 IMC at Tambaram, 1938 36
  • 4 Mid-Century Consolidation: The WCC 37
  • 5 Relations with Jews: A Dialogical Precursor 40
  • 6 Engaging Dialogue: ‘The Word of God and the Living Faiths of
  • Men’ 44
  • 7 Turning to Islam: Developing the Dialogical Engagement 46
  • 8 Conclusion 50
  • 4 From Dialogue to Relationship: c. 1970-2000 51
  • 1 1972: The Broumana Consultation 52
  • 2 Extending the Field of Engagement: the mid-1970s 54
  • 3 Difficulties and Challenges: late 1970s – early 1980s 58
  • 4 Regional Dialogue Events: 1984–1989 62
  • 5 Developments in the Nineties: Clarifying the Issues 63
  • 6 From Dialogue to Relationship with Muslims 67
  • 7 Conclusion: Cusp of the New Millennium 69
  • vi Contents
  • 5 Vatican II: Catholic Groundwork for Dialogue 72
  • 1 Initiatives for Dialogue 73
  • 2 Relations with Judaism: A Dialogical Precursor 76
  • 3 Some Principal Dialogue Documents of Vatican II 78
  • 4 Subsidiary Dialogue Documents of Vatican II 85
  • 5 The Impact of Pope Paul VI 86
  • 6 Theology of Dialogue: initial developments 88
  • 7 Conclusion: Emerging Relations with Islam 90
  • 6 Catholic-Muslim Relations: Post-Vatican II 92
  • 1 Early Years of Dialogue 93
  • 2 Dialogue under John Paul II: 1978-1989 96
  • 3 Engagement and Reflection 1990-2000 102
  • 4 Models of Dialogue with Islam 108
  • 5 Conclusion: Early 21st century engagement with Islam 110
  • Part 2
  • Engagement Focussed: Developments and Initiatives
  • 7 Ecumenical Developments: The Twenty-First Century 115
  • 1 Into the New Millennium: An Overview 116
  • 2 Striving Together 124
  • 3 Christian Self-Understanding: Impact and Implication of Dialogue 
  • with Islam 126
  • 4 Conclusion 138
  • 8 An African Journey: PROCMURA 140
  • 1 A Project Commences 142
  • 2 Phase I (1959-1970): Islam in Africa (IAP) Launched 147
  • 3 Phase II (1970-1987): From IAP to PROCMURA 151
  • 4 Phase III (1988-1999): Consolidation and local development 153
  • 5 Phase IV (2000-2015): From Project to Programme 155
  • 6 An Evaluation 160
  • 7 Conclusion 163
  • 9 Building Bridges: An Anglican Ecumenical Initiative 165
  • 1 The Inaugural Seminar, 2002 165
  • 2 A Decade of Dialogue: 2003-2012 169
  • Contents vii
  • 2.1 Scriptures in Dialogue 169
  • 2.2 Prophecy 169
  • 2.3 Common Good 170
  • 2.4 Justice and Rights 172
  • 2.5 Being Human 174
  • 2.6 Scripture in Focus 175
  • 2.7 Religion and Science 177
  • 2.8 Tradition and Modernity 178
  • 2.9 Prayer 180
  • 2.10 Death and Destiny 183
  • 3 A New Phase Begins 185
  • 4 Conclusion 187
  • 10 Christian-Muslim Theological Forum: A German Journey 189
  • 1 Gentle Beginnings 190
  • 2 Ten Year Thematic and Chronological Overview: 2005-2014 193
  • 2.1 Prayer 193
  • 2.2 Boundaries and Borders 195
  • 2.3 Suffering and Pain 197
  • 2.4 Ethics in Practice 198
  • 2.5 Scripture and Interpretation 199
  • 2.6 Mission and Conversion 201
  • 2.7 God 203
  • 2.8 Prophecy and Prophets 205
  • 2.9 Communities of Faith 206
  • 2.10 Believing and Knowing 208
  • 3 Conclusion 209
  • 11 The ‘Common Word’ Letter: Christian Response to a Muslim
  • Initiative 212
  • 1 Summary and Analysis of the Letter 213
  • 2 Some Key Responses to the Letter 219
  • 2.1 Catholic Responses 219
  • 2.2 Orthodox Responses 221
  • 2.3 Other Christian Church Responses 222
  • 2.4 Sundry Responses 226
  • 3 Events and Publications emanating from the Letter 228
  • 4 Challenges and Issues 231
  • viii Contents
  • 12 Conclusion 235
  • 1 Review: The Engagement Thus Far 237
  • 2 Critical Perspectives on Christian–Muslim Dialogue 240
  • 3 Future Prospect: Where Might the Engagement Be Heading? 247
  • Bibliography 253
  • Index 273

Christian encounters with Islam: An Historical

In order to better grasp the significance of Christian engagement with Islam since the early twentieth century, and in particular the ecumenical journeys that we will herein traverse, it may be helpful to set the wider scene by way of an orienting historical precursor.

What have been some of the key markers of the journey since Christians and Muslims first encountered each other? What can we discern of the nature and dynamics of interaction and engagement that provides background context for a fuller understanding of events and developments of the twentieth, and early twenty-first, centuries?

To be sure, Islam and Christianity have had a long history of mutual competition. There are marked differences, and there are points of similarity if not also commonality. In some respects their very closeness has given rise to sharp clashes and reciprocal condemnation; yet this same closeness can be a clue to the dynamic of their similarity. Both are pre-eminently religions of belief.

Each has struggled to define its own orthodoxy against variant heterodoxies and heresies from within. And each has a history of self-proclamation as embodying ‘universal truth’ – especially over against any other rival claimant to that truth. It is there- fore little wonder that these two religions have a history of interaction marked more by negative encounters and clashes than positive and respectful engage- ment.

Charles Kimball once asked: ‘Why have these two communities clashed so vigorously through the centuries? What informs the sense of mistrust that pervades the history of Christian–Muslim relations and skews attempts to relate more constructively today?’1 Issues arising out of the history of Christian– Muslim interfaith encounter are certainly complex.2 In this chapter I suggest a set of undergirding hermeneutical perceptions and orientations concerning the complex history of this relationship. On the way I shall note some of the particular dialogical options that have been utilised with varying degrees of success. More significantly, they lay the groundwork for reflection upon the nature of, and prospects for, dialogical engagement now.

Jean-Marie Gaudeul has offered a useful review of the history of the rela- tionship between Islam and Christianity in which the mutual challenge and response that has engaged the attentions of each may be tracked through broad ages or epochs.3 I will broadly follow his outline, but re-interpret the historical process it yields in terms of a series of identifying epochs, which I denote as expansion, equilibrium, exhortation, enmity and exploration. They do not just mark out historical eras as such; rather, they delineate the ebb and flow of a relationship of encounter, indicating the state of play in the relation- ship between Islam and Christianity that has obtained at particular times in history. In other words, these terms indicate modes of relationship and interac- tion per se. While each may provide an identifier, or demarcate, a particular period, it could be argued that they are always part of the wider picture of Christian–Muslim encounter. They certainly persist into the present day so far as the interaction between Islam and Christianity are concerned.

1 Relations in an Epoch of Expansion

In the earliest days of mid-seventh century Islamic expansion under the first four ‘Rightly Guided’ Caliphs – the Rashidun (632-661) – who followed Muhammad as leaders of the Muslim community (Ummah), the focus of Islam as an emerging community and nation was more or less on itself as the divine mission primarily within and to Arabia and, secondarily, to the world at large. In the earliest days, with the fervour of rightness and the confirmation of con- quest dominant, there was little room to consider any religious ‘other’ as anything like approximating a dialogue partner.

By comparison, Christianity was relatively settled. The ‘orthodox’ knew who they were and who constituted their ‘heterodox’ opponents. Rival Christian communities had staked their claims. Arianism, Nestorianism, and Monophysitism represented variant het- erodoxies relative to the triumphs of orthodox Christianity in regard to the outcomes of the great councils – of Nicea (325), Ephesus (431), Constantinople

(381) and Chalcedon (451). Christianity, a religion that espoused unity, in real- ity embraced wide diversity. In this context, cultural contrasts with nascent Islam soon became apparent. Although Islam emerged religiously confident, its leaders quickly saw the need to redress the relative intellectual inferiority as compared with the Christianity – and Judaism – of the time. This began with the Umayyad dynasty and caliphate (661-750) based in Damascus.

The flow of ideas gained from the work of translating Greek literary and philosophical texts into Arabic emerged during this caliphate. Under the Abbasid dynasty and caliphate (750-1258) that ruled from Baghdad, this flow amplified at first then ebbed during the ninth century as tendencies to reactionary reformism set in. It flourished again in the latter half (950-1258) of the Abbasid era as interest in things Hellenic impacted on theology and stirred up philosophical interests within the Islamic world, only to wane once more as reaction to, and rejection of, foreign influences and ideas re-surfaced within the body of Islam.

However, as an overall assessment of this era, Gaudeul comments that there can be seen ‘eagerness of Muslims to discover the Greek culture, their efforts to learn, and at the same time the later realisation that Philosophy could present dangers for Faith, Reason could doubt Revelation, and Dialogue might be a threat to Islam’.4 The epoch of expansion was an age wherein Islam became a force and factor to be reckoned with seriously so far as Christianity was con- cerned.

During this period dialogical encounter began to take place in either of two modes: direct (as in the East) and indirect (as was the case in the West). This is reflected, for example, in the distinction between ‘on the one hand, Syriac and Arabic texts produced by Christians under Islamic rule, who are engaged in a genuine attempt to express and defend their faith within a new linguistic and religious milieu, and, on the other hand, the much more polemi- cal and vituperative material from Latin- and Greek-speaking writers’.5

Direct dialogue, the situation of interaction and relationship that occurred in regards to Christian – and also Jewish – communities living under Muslim rule, was dominated by the concept and institution of dhimma. This refers to viewing, and so effectively defining, Christians (together with Jews and any others who worship one God and, importantly, who possess a revelatory scrip- tural text) as a ‘protected people’ by virtue of being a ‘people of the book’ (their respective scriptures). In respect to this social construct defining relational sta- tus and relativities, it was incumbent upon Muslim rulers to ensure the protection of the religious rights of the ‘peoples of the book’ who happened to…

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