Shuck and Jive

Opinions expressed here are my own and do not represent the views of the congregation I joyfully serve. But my congregation loves me!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

I Love You and Allah Too

The Presbyterian Church approved an overture, "Calling for Tolerance and Peaceful Relations Between the Christian and Muslim Communities" that originated in Newton Presbytery. As you can see by the lines through old text and the creation of new text, item #2 created debate.

The debate was largely over what we have in common theologically with Muslims. Commissioners got hung up over whether or not Christians and Muslims worship a common God.

For some folks that question is really important. I think it is more important that we do what we can so that we do not annihilate each other. Here is the final text of what was approved by a vote of 547-149.

Final Text:
1. Commend to the church for study the actions of previous General Assemblies calling for tolerance, mutual respect, and peaceful relations between the Christian and Muslim communities.

"2. State that [the PC(USA) affirms that Jews, Christians, and Muslims worship a common God, 1 although each understands that God differently] though we hold differing understandings of how God has been revealed to humankind, the PC(USA) affirms our belief in one God, the God of Abraham, whom Jews and Muslims also worship; and that, as children of this loving God, we share the commandments of love for God and neighbor 2 , the requirement to care for the poor; and acknowledge Abraham as an expression of our common commitment to one God."

3. Build on this understanding by calling for further dialogue among Jews, Christians, and Muslims, viewing each other as equals, and learning from one another to

  • promote peace, resolve conflict;
  • ensure human rights, prevent discrimination;
  • develop dialogue, emphasize commonality;
  • recognize differences, celebrate diversity;
  • advocate justice, oppose bias.

4. Commend the First Presbyterian Church of Rockaway and other Presbyterian congregations that have initiated dialogue with Muslim and Jewish communities, and to encourage other congregations to initiate three-way dialogues among Jews, Christians, and Muslims consistent with the Presbyterian Principles for Interfaith Dialogue. 3.

  • To encourage congregations of these faiths to celebrate religious holidays together, setting aside days of worship during which there can be congregational suppers, and dialogue groups. 4
  • To encourage sustained activities that will promote understanding, respect, and good will, using worship resources and promotional materials prepared by the Offices of Interfaith Relations and Theology and Worship, the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program, and other General Assembly Council (GAC) and Office of the General Assembly (OGA) offices as appropriate.

5. Commission a study on Islam and Christian-Muslim relations that would have the same scope and authority as the 1987 study on Christian-Jewish relations, 5 to be carried out by the Interfaith Relations and Theology and Worship Offices of the General Assembly Council.

6. Call for identification of violations of the civil rights of Christians, Jews, and Muslims in the United States and other areas of the world, along with other incidents of violation of religious freedoms, as part of the regular human rights report to the General Assembly. 6

This kind of dialogue is so important. I wonder how many other congregations, like First Presbyterian of Rockaway, have initiated conversations with Muslim communities?