Christian-Muslim Dialogue: Experts Demarcate Common Ground

October 22, 2008

Author: Staff Writer

Source: World Faith News

Christian communities should improve their knowledge of Islam, be good neighbours to Muslims and bear witness to their faith in an appropriate manner, according to an international group of church leaders and experts on Christian-Muslim dialogue.

These were some of the recommendations put forward at an 18 to 20 October consultation aimed at developing an ecumenical Christian theological understanding of dialogue with Islam. Convened by the World Council of Churches (WCC), it gathered some fifty church leaders and experts on Christian-Muslim dialogue in Chavannes-de-Bogis, outside Geneva, Switzerland.

Participants acknowledged a history of "mixed" relationships between Christians and Muslims, with both positive and negative dimensions. On their part, Christians have seen Muslims both as friend and rival, neighbour and stranger.

However, participants agreed, Christianity teaches to love the neighbour regardless of race, gender or religion. Even more, Christian self-understanding is challenged and deepened through relationships with Muslims, while Christians themselves are renewed by entering into dialogue with them.

For this dialogue to be fruitful it needs to be sensitive, including a careful use of traditional Christian language like mission, witness and conversion. And both church leaders and communities need to be educated in the knowledge of Islam as Muslims live and present it.