Many Christian people have told me that they know in their hearts that people of other faiths and those who profess no faith live godly lives and that their relationship with the one and only God is manifest in their lives. There is almost a sense of guilt: “But how can I believe that as a Christian? How can I make sense of what I know to be true whilst being faithful to my Christian belief?” One way to work with this question is contained in ‘Exploring a Christian incarnational approach to the human condition in the context of a theology of followers of other faiths and none’.
Both Christianity and Islam operate within certain conceptual models or paradigms. All too often, when someone from one faith seeks to understand the other, they try to make that faith fit their own paradigm instead of entering into the paradigm of the other, which is the only way for there to be real understanding. This emphasises ‘The importance of a paradigm shift in understanding Christianity and Islam’.
The Catholic Bishops of Germany have a national information, resource and training centre for dialogue with Islam and Muslims, called CIBEDO, in Frankfurt. I was invited to lead a seminar there in October 2014 to explore “The training of Christian workers for dialogue with Islam.” The paper was presented in German and will be published by CIBEDO in their quarterly. The English original can be downloaded by clicking on the link.
This book captures the autobiographical reflections of twenty-eight Christian men and women who, in the wake of the Second Vatican Council and movements within the World Council of Churches, committed their lives to the study of Islam and to practical Christian–Muslim relations in new and irenic ways. Their contributions come from across the spectrum of the Western church and record what drew them into the study of Islam, how their careers developed, what sustained them in this work and salient milestones along the way. Their accounts take us to twenty-five countries and into all the branches of Islamic studies: Qur’an, Hadith, Shari’a, Sufism, philology, theology, and philosophy. They give fascinating insights into personal encounters with Islam and Muslims, speak of the ways in which their Christian traditions of spiritual training formed and nourished them, and deal with some of the misunderstandings and opposition they have faced along the way. In an analytical conclusion, the editors draw out themes and pointers towards future developments. Click below to read more…
In October 2007, an “Open Letter” was sent from Muslim religious leaders to Christian leaders inviting them to come to “A Common Word” between them about the primacy of loving God and loving one’s neighbour. The document was originally signed by 138 Muslim leaders from various countries but South and South-East Asia and Africa in general were under-represented, especially when it is considered that these are the areas of the world in which Muslims and Christians live in large number and engage in daily contact. In the light of this, the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung in Germany in October 2009 convened a colloquium of Christian and Muslim scholars and activists from these two regions to discuss the Open Letter and its impact on their local communities. The resulting report, edited by Christian Troll, Helmut Reifeld and Chris Hewer, called We have Justice in Common, was published in 2010. The name was chosen to reflect the overwhelming sense of the colloquium that the central ethical principle of justice needed to be added to any discussion of Christian-Muslim relations. The full text of the report is available to download here.
We have Justice in Common
This article was written by Chris Hewer as a contribution to the two-volume
posthumous book to mark the contribution of Prof. David Kerr, the Founder-Director of the Centre for the Study of Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations in Selly Oak, Birmingham (World Christianity in Muslim Encounter: Essays in memory of David A Kerr, Vol II, (ed.) Stephen Goodwin, London: Continuum, 2009 ). David died in his early sixties, just at the moment when he had settled to polish and publish the
contributions that he had made to the field orally during four decades. The article
seeks the rationale and spirit behind the founding of the Centre – as much needed
today as when it was founded.
For those of us involved in the world of Christian-Muslim relations, the name of David Kerr will for ever evoke the Centre for the Study of Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations that he founded at the Selly Oak Colleges in 1976. As the reality of the Centre passes into memory, it is important in the context of the current Festschrift to record something of that vision from early documentation and the memories of those involved over the first decade…
The Church of Ireland held a national in-service training day in Dublin in 2006
at which Chris Hewer spoke and later contributed a paper (see Introduction to
Islam on this website). There were several “Hard Questions” left hanging on
this day, which were answered in collaboration with Dr Jabal M Buaben, the
Director of the Centre for the Study of Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations in
Birmingham. They were published in the Church of Ireland Journal, June
Questions such as:
How can Muslims balance believing in God as “The Merciful, The
Compassionate” with assenting to the execution of a man or woman for
Can you explain the use of the fatwa: for instance in the case of Salman
Rushdie and The Satanic Verses or the man recently condemned to death
for converting to Christianity?
We hear of many conflicting reports about the treatment of Muslim
women in different countries; what is from Islam and what is cultural?
Are suicide bombers correct in their understanding that Paradise awaits
them as martyrs in the cause of Islam?
What really constitutes jihad in Islamic teaching? Is all the talk of “Holy
War” today justifiable according to the Qur’an and are there other ways
of reading the text?