Missio Dei: A Journal of Missional Theology and Praxis 4, no. 2 (August 2013)

done_all Peer Reviewed Article

Good Theology As Preparation for Good Conversation: A Laboratory for Christian-Muslim Dialogue at Rochester College

Keith B. Huey

This essay insists that Christian-Muslim dialogue can be enriched if Christians will be mindful, first of all, about their own theological systems. The faiths are separated by authentic points of difference, but Christians can ruin the discussions if they are sloppy about their own confessions. What do we gain from performing good works? Who was Jesus? What do we mean by “salvation”? What do we really think about the crucifixion narrative? These questions, if they are answered responsibly, will reveal fascinating points of coherence and irreconcilable points of difference between Christians and Muslims.

A Laboratory for Christian-Muslim Dialogue

Here at Rochester College we have created a course entitled “Diversity Seminar: Christian-Muslim Interactions.” We began in the fall of 2011, and we have used three instructors to deliver the curriculum. My field is Christian History, and I am teamed with Dr. John Barton, who brings a specialization in Philosophy. Most significantly, we have been joined by Mr. Saeed Khan, who teaches Islamic Studies at Wayne State University. As a practicing Muslim, Saeed brings an element of diversity to our Christian college campus.

Interfaith conversations are hardly new, especially in Southeast Michigan. We have a great deal of ethnic diversity in our region, and there are numerous venues for getting together. Our Diversity Seminar, however, is different because of its context. Though Rochester College seeks to be inclusively Christian, our students usually come from conservative Protestant (or “Evangelical”) backgrounds. These include Bible churches, community churches, Baptist churches, Pentecostal churches, and Churches of Christ. Historically, very few of these local fellowships have been involved, in any significant way, with interfaith conversations. Predictably, our students bring a set of strong, Evangelical assumptions to the table, and to these students Islam represents a strange and forbidding world.

To the credit of our class, we are rarely distracted by the tired and shallow issues that normally dominate public discussions of Muslims and their faith. Due in part, perhaps, to Saeed’s disarming engagement, we have not belabored the caricatures of a misogynistic Muhammad or a bloody Qur’an. Instead, our classes have naturally progressed towards challenging and substantial points of discussion. Our students have struggled to make meaningful comparisons between various expressions of Christianity and various expressions of Islam. To a large degree, the value of our discussion is located in the tension that arises from our conservative Christian environment: it is good to see our students interacting, respectfully, thoughtfully, and humbly, with ideas they cannot accept. They are never pressed toward naïve affirmations of ecumenical harmony, and they are encouraged to search for points of doctrinal divergence, as well.

In these pages I will outline four of the issues that lead our students toward times of discovery—or conversely, toward moments of frustration. For obvious reasons, our students are limited by their ignorance of Islam, but I hope to illustrate another daunting challenge: simply put, they struggle to engage in fruitful dialogue because they have failed to understand their own Christian faith. What appear to be points of theological divergence are sometimes exposed as failures to communicate and our students frequently betray theological “blind spots” that generate significant points of misunderstanding. For students who discover these shortcomings, the revelations are exhilarating; for the rest, the process can be confusing and exasperating.

These observations might reveal some weaknesses in the theological teaching of our constituent churches, but that is another thesis for another day. Our students have been bright and engaging, and I am not attempting to assign any blame. I simply propose these points in order to illustrate the essential value that good Christian theology can contribute to a meaningful Christian-Muslim interaction.

How Do We Assess the Value of Good Works?

Islam is frequently described as a religion of “works-righteousness,” where God’s salvation is restricted to those who are good enough to earn it. It is easy, as we read the Qur’an, to find passages like the one in sura 5, where it says that: “Allah has promised to those who believe and do good deeds (that) they shall have forgiveness and a mighty reward.”1

In verses like these, it is obvious that human salvation is dependent, to some degree, on human performance. In addition, the Islamic tradition provides a remarkable system of merit and demerit, where deeds are weighed in a legalistic balance: a prayer in the mosque, for instance, earns more credit, by a factor of twenty-seven, than a prayer that is spoken in isolation.2

This notion, of course, sounds exotic to most of our students. Christian theology, in their experience, has no parallel for these kinds of ethical calculations. Here at Rochester College, our students are well-acquainted with Pauline passages like Eph 2:8–9, where salvation comes by grace through faith and is not the result of works. Our students find the Islamic concept, by contrast, to be completely unrealistic: to quote from one of them, it “kind of speaks of pride,” and is “sorely mistaken.”3

It would be useful, however, to revisit our own texts. For every “legalistic” line in the Qur’an, it would be easy to find a corresponding text from the pages of the New Testament. For instance, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, unequivocally, that salvation is based on obedience and does not depend on professions of faith (Matt 7:21). Moreover, when Jesus was asked to explain the way to “eternal life,” he prescribed the commandment to love, and he did not suggest a prayer to repeat or a creed to recite. Instead, when he was pressed for clarification, he recommended the ethical example of a theologically dysfunctional Samaritan (Luke 10:25–37). Even Paul, that paragon of evangelical, grace-centered, gospel theology, once warned the Galatians, “Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for you reap whatever you sow. . . . So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up” (Gal 6:7–9).4

These passages do not undermine the distinctive gospel of salvation by grace. They do, however, require a robust theology of works, where we are rewarded for the things that we do. We must be able to interpret the biblical exhortations to righteous behavior, and we must be able to explain what we are risking (if anything) when we ignore those exhortations. It is not enough to agree with Paul in Rom 6:1–2, when he forbids us to sin “so that grace may abound.” We must also understand the argument Paul provides in the next three chapters, and we must learn to appreciate the salvific value that he assigns to sanctification. These conversations are essential, but very few Christians, especially Evangelicals, are accustomed to having them. It is easy to say that Islam is a works-based religion, but until we can explain the actual Christian difference, we will not be qualified to complain about the Islamic perspective.

Moreover, it is risky to assert that Muslims are possessed with legalistic hubris or with anthropological naïveté. Islam does speak of meritorious works, and it rejects the idea that we are born in bondage to sin. It also allows for the possibility of human perfection, and this indicates a real divergence from Christian doctrine. But the tradition also concedes that without Allah’s inexplicable grace, very few could ever meet the mark. For example, Abu Huraira states:

Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him), said: When it occurs to my bondsman that he should do a good deed but he actually does not do it, record one good to him, but if he puts it into practice, I make an entry of ten good acts in his favour. When it occurs to him to do evil, but he does not commit it, I forgive that. But if he commits it, I record one evil against his name.5

Once again, these meritorious calculations are foreign to Christian theology; nonetheless, Allah is a benevolent and compassionate accountant. To put it another way, Muslims, too, are saved by grace! In fact, a Muslim could ask why, in light of God’s abundant and disproportionate forgiveness, Christians should need a Redeemer to deliver them from their sins. Is God’s compassion inadequate, without some sort of sacrifice?

On this point, Christians should know their own anthropology, and should be wary of their assumptions about the atonement. Very few of our students have heard of St. Anselm, and even fewer have recognized their heavy dependence on his eleventh-century formulation of “substitutionary atonement.” Anselm himself was fully aware of the issues involved, and he knew the stakes when he insisted that “it is not right to cancel sin without compensation or punishment.”6 But it is inadequate to repeat his conclusions without knowing how he got there. These issues deserve a fuller exploration than our students (and most of their churches) have attempted thus far.

How Do We Explain the Identity of Jesus?

Jesus is highly regarded in the Qur’an, and Christians are frequently surprised to discover this. The nineteenth sura, for instance, provides an infancy narrative that is remarkably parallel to Luke’s account, and the virgin birth is affirmed without ambiguity. Jesus (Isa) is identified as the Messiah, a wonderworker, and a prophet, “worthy of regard in this world and the hereafter” (Qur’an 3:45–51).

Of greater interest, of course, for many Christians, are the things that are denied about Jesus. It is high praise to be called “an apostle of Allah,” but the Qur’an refuses to exalt him higher than that. In the fourth sura, we read:

O followers of the Book! do not exceed the limits in your religion, and do not speak (lies) against Allah, but (speak) the truth; the Messiah, Isa son of Marium is only an apostle of Allah and His Word which he communicated to Marium and a spirit from Him; believe therefore in Allah and His apostles, and say not, Three. Desist, it is better for you; Allah is only one God. (Qur’an 4:171; see also Qur’an 5:75)

Clearly, these words are directed against a Trinitarian formulation. Of related concern is the Christian identification of Jesus as the Son of God, which the Qur’an rejects with horror. If we continue reading from the fourth sura, we can see that:

Allah is only one God: far be it from His glory that He should have a son; whatever is in the heavens and whatever is in the earth is His; and Allah is sufficient for a Protector. (Qur’an 4:171)

In the Qur’an, therefore, Christians are admonished for the irreverent insinuation that Allah has “taken a son” (Qur’an 2:116; 10:68). How could God become a father, asks the sixth sura, “when He has no consort, and He (Himself) created everything” (Qur’an 6:101; see also Qur’an 72:3)?

For many of our students, these statements border on blasphemy and are absolutely decisive. For most conservative Christians, the ontological identity of Jesus constitutes an irreconcilable point of conflict between Christianity and Islam. In fact, they sometimes argue that without a trinitarian identity, Allah must be a false god, completely alien to the God of Christian faith. And if Jesus is not the son of Allah, then Allah, once again, cannot be the God whom Christians worship. As one student asked in his journal, “If we share the same god then why would god tell the world that Jesus is not god”? As he continued these thoughts, he added:

When Jesus is denied as God by any person, that person is mistaken and following a false god.  Jesus says, “Everyone therefore who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father in heaven; but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven.”7

These sentiments have been echoed by Evangelical leaders such as John Piper.8 For most of the conservative Christian tradition, God must be confessed as Trinity and Jesus must be confessed as the Son.

If we know our own creedal statements, however, we will not recoil so quickly from Qur’anic definitions of God. When Christians speak of Father, Son, and Spirit, we do not invoke three different deities, and we do not think that God has “partners” or “associates.” Hence, the Nicene Creed begins, quite emphatically, with the assertion that “We believe in one God.” We also need to be aware of the difficulties that have plagued our best trinitarian expressions: our Three-in-One conviction is easily misunderstood and misstated. Christians have disputed the language for years, and we can only guess how it was being explained in seventh-century Arabia. In the fifth sura, Jesus himself denies that he and his mother Mary should be worshiped as “two gods besides Allah” (Qur’an 5:116). Some Christians, it would seem, were advocating a Trinity of Father, Son, and Mary!

The Qur’an is arguing, explicitly, against any definition that fails the monotheistic test, and we should welcome that critique. “What the Qur’an denies about God as the Holy Trinity,” says Miroslav Volf, “has been denied by every great teacher of the church . . . and ought to be denied by every orthodox Christian today.”9 Volf has also argued that the Christian position, when properly understood and expressed, can meet the most stringent monotheistic standards,10 and Muslims will need to decide for themselves if Volf’s contentions are persuasive. It is clear, however, that the Qur’an is not quarreling with the technical language of the Nicene Creed, and if we know our own orthodox confessions, the suras will read in a different light.

Once again, good Christian theology can be extremely helpful. In this case, it will be honest about the ambiguities that exist in our own confessional language, especially when we say that Jesus is the “Son of God.” That statement is vital because it is biblical, and our students are correct to perceive its importance; it is worth asking, though, if anyone knows what it means. What sort of paternity are we talking about, and what sort of paternity is denied in the Qur’an? Do Christians know what they are defending, when they insist on this feature of Jesus’ identity?

The Bible is not explicit about this, but if we return to the Nicene Creed, we can see that the Son is “eternally begotten” by the Father. There was no moment of conception, no maternal generation, and no time of birth. His paternity cannot be compared with any human relationship, nor can it be likened to mythological filiations (like Zeus from his father Cronus). Hence, when the Qur’an protests that Allah has never “taken a son,” it does not contradict the Nicene position, and its critique is consistent with the tradition that every orthodox Christian should know.

Once the terms are all sorted out, it is clear that Christians and Muslims have different concepts, still, about Jesus’ identity. Few Christians will agree that he was “only an apostle.” But we need to hear the Qur’an in its seventh-century context, and we need, most critically, to pay attention to the words that we use to explain ourselves. It is fruitless to build walls of separation from creeds that we are too impatient or sloppy to investigate fully.

How Do We Understand Salvation?

On a normal day, our class begins with a prepared student question. When the presentation is complete, each instructor gets five minutes to respond, and then the real interactions begin. This means that our discussions are student-driven, and the subjects are quite diverse. The topic of “salvation,” however, weighs heavier than the rest, and is a persistent point of concern.

For Muslims, this problem is not so troubling. According to the Qur’an, Christians, despite their dangerous notions, will not be condemned on the day of judgment. This assurance is given for anyone who “believes in Allah and the Last day and does good” (Qur’an 2:62). Since Islam does not require a “savior,” it is relatively easy for Muslims to embrace their monotheistic brothers and sisters. Christianity, if it can be separated from its Western, American, and “imperialist” connotations, can be salvific in most Muslim minds.

It is quite another matter, however, when Christians consider the salvific possibilities for Muslims. In the course of our class discussions, we hear frequent invocations of John 14:6, where Jesus claims to be the exclusive path to the Father. We also encounter Acts 4:12, where Peter says that Jesus’ name is the only name “by which we must be saved.” These verses seem to disqualify Muslims, and that concern trumps all others. “Will we all be going to the same place,” asked one young woman, “when we make it to the pearly gates of Heaven?”11 Or, in the words of another student:

If one religious group harbors a misguided, half-truth pertaining to God’s nature, what would that mean in the scheme of eternity? Is partial salvation given based on partial truth? Is salvation given to those who have part of the puzzle right? Or is a half-truthful concept of God a complete lie which merits no salvation?12

These questions are sincere, and they are motivated by genuine affection for our Muslim neighbors. Aren’t we doing them a disservice, if we don’t attempt to convert them?13 If we love them authentically, then how should we show our “concern for their salvation?”14

And yet, as pure as these questions may be, they suffer from a chronic theological handicap: our students keep speaking of “salvation,” but they are hard-pressed, when asked, to give a useful definition for that word. They are normally reticent to equate “salvation” with “heaven,” because they know that equation is narrow and facile; ultimately, however, a question about Muslims “being saved” is a question about heaven. In the absence of a responsible definition of salvation, that presupposition always comes to the surface.

Simply put, we need to be wary of the equation between “heaven” and “salvation,” and should not impose it on the biblical text. For example, it is barely conceivable, in the context of the first-century Jewish Sanhedrin, that Peter was referring to heaven when he spoke of the salvation that comes through Jesus’ name (Acts 4:12). Similarly, when Jesus spoke of approaching the Father (John 14:6), he said nothing of heaven; meanwhile, when the Jewish lawyer of Luke 10:25 asked a question about eternal life, he did not speak of heaven.

Nonetheless, our students have inherited a well-intentioned pastiche of these kinds of verses, and they are understandably confused. The difficulty is unfortunate, and it presents some serious obstacles. Distorted definitions of salvation cannot help us to imagine the kingdom that Jesus envisioned, “on earth as it is in heaven.” We need to be striving, here on earth, for a community of justice, purity, peace, and gentleness. Salvation, as Jesus described it, must be more than a post-mortem reality! As John Howard Yoder puts it, “Jesus was, in his . . . prophethood, priesthood, and kingship, the bearer of a new possibility of human social, and therefore political relationships.”15 If this world is not our home and we’re “just a-passin’ through,” then we are unlikely to understand the concepts of kingdom and salvation. Meanwhile, apart from an evangelistic agenda, we will not be motivated to build friendships with our Muslim neighbors.

None of this, of course, can answer the burning question about Muslim salvation. Can they enjoy the benefits of the kingdom of God? Can they belong to a community of cross-carrying disciples? Can they look forward to heaven? The Bible, remarkably, says very little about this topic, and our conclusions must be humble and tentative. It is certain, however, that our answers will flounder if we cannot make responsible definitions for the words we are using.

What Role Do We Assign to the Cross?

According to majority readings of the Qur’an, Jesus was not crucified. The key passage comes from the fourth sura:

And their saying: Surely we have killed the Messiah, Isa son of Marium, the apostle of Allah; and they did not kill him nor did they crucify him, but it appeared to them so (like Isa) and most surely those who differ therein are only in a doubt about it; they have no knowledge respecting it, but only follow a conjecture, and they killed him not for sure. Nay! Allah took him up to Himself; and Allah is Mighty, Wise. (Qur’an 4:157–58)

How should we interpret this text? It is not an easy task, and various points are disputed among Islamic interpreters. Some would say that Jesus’ enemies, afflicted with a delusion, mistakenly believed they had killed him. Others have theorized that another, luckless individual (like Simon of Cyrene) was crucified in a remarkable case of confused identity. Still others have said that Jesus was indeed crucified but never expired completely. In the coolness of the tomb he revived and escaped.

On one point, though, most Muslims agree: Jesus did not die on the cross. That fate would violate the dignity of God’s anointed prophet, and would mark the triumph of his enemies. And so, just as Gen 22:1–19 describes the near-sacrifice of Isaac (and the providential substitution of a ram), Jesus, too, overcame the evil designs of his adversaries.

It is unnecessary to quote biblical passages that contradict the Islamic position. Clearly, Christianity claims that the crucifixion actually happened and that Jesus truly died. Moreover, as I frequently say in our class meetings, I believe this to be the single, most significant issue that separates Christians from Muslims. If we interpret Phil 2:5–11 to mean that God’s most decisive moment of self-revelation was given at the cross, then the cross becomes nonnegotiable. As one student noted, it is difficult to find “middle ground,” here, with the Islamic perspective.16

Remarkably, though, our students struggle to recognize the depth of the problem, and they seem barely concerned about this crucial point of difference. In fact, out of several hundred journal entries from the past two years, the question of the cross has scarcely registered. For some, the crucifixion was little more than a temporary setback, soon corrected by the resurrection; for others, it has been merely understood as an instrument of atonement. After all, it is reasoned, “a sacrifice had to be made for us.”17 For another student, the crucifixion is a matter of New Testament record, and we need to accept it in order to protect our doctrines about biblical integrity. “The heart of the matter,” he says, “is the infallibility of scripture.”18 Hardly anybody, however, has acknowledged the stunning theological ramifications of a “crucified God” who redeems the world through humiliation and submission.19 To be fair to the members of our class, this perspective is formidable for every Christian, including the advanced theologian. It is clear, nonetheless, that our churches need better theologies of the cross, and this requirement is particularly crucial for discussions between the Christian and Muslim traditions.

In contrast with the story of the cross, the Islamic story speaks of Muhammad’s flight to Medina (the hijrah) and his providential rise to power in that city. It also narrates his ultimate victory over Mecca, and his decisive act of cleansing idolatrous worship from the Kaaba. In spite of his extraordinary hardships the Prophet was never disgraced or killed by an enemy. In the words of David Shenk:

It is noteworthy that the hijrah of Muhammad is the opposite of the way of the cross which Jesus chose. Six centuries before the hijrah, Jesus had also struggled with the question: How is the kingdom of God established? . . . Rather than use the instruments of political and military power to establish peace, Jesus chose the suffering way of the cross. . . . The emigration of Muhammad from suffering in Mecca to political triumph in Medina and the journey of Jesus from triumph in Galilee to crucifixion and death in Jerusalem are movements in opposite directions.20

Shenk is not trying to say that the ethics of Islam are rooted in a narrative of coercion and violence. On the contrary, he is encouraging Christians to pay attention to the revolutionary features of their own defining narrative. As Lee Camp has observed, this is a difficult thing for Americans to comprehend: with ready access to wealth, technology, and terrible weapons, we have failed, for the most part, to believe that a kingdom can be built through humiliation and submission. Consequently, since the fourth-century origins of Christendom, the cross has been robbed of its own particular genius and has been changed into a symbol of power and prestige. This is a crucial topic of conversation, especially for the sake of Christian-Muslim interaction. If Christians cannot think responsibly about the cross, they will never recognize the difference it actually makes.21

Better Theology, Better Conversations

After all the discussions we have had, several lessons have emerged. First, it is clear that Christian-Muslim interactions require a posture of humility. It is healthy for Christians to stop, sometimes, to double-check our positions, and to invite other people (even Muslims) to sharpen our perspectives. Many people are understandably reluctant to relinquish their dogmatism because we do not want to compromise our convictions and we obviously need a “place to stand.” Nonetheless, we need to be realistic about our capacity to interpret Scripture infallibly and to comprehend God completely. There might be times when a question should be answered with the words I don’t know.

Second, it is increasingly obvious that we must focus on the defining narratives of our faith. We will never be able to explain, with absolute clarity, what it means to say that Jesus was “the Son of God.” Nonetheless, if we focus on the story of incarnation, humiliation, and exaltation, we will be talking about the most crucial and comprehensible aspects of Christian belief. That story provides a legitimate place to stand, as we debate the troublesome issues of terminology.

Third, we need to remember the priority that Jesus established when he ranked the greatest commandments (Matt 22:36–40). There was nothing greater, in his estimation, than love for God and for neighbor. As Miroslav Volf has observed, Christianity shares this foundation with Islam,22 and it outranks every other point of agreement that we could hope to achieve. We are not being true to our faith if we insist upon a starting-point of creedal uniformity.

My colleague Saeed likes to say that our exchanges make him a better Muslim, and our students, he predicts, will become better Christians. I agree wholeheartedly—the process works in both directions. Faith and conversation are mutually beneficial. When Christians define their terms carefully, their discussions bear better fruit. When their doctrines are coherent, there are fewer episodes of misunderstanding. In contrast, good dialogue is always compromised when it is built on sloppy terminology and careless confessions. When Christians talk with Muslims, they cannot be satisfied with dogmatic creedal affirmations about “grace and works,” “substitutionary atonement,” or “salvation.” Those terms provide useful starting-points for valuable dialogues, but they are meaningless without nuance and definition.

Keith Huey is an Associate Professor of Theology at Rochester College and chairs the Department of Bible and Ministry. He received his PhD from Marquette University in 2000 and has been with Rochester College since 2001. He has been married since 1986 to Barbara, with three daughters, and is an elder at the Rochester Church of Christ in Rochester Hills.

Bibliography

Al-Nawawi. Riyadh-us-Saliheen. http://abdurrahman.org/seerah/riyad/index.html.

Anselm. Cur Deus homo? Internet Medieval Sourcebook. Edited by Paul Halsall. http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/basis/anselm-curdeus.asp.

Camp, Lee C. Who Is My Enemy? Questions American Christians Must Face about Islam—and Themselves. Grand Rapids: Brazos, 2011.

Mathis, David. “A Common Word between Us?” Blog. DesiringGod. http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/a-common-word-between-us.

Moltmann, Jürgen. The Crucified God: The Cross of Christ as the Foundation and Criticism of Christian Theology. Translated by R. A. Wilson and John Bowden. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1993.

Muslim. Kitab Al-Iman. Book 1 of Sahih Muslim. http://www.usc.edu/org/cmje/religious-texts/hadith/muslim.

Shakir, M. H., trans. The Qur’an Translation. 12th ed. Elmhurst, NY: Tahrike Tarsile Qur’an, 2001

Shenk, David W. Global Gods: Exploring the Role of Religions in Modern Societies. 2nd ed. Scottdale, PA: Herald, 1999.

Volf, Miroslav. Allah: A Christian Response. San Francisco: HarperOne, 2011.

Yoder, John Howard. The Politics of Jesus: Vicit Agnus Noster. 2d ed. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1994.

1 Quotations of the Qur’an are taken from M. H. Shakir, trans., The Qur’an Translation, 12th ed. (Elmhurst, NY: Tahrike Tarsile Qur’an, 2001).

2 Al-Nawawi, Riyadh-us-Saliheen, hadith 1064, http://abdurrahman.org/seerah/riyad/08/chap191.htm.

3 Student journal entry (PHI 3043 class at Rochester College, Rochester Hills, MI, December 6, 2012).

4 Biblical quotations are taken from the New Revised Standard Version.

5 Muslim, Sahih Muslim, book 1, Kitab Al-Iman, hadith 235, http://www.usc.edu/org/cmje/religious-texts/hadith/muslim/001-smt.php#001.0235.

6 Anselm of Canterbury, Cur Deus homo? 1.12, Internet Medieval Sourcebook, ed. Paul Halsall, http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/basis/anselm-curdeus.asp#ACHAPTER XII.

7 Student journal entry (PHI 3043 class at Rochester College, Rochester Hills, MI, October 19, 2012).

8 David Mathis, “A Common Word between Us?,” Blog, DesiringGod, http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/a-common-word-between-us.

9 Miroslav Volf, Allah: A Christian Response (San Francisco: HarperOne, 2011), 14.

10 Ibid., 127–48.

11 Student journal entry (PHI 3043 class at Rochester College, Rochester Hills, MI, November 9, 2012); similarly, Student journal entry (PHI 3043 Class at Rochester College, Rochester Hills, MI, October 26, 2012).

12 Prepared student question (PHI 3043 class at Rochester College, Rochester Hills, MI, October 7, 2011).

13 Prepared student question (PHI 3043 class at Rochester College, Rochester Hills, MI, September 23, 2011).

14 Prepared student question (PHI 3043 Class at Rochester College, Rochester Hills, MI, November 11, 2011).

15 John Howard Yoder, The Politics of Jesus: Vicit Agnus Noster, 2d ed. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1994), 52.

16 Student journal entry (PHI 3043 class at Rochester College, Rochester Hills, MI, September 14, 2012).

17 Student journal entry (PHI 3043 class at Rochester College, Rochester Hills, MI, September 6, 2012).

18 Student journal entry (PHI 3043 class at Rochester College, Rochester Hills, MI, September 21, 2012).

19 I am intentionally using the terminology of Jürgen Moltmann, The Crucified God: The Cross of Christ as the Foundation and Criticism of Christian Theology, trans. R. A. Wilson and John Bowden (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1993).

20 David W. Shenk, Global Gods: Exploring the Role of Religions in Modern Societies, 2nd ed. (Scottdale, PA: Herald, 1999), 285–86.

21 Lee C. Camp, Who Is My Enemy? Questions American Christians Must Face about Islam—and Themselves (Grand Rapids: Brazos, 2011).

22 Volf, 27–33.