It points us to a long tradition of followers of Jesus within the Muslim faith. Many of us kind of know something of the fact that Jesus is regarded as a messenger sent by God within Islam. The Qu’ran makes direct reference to Jesus around 25 times.
It records his miraculous birth to the Virgin Mary.
His mission to point people back to God.
His death and resurrection.
And a promise of his second coming.
But even if we knew something of this, we also knew that Islam denies the deity of Jesus, or that he might have been the Son of God.
And most Christians, for thousands of years, have sought to demonise all followers of the Prophet- not just as misguided, but as something darker and more scary.
In this time of war and terror, an examination of the engine of faith on the actions of individuals and whole societies has never been more urgent- certainly not in our life times.
Back to the article.
What Joseph Cumming dared to do was to ask whether it was possible to be a follower of Jesus AND a Moslem. He makes a specific comparison to Messianic Jews, who are able to reconcile their Jewish identity with a faith in Jesus. He points to a movement in the 1980’s of Muslim believers who sought to live out their faith in Jesus within their Islamic context- some even facing persecution along the way.
Now this debate will no doubt trigger many polarised responses- and a whole lot of technical theological debate. What is interesting to me is that this article was placed on the Lausanne Movement website– staunchly Evangelical, with it’s roots in the life and work of Dr Billy Graham.
But what remains for me out of this discussion is a fragile bridge that may allow the passage of pilgrims who are prepared to work for peace and justice- that may allow again discussion, mutual appreciation and respect between the great ideological faith blocks that oppose one another across the ‘Bethlehem curtain’ (to coin a phrase.)
Many of my friends will recoil in horror. A watering down of faith! An allegiance with the Devil! Syncretism! (I suspect that there are many on the Islamic side of the debate who would use exactly the same phrases.)
Well you know what- If I err, I am going to try to make sure that my error is on the side of grace, and peace, and forgiveness.
Isa would have it no other way.