A Review of the Lecture: “Muslims and Christians on (Un)common Ground”

Anna Conley — October 7, 2020

On September 25, we held our first fully virtual lecture event with Dr. Matthew Bennett as our guest speaker. Dr. Bennett is Assistant Professor of Missions and Theology at Cedarville University. He has taught at Cedarville since 2017, and before his time there he spent six years living and serving in North Africa and the Middle East. We were honored to invite Dr. Bennett to speak on mission to the Islamic world through the use of common ground in conversations with Muslim peoples. Dr. Bennett encouraged Christians to be thoughtful in asking their Muslim neighbor questions about their faith and distinguishing between common language and common beliefs. If you would like to watch the event, a recording of the lecture can be found below.

In this lecture, we discuss how interfaith dialogues are often characterized by a pursuit of ‘common ground.’ The motivations for such a pursuit range from a secular desire to mitigate ideological tensions to a Christian desire to gain relational momentum that might lead to Gospel presentation. However, before granting that superficial similarities are indeed common theological ground, Christians engaging in ministry to Muslims are wise to seek clarification.

The reason that such clarification is often helpful is that it can help us to uncover divergent worldviews that allow common language to obscure uncommon concepts. In this address we consider two differences between Muslims and Christians that produce different worldviews which employ common language. Those two key differences occur at the point of each faith’s understanding of God and sin.

Having established these two points of divergence between the Muslim and Christian worldviews, we need to consider what effects such different concept has on apparently shared issues such as ethics, prophets, and atonement. In the end, we make better progress in loving and communicating with our Muslim friends when we inspect common ground closely before affirming it.

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