Photo by Gül Işık

In October 2007, under the initiative of Prince Ghazi Muhammad bin Talal of Jordan, 138 prominent Muslim religious authorities published“A Common Word Between Us and You.[1] The essay called for peace and togetherness between Muslims and Christians in an attempt to find common ground between the beliefs and teachings of the Quran and the Christian Bible. The letter was written in response to Pope Benedict XVI’s speech at the University of Regensburg on September 12, 2006. In the speech, Pope Benedict XVI quoted Emperor Manuel II of Byzantium who, in 1391, stated, “Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.”[2]

In response to the Common Wordinitiative, the Yale Center for Faith and Culture, under the leadership of Christian theologian Miroslav Volf, issued a letter calling the initiative “historic, courageous, and marked by deep insight and generosity of spirit.”[3] This response — devoted to finding common ground between the two religions — was endorsed by over three hundred influential Christian leaders, including a number of American evangelicals. The “Yale Response,”[4] as it became known, encouraged peaceful relations between Christians and Muslims, and called the relationship “neighborly,” using words such as “brother” to describe the relationship.

The letter became controversial in the evangelical sphere, however. In response, the evangelical theologian and pastor John Piper wrote,

I believe with all my heart that, as forgiven sinners, who owe our lives to blood-bought grace alone, we Christians can look with love and good will, and even tender-hearted compassion, into the eyes of a Muslim and say: “I do not believe you know God or honor God or love God.”[5]

Other evangelicals, such as Wheaton College’s president Duane Liftin and provost Stanton Jones, eventually removed their signatures from the Yale Response. Liftin explained, “I signed the statement because I am committed to the business of peace-making and neighbor-love … I did not savor the document’s unnuanced apology section.”[6] Ultimately, in the wake of this public controversy, some evangelicals did not want to be associated with the claim that Muslims and Christians worship the same God.

Several years later, in December of 2015, Wheaton College Professor Larycia Hawkins wrote the following post on Facebook:

I stand in religious solidarity with Muslims because they, like me, a Christian, are people of the book. And as Pope Francis stated last week, we worship the same God. As part of my Advent Worship, I will wear the hijab to work at Wheaton College, to play in Chi-town, in the airport and on the airplane to my home state that initiated one of the first anti-Sharia laws (read: unconstitutional and Islamophobic), and at church.[7]

Four days later, Hawkins was placed on administrative leave from Wheaton College and later was encouraged to resign her position.[8] Unlike many evangelical Christians in Hawkins’ sphere, she felt unease with the constant and common Islamophobia that she encountered in the United States. The second line of Hawkins’ quote — “we worship the same God” — had become particularly controversial in American evangelical circles once again. Miroslav Volf weighed in and accused Wheaton of “enmity toward Muslims.”[9] A theology professor at Dallas Theological Seminary, Darrell Bock, responded to Hawkins’ actions, calling the matter “very, very difficult.”[10] Criticism of the college began to come in from multiple sides of the issue, attracting the attention of journalists. Coverage of the issue in The Chronicle of Higher Education noted that Wheaton “was attacked by conservative alumni and friends for risking the institution’s foundational commitment to its core principles, and pilloried by free-speech advocates for taking what they view as blatantly authoritarian, illiberal actions to silence and remove a popular professor.”[11]

The evangelical controversies in response to the Common Word initiative and Larycia Hawkins’ words and actions are examples of the difficulties that some evangelical Christian institutions face in their efforts to become more inclusive and welcoming to different groups of people — including Muslims — while maintaining what they understand to be orthodox theological positions. The outrage that followed the Yale Response and the public act of solidarity-building by Hawkins show that many evangelical Christians in the United States were not ready to define Islam as anything but wholly “other.” The dominant rhetoric of exclusion among evangelicals during this time was exacerbated by the wider stigmatization of Muslims and Islam in American media. While it may not seem controversial to support the civic inclusion of another group of people (Muslims in this case), evangelicals in the United States seem to have largely succumbed to a form of discourse that emphasizes religious, cultural, and political differences and that ultimately condemns Islam as a religion and Muslims as people. In these cases, given the opportunity to show solidarity and mutual recognition of Muslims, American evangelical leaders largely took an oppositional stance that emphasized differences over commonalities.

Do Muslims and Christians Worship the Same God? And Why Does it Matter?

In the cases of the Yale Response and Larycia Hawkins, it is apparent that American evangelical approaches toward Islam are fraught with the potential for division. Although attempts to define the relationship between Christians and Muslims often stir controversy, I suggest these debates have the power to significantly shape wider public perceptions of Muslims and Islam among Americans and to establish consequential limits on interreligious dialogue and encounter. The positions taken in the cases of Hawkins and the Yale Response reflect widespread attitudes among American evangelical Christians towards Islam and Muslims, not just the opinions of a few prominent leaders. According to the Pew Research Center, American attitudes toward Muslims are more negative than those toward any other minority religious group.[12] Many evangelicals do not believe that Muslims even belong in America.[13]

In this context, Muslim-Christian relations have continued to loom large in U.S. public discourse. For example, shortly after the Hawkins controversy, then-President Donald Trump initiated a travel ban that would restrict Muslims from certain countries from entering the United States, provoking renewed public scrutiny of the status of American Muslims in the context of a protracted two decades-long “War on Terror.” In an age of heightened nationalism, Larycia Hawkins attempted to stand in solidarity with Muslims and advocate for an alternative stance towards Islam and Muslims. Consequently, she lost her job and received unfair treatment from other Christians. What does this mean for other advocates for peace between Christians and Muslims? How does this leave access to fruitful dialogue among Muslims and Christians, especially when the goal is finding common ground?

The stakes of these debates are even clearer in another example of a prominent evangelical author who faced criticism for his views on this topic. In his book Who is My Enemy? Lee Camp described fallout from a lecture he gave to an audience of Muslims and Christians about interreligious peace and cooperation. “There were those who incorrectly concluded that I had publicly denied the faith [in the lecture],” Camp wrote, “that I had publicly professed that we should ’let go’ of the lordship of Jesus in order to get along with Jews and Muslims.”[14] This is an example of how sensitive the issue of Muslim-Christian relations can be for American evangelical Christians. Transgressing widely-held boundaries can result in accusations of “denying the faith.” Within the sphere of American evangelicalism, advocating for more inclusive and humanizing treatment of Muslims and Islam is almost certain to bring recriminations. This leads me to ask: Why are relations between American evangelicals and Muslims so fraught that efforts at reconciliation, mutual recognition, and solidarity-building face such opposition? And what alternatives are available for those interested in interreligious dialogue, peace-building, and inclusivity in the American public sphere?

Studying Evangelical Discourse

In 2021, I had the opportunity to join Dr. Roger Baumann in a research project entitled “American Evangelicals, Islam & the Competition for Religious Authority.”The project analyzes the development of American evangelical discourse about Islam and Muslims over time, considering who has the authority to prescribe orthodox evangelical positions on Islam and on appropriate guidelines for Muslim-Christian relations. Within this project, we analyzed over two hundred evangelical books on the topic of Islam from the early 1970s through 2017. Within this body of literature, we identified a dominant mode of discourse among evangelicals that defines Muslims as religious “others,” placed outside the boundaries of what it means to be American in overlapping religious and political terms. But we have also seen dissenting positions which argue Muslims belong within American society. The same controversies that animated the Yale Response and Larycia Hawkins case loom large in broader evangelical discourse on Islam and other non-Christian religions.

In the time I have been working on this project, I have come to recognize that the relationship between Islam and Christianity in the United States has largely come to be defined by a group of prominent evangelical Christians who invoke and defend a set of religious and political boundaries in their efforts to define and prescribe evangelical beliefs and action towards Muslims. In approaching answers to questions posed above regarding cross-religious dialogue, I will turn to identifying the historical and political context of contemporary Muslim-Christian relations in the United States in order to revisit in a more productive and nuanced way the question of whether members of these two faiths worship the same God.

Islam & Christianity: The Basics

There is a reasonable amount of distance — physical and cultural — between Islamic countries and the United States of America. So it is understandable, to some extent, that much of what Americans know about Islam comes from the media. Americans hear that Islamic countries are in turmoil, are unsafe, and are in constant civil strife. Americans also learn that Muslim jihadists are fixated on conquering Western civilization. In turn, as mentioned above, the Trump administration banned Muslims from several Islamic countries from entering the United States, ostensibly to keep this country safe. Much of what people hear from other Americans about Muslims and Islam is that we should defer to experts and let the military and religious leaders do their jobs. Yet there are various reasons why a Christian might consider doing more to understand Islam more deeply and relate to Muslims more closely. Mark 12:31 says the most important religious imperative is to love God, and the next most important religious imperative is to love one’s neighbor as oneself. While reading Jesus’ teachings, I find a consistent emphasis on treating each person with love, understanding, and humility. Why is it, then, that, in the case of Islam, Muslims are commonly treated with hostility, violence, and rejection by many Christians?

I suggest much of this comes out of fear. And the defensiveness that comes from fear can be at odds with American values that celebrate diversity, freedom, and difference. Out of fear, many evangelicals have cast Muslims as outsiders, rejecting their convictions as un-American, and vilifying their religion. Why is this the case? For Christians, who are also reminded in Scripture that “there is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear,”[15] does waging “war on terror” override these Christian teachings? In practice, it seems this is often the case. Throughout the history of Muslim-Christian relations, hostility has often come to define the boundaries of engagement. So, we need to ask, have Muslims been the sole contributors to this conflict, or do Christians also have to take some responsibility? I suggest there is much more to the story of Muslim-Christian relations than what we find in contemporary news outlets. While news media contribute to an ongoing narrative of civilizational conflict, I suggest this ambivalent Muslim-Christian discourse has been a religious-political dynamic that predates cable news and social media. As long as Islam has been perceived by Christians to be a religious and political threat, religious figures in the West have propagated negative views of the religion. So the position of contemporary American evangelical leaders is not a new or isolated phenomenon.

A (Very) Brief History of Muslim-Christian Relations

Christians and Muslims have clashed ever since the emergence of Islam as a global religion and a political community. By the time of Islam’s emergence, Christianity had already grown from a minority religious group in the Eastern Mediterranean to the official religion of the Roman Empire by the late fourth century. Muhammad was born in 570 AD in Mecca, in modern-day Saudi Arabia — an important center for commercial and religious exchange. During this time period, Mecca was largely polytheistic. Before the birth of Islam, Christianity and Judaism were already present in Arabia. One night, Muhammad received a vision from the angel Gabriel while on a retreat in a cave above Mecca. This was the first of a series of revelations that would eventually be collected and recorded in what became known as the Qur’an. When Muhammad presented these revelations to those in Mecca, the people persecuted him, and so he fled to Medina, another Arab city about two hundred miles away. Almost ten years later, after establishing a community of believers in Medina, Muhummad and his new cohort traveled back to Mecca and took over the city. In Mecca, Muhammad and his followers forced polytheists to convert to Islam, or die. This was not the same for Christians and Jews, however, as they were given special standing as “people of the Book” under Muslim rule. In fact, many Christian artifacts were saved during the conquest of Mecca, while statues representing polytheistic faiths were destroyed. Muhammad died in 632, after Islam had become widespread on the Arabian Peninsula. Following the death of Muhammad, Islam spread throughout Southwest Asia, as far East as China, and as far West as France. Conflict between Christian and Muslim polities followed, as Islam continued to spread in the Middle East and North Africa, but the greatest of conflict would come after Pope Gregory VII prepared his people “to rise up in armed force against the enemies of God”[16] and retake Jerusalem from Muslim control in 1074.

Shortly thereafter, accounts of Muslim brutality toward Christians grew exponentially around the Christian world. For example, Pope Urban II in 1095 at the Council of Clermont reported that the Muslims “have killed and captured many, and have destroyed the churches and devastated the empire.”[17] From this point, what we now call “Islamophobia” became increasingly present in the West. Following Pope Gregory VII’s call for an armed expedition against “the enemies of God,” Pope Urban II amplified this message under the banner of a “crusade” in 1096, launching a conflict that would last for centuries. After the Crusades, Islam continued to spread towards Europe, as well as in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. During this time, the Ottoman Empire reached its zenith. Through the violent expansion of the Ottomans, Christianity continued to be threatened by their military power. Christian revolutionary Martin Luther viewed the Turks as an apocalyptic threat after the siege of Vienna in 1529. Although the Turks were seen as a danger to Western society, Luther withdrew from encouraging violent interaction with them. He viewed the Crusades as being perpetrated by the Pope.[18]

However, not all Christians living in Europe shared Luther’s views. Many viewed Turks as “barbarian” or “savage.” Pope Pius II referred to Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II as a “cruel and bloody butcher.”[19] During this time, the literature about the Turks was dominated by negative portrayals, and would pave the way for an increasing amount of negative discourse concerning Muslims throughout the next few centuries.[20] Near the end of the early modern period, William Shakespeare wrote in Othello that the Turks were “cruel,” “malignant,”  and “barbarous,”[21] showing how negative views of Islam spilled over from religious and political circles into literature and other cultural productions. Eventually, this discourse of hostility came to be framed in terms of East (Islam) vs. West (Christianity). The persistent negative rhetoric about Islam from Christian popular figures entrenched an unfavorable view of Muslims that still exists among many Westerners today. Political conflicts continued to be framed along these lines into the twentieth century, with the reorganization of political authority in the wake of World Wars I and II, the decline of European colonial power around the world, and the accompanying emergence of new national religious-political identities.

Out of this long history, we might focus our attention on 2001 as a turning point for American understandings of Islam, when Osama bin Laden and members of the group al-Qaeda unleashed terrorist attacks that would renew tensions between Muslims and Christians around the world and bring Muslim-Christian relations into a newly sharpened focus in the United States. After the attacks on September 11, President George W. Bush announced a new global “war on terror,” calling it a “crusade.”[22] In the years that followed, the United States invaded Afghanistan and Iraq, ostensibly to stem the tide of Islamic terrorism. Since 2001, rising Islamophobia in the United States has denied Muslims access to equal treatment, as well as a sense of solemnity regarding their religion and political practices. According to Pew Research, discrimination against Muslims in the United States has increased in the past decade, from forty percent of Muslims reporting experiences of discrimination in 2007 to forty-eight percent in 2017.[23] One of the most significant manifestations of Islamophobia is that Muslims are increasingly cast as outsiders or  “others.”

Islam Through Evangelical Eyes

Since 9/11, evangelical Christians have become increasingly vocal regarding Islam and Muslims. There seems to be a vast distance between those who wish to defend or support Muslims and those who wish to defend against Muslims. We can see this in the treatment of Larycia Hawkins, and also in the Yale Response to the Common Word initiative. After the events of 9/11, much of the evangelical literature on Islam has focused on condemning Islam and demonizing Muslims in overlapping religious and political terms. In our research on the “Evangelicals & Islam” project, our group has categorized more than two hundred evangelical books on Islam into different genres. We have identified the three most prominent genres as apocalyptic, apologetic, and missiological. Across these genres, we have also identified primary themes, worldviews, and goals of authors who have produced these texts for evangelicals. Books within the apocalyptic and missiological genres tend to offer more hostile interpretations of Islam and prescribe more confrontational approaches for evangelicals. Apologetic books tend to be more conciliatory, aiming to foster mutual understanding.

Within the apocalyptic genre (fig. 1), Islam is commonly cast as a religion of violence and terror. The term “apocalyptic” refers to Islam’s role in the end times. Books such as Unleashing the Beast[24]and Mideast Beast[25] have come to define much of the discourse in the evangelical sphere. Richard Booker, author of Radical Islam’s War Against Israel, Christianity, and the West,[26]uses terms such as “radical,”  “fundamentalist,” “horror,” “terrorists,” to define Islam.

Missiological books (fig. 2) aim to equip Christians to witness and share the gospel among Muslims. They also include critiques of Islam. Books within the missiological genre tend to focus on interactions with Muslims, usually through the eyes of a Christian missionary, pastor, or religious leader. Book titles such as Touching the Soul of Islam[27]and Encountering the World of Islam[28]define this genre. Many authors hold a negative, sometimes hostile notion of Islamic beliefs, in which they condemn “their God,” and the literature of the Qur’an. In 2010, Thabiti Anyabwile called the Qur’an “militant,” and used words such as “hatred” to define Islamic beliefs.[29]

While many evangelical authors write about the shortcomings of Islam, some emphasize the similarities and the connections Islam shares with Christianity. In our analysis, these are apologetic authors (fig. 3). These apologetic authors refer to interconnectivity and the benefits of dialogue between the two faiths. Like Lee Camp, many of these authors are forced to respond to controversies that follow their work, as their outlooks and prescriptions often deviate from the dominant evangelical discourse on Muslims. Titles such as Building Bridges: Christianity and Islam[30]and Dear Muslim Friend[31]aim to reconcile the relationship between Christianity and Islam rather than alienating them from each other. Joshua Graves, author of How Not to Kill a Muslim,wrote, “Why are we afraid to be the humans God made us to be? Because engaging our Muslim neighbor is not just about Muslims; it is about Christians becoming the people God desires us to be.”[32] An author such as Graves enables evangelicals to express effective, ethical, and constructive conversations with Muslims.   

From an apologetic standpoint, Christians can ask questions, offer opinions, and focus on the extensive common ground that exists between themselves and their Muslim neighbors. Do we follow the same text, the same prophets, and even the same God? If questions such as these are to be answered, we need to rid ourselves of bias toward Muslims presented to us by leaders, stereotypes, and the media. Yet, there are groups of people who don’t believe in the common ground of the two religions.

Evangelicals on Islam Before and After 9/11

Before 9/11, the context for American evangelical discourse on Islam was colored by the Cold War and the protracted conflict with communism. During this time, evangelical authors were less focused on Islam overall, and more willing to acknowledge the commonalities between Muslims and Christians when they did write and talk about Islam. Many evangelicals even recognized common ground and worship of the same principles. At the time, this was not nearly as controversial of a view as it has become since 9/11.In Blessing in Mosque and Mission, Larry G. Lenning affirmed“Islam and Christianity as different but equally valid paths leading toward the same goal.”[33] Lenning added a quote from Hendrik Kraemer’s Why Christianity of All Religions?: “Islam and Christianity are expressions of the same truth, apprehended and construed in different ways.”[34] Here, Lenning and Kraemer acknowledge that Muslims and Christians worship the same God, but in contextually and culturally different ways. This work acknowledges the common ground between Christianity and Islam, but also notes the differences. These statements would likely face much more scrutiny and be the likely subject of more intense controversy today.

In 1996, Hendrik Vroom wrote No Other Gods, aiming to demonstrate worship of the same God across religions. He maintained that both Islam and Christianity believed in the power of prayer and in a God of mercy. He also “assumed that the two concepts of God would have to correspond sufficiently in order to justify the conclusion that Christians and Muslims worship the same God.”[35] Although Vroom also focuses on differences between Christians and Muslims, he argues that Muslims worship the same God as Christians and Jews. Not all authors thought this way before 9/11, however. In 1992, author Robert Morey argued against the notion that Muslims and Christians worship the same God in a work entitled The Islamic Invasion. “When we compare the attributes of God as found in the Bible with the attributes of Allah found in the Qur’an,” he wrote, “it is rather obvious that these two are not the same God.”[36] Here, Morey proclaimed that Muslims and Christians worship different Gods, based on different attributes seen in the Qur’an and Bible. To him, Muslims’ God, whom they call “Allah,” behaves differently than “God” of the Christian Bible. Morey claimed God has attributes that make him more personal, intellectual, and willful, while Allah is not to be understood as a person. Also, to him, there is no concept of grace within Allah’s nature, while there is in God’s nature.

After 9/11, there was a dramatic change in the evangelical literature on Islam and Muslims. It is not that nuanced approaches to questions of theological comparison disappeared, but such books faced increasing competition from books that were more totalizing in their vilification of Muslims, their prophet, and their cultures. This shift took place in line with what Samuel Huntington called “the clash of civilizations,”[37]a  prediction that future wars would be fought between cultures, not countries. Among the escalating clashes that Huntington predicted, the political intractability of the divide between the so-called Muslim world and the Christian West would take center stage.

Do Muslims and Christians Worship the Same God?

In this context, the question of whether Muslims and Christians worship the same God became more fraught with geopolitical implications. Many evangelical books on Islam post-9/11 are framed in terms of a “clash of civilizations” or “clash of cultures.” In Judgment Day!: Islam, Israel, and the Nations, David Hunt maintains that “it is a blasphemous insult to the God of the Bible to equate Him with the pagan deity Allah.”[38] For evangelical authors like Hunt, there is a tendency to point to distinctions like the Muslim shahada (creed), which decrees “there is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is his prophet.” For Hunt and other evangelical authors who reject the notion that Muslims and Christians worship the same God, the fact that Muslims do not reject the prophethood of  Jesus (or Isa in the Qur’an, described as the messiah) still fails to tip the scales of the argument. For those who think the Christian and Islamic God are two different Gods, Muslims’ rejection of Jesus as God’s Son is grounds for dismissing the notion that Muslims worship the same God. Here, the trinitarian vision of God is essential. Evangelical Christian scholar Ibrahim Ag Mohamed asserts in God’s Love for Muslims that “The doctrine of the Trinity, however, is vehemently denied and rejected,”[39] and “The Qur’an does not use the word ‘Father’ to refer to God, and Muslims deny that God has or ever could have a Son.”[40] Using Islamic rejection of the Trinity as evidence of his argument, Mohamed joins the many Christians who echo this argument in the post-9/11 world of American evangelicalism.

Another view of the question of whether Muslims and Christians worship the same God comes from Miroslav Volf, who shepherded the Yale Response to the Common Word. In his book Allah: A Christian Response, Volf suggests that Christians and Muslims do worship the same God, though they do so through different perceptions of God.[41] For Volf, this difference in perception does not invalidate the worship of one God. Volf develops his argument by drawing on the work of Martin Luther, who suggests Muslims fail to recognize the true nature of the God they worship. Just like Christians and Jews, Muslims believe that God, or Allah, is the God of Abraham. Abraham fathered two sons, one born from Hagar (Ishmael) and one from Sarah (Isaac). The Bible mentions that both of these sons would become great nations.[42] Both Christians and Jews trace their lineage from Isaac, while Muslims track theirs from Ishmael. This is important to the argument because, Volf emphasizes, both Isaac and Ishmael worshipped God. If Isaac’s nations are Christianity and Judaism, who ostensibly worship the same God, why cannot the same thing be said of Ishmael’s nation?

Overall, it is clear from a basic comparison that there are similarities and differences between Islam and Christianity. More often than not, it is a recognition of difference that causes Muslims and Christans to alienate each other, rejecting or dismissing the significance of similarities. One of the most significant expressions of these differences is the conviction that Muslims and Christians worship different Gods. In this view, the “othering” of people across the Muslim-Christian boundary stems from each group’s “othering” of the other’s God. In the debate about whether Muslims and Christians worship the same God, a clear resolution is unlikely and the answer is open to interpretation by both sides.

Ultimately, the significance of differences in beliefs — between Muslims and Christians, or among Christians — is also open to interpretation. For some, any acceptance of difference is threatening. But I think it is difficult to know anything completely and fully, so debates such as the same God argument, the authority of Muhammad and Jesus, and the significance of the end times, are subject to different opinions and convictions. If we do not truly know the answers to these questions, would it not be better to strive for understanding and an emphasis on commonalities, rather than focusing on division as fuel for conflict and strife?

In Allah: A Christian Response, Miroslav Volf argues for a position that is inclusive towards Muslims regarding the worship of the same God. Volf says “Only God knows God.  Only God can reveal God adequately.”[43] Relating to the division between the two religions, it is not up to us to judge the differences between our perception of God, but only their misunderstandings about God. From a Christian perspective, Volf argues Muslims have come to misunderstand the true nature of God. Because of this, their traditions and worldviews have been damaged by their core beliefs about God. This does not mean the two religions worship two different deities; rather, they have different viewpoints regarding the appropriate worship of the same God. To support this, Volf describes six shared elements of Christianity and Islam. First, there is only one God. Second, God created everything that is good. Third, God is radically different from anything but God. Fourth, God is good. Fifth, God commands that we love God. And, finally, God commands that we love our neighbor.

In this instance, I agree with Volf about the significance of these core similarities between Christians and Muslims. Some may argue that Allah is not good or loving. Surah Al-Baqarah: 163 reads, “Your God is one God; there is no God other than he, the compassionate, ever-merciful.” This echoes what I, as a Christian, believe about God. Similarly, I cannot assume Allah is a God of violence, vengeance, and death without acknowledging the same thing about my Christian understanding of God because there are many instances in the Christian Bible where God commands his peoples to commit acts of violence. If there were more cultural understanding between Christians and Muslims, arguments about whether or not these two religions worship the same God could come in the context of mutual recognition of similarities between the two religions, rather than disparities.

Samuel Brasser ’23

Samuel is majoring in Sociology. He is from Grand Rapids, Michigan. We thank Dr. Roger Baumann (Sociology) for his guidance with Samuel’s piece. 

Roger Baumann, Ph.D.

Dr. Baumann is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Hope College.

Table of Contents

[1] Nick Gier, “Muslim Challenge Spurs Inter-Faith Dialogue,” A Common Word,  December 22, 2008. Full document available at

[2] Benedict XVI, “Faith, Reason, and the University: Memories and Reflections” (speech, University of Regensburg, September 12, 2006), Vatican, Benedict later clarified that he intended to draw out the essential relationship between faith and reason, and affirmed that he had great respect toward Islam (see footnote 3 in Vatican transcript of speech). However, the effects of his speech were still controversial in the Muslim world.

[3] Miroslav Volf, quoted in Gier, “Muslim Challenge.”

[4] Harold W. Attridge et al., “Loving God and Neighbor Together: A Christian Response to A Common Word Between Us and You,” October 12, 2007,

[5] John Piper, “Christian Concerns About the Yale Response to A Common Word,” Desiring God,  November 18, 2009,

[6] Ted Olsen, “Wheaton College Administrators Remove Names From Christian-Muslim Statement,” Christianity Today,  February 8, 2008,

[7] Ruth Gledhill, “Hijab Row Professor Larycia Hawkins is to Leave Wheaton College,” Christian Today,  February 7, 2016,

[8] Michel Martin, “Faced With Firing, Wheaton Professor Stands By Her Gesture Of ‘Solidarity,’” NPR,  January 10, 2016,

[9] Miroslav Volf, “Wheaton Professor’s Suspension is About Anti-Muslim Bigotry, Not Theology,” The Washington Post,  December 17, 2015,

[10] Sarah Pulliam Bailey, “How a Facebook Comment Turned into a Nightmare for ‘the Evangelical Harvard,’” The Washington Post,  January 22, 2016,

[11] Alan S. Ray, “What the Wheaton Controversy Means for Colleges’ Religious Identity,” The Chronicle of Higher Education,  January 13, 2016,

[12] Pew Research, “Americans Express Increasingly Warm Feelings Toward Religious Groups,” Pew Research Center, February 15, 2017,

[13] Kate Shellnut, “Most White Evangelicals Don’t Believe Muslims Belong in America,” Christianity Today,  July 26, 2017,

[14] Lee C. Camp, Who is My Enemy? Questions American Christians Must Face About Islam — and Themselves (Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2011), 4.

[15] 1 John 4:18

[16] Gregory VII, The Register of Pope Gregory VII, 1073–1085: An English Translation, ed. H. E. J. Cowdrey (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), 123.

[17] Urban II, “The Speech of Urban II at the Council of Clermont, 1095,” in A Source Book for Mediæval History: Selected Documents Illustrating the History of Europe in the Middle Age, ed. Oliver J. Thatcher and Edgar H. McNeal (New York: AMS Press, 1971), 516-517.

[18] Trevor Castor, “Martin Luther on Islam and ‘the Turks,’” Zwemer Center for Muslim Studies,

[19] Pius II, De captione urbis Constantinopolitanae, quoted and translated in Nancy Bisaha, Creating East and West: Renaissance Humanists and Ottoman Turks (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004), 148.

[20]  Nevsal Ölçen Tiryakioglu, “The Western Image of Turks from the Middle Ages to the 21st Century: The Myth of ‘Terrible Turk’ and ‘Lustful Turk,’’ PhD dissertation (Nottingham Trent University: 2015), 2.

[21] William Shakespeare, Othello (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1975).

[22] The White House, “President: Today We Mourned, Tomorrow We Work.” George W. Bush White House Archives,

[23] Pew Research, “U.S. Muslims Concerned About Their Place in Society, but Continue to believe in the American Dream,” Pew Research Center,  July 26, 2017,

[24] Perry Stone, Unleashing the Beast: The Coming Fanatical Dictator and His Ten-Nation Coalition, revised ed. (Lake Mary: Charisma House, 2009).

[25] Joel Richardson, Mideast Beast: The Scriptural Case for an Islamic Antichrist (Washington: WND Books, 2012).

[26] Richard Booker, Radical Islam’s War Against Israel, Christianity, and the West (Shippensburg: Destiny Image Publishers, 2008).

[27] Bill Musk, Touching the Soul of Islam: Sharing the Gospel in Muslim Cultures, new ed. (Derby: Monarch Books, 2005).

[28] Keith E. Swartley, ed., Encountering the World of Islam, 2nd ed. (Littleton: Bottom Line Media, 2014).

[29] Thabiti Anyabwile, The Gospel for Muslims: An Encouragement to Share Christ with Confidence (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2010).

[30] Fouad Elias Accad, Building Bridges: Christianity and Islam (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1997).

[31] Jerry Mattix, Dear Muslim Friend (Dubuque: ECS Ministries, 2014).

[32] Joshua Graves, How Not to Kill a Muslim: A Manifesto of Hope for Christianity and Islam in North America (Eugene: Cascade Books, 2015), 70.

[33] Larry G. Lenning, Blessing in Mosque and Mission (Pasadena, William Carey Library Pub, 1981), 7.

[34] Hendrik Kraemer, Why Christianity of All Religions? (Sacramento, Hassell Street Press, 1962) 62.

[35] Hendrik Vroom, No Other Gods: Christian Belief in Dialogue with Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam, trans. Lucy Jansen (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1996), 144.

[36] Robert A. Morey, The Islamic Invasion: Confronting the World’s Fastest Growing Religion (Eugene: Harvest House Publishers, 1992), 58.

[37] Samuel P. Huntington, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order (New York: Touchstone, 1997).

[38] David Hunt, Judgment Day! Islam, Israel, and the Nations (Bend: The Berean Call, 2005), 142.

[39] Ibrahim Ag Mohamed, God’s Love for Muslims: Communicating Bible, Grace, and New Life (London: Metropolitan Tabernacle, 2015), 9.

[40] Ibrahim Ag Mohamed, God’s Love for Muslims: Communicating Bible, Grace, and New Life (London: Metropolitan Tabernacle, 2015), 66.

[41] Miroslav Volf, Allah: A Christian Response (New York: HarperCollins, 2011).

[42] Gen. 12:2; 17:20.

[43] Volf, Allah, 130.

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