In a recent blog piece, Nathan Lewis who is a Reformed pastor in Beaverton, Oregon, sketches out how he and his church interact with people of many religious expressions, including Islam. In order to promote dialog, Lewis has adapted the idea of meetings for mutual understanding and has run with it. As well he has authored a book entitled, What the Prophet Jesus Teaches His Followers about Being Good Neighbors.
Among the nuggets in the blog piece are the following:
- Both the imam and I made clear our desires and plans to proselytize and to hold “us and them” distinctions, but not at the expense of being good neighbors.
- Once, the mosque, Evergreen, and Southminster met jointly to share a meal and present our views on the nature of the Holy Scriptures. The imam told us that the Quran is the mathematically perfect and infinitely holy revelation of Allah through his prophet, Mohammed. The minister of Southminster, Pastor Peg, told us that the Bible was a collection of myths and folklore all moving us to love one another. I presented the Bible as the infallible, inerrant, and inspired revelation of God. Several weeks later, I walked into a donut shop owned by a family who are members of the mosque. One of the owners told me, “Our imam told us that Evergreen is truly Christian but Southminster is not truly Christian, because you believe that the Bible is divine revelation.” Even though there is a fine donut shop in my neighborhood, I drive three miles to the Muslim-owned shop so that I can build a relationship with this family.
- In a world sipping the Kool-Aid of comparative religions, I am surprised at the large number of people who find our presentations of the vast differences to be refreshing, in the context of being good neighbors.
Lewis' approach and strategies have much to offer. How can they inspire us?