Our peacebuilding work is grounded firmly in Scripture and our traditions.
While Hebrew, Christian and Muslim Scriptures each have troubling passages about punishment, violence and war, these words are balanced by powerful calls to compassion, heroic love and peacebuilding.
Reflection on these passages grounds our own efforts, and can help members of our tradition to recognize that God calls us to build bridges. Below we list just a few of the pertinent quotations from Scripture. Our background information from Christian denominations is in process and will continue to expand. If you have resources to share from your own tradition, please share them with us.
The Hebrew Bible
Care for "widows, orphans and aliens" is an iconic theme throughout the Hebrew Scripture. The prophets consistently chastised those who forgot this injunction.
"He ensures that orphans and widows receive justice. He shows love to the foreigners living among you and gives them food and clothing." Dt. 10:18
"When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Leave them for the poor and the alien. I am the LORD your God." Lev. 23:22
"Do not trust in these deceptive words: 'This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord.' For if you truly amend your ways and your doings, if you truly act justly one with another, if you do not oppress the alien, the orphan, and the widow, or shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not go after other gods to your own hurt, then I will dwell with you in this place, in the land that I gave of old to your ancestors forever and ever." Jer. 7:4-12
The Gospel of Jesus
Christians' ultimate authority is Jesus’ words and actions as recorded in the Gospel. Jesus did not speak of Islam because it did not exist in his day. We can learn, however, from his encounters with and stories about Samaritans. The term Samaritan means “Guardian.” Samaritans consider themselves guardians of the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Hebrew Scriptures. Samaritans trace their ancestry to the tribes of Ephraim, Manasseh and Levi, and believe the Jews lost their true understanding of Scripture during the Babylonian exile. In turn, many Jews of Jesus’ time despised the Samaritans because of their differences. Jesus’ message about the Samaritans is unmistakeable. Muslims, like Samaritans, worship the God of Abraham. Try reading the stories of the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:4-26) and The Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) , substituting “Muslim” for “Samaritan.”
Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from Error: whoever rejects evil and believes in God hath grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold, that never breaks. And God heareth and knoweth all things.” (2:256)
“We have created you all out of a male and a female, and have made you into nations and tribes, so that you might come to know one another (not that ye may despise each other). Verily, the noblest of you in the sight of God is the one who is most deeply conscious of Him. Behold, God is all-knowing, all-aware.” [49:13]
He could have made you all the same, but it was his will that there be diversity, and that each of you have his own way. So strive with one another in doing what is virtuous. In the end we will all return to God.” (5:48)
"Repel evil with something that is better and so your enemy will become your intimate friend." 41:34
"Whoever kills a person unjustly...it is as if he had killed all of mankind. And whoever saves an innocent life,it is as if he had saved all mankind." 5:32
The Christian Denominations
This page is still under construction. We will be adding other denominations.
Nostra Aetate: Declaration on the Relation of the Church with Non-Christian Religions “3. The Church regards with esteem also the Moslems. They adore the one God, living and subsisting in Himself; merciful and all- powerful, the Creator of heaven and earth,(5) who has spoken to men; they take pains to submit wholeheartedly to even His inscrutable decrees, just as Abraham, with whom the faith of Islam takes pleasure in linking itself, submitted to God. Though they do not acknowledge Jesus as God, they revere Him as a prophet. They also honor Mary, His virgin Mother; at times they even call on her with devotion. In addition, they await the day of judgment when God will render their deserts to all those who have been raised up from the dead. Finally, they value the moral life and worship God especially through prayer, almsgiving and fasting. Since in the course of centuries not a few quarrels and hostilities have arisen between Christians and Muslims, this sacred synod urges all to forget the past and to work sincerely for mutual understanding and to preserve as well as to promote together for the benefit of all mankind social justice and moral welfare, as well as peace and freedom. Document of the Second Vatican Council, proclaimed by His Holiness Pope Paul VI, October 28, 1965. For the full document click here.
“Faced with disconcerting episodes of violent fundamentalism, our respect for true followers of Islam should lead us to avoid hateful generalizations, for authentic Islam and the proper reading of the Quran are opposed to every form of violence.” The Joy of The Gospel, Apostolic Exhortation, Pope Francis, November 24, 2013
The U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops has a wide range of resources encouraging Catholic-Muslim understanding and cooperation. Click here for their official response to Muslim scholars' invitation to unity, A Common Word. For more passages, check the St. Francis Resource Center.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church has taken a strong position in support of dialogue and cooperation with Muslims. To support this work a Consultative Panel and Lutheran-Muslim Relations was formed, with members appointed by the presiding ELCA bishop. "The Consultative Panel was formed in 2008. From then to now, the work has been to explore the history of Christian-Muslim relations, educate Christians about Islam, build relationships with Muslims, combat rising Islamophobia and identify areas of potential cooperation. When Christians and Muslims see one another as siblings this produces new opportunities for cooperation in local, national and international communities. It is important that Christians understand and stand firm against Islamophobia. It is furthermore essential that Christians and Muslims endeavor to establish relationships of trust, integrity and a shared vision of their place in the rich interreligious landscape." from the ELCA website
The Panel has also created a series of "Talking Points," with guidelines and commentary on issues such as the Qur'an, women and Jesus. In addition, they have created a fine study guide to accompany a series of DVD's on Islam created by Discover Islam. (Note: There is a website "Discovering Islam" which has a significantly different tone - be sure you're on the correct site.) These DVD's are high quality and available for purchase at a very reasonable price.