Guest / Limited Access /

Now that the west appears mired in a long conflict with Islamic terrorism, I hear comments like this from skeptics: "Religion leads to irrational violence. Nazism came out of Germany, one of the most Christian countries in Europe. The worst genocide in Africa took place in Rwanda, the most Christianized country on the continent. Now Muslim fanatics are showing once again the true face of religion."

Meanwhile, Muslim leaders complain that the United States and Israel are trying to pound Arab countries into submission, just as the Christian nations of France, England, and Germany did a century ago. In the so-called clash of civilizations, one big loser is genuine faith: Neither Western military power nor Islamic terrorism offers much to attract a watching world.

Perhaps our day calls for a new kind of ecumenical movement: not of doctrine, nor even of religious unity, but one that builds on what Jews, Christians, and Muslims hold in common, for the sake of mutual survival. Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel first issued the call in 1966, in a speech delivered to a group of Christian and Jewish educators. His words apply presciently to our day as the world divides increasingly along religious lines.

Heschel, a Polish rabbi deported by the Nazis, later taught at a Jewish seminary in the United States. Evangelicals widely admire his book The Prophets. He delivered the speech "What We Might Do Together" at the height of the Cold War and in the midst of the '60s turmoil. Heschel said:

The striking feature of our age is not the presence of anxiety, but the inadequacy of anxiety, the insufficient awareness of what is at stake in the human situation. … The cardinal problem is not the survival of religion, but the survival of man. What is required ...
Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Philip Yancey
Philip Yancey is editor at large of Christianity Today and cochair of the editorial board for Books and Culture. Yancey's most recent book is What Good Is God?: In Search of a Faith That Matters. His other books include Prayer (2006), Rumors of Another World (2003), Reaching for the Invisible God (2000), The Bible Jesus Read (1999), What's So Amazing About Grace? (1998), The Jesus I Never Knew (1995), Where is God When It Hurts (1990), and many others. His Christianity Today column ran from 1985 to 2009.
Previous Philip Yancey Columns:
More from this IssueNovember 2004
Read These NextSee Our Latest
Also in this Issue
Subscriber Access Only
Musings that Swirl
Searching for God Knows What: Stimulating ideas about the Christian life.
RecommendedThe Real History of the Crusades
Subscriber Access Only
The Real History of the Crusades
A series of holy wars against Islam led by power-mad popes and fought by religious fanatics? Think again.
TrendingWhy Max Lucado Broke His Political Silence for Trump
Why Max Lucado Broke His Political Silence for Trump
In the face of a candidate’s antics, ‘America’s Pastor’ speaks out.
Editor's PickLet's Kiss Dating Hello
Let's Kiss Dating Hello
A sociologist reveals her research about “ring by spring” culture on a Christian college campus.
Christianity Today
Hope for Abraham's Sons
hide thisNovember November

In the Magazine

November 2004

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.