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An open-letter exchange between Muslim and Christian leaders has prompted both praise and criticism from evangelicals.

In October, 138 Muslim scholars and clerics representing the major branches of Islam released "A Common Word Between Us and You," a document inviting Christians to interfaith dialogue on behalf of peace. In response, scholars at Yale Divinity School's Center for Faith and Culture drafted "Loving God and Neighbor Together," which was signed by nearly 300 Christian leaders and published in a December edition of The New York Times.

"We have to start somewhere, and at least opening the door is a critical first step," said Scott Moreau, a Wheaton College mission professor, who did not sign the letter. But critics say the Yale letter will do more harm than good.

Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, faulted the letter for lacking specificity on core Christian teachings such as the Trinity and Jesus' divinity. He also criticized a section that he believes constitutes an unwarranted apology for the Crusades.

"My biggest problem with the document is theological," said Mohler. "[It] is rather evasive about crucial Christian truth claims. I am eagerly ready for peaceful conversation which the Muslim clerics have called for, but I do not believe that letter is the best Christian response."

Patrick Sookhdeo, director of the Institute for the Study of Islam and Christianity and international director of the Barnabas Fund, has written his own response to "A Common Word." His response analyzes the Qur'anic verses quoted in the Muslim letter by examining their contexts and their hadith and tafsir interpretations, which are well known to Muslims and generally more aggressive to Christians than the ...

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March 2008

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