Adventist Media Response and Conversation

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Adventist Statement on Islam

Adventist Statement on Islam to Provide To for open-minded dialogue

Strovolos/Cyprus, 28.03.2007 / ANN/APD

[Another version available from "Source: Adventist News Network"]

On the initiative of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the Middle East (MEU), Adventist leaders in the church's Trans-European (TED) recently adopted an official Statement on Islam to help foster a more constructive relationship between Muslims and Christians. "As [the Adventist] movement continues to grow in the world," the statement begins, "we are looking for [a] good relationship with Islam, a faith with a similar sense of godly calling that is followed by one-fifth of the world's population."

In the Adventist church's Trans-European region, an estimated 60 to 65 percent of citizens are Muslims. The TED includes Bahrain, Cyprus, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.

The Statement draws parallels between Islam and Christianity, such as submission to the Creator God and a common Abrahamic heritage. It also applauds the scientific, literary and philosophical contributions of Muslims throughout history and recognizes Islam's prophet Muhammad as "a spiritual and social reformer at a time of confusion and ignorance."

"We believe that among peoples of all faiths, God has through history preserved a people of authentic submission in the face of apostasy, oppression and persecution. We acknowledge that within Islam there are such people ... Within this group of sincere believers we see potential partners for further exploring our spiritual understanding of the One true God," the Statement reads.

The Statement ends with a call for Adventists to commit to "honesty, fairness and respect in describing Islamic faith," and vice versa. It acknowledges doctrinal differences--such as belief in Christ as Savior and Son of God--but says such differences should "not be made points of controversy or generate attitudes of superiority, but rather provide an opportunity for respectful dialogue, knowing that it is ultimately God who brings conviction to the heart."

Bertil Wiklander, president of the church's Trans-European region, says, "We must show Muslims that they can trust us, while we stand by our Adventist faith ... We should not underestimate the challenges, but I feel that times are changing and that we can look forward to dialogue and, I pray, successful work among Muslim people."

Regional church leaders have sent the Statement to Adventist world church headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland (USA), where officials will decide how such a statement would "best benefit the mission of the world church," says Pastor Michael L. Ryan, a world church vice president.

While Ryan admits "statements are not nearly as important as the way church members interact and behave toward people of other faith groups," he does believe they bolster positive relations. "The Gospel Commission instructs the church that every person is invited to know Jesus Christ. This [statement] will provide a relationship tool to help Adventists better understand the people [they] are inviting."

"People, regardless of background and religious affiliation," Ryan adds, "need to be perceived by the church as worthy of genuine respect. Statements such as this one help get that message across." [Editors: Elizabeth Lechleitner and Chris Schäffler for ANN/APD]

I searched the internet for the actual statement but could not find it, only the SDA press releases, which is kind of funny to say they have developed a statement yet not published the statement except as a press release. But when you think about this is rather in keeping with the apparent nature of the statement. Something that claims it wants to deal honestly and fairly with the Islamic religion but does not accurately represent either the Islamic view or the Christian view on the subject. It is hard to imagine a Christian organization that says: “doctrinal differences--such as belief in Christ as Savior and Son of God--but says such differences should "not be made points of controversy or generate attitudes of superiority…” Jesus asked His disciples who do you say that I am and our very religion defines itself upon the person of Jesus Christ. The Islamic religion states that the New Testament is lies and that Jesus did not die or rise from the grave. Yet the Christian Gospel is all about the salvation mediated by Jesus Christ. Clearly it has to be a point of controversy, now maybe it should not generate attitudes of superiority but then neither should adherence to the prophet Muhammad yet clearly that is the case for Islam.

So why is the Christian SDA organization so willing to declare itself willing to compromise their beliefs in a statement to Islam? The answer is likely found in the general European willingness to give in to Islam where ever Islam is. In Denmark cartoons that depict Muhammad cause riots and killings, yet cartoons that depict Jesus cause little upset to anyone. Someone claims that a Koran was flushed down a toilet and again more riots and killing even after it is determined that the event of the flushed Koran did not actually occur. The list could go on and on just today it was reported:

WASHINGTON, Mar. 29 /Christian Newswire/ -- The Washington-DC based human rights group, International Christian Concern (ICC) has just learned that an Ethiopian evangelist named Tedase was beaten to death by militant Muslims on Monday, March 26th, as he and two young women were on a street evangelism assignment in Jimma, Ethiopia. This marks the second time in six months that Christians residing in Southeast Ethiopia have been attacked and killed by extremist (Wahabbi) Muslims.

The Adventist press release says: Islam's prophet Muhammad as "a spiritual and social reformer at a time of confusion and ignorance."

You could easily say the same for Chairman Mao or any number of Popes, why ignore the violent nature of Muhammad and the subsequent religion which even today persecute and oppresses so many people. Why speak to Islam as a religion by saying there are some people in Islam who “We believe that among peoples of all faiths, God has through history preserved a people of authentic submission in the face of apostasy, oppression and persecution. We acknowledge that within Islam there are such people ...” If that is relevant I am not sure how, it seems like saying of the thousands in a penitentiary that I am sure there are some of you who love your mothers. Of course in Islam if you leave that religion the penalty is death, so the results of Islamic apostasy are oppression and persecution.

If this statement is honest to either Christians or Islam the honesty is certainly well hidden. The fact is that we cannot even deal with the fundamentalist Islamic as they have no intention of listening to infidels. We may be able to communicate with the liberal and moderate Islamists but we will not do so by such contrived drivel as that of this press release. The Moderate and Liberal Islamic know the danger and anti-humanitarian nature of the fundamentalist and they are who are willing to dialog with the Christian and others of the Western world.

2 comments:

Editor APD said...

The report on the "Adventist Statement on Islam" is in direct relation with a January 2007 news article. See: http://www.stanet.ch/apd/news/archiv/5036.html

The full text of the "Adventist Statement on Islam" is not yet available on the Internet, since this document was established by the "Adventist-Muslim Relations Committee" (AMR-COM) of the Trans-European Division of Seventh-day Adventists, based in St. Albans (UK). The final text will soon be published by TED.

To obtain the final text of this declaration write to the TED office at: epujic@ted-adventist.org

Kind regards

Editor APD

Editor APD said...

'Understanding Islam' conferences to amp Adventist interfaith outreach

Areas of cooperation include mutual effort against alcohol, other drugs

Washington D.C./USA, 05.05.2009/ANN/APD Seventh-day Adventist Church leaders say two conferences exploring areas of common understanding between Adventists and Muslims will bolster the church's interfaith outreach.

Earlier this month, dozens of international church officials met in Grenada, Spain, to help erode misperceptions of Islam among Adventists and learn how focusing on mutual beliefs -- such as God, creation and healthy living -- can help members of both faiths build meaningful relationships.

"We're living in a world where we can't ignore other religions," said Ganoune Diop, director of the world church's Global Mission Study Centers. "The first courtesy is to know people on their terms."

Earlier this year, church leaders attended the first 'Understanding Islam' conference in Australia, home to 300,000 Muslims and a leading example of the faith's global presence and consistent growth. Worldwide, one in five persons follow Islam, making Adventist outreach to the Muslim world imperative, said Diop, a French national born in Senegal. As a consultant and lecturer in interfaith dialogue, he travels extensively to promote conversation with world religions.

The 'Understanding Islam' conferences are part of the church's efforts to educate Adventists who may be unsure of how to relate to Muslims. Accurate information about the faith is vital before church leaders or laypeople attempt any outreach, Diop said.

"Many of our beliefs can establish points of contact with Muslims," said Bill Johnsson, the Adventist Church's assistant to the president for interfaith relations. "Creation, for instance, respect for the Old Testament, belief in the second coming, the judgment, these are all things Muslims believe in," he said.

Sharing Christian faith in some Islamic countries is illegal, making any sort of outreach difficult, Adventist Church leaders say. But they encourage members to still build genuine relationships with Muslims by focusing on areas of mutual concern.

The church has partnered with the Islamic Society of North America in sponsoring health expos and countries in the Middle East continue to seek such cooperation. Last month, representatives from the church's Health Ministries and International Commission for the Prevention of Alcohol met in Abu Dhabi with health officials to plan smoking cessation programs among government employees.

Around the world, Johnsson said, many Muslims are surprised to learn there are Christians who share the belief of abstaining from pork and alcohol. Nowadays, Islam isn't just a religion in the Middle East, he said.

"It's a major religion spreading everywhere, it's not just confined to some parts of the world," said Johnsson, who has served as keynote speaker for both conferences.
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