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BWA Responds to Letter from Muslim Leaders

Washington, D.C. (BWA) — The Baptist World Alliance (BWA) has issued a formal response to “A Common Word Between Us and You,” a letter written by 138 Muslim leaders and scholars that appealed for Christians and Muslims to cooperate in engendering peace and religious freedom.

Upon receipt of the letter, which was dated Oct. 13, 2007, and sent to 27 named world Christian leaders, including BWA President David Coffey, BWA leaders welcomed the letter and indicated that the BWA would make an official response after consultation with Baptists from around the world.

Coffey, in a personal response to the letter sent Oct. 16, 2007, said, “I welcome the letter from the Muslim scholars and leaders and commend it as a groundbreaking initiative which could make a major contribution to a better understanding in Christian-Muslim relations, the cause of religious liberty and global peace.”

In preparation of the formal response, BWA General Secretary Neville Callam sought comments from Baptist scholars and leaders, including those living in countries with a Muslim majority, regarding how the BWA might respond to the letter.

The comments received were made available to Paul Fiddes of England, chair of the BWA Commission on Doctrine and Interchurch Cooperation, and Regina Claas of Germany, chair of the BWA Commission on Freedom and Justice, who were invited to lead a forum at the BWA Annual Gathering in Prague, Czech Republic, in July 2008. At the forum, participants considered the issues raised by the Muslim letter and made contributions to the BWA formal response.

Armed with the insights gained from the solicited comments and the forum, Fiddes, Claas and a team of Baptist scholars and leaders crafted what eventually became the formal BWA response.

Coffey and Callam sent the BWA response to Prince Ghazi Bin Muhammad Bin Talal of Jordan, President of the Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought, on Dec. 19, 2008. In their letter to the Prince, the BWA leaders said, “We have listened carefully to a wide range of responses from our diverse Baptist family, and taken into account the views of our friends and colleagues in other Christian traditions, and believe that this response reflects the mainstream of Baptist thought on the important issues you raised in ‘A Common Word.'”

“As Baptists, we are aware of the need for better understanding between Christians and Muslims and our response represents an effort to give expression to this commitment,” wrote Coffey and Callam.

The formal response to “A Common Word Between Us and You” is available on the BWA Web site at www.bwanet.org/default.aspx?pid=979.