Dr. Jan pointed out that the tone of this letter by the leaders is less so, and that it focuses on common themes in the Christian and Muslim holy books. It deals with the responses of humans to God - to love God about all else and to love our neighbors as ourselves. It does not discuss the love of God to us, nor does it suggest any specific steps for further dialogue or action among the faith communities. It does represent a significant number of the diverse Muslim community speaking together, brought about by an institute in Jordan.
Comments from the persons who attended suggested it would be well for world Christian leaders to whom the letter is addressed to contact leaders in the Arab Christian churches in this region for their reflections in framing their responses. Some felt that the letter is really intended to address Christians living in western Europe and the United States. Others shared that living with and under Muslim majorities continues to be difficult, a far cry from a love for neighbor which is voiced in the letter. Do you have any comments you want to share?
The schedule is now set for January and for the spring term here. This Norwegian professor will present a course on women in the Qurán and the Bible (with some suggestions from Dr. Susan Hedahl, a professor from Gettyburg Seminary who visited here last week). There will also be a January course on the history of Christianity in Syria. Dr. Mark Swanson, now at the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago and former director here, will find time to tutor some students in Muslim-Christian relations. Studies in Hebrew, in the Coptic language, and the Letters of Paul will be part of the Biblical studies concentration starting in February and I will teach the course on Christianity in the Middle East, Part II (from the coming of Islam to 1900).
Blessings to you all in your ministry as we move toward Advent. Roger