The Rev. Rick Warren...has embarked on an effort to heal divisions between evangelical Christians and Muslims by partnering with Southern California mosques and proposing a set of theological principles that includes acknowledging that Christians and Muslims worship the same God.
The effort by a prominent Christian leader to bridge what polls show is a deep rift between Muslims and evangelical Christians culminated in December at a dinner at Saddleback attended by 300 Muslims and members of Saddleback's congregation.
At the dinner, Abraham Meulenberg, a Saddleback pastor in charge of interfaith outreach, and Jihad Turk, director of religious affairs at a mosque in Los Angeles, introduced King's Way as "a path to end the 1,400 years of misunderstanding between Muslims and Christians."
The men presented a document they co-authored outlining points of agreement between Islam and Christianity. The document affirms that Christians and Muslims believe in "one God" and share two central commandments: "love of God" and "love of neighbor." The document also commits both faiths to three goals: Making friends with one another, building peace and working on shared social service projects. The document quotes side-by-side verses from the Bible and the Koran to illustrate its claims.
"We agreed we wouldn't try to evangelize each other," said Turk. "We'd witness to each other but it would be out of 'Love Thy Neighbor,' not focused on conversion."
Saddleback representatives declined to make Warren available for comment. Tom Holladay, associate senior pastor at Saddleback, said the outreach to Muslims is part of Saddleback's PEACE Plan, a wide-ranging effort to solve major world problems by mobilizing governments, businesses and faith communities.
"This is us serving our own community with Muslims here in Orange County," said Holladay. "We realize we don't agree about everything and we're very open about that. ... You just recognize the differences and recognize the points where you can work together."
Warren has faced criticism from some evangelicals for his outreach to Muslims. Late last year, he issued a statement flatly denying rumors that he promulgates what critics term "Chrislam," a merging of Islam and Christianity.