For The Common Good

Ahmed, Brian, and Samuel w.border

A few years ago I drafted a statement to explain the friendship and cooperation I have with Ahmed El-Sherif, an Arab Muslim scientist, and Samuel Nachum, an Israeli Jewish artist, as we work together for peace in Israel and Palestine. This seems like a good time to share it again.

For the Common Good

We are Jews, Christians and Muslims.
And we are friends.
We seek to follow our respective religions faithfully.
We do not believe all religions are the same.
We recognize the reality of our religious differences.
But we are friends.
We are devout in our faith and respectful of our friendship.
Our faith and friendship need not be mutually exclusive.
We recognize that we share common space — the common space of a shared planet.
For the sake of the common good we seek common ground.
We do not share a common faith, but we share a common humanity.
In our different religions we do not practice the same rituals or pray the same prayers.
But in our shared humanity we hold to a common dream: Shalom, Salaam, Peace.
We hold to the dream that our children may play in peace without fear of violence.
And so…
We pledge not to hate.
We pledge not to dehumanize others.
We pledge to do no harm in the name of God.
As individuals we do not compromise the truth claims of our respective religions—
But we will not use truth claims to fuel hate or justify violence.
We will practice our respective faiths: Judaism, Christianity, Islam.
But we believe our faith can be practiced in the way of peace—
We believe our faith truly practiced need never be at odds with humanitarian ideals.
Our religions share a complex and intertwined history—
A history of interaction that has too often been tumultuous and bloody.
We believe there must be a better way and we seek that better way.
The way of peace.
We are Jews, Christians and Muslims.
And we are friends.
We seek common ground for the common good.
Shalom, Salaam, Peace.

Ahmed El-Sherif
Samuel Nachum
Brian Zahnd

P.S. I’ve been asked, Are you implying a concession to not evangelize in exchange for coexistence?

This is my reply:

My statement does not preclude evangelizing Muslims and Jews; it precludes endorsing hatred and violence in the name of Christ. I confess Jesus is Lord. I believe in proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ. I am for sharing the gospel with everyone, including Muslims and Jews. But Christianity and Judaism have coexisted for 2,000 years, and Jews have suffered incalculable horrors at the hands of Christians. Christianity and Islam have coexisted for 1,400 years, with much bloodshed between the two religions. Today there are 1.3 billion Muslims in the world. In a world that has suffered deeply from religiously inspired violence we must find a way to live together in peace. Peaceful dialogue is more conducive to successful evangelism than entrenched hostility. While seeking to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ to my Jewish and Muslim neighbors, I am willing to pledge to do them no harm and respect their humanity. Jesus is pleased with this.