Evangelical Review of Theology

A Case for Ethical Cooperation between Evangelical Christians and Humanitarian Islam

Senior World Evangelical Alliance theologians at the headquarters of Gerakan Pemuda Ansor, Nahdlatul Ulama’s 5-million-member young adults organization, in November of 2019. Dr. Thomas Johnson appears seated to the left of NU General Secretary KH. Yahya Cholil Staquf (center).

BONN, Germany (August 1, 2020): The flagship theological journal of the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA)—which represents 600 million Christians in 130 nations—has published an extensive analysis of the Humanitarian Islam movement that concludes: “Though we understand and relate to God in very different ways. . . [t]he level of philosophical agreement between evangelical Christians and Humanitarian Islam demonstrated in this paper justifies a concerted joint effort to build a world in which religious faith can flourish for the benefit of humanity.”

The 14-page essay, titled “A Case for Ethical Cooperation between Evangelical Christians and Humanitarian Islam,” was published by Evangelical Review of Theology: the World Evangelical Alliance’s Journal of Theology and Contemporary Application. Its author, Dr. Thomas K. Johnson, describes Humanitarian Islam as “a philosophically sophisticated response to some of the crucial questions of our era” which “fully accepts the existence of multiple religious communities within one country, with the hope that those communities and their members can flourish together.”

Dr. Johnson is the World Evangelical Alliance Special Envoy to the Vatican and Special Envoy for Engaging Humanitarian Islam. He also serves as co-chair of the Humanitarian Islam/WEA Joint Working Group, established in April of 2020, which represents “an ambitious effort to reshape how the world thinks about religion.”

A respected theologian, professor and ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church, Dr. Johnson summarized his article by stating:

Humanity’s ability to live together in peace and harmony—and the very lives of both Christians and peaceful Muslims in many parts of the world—are threatened by radical Islamic elements. The World Evangelical Alliance and a major Muslim organization have agreed to work together to combat threats to their shared values and articulate a positive alternative. This article explains why such an effort is justified and how it hopes to make a global impact.

The article begins with the author stating that he will “discuss the inadequacy of some Muslim responses to Islamic extremism, followed by an explanation of why Humanitarian Islam is a preferable alternative. I then draw some comparisons to Christian ethics and close by suggesting how we can work together effectively—including one promising new collaboration.”

What follows are excerpts from Dr. Johnson’s essay. A link to the full article may also be found below.

Some Muslim responses to extremism do not go far enough

A 2014 “Open Letter” to Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, then-leader of the Islamic State terror group. Signed by 126 Sunni theologians, the Letter states that it is a religious obligation for Muslims to establish a caliphate.

“Always be honest and open. There’s no need to be afraid.”

The Humanitarian Islam movement is part of the immense legacy of former Indonesian president and NU chairman H.E. KH. Abdurrahman Wahid.

Known as “the father of modern education” and “the teacher of nations,” John Comenius (1592 – 1660) was a philosopher, theologian and bishop in the Moravian Church (Unitas Fratrum, or Unity of the Brethren), one of the oldest Protestant denominations in the world.

Dr. Thomas Johnson previously taught at Charles University in Prague, where he founded the Comenius Institute. The Institute seeks to foster scholars who are convinced of the truth and importance of the Biblical message, who attempt to live honestly before God, who are theologically balanced and well-developed, who can appropriate the best of historic Christian thought to carefully evaluate modern and postmodern trends, and who are active in church, society and education for the glory of God.

From 7 to 13 November 2019, evangelical leaders from 92 countries gathered in Bogor, Indonesia for the General Assembly of the World Evangelical Alliance. The theme of the assembly was “Your Kingdom Come.”

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