And, along the way, continuously demonstrates how oxymoronic that is. “Pastor learns about Islam, tries to bridge gap with Christians,” by John Christensen, for AJC.com, August 1:
During lunch 18 months ago, Dr. Ben Johnson had an epiphany as Dr. Aisha Jumaan, a Muslim, spoke to him about her faith and her experience of God.
“It came to me that this woman loves and worships the same God I do,” says Johnson, a Christian. “I had this sharpened awareness that in that moment she was in touch with God, just as I was. It was a dawning and an awakening, and it was liberating because it liberates you from standing on a pedestal and looking down on someone else.”
It also inspired Johnson to take on a life-changing mission.
At a time when many Christians, including some in his own church, were openly hostile towards a religion they believed advocated terrorism and was at war with the United States, Johnson initiated a dialog aimed at bringing Christians and Muslims together.
Again with the subtle concept that “Muslims” and “Christians” are specific racial or national groups, say, Arabs and Americans, who have no real reason to dispute: it’s all a “misunderstanding,” you see. Unfortunately, this is not the case: “Christians,” among other things, believe Jesus is the son of God; Muslims do not. Therefore, by definition, there is nothing to “dialog” over.
He has conducted a series of lectures and small-group gatherings at which more than 500 Muslims and Christians have shared their faith with each other. Not, Johnson hastens to point out, to convert anyone: “Just to understand each other.”
Again with the cloying though meaningless language: “understand” what? Christians and Muslims disagree on certain ultimate truths. Period.
Sunday Johnson will present another lecture, “Beyond 9/11: Christians and Muslims Together “” A New World Vision” at Shallowford Presbyterian Church in Atlanta with a vision clear in his mind.
“The dream,” he says, “is that we can find a way to bridge the chasm between Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus and Buddhists and make Atlanta a model city. That over the next year or two, we can develop an interfaith immersion program.”
Again, more cutesy fluff, that has absolutely no meaning. There is no need (not to mention it’s impossible) to “bridge the chasm between Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus and Buddhists.” They all have their specific beliefs — which, more often than not, contradict with the beliefs of the other religions. That’s fine. Each should adhere to their own beliefs while respecting the choice of other people to believe differently. The problem, of course, is when one of those belief systems — now I’m not going to name any names — mandates war against those who don’t share its belief system.
Johnson is a former minister who retired in 2000 after nearly 20 years as professor of Christian spirituality at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur. A towering man from southern Alabama, he calls himself “a soft evangelical. I ask questions and listen rather than telling people what they ought to do or believe.”
Right, and Karen Armstrong is a “freelance monotheist.” As for not telling people what to “do or believe,” newsflash for you: Christians, like Muslims, believe in ultimate truths that transcend individual taste. So you just might want to take a time out and reconsider what it is you, as a “Christian,” believe.
He adds, “I’m the most unlikely candidate for becoming a spokesperson about Islam.”
But after several months of retirement, Johnson realized he was depressed. “Life had a dull edge,” he says. “I wondered who I was now that I wasn’t a teacher, preacher, traveler or speaker.”
Awwww….it all makes sense now. Read the rest and discover his great “journey” to “self-discovery.”