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This article is from the EMU News Archive. The approximate date of publication was in March 2005. Current EMU news is available at www.emu.edu/news
Book Explores Anabaptist-Muslim Dialogue
a report by Laura Lehman Amstutz
A new book, "Anabaptists Meeting Muslims: A Calling for Presence in the Way of Christ," explores the many ways Anabaptist Christians have engaged the Muslim community over the years.
The 556-page paperback, edited by James R. Krabill, David W. Shenk and
Eastern Mennonite Seminary Professor Linford Stutzman, grew out of the presentations given at a conference, "An Anabaptist Consultation on Islam: The Church meets the Muslim Community," Oct. 23-26, 2003, at Eastern Mennonite University. The gathering was co-sponsored by Eastern Mennonite Seminary, Eastern Mennonite Missions, Salunga, Pa., and Mennonite Mission Network, Elkhart, Ind.
Anabaptists have an opportunity to engage Muslims in many contexts today, both in Mennonite service-mission agencies who are present in countries which are primarily Muslim and because of modern mobility, even in North America.
This book compiles essays and reports from people who serve among Muslims, administrators at mission and service agencies, professors and scholars of mission and theologians.
In the introduction the editors state, "The intent of the consultation and this book has not been an attempt to homogenize Mennonite commitments. Rather, the intent has been to listen and learn, to give and receive counsel and a place to share stories and reflections that will encourage Christians for the calling to presence in the way of Christ."
"The impetus for calling the conference and producing a book of the proceedings came from David W. Shenk, global missions consultant with Eastern Mennonite Missions, who sensed the need for building understanding, both relational and theological, between Mennonites and Muslims, especially following September 11," said Dr. Stutzman, associate professor of culture and mission at Eastern Mennonite Seminary. "The global conflicts under the banner of 'war on terror' have a way of pulling Christians into nationalistic, fear-based attitudes toward Muslims," he added.
The book opens with a discussion of major themes that are foundational in doing what the authors have termed "meeting and greeting" Muslims. It then reports on such exchanges between Mennonites and Muslims and provides some significant practical insights from specific contexts as well as a vision for the future.
The third section is a compilation of the essays presented during seminars at the conference on various themes. The book concludes with questions that Muslims ask Mennonites and all Christians and possible Anabaptist responses to these questions.
"We hope that the book will contribute to building a more helpful perspective in relating, witnessing, and living in this divided world," Stutzman said.
"Anabaptists Meeting Muslims" is published by Herald Press and is available online at Provident Bookstores for $24.99 and from the university bookstore.
Laura Lehman Amstutz is a student in the master of divinity program at Eastern Mennonite University.