Whether you agree with his perspective or not, God has uniquely prepared Miroslav Volf to be a voice of reason and Christlike compassion in the politicized world of Muslim-Christian relations.
A VOICE ACROSS THE GREAT CHASM
Miroslav Volf, the Henry B. Wright Professor of Systematic Theology at Yale Divinity School, is a world-renown theologian who combines impeccable scholarship with a deep passion for the church. Shaped by his experience of growing up in a Christian community in communist Yugoslavia, Volf has provided an important, distinct theological voice to many of the social and theological issues of our day. In this interview, Volf talks about his new book, Allah: A Christian Response, common misconceptions of the Trinity, and what it means to be a Christian in conversation with Muslim brothers and sisters.
The Other Journal (TOJ): In the introduction to your new book,Allah: A Christian Response, you write, “I know that the boundary separating truth and falsehood is not the same as the boundary between political parties or ideological combatants.” Can you talk a little bit about how you see the current political and cultural configuration in the United States obfuscating the truth? And how does this current political landscape cloud our vision as US Christians when it comes to understanding Islam?
Miroslav Volf (MV): I am writing this response two days after Representative Peter King’s hearings (March 10, 2011) about radicalization in Muslim communities. These hearings were a political spectacle, not an instrument of truth finding. They did something to consolidate the position of Mr. King in his political camp but nothing to improve the security of the nation. To the contrary, instead of eliminating radicalization, I have argued elsewhere that these hearings will perpetuate it.
Another example of how the US political landscape obfuscates truth is clearly apparent in the great uproar about the Islamic Center near Ground Zero. That was politically motivated, and it was one massive expression of prejudice. Basically, it rested on identifying Islam with a terrorist ideology. Now, I disagree with Islam on many points—I am, after all, a committed Christian—but to identify Islam with a terrorist ideology is simply false and represents a great injustice toward the majority of Muslims. And this falsehood was publicized in the service of gaining political capital. That is morally wrong. Any right-minded Christian must consider it a grave sin.
TOJ: The central and bold claim of this book is that “Christians and Muslims worship one and the same God, the only God.” What are the common mistakes about the doctrine of the Trinity that Christians and Muslims both make? When a deeper understanding of the Trinity is realized, how might this open up important commonality between the religions?