How exclusive can we be in evangelical Christianity? Beyond that, how exclusive should we be in evangelical Christianity? These questions, and more, were raised recently at a gathering of a multitude of religious academicians at the newly formed Instistute for Conflict Management on the campus of Lipscomb University in Nashville, TN.
This gathering which included Christians, Jews and Muslims, asked the question of how far do we go to obtain world peace? Lee Camp, who claims to be a conservative evangelical, made the statement that Christians must 'let go' some beliefs for the sake of peace. He went on to say the following,
"We are not going to get very far in our relationship with Jews or Muslims if we do not let go of this idea,...We need to forsake the Christendom model," Camp said. "The most basic Christian commitment … is that we say we believe in the Lordship of Jesus. But, if we claim that, how can a Muslim or Jew trust us, if we say Jesus is the Lord of all Lords?"
Kahled Sakalla, a Muslim cleric, claimed that there is much more to agree on in the various religions than there is to disagree upon. Allah, the God Muslims worship, is the same God Christians and Jews worship, and the Quran recounts the same biblical stories of Mary and Jesus, he said.
Camp continues by saying that as Christians, when we fail to study other world religions, we are comitting "sins of omission." He went on to say that we have to re-order our priorities in evangelical life. Christians must shed the idea that they need to promulgate a worldwide Christianity, he said.
"If I hold to a model of Jesus … what I've committed to in my baptism is loving my enemy," Lee said. "I'm committed to not killing you, but to serving and honoring you. It's an exclusive commitment to the way of Christ, not to the exclusive authority of Christ."
So, what do you think? I think most of you, if not all of you, who regularly read this blog will agree that these folks are certainly in the extreme and are unacceptable in an orthodox way of understanding the Christian faith. Having said that, however, to what extreme do we go to seek unity? I think obviously one answer would be in the status of the other party's faith. In order for there to be unity, the other party must be an authentic believer. Beyond that, as a Christian - not necessarily as a Southern Baptist - what is your personal standard as far as finding common ground and working together, partnering together?
After reading the article I was alerted that Dr. Camp has since clairified that the Tennessean has severly distorted his quotes into an almost unrecognizable statement. This claim by Dr. Camp has been confirmed by other conference attendee's. Although it does not change the questions I pose at the end of this post, it is germane to the topic in that it helps clear Dr. Camp from appearing to be outside of mainstream, i.e. orthodox Christianity. You can read the response from Dr. Camp about the article's errors here.
HT: The Gourd