Christianity, Islam, and a call for evangelicals to practice what they preach
The attitude and ideas expressed in this excellent op-ed, aimed specifically at evangelical Christians and co-written by Teeming Brain friend John W. Morehead (proprietor of the always-fantastic Theofantastique), are so very necessary amid the current international conflagration over that hit-job of a negative propaganda film about Islam.
Much of the conservative commentary on this event, within and outside Evangelicalism, has emphasized American freedoms of speech concerning the right to share whatever views one might have about Islam. While it is certainly true that Americans have the right to express our convictions, from a Christian perspective our freedoms are informed by love for others; at times, we must be willing to restrict our freedoms for the brethren (1 Corinthians 8) and the world at large. In this instance, it may very well entail restricting our use of our constitutional freedoms for the greater good in the public square here and abroad. With this in mind, we would do well to remember that with the Internet we live in a global village, and the rhetoric, tactics and approval of a controversial pastor or filmmakers can contribute to an international climate of tension that may lead to violence and death in other parts of the world. Simply because we have such freedoms does not mean we must always exercise them; when we do exercise such freedoms, they should be exercised in ways that come down on the side of caution, seeking to contribute to the way of peace for the sake of Americans living and serving overseas, including our fellow Christians living in Muslim lands.
Related to this is the present need for positive engagement of those with whom we disagree on religious matters. The formation of our national identity has often mirrored the formation of our faith identity. In times past the U.S. often found its self-identity in terms of that to which it was opposed … Evangelicals should consider living out a benevolent Christian identity that works it out in praxis resulting in the production of materials and developing approaches that seek to winsomely and positively engage Muslims, seeing them as persons to be approached via fairness, relationships, conversations, and hospitality, rather than as things possessed by an ideology to be engaged by confrontation-provoking exposes.
— Paul Louis Metzger, Ph.D., and John W. Morehead, “Urgent Need: Face-to-Face Encounters, not Face-offs,” Aslan Media, September 14, 2012