By Travis Adams
A wise professor once told me, “All Truth is God Truth. For anything which proves true must have derived from the Author of Truth.”
Those words changed my life as I began my ministerial training as a young boy from a small conservative town in Arkansas. Thirteen years later I found myself in a room with influential leaders from both the Baptist and Muslim world as they shared, debated, cried, rejoiced and celebrated the Truth they have found in their faith traditions. As we compared the way we pray and fast, I kept hearing a voice inside me saying, “We are all trying to find the same peace. We are all striving for the same goals of relieving the suffering we see in this world.”
Did I walk away agreeing with every tenant of belief presented by our Muslims friends this week? By no means. I still have questions for our Islamic leaders about the identity of Jesus, salvation and inspiration of our scriptures. Such matters are crucial to my pursuit of Truth and my identity as a Christian. All in attendance learned a great deal, but no conversions were made after half a week of dialogue.
In the end, however, I found myself less concerned about theology than the urgent need to orient our community toward valuing being compassionate over being right.
As we heard our Islamic partners telling stories of sacrifice and charity, every moment of meeting people’s needs was coupled with a horrendous story of Christians assaulting Muslims committed to saving innocent lives. In fact, literally nine out of ten Muslims in attendance, all from different parts of the United States, testified to having received death threats from Christians for simply being Muslim.
Beloved Body of Christ, we cannot allow for such hate to stand unchecked.
Surely, all followers of Jesus can celebrate a cause centered upon loving the “least of these.” It is impossible, therefore, for us to celebrate the virtue of meeting humanitarian needs while simultaneously remaining silent about the horrific treatment of those attempting to incarnate those same core values. No reality exists where Christ condones the systematic assault of any people group.
I can’t see Jesus ever sending a death threat, throwing a rock through someone’s window at night, physically assaulting children on their way to a prayer service or leaving racial slurs on a house of worship. Yet, these very acts of injustice are being thrust upon the Muslim community every day in the name of our Lord. Surely Truth demands we stand in solidarity with our Islamic neighbors in such a time as this by publicly denouncing such atrocities.
I am eternally grateful for all those who produced and contributed to the Third National Baptist-Muslim Dialogue. Three days of sharing meals and stories have shown me the Truth of God can be found all around us if we are open to seeing it. Following this splendid experience, I am left with a burning conviction in my heart: We must stand for God’s Truth of love and compassion for neighbor. Otherwise, we don’t stand for God’s Truth at all.
Travis Adams serves as the Associate Pastor of Students and Missions at Third Baptist Church in Saint Louis, Mo. He was a participant at the third national Baptist-Muslim dialogue, April 16-19, in Green Lake, Wisconsin.
5 Takeaways from the Baptist-Muslim Dialogue (by Jonathan Davis)
Retracing My Steps: A Baptist-Muslim Dialogue Reflection (by Kyle Tubbs)