Interfaith

Book Review: Christians and Muslims Should Embrace “The Jihad of Jesus”

"The Jihad of Jesus" by Dave Andrews
“The Jihad of Jesus” by Dave Andrews

I turned on the television the other day to hear a Christian American say: “Our enemy is Islam and our enemies are Muslims!” Disturbed by his tone, I shifted to my computer, where I opened the Internet only to see an equally alarming message from a British Muslim: “Islam must crush Christianity, the false religion!” These men are from different religions, but their motives are strikingly similar: oppress those who do not think as they do; use violence, if necessary, to put down other faith groups; and never consider the beliefs and practices of other religious communities to be valid or useful to society. Needed now more than ever is a new manual for Christian-Muslim relations which does not resort to name-calling, exclusion, and violence.

The Jihad of Jesus: The Sacred Nonviolent Struggle for Justice (Wipf & Stock, 2015) is a compelling new book which calls on Christians and Muslims to embrace the peaceful example of Jesus and unite in a strong yet nonviolent movement to counter bigotry and violence. Dave Andrews, the author, is a peace activist, community organizer, theologian, and facilitator of harmonious coexistence among human beings. He is a Christian in the purest sense. Andrews believes “all people are loved, equally, by God, regardless of color, class, caste, or creed.” It is this egalitarian spirit which oozes out of the The Jihad of Jesus.

Dave Andrews, author and peace activist

While Andrews acknowledges the theological differences between Christians and Muslims, he intentionally tries to “focus on those beliefs about [Christ] that Christians and Muslims have in common as the place for [them] to start [their] conversations.” Andrews sees “‘common ground’ not as suspect compromise, but as ‘sacred ground’ on which [they] can stand and speak to one another.” The common ground on which he wants Christians and Muslims to meet is one based on justice, love, and peace. He requests that Christians move away from their arrogance and aggression and Muslims to embody the compassionate and merciful spirit of Islam as exhibited in the bismillah, the Arabic phrase meaning “In the name of God, the merciful and compassionate.” Andrews posits that Christians and Muslims must reflect the kindness and humility of Christ, who they should follow “with every beat of [their] hearts, through every vein in [their] head, and [their] hands, and [their] feet.”

The Jihad of Jesus is anchored in the theory that Christians and Muslims erect impenetrable boundaries around their communities in order to exclude people who they perceive as being different from their co-religionists. Andrews argues that by constructing these barriers, Christians and Muslims show symptoms of hatred and fear. This kind of “closed perspective” towards religion, he claims, is harmful because narrow-minded people tend to be dogmatic, judgmental, and intolerant of dissent. Andrews challenges “religious fundamentalists” to open their hearts and minds and turn away from their “unchanging and unchangeable” ideologies, which leave no room for diversity, disagreement, and interfaith encounters.

Christians and Muslims can live in harmony and peace Source: patheos
Christians and Muslims can live in harmony and peace Source: patheos

Following the example of Jesus, Andrews prefers an “open perspective” towards Christian-Muslim relations because it replaces cold-heartedness and hard-headedness with warmth and compassion. According to him, the “open perspective” fosters inspirational personal growth and transformational social change by opening people up to positive elements of other religious traditions. In doing so, Christians and Muslims leave behind the “ideology of religious supremacy,” and acknowledge the “mercy of God,” which clears the way for Christians and Muslims to heed Jesus’ call of tearing up prejudices and trashing stereotypes of others.

Upon finishing The Jihad of Jesus, I realized how important it is for Christians and Muslims to continue building bridges of understanding and goodwill. Andrews makes an excellent point:

it is absolutely vital for the future welfare of the human family that [Christians and Muslims] examine [their] frequent utter disregard for human rights, diabolical persecution of unorthodox traditions and heterodox religions, and total destruction of “infidels” in genocidal “Holy Wars” waged in the name of our “great God.”

Here Andrews offers practical and spiritual guidance by reminding Christians and Muslims to engage in the ever-important process of self-reflection. The time is ripe for Christians and Muslims to find their “inner-Jesus” and accept the call of non-violent revolution. As Christians and Muslims continue to encounter each other in the future, it is crucial for them to remember that God does not favor any particular group of people simply because they call themselves “Christians” or “Muslims.” All of us need to move away from the idea of our religious tradition having a monopoly on the truth. This is one of the key messages of Andrews’ philosophy.

The Jihad of Jesus will inspire you to work alongside your Christian and Muslim brothers and sisters in the struggle for mutual understanding and genuine peace.

After all, this is our shared jihad.

Additional reading:

 

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7 thoughts on “Book Review: Christians and Muslims Should Embrace “The Jihad of Jesus”

  1. Why does the Counter Jihad Report give house room to the Islamic propagandist Craig Considine? He and the writer of the book being reviewed dishonestly set up a false equivalence between Christianity and Islam. It is quite correct for Christians to say “Our enemy is Islam and our enemies are Muslims!” but it is obvious that the enmity is one-sided. Christians are being slaughtered and oppressed by Muslims across Islamdom but not vice versa.

    Andrews may well believe that “all people are loved, equally, by God, regardless of color, class, caste, or creed” but Allah repeatedly makes it quite clear that he hates non-Muslims. Why else would he call them the vilest of creatures and consider that they deserve to be tortured for eternity?

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  2. There is a false equivalence set up here between between Christianity and Islam. It is quite correct for Christians to say “Our enemy is Islam and our enemies are Muslims!” but the enmity is one-sided. Christians are being slaughtered and oppressed by Muslims across Islamdom whereas Muslims are given refuge in Christian lands and given a protection against religious offence not extended to native Christians.

    Dave Andrews may well believe that “all people are loved, equally, by God, regardless of color, class, caste, or creed” but Allah repeatedly makes it quite clear in the Koran that he hates non-Muslims. Why else would he call them the vilest of creatures and consider that they deserve to be tortured for eternity?

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  3. Let me guess: Is Dave Andrews able to practice his peace activism, community organisation, theology and ‘facilitation of harmonious coexistence among human beings’ somewhere like Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey or Bangladesh, or the privileged post-colonial West?

    I think Mr Andrews really would be a major contributor to world peace if he could “focus on those beliefs about [Christ] that Christians and Muslims have in common as the place for [them] to start [their] conversations” in places like Sudan or Nigeria. You see, if we discount the theory that Muslims in these places have a tendency to burn churches and hack Christians’ heads off because they are racially ‘Indian’ or black, then we are more-or-less only left with the hypothesis that Muslims behave this way because they follow Islam, wherein Allah commands his followers to [K 2:193] “fight [non-Muslims] until there is no more Fitnah [disbelief and worshipping of others along with Allah] and worship is for Allah alone.”

    “[Andrews] requests that Christians move away from their arrogance and aggression and Muslims to embody the compassionate and merciful spirit of Islam.” Is it just me, or is there some kind of bias against Christianity and for Islam in this statement? I agree that many evangelical Christians do exhibit arrogance that theirs is “the only way”, and preach such vigorously, but must mention the noticeable absence of a Christian version of http://www.thereligionofpeace.com/ which is sadly now up to 26,000+ recognised Islamic jihad attacks since 2001. let’s call a spade a spade: there is no equivalence between sectarian Jehovah’s Witness-style preaching and blowing up hundreds of schoolchildren.

    I’m going to be very very charitable and polite here: Both you Dr Craig and Mr Andrews are severely deluded if you think that there is any moral equivalence whatsoever between born-again (radical) Christians and orthodox (“radical”) Muslims. It would be nice if this was simply an academic debate. Sadly, both your views have widespread traction, and are indirectly responsible for genocide. I urge you to adopt a Fortean (truly openminded) attitude and look at the scriptures and the facts again.

    In love and peace.

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  4. Thank you SO much for this contribution to dialogue & peace-making between Christians and Muslims. In response to previous comments, I would say that this approach is working precisely in the kind of nations mentioned. I would also draw their attention to the important phrase “opening people up to positive elements of other religious traditions”. Yes, we can focus on negative elements within every religion & religious culture, but that doesn’t move us forward on the path of mercy & compassion. We also must remember that the extremists & fundamentalists are usually the minority and do not represent the whole community – either on the Christian or the Muslim side; yet they are often the most vocal & get the most attention in the media and in our thinking about ‘the other’. There are many Christians & Muslims who are ‘men (and women) of goodwill’, who are looking for another way and who can work together for better understanding, more harmonious relationships, collaborate on social issues that build up the ‘common good’ and a peaceful society, where there is true ‘freedom of relgiion’.

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