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The Good Book must include all faiths to be truly great



By Steve Gushee, May 18, 2001, published in the Palm Beach Post

Muslims, like Christians and Jews, are known as people of the Book. That's spiritually true. Publishers should make it literally true.

Future editions of the Bible should include the Hebrew Scripture, the Christian New Testament and the Holy Koran, the sacred scripture of Islam.

That trilogy in one volume could do wonders to create mutual appreciation dispel ancient misunderstanding and encourage cooperation in a world of diverse religious beliefs.

Such a Bible would offer a unique opportunity to see one's own faith in a fresh perspective. The Curious would discover surprising similarities and predictable distinctions among the three great religious traditions.

Judaism, Christianity and Islam each sprang from the same history. Each is rooted in the experience of Abraham, the patriarch of Israel, whose story is told in the book of Genesis. Each worships the same God.

The Unifying gift has been rent asunder through centuries of religious slaughter of each other, done in the name of the God they worship in common. Mutual suspicion and insistence on the exclusive possession of truth have taken a terrible toll.

But change is in the air. Pope John Paul II, perhaps more than anyone, has signaled the hope for greater understanding among the three faiths.

Last week in Syria, he was the first pontiff in memory to visit a mosque. In 1986, he was the first pope probably since Peter in the first century, to enter a synagogue.

His actions and words plead for a kind of mutual respect among these religious movements that a common ancestor and many shared traditions demand.

Islam honors Abraham and other great figures of Judaism. Muslims also honor Jesus as a prophet and are devoted to his mother, Mary.

The Muslim faith is the second largest religion in the world. Nearly 6 million Muslims practice their faith in America alone.

There are more followers of the faith of Mohammed on Main Street than there are Jews, Episcopalians, Presbyterians and many other Christian denominations.

It's past time we began to understand one another a common Bible would help enormously.

Some would inevitably argue that including the scripture of another tradition in the Bible would defile their own. But those who insist that their holy book is the exclusive word of God fly in the face of the genuine the religious experience of countless others.

Including the Holy Koran with the scriptures of Judaism and Christianity in every Bible would be a bold stroke in the search for tolerance and truth.

And Christians, Jews and Muslims would finally be what each claims to be: People of the Book.

Copyright © 2001, The Palm Beach Post

(webpage by Deborah Butler of Lighthouse Ministries)

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