When Mark Hanson, who heads the 66-million-member Lutheran World Federation, read the open letter sent to Christian leaders by an unprecedented range of Muslim clerics and scholars last month, the Chicago-based bishop was not surprised at the erudition and content of the document.
On a 2005 trip to Jordan, he spent two hours with the letter’s chief architect. “We talked about what a constructive global conversation would need to be to have an impact on world conflicts,” said Hanson, who is also presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. One point of agreement was that it is important “to speak with great honesty about our core convictions.”
The bishop was pleased, as were many other church leaders, that the 16-page letter, “A Common Word Between Us and You,” quoted the Qur’an and the Bible extensively to show that the two central commandments for Muslims and Christians are love of the one God and love of one’s neighbor.