Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
CAJ 09:1 (Spring 2011) p. 89
A Deadly Misunderstanding: A Congressman’s Quest to Bridge the Muslim-Christian Divide. Mark Siljander. Harper Collins, 2008. 272pp. $24.99 (Hardback). ISBN: 978-0061438288.
Mark Siljander wrote A Deadly Misunderstanding because he believed that the polarizing problems between Christianity and Islam would only be solved through a “spiritual revolution, a revolution without guns and tanks, a revolution of the human heart” (208). However, what can this former congressman from Michigan, who admits that he has “no formal background in linguistics, comparative religion, or Islamic studies” (187), tell us about bridging the gap between two civilizations in collision? Cal Thomas, one of Siljander’s conservative supporters, says that Mark’s proposal “warrants serious study and detailed analysis” because its premise that the mistranslation of the Bible and the Qur’an have brought about a war where those involved do not know what they are fighting about, may actually usher in a revolutionary proposition that will bring both sides together (back cover). Like many leaders today, including President Obama, Siljander hopes that if we emphasize what is in common between Christians and Muslims, then together we will bring about the spiritual revolution that he advocates. Siljander’s specific point of commonality is that both Christianity and Islam revere Jesus Christ and hold his words in
CAJ 09:1 (Spring 2011) p. 90
high regard. He believes that if we focus on what Jesus said and what he stood for, then it will bring a revolution of the heart on both sides. In fact, many of the Muslim leaders he has met with have concluded their meetings with the words “this is revolutionary” and have asked to meet again. When they have met again, often they would say something like, “I can accept everything up to this point, but . . . my beliefs will not let me go farther.” When Siljander tries to push it farther, he only comes up with compromise and a weakening of the Christian positions. In this multi-cultural world, will the focus on the Christ for all peoples bring the peace we are all longing for, or will there be a greater rift produced when the jellyfish of pluralism hits the brick wall of reality? Mark Siljander wants a “path to genuine, sustained peace and conflict resolution” (57), which is a great goal, but if it comes only at the hands of doctrinal compromise and spiritual surrender, then his desire to build a bridge of peace between Islam and Christianity will only make it across the gap half way.
As an evangelical Christian, Mark Siljander said that he once believed that Islam was “a religion of violence, that the Qur’an...
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