Christian Theology Responsive to Islam

“…dismiss or demonize their questions or positions, but engages them serenely so as to express faithfully the uniqueness of the Christian proclamation. ”

Team Members/Contributors

Daniel A Madigan Georgetown University Contact Me

About this sabbatical grant for researchers

Developing Christian theology in conversation with Islam is a project I’ve been engaged in for many years, in research, teaching, seminars, and publishing. This project seeks to synthesize in an academically serious, yet accessible way the insights generated over those years. Much theology addressing Islam simply repeats historical polemics; some presumes that medieval apologetic responses are still adequate. However, in Europe and North America Muslims are no longer distant strangers, but rather colleagues and neighbors who increasingly share a cultural and educational background. This situation offers an opportunity for something new.

It also calls for a theology that recognizes the particularity of the Christian kerygma and also takes seriously Muslim perplexities about it. Many current theologies, seeking to be more dialogical, shape their understanding of Christianity in an Islamic way; that is to say they accept the Qur’anic assumption that God’s dealings with humanity should be understood as a history of prophecy – of messengers bringing guidance to address our erring, and knowledge to dispel our ignorance, along with warnings to overcome our heedlessness and to focus us on the coming judgement. Most such theologies rely on a very “low” Christology, and on rather shallow notions of revelation and scripture. Above all they tend to downplay those elements of Christian proclamation that the Qur’an explicitly criticizes—Trinity, Incarnation, original sin, the Cross—elements that sometimes seem to be embarrassments also to theologians for whom atheism is the primary interlocutor.

In my years of teaching Muslims and learning with them my theology has become more trinitarian, more incarnational, more cross-centred, not by way of reaction and defensiveness, I hope, but because Muslims have pressed me to explain why I hold these truths to be central to faith in the one God of Abraham. It is this way of doing theology that I want to make more available to the Church.