“The men presented a document they co-authored outlining points of agreement between Islam and Christianity. The document affirms that Christians and Muslims believe in ‘one God’ and share two central commandments: ‘love of God’ and ‘love of neighbor.’ The document also commits both faiths to three goals: Making friends with one another, building peace and working on shared social service projects. The document quotes side-by-side verses from the Bible and the Koran to illustrate its claims.

“‘We agreed we wouldn’t try to evangelize each other,’ said Turk. ‘We’d witness to each other but it would be out of ‘Love Thy Neighbor,’ not focused on conversion.’

“Saddleback representatives declined to make Warren available for comment. Tom Holladay, associate senior pastor at Saddleback, said the outreach to Muslims is part of Saddleback’s PEACE Plan, a wide-ranging effort to solve major world problems by mobilizing governments, businesses and faith communities.

“‘This is us serving our own community with Muslims here in Orange County,’ said Holladay. ‘We realize we don’t agree about everything and we’re very open about that … You just recognize the differences and recognize the points where you can work together.’”

Is Warren secretly promoting Chrislam?

“Warren has faced criticism from some evangelicals for his outreach to Muslims,” notes Hinch. “Late last year, he issued a statement flatly denying rumors that he promulgates what critics term ‘Chrislam.’

Warren and Obama

“The ‘rumor is 100 percent false,’ Warren wrote at Pastors.com, a website he founded that provides practical advice to church leaders. ‘My life and ministry are built on the truth that Jesus is the only way, and our inerrant Bible is our only true authority.’

“Gwynne Guibord,” wrote Hinch, “an ordained Episcopal priest and co-founder of a Los Angeles outreach group that fosters relationships between churches and mosques nationwide, said Saddleback’s effort is unprecedented.

“Guibord said that when she and Jihad Turk co-founded the Christian-Muslim Consultative Group in 2006, they sent invitations to mosques, the Catholic archdiocese and a variety of mainline Protestant denominations throughout Southern California, but not to evangelical churches.”

It seemed pointless, she told the Register. “‘I think that many evangelicals feel a mandate to convert people to Christianity,’ Guibord said. Because the Consultative Group was founded to respond to increasing antagonism between the two faiths, ‘we would not have made headway’ if one side was trying to convert the other, she said. Now, she said, it might be possible to include evangelicals in her group’s work.

“Turk said the relationship between Saddleback and Muslims, though still in its infancy, has already produced results. ‘People (at the December dinner) were talking about the bonds they’ve formed and they were crying,’ he said. Both sides realized they shared misconceptions about each other’s faith.

“‘We did a quiz at the Christmas dinner,’ Turk said, ‘asking basic questions about Islam or Christianity with the scriptures, the Koran or the Bible. And both sides were missing it…. It’s an education for everyone.’

“Barakat said he continues to know Warren as a man who literally loves his neighbor,” writes Hinch. “Barakat said his children could always count on Warren to buy the candy or magazine subscriptions they sold door-to-door for school fundraisers. The Warrens have hosted Barakat’s family at a Christmas dinner, he said. ‘He calls me his Muslim brother. It all started with a friendship.’”

And the controversy rages on.

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