Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. Matthew 28:19,20
Did Jesus instruct his disciples to go into all the world as peace catalysts, building bridges, making relationships and finding similarities with those who worship other gods?
In the January issue of the MB Herald, a book review called A guide to following the Prince of Peace by J Janzen paves the way for Mennonites to cross the ‘peace catalyst’ bridge. But is this peace building the way of the Prince of Peace? In his review of Rick Love’s Peace Catalysts: Resolving Conflict in Our Families, Organizations and Communities , Janzen writes:
“In recent years, attention to peacemaking has been reinvigorated among North American Mennonite Brethren. Rick Love’s Peace Catalysts is a timely resource for two important reasons.
First, Love, who serves as associate director of the World Evangelical Alliance Peace and Reconciliation Initiative as well as president of Peace Catalyst International, which promotes peacemaking between Muslims and Christians, writes out of the evangelical tradition. Love combines Mennonite and Reformed resources to present long-standing Anabaptist convictions in a language that many Mennonite Brethren will appreciate.”
Janzen continues to describe Rick Love’s foundations for peace catalysts which among other things include the holistic approach of pursuing harmony and the eight pillars of peacemaking, concluding that . . .
“church leadership teams, pastors and business people among others will want to have this helpful resource on their shelves… teachers and Sunday school facilitators will find this book to be an excellent discussion starter.
In a pluralistic society in which the church experiences tension with other groups – homeless people, Muslims, the LGBT community, to name a few – Peace Catalysts sparks one’s imagination to consider how God might be inviting Mennonite Brethren into a deeper experience of the Prince of Peace.”
The concern with the MB Herald publishing this recommendation of such a resource is deeper than Janzen’s review delves. Inside Peace Catalysts, Rick Love acknowledges his many influences on his road to peace building. One of these is Miroslav Volf, the Founding Director of the Yale Centre for Faith and Culture and Yale Divinity School. Love writes in the first chapter of his book how he helped prepare for Miroslav Volf’s Common Word Conference at Yale University in 2008.
“This unprecedented global conference was a turning point in my life. I have never met so many Muslim scholars, sheikhs, grand muftis and princes. More importantly, learning about Islam directly from these Muslim leaders and getting to know them personally over meals impacted me profoundly. I began to devote myself to becoming a full time peacemaker and to breaking down barriers between Christians and Muslims. God was calling me to be a bridge builder.” Rick Love, ch. 1, Peace Catalysts
Another influential leader in this bridge building movement is Lynne Hybels, married to Bill Hybels of Willow Creek Church. In her endorsement of Rick Love’s book, she says: “In my life and ministry, I need this book!” Many may not know that she is a Palestinian advocate who often speaks at church conferences. Jim Fletcher, editor of the Balfour Post, writes:
“At Catalyst Atlanta, in 2012, Hybels spoke, and the title of her talk, “We Belong to Each Other: Americans, Israelis and Palestinians for Peace,” implied a non-violent form of protest of the “occupation,” yet she decried the presence of the IDF in the territories, spoke of the negative impact of the security fence, and alleged that Palestinians lack water sources. Her slide titled “1967 Six-Day War” stated: “Israeli Military Occupation of the West Bank and Gaza begins.”
All standard PLO fare.”
– Jim Fletcher, Creeping Anti-Israelism in the Evangelical Movement
This anti-Israel position of Lynne Hybels was also mentioned in an Israel Today article that states. . .
Hybels is close friends with Nora Carmi of Sabeel, an organization that pushes vitriolic anti-Israeli propaganda in the name of “peace and justice.” All of this eclipses Hybels’ attempts to become a neutral peacemaker. While certainly not an anti-Semite, she is guilty by close association with those who accuse Israel of everything from genocide to deicide. Perhaps unwittingly, she is carrying on Christianity’s awful anti-Semitic legacy.
Also a contributing editor for Jim Wallis and Sojourners magazine, Lynne Hybels was appointed to President Obama’s faith Council, and has partnered with Tony Campolo and Brian McLaren at “Christ at the Checkpoint”. For her to say that she really needs Rick Love’s book in her life and ministry should be quite telling.
Today Rick Love is an internationally recognized expert in Christian-Muslim relations and leads Peace Catalyst International. On his website is a video called Conversations with an Imam: Similarities and Differences in Christian-Muslim Friendship, the message of which boils down to the bottom line that – “we can be friends.”
But is this even possible? One defender of biblical truth says it is not. . .
“Muslim clerics know that from Muhammad’s time until today Islam has always viewed each and every non-Muslim as “infidels” and members of the “House of War.” It is, in Muslim tradition and doctrine, perfectly acceptable to deceive any and all infidels (non-Muslims) if it is for the furtherance of Islam”
-Eric Barger, Evangelical MELTDOWN 
If this is so, from a Christian point of view, what would be the sense of participating in such bridge building campaigns? What eternal benefit is there in seeking similarities between two opposing religions? Without prayer and preaching of the truth about the Prince of Peace (to ANY group the church experiences “tension” with), is bridge building on common ground and/or integration even possible (or biblical)?
“The ultimate goal of befriending Muslims should be, for the Christian, to present the gospel of Jesus Christ to them. Those who are true disciples of Jesus were, at one time, “God’s enemies, but have been reconciled to Him by the death of His Son” (Romans 5:10).” – Got Questions
Bible believing Christians (and Mennonites) would agree that Jesus instructed his followers to preach the good news to every person who is eternally lost, and make disciples. Perhaps this is the sincere objective of many peace bridge builders. However, another very important concern needs to be addressed in this case – what about the anti-Zionist names involved with Rick Love in this peace catalyst process?
Jim Fletcher recently wrote:
“Rick Love, I have no doubt, is very sincere in his efforts to build bridges with Muslims. I found it incredibly interesting though to check out whom he “follows” on Twitter. A sampling:
Porter Speakman Jr. (director of the Christian Zionist-mocking film “With God on Our Side”); David Neff (editorial vice-president for Christianity Today); The Economist (left-leaning European news magazine); Catalyst; Cameron Strang; Mark Driscoll; NPR News; Al Zazeera English; Alan Hirsch; Joshua Dubois (who until recently headed Obama’s Office of Faith Based and Neighborhood Parterships); Rob Bell; Lynne Hybels; World Vision; John Ortberg; Rachel Held Evans; Gabe Lyons; Christ at the Checkpoint; Tony Campolo; Ed Stetzer; Shane Claiborne; Donald Miller.
The list goes painfully on, but you get the idea. Each of the people/organizations listed above would either be overtly hostile to Israel, or they hobnob with those who are. Hence, Rick Love’s view of Israel is, I can safely presume, similar to that of Mahmoud Abbas.
That is, Middle East peace would flourish were it not for the “occupation,” etc.”
–Jim Fletcher, Israel Watch
In conclusion, a ‘peace building’ book recommendation in a Mennonite magazine may not be noticed by many, but it is an important issue in light of what is going on in the world today. It is only one of many examples where good intentioned Mennonites get involved in interfaith dialogue with other religions, be it Islam or Catholicism. The list would be too extensive to add to this blog. One such Mennonite has endorsed Rick Love’s book:
“This book is Christ centered and biblically grounded…Those committed to local and global mission will find this book to be a necessary resource in these tumultuous times.” (David W. Shenk, global consultant for Christian/Muslim relations, Eastern Mennonite Missions)
As Jim Fletcher concludes in his message to the many evangelicals who are willing to go far in building bridges with Muslim leaders . . .
“Well, then I say to them: go on and try to build your bridges, though I am certain it is a bridge too far.”
 J Janzen (former interim MB Herald editor) serves as pastoral elder at the Highland Community Church, Abbotsford, B.C., a Mennonite Brethren affiliated church which leans toward contemplative spirituality. (See: Disappointment in the MB Herald
 Read: A Biblical and Historical Rebuttal to “Loving God and Neighbor Together: A Christian Response to a Common Word Between us and You.” By Eric Barger http://www.ericbarger.com/muslim.rebuttal.htm
 Jim Fletcher, Creeping Anti-Israelism in the Evangelical Movement
 The Impossible People: Lynne Hybels: http://www.israeltoday.co.il/NewsItem/tabid/178/nid/24218/Default.aspx?archive=article_title
 See: “Christ at the Checkpoint” and Lynne Hybels: http://standtoministry.com/2012/02/18/christ-at-the-checkpoint-and-lynne-hybels/
 January 7, 2015 http://ricklove.net/?p=3009
 Eric Barger, Evangelical MELTDOWN
 Danish Psychologist: ‘Integration of Muslims in Western Societies is Not Possible’ by FELIX STREUNING http://www.familysecuritymatters.org/publications/id.5905/pub_detail.asp
 Jim Fletcher, Feb, 18, 2013, Dupes: Part 786, Israel Watch
*Final note: Incidentally, although the word ‘bridge’ does not appear in the Bible, Jesus is the only One who bridged the gap between us and the Father. It is Him we must direct people to, not the so called bridges of common ground beneath opposing religions.
*Interfaith Peace – Mennonites and Muslims
*Mennonites and Muslims Meet
*Mennonites and Muslims Merge?