Ecumenism between Christians, Muslims and Jews?

Sent On: 
Tue, 2018-10-30
Newsletter Number: 

Martin Luther


Tomorrow, October 31st, is Luther day. On this day many Protestants worldwide remember that 501 years earlier German reformer Martin Luther hammered his 95 theses at the door of the church in the castle of Wittenberg, Germany. These were statements against the then dominant practices and beliefs in the Roman Catholic Church. It was beginning of the Reformation that changed the religious map of Europe and the world.


Luther, who has deeply influenced the thinking of hundreds of millions of Protestants, was very negative about Islam. “For Luther Islam was the religion of the enemy – in particular the Turks who conquered Belgrade in 1521 and in 1529 stood before the gates of Vienna. Luther saw Muslims, and by the way also Jews, in particular as threat for Christianity. That is the language we still hear: Muslims threaten ‘our culture’.” Dr. Janneke Stegeman wrote one year ago.


Dr. Stegeman wants the opposite of Luther.That is starting a discussion about ecumenism between Christians, Muslims and Jews. She wrote for this an article for Ekklesia in the Netherlands. Arab-West Report obtained her permit to translate this into English and publish this in Arab-West Report. I have added to her text a background about who Dr. Stegeman is.
For this text please click here.

Janneke Stegeman (Source)

Of course in a debate one can expect responses. These have come from Mr. Henk Glimmerveen and Mr. Eildert Mulder, both long time readers and friends of Arab-West Report and strongly favouring good relations with our Muslim neighbours, but both find Dr. Janneke Stegeman’s approach too naïve, presenting an ideal image of Islam that does not match with the reality Christians in the West often witness.

Please read Mr. Glimmerveen’s commentary here and Mr. Mulder’s commentary here.


I have also written a commentary on Dr. Stegeman’s text. She is using Islamic terminology in a way that most Muslims would not use this and does so for a Christian audience that is not aware of this terminology. I also believe that religion is always influenced by the politics of the day. This should make us extremely cautious in whatever claims are made in the name of whatever religion.


Luther’s negative stance towards Islam is an example of political influences in his views about Islam. This is recognized by most Lutherans today but we are still dealing with millions of believers who are unaware of political influences on religion as so masterly described by Peter Frankopan in his book “The Silk Roads: A New History of the World” (Bloomsbury, 2015).



October 30, 2018


Cornelis Hulsman