A professor at an Iowa college says as a Christian, he has to say that Jesus was a Muslim.
Ignoring the historical timeline in which Jesus taught some 2,000 years ago in the Middle East and the advent of Islam is dated six centuries later, after Christianity had impacted much of the known globe, Robert F. Shedinger, who wrote “Was Jesus a Muslim?” said his research convinced him of Jesus as aligning in thought with Islam.
In a video report that was uncovered by CampusReform.org, the professor is interviewed by In The Community television in Raleigh, N.C.,
Shedinger said the issue arose when a Muslim student challenged his teaching about Islam, and he rethought not only Islam, but all of religion.
He came to perceive Islam as a social justice system instead of a religion, and found that he thought the same about Jesus.
“I had to rethink what Islam is,” Shedinger said in the interview. “I came to the conclusion that it was a social justice movement and I think that’s who Jesus was in the first century so I conclude Jesus is more like a Muslim.”
He admitted it would “be a stretch” for many to follow his process and consider Jesus a Muslim, but, “It doesn’t make me uncomfortable any more.”
“Even as a Christian I have to answer yes to that,” he said
“We’re not trying to aggravate nobody,” said the interviewer, Abdush Shahid Munir.
Noting that his audience included Christians, Muslims “and other denominations,” Munir asked Shedinger to explain this book.
Shedinger said he re-evaluated a lot of the research he’d encountered during his training, and he suddenly recognized “there were a lot of scholars out there who are arguing the points I make in the book.”
He described his book as a “call for Christians and Muslims to work together to promote social justice.”
His book is published by Fortress Press, the academic book imprint of Augsburg Fortress, which “is noted for its significant publishing in the areas of religious studies, Jewish-Christian studies, African American religion, religion and science, feminist theology, and ethics.”
“The Fortress Press is academic, ecumenical, inclusive, and international,” the company explains.
The college lists Shedinger as associate professor of religion, and cites his course teachings as Intro to the Hebrew Bible, The Bible and Imperial Politics, Intro to Islam, Life After 9/11, Unity and Diversity in Contemporary Islam, and Biodiversity.
On Amazon, the book description questions the “convenient distinction” between politics and religion “and the isolation of ‘religion’ from wider social and cultural questions.”
The description suggests it’s to improve understanding between Muslims and Christians.
It revealed that those buying the book also often picked up “Muhammad and the Believers: At the Origins of Islam,” too. Or the Quran.
CampusReform reported that school officials at Luther were happy with Shedinger’s work.
“The administration is very, very comfortable with the proposal, with the book, and with what his statements about this situation are,” said Jerry Johnson, a school spokesman.
The school website identifies Shedinger as department head, and cites his research interests as the Syriac versional tradition of the New Testament as well as Christian-Muslim relations in the contemporary world.
But he said there really wasn’t much of note in the book.
“The ground he is breaking with this book is not anything exactly earthshaking,” Johnson told CampusReform.
Luther, located in Decorah, Iowa, identifies itself as an undergraduate liberal arts institution that is affiliated with the Lutheran Church, ELCA.
“We embrace diversity and challenge one another to learn in community, to discern our callings, and to serve with distinction for the common good,” the college mission statement proclaims.
“As a college of the church, Luther is rooted in an understanding of grace and freedom that emboldens us in worship, study, and service to seek truth, examine our faith, and care for all God’s people.”
It emphasizes sustainability, and offers chapel and lectures on iTunes with the option “Click. Sync. Learn.”
See Shedinger’s interview: