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Who Is My Enemy?: Questions American Christians Must Face about Islam--and Themselves Paperback – October 1, 2011

4.7 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

Must Christians and Muslims Be Enemies?

Current discussion of Islam in America tends toward two polar extremes. On one hand is the notion that Christianity is superior to Islam and that Muslims are warmongers. On the other is the notion that all religions basically say the same thing and are peaceable. Lee Camp argues that both these extremes are wrong. He examines Christian and Islamic views on war, terrorism, and peacemaking, helping American Christians confront their own prejudices and respond to Muslims faithfully.

"Lee Camp knows Christianity is better than the worst things Christians have done, and he insists we must extend the same grace to Islam. Who Is My Enemy? is an invitation to start addressing the log in our own eye so we can more clearly see into the eyes of others."
--Shane Claiborne, author, activist

"Lee Camp is courageous, and his courage is to believe that what Jesus taught is relevant today. The argument in this book is an old one with some surprising if not inflammatory twists. But the sad reason this book must be written is that Christians continue to ignore the One who said 'love your enemies.' Waging war and following Jesus are incompatible. Do we have the courage to hear and follow Jesus?"
--Scot McKnight, North Park University

"Who Is My Enemy? is truly the best book I know for all Christians who want to be faithful to Jesus while figuring out how to relate to Islam. I hope everyone reads it in this time of testing. It is wonderfully written, wonderfully readable, wonderfully insightful, and wonderfully true."
--Glen Stassen, Fuller Theological Seminary; author, Living the Sermon on the Mount

"When does an astute theological inquiry become utterly engaging? When it opens each of us up to the gracious source of our own existence and lets the scales drop from our eyes. Lee Camp lets us see this process in him, thereby making it possible for us to adopt a new way of seeing. Read this book at your peril, for you will surely discover how entering into another faith tradition can enliven your own."
--David Burrell, CSC, Uganda Martyrs University

About the Author

Lee C. Camp (Ph.D., University of Notre Dame) is professor of theology and ethics at Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tennessee. He is the author of Mere Discipleship and the host of Tokens, a popular radio show based in Nashville. Camp speaks regularly to university and church audiences and has served in various ministry roles in Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, and Nairobi, Kenya.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Brazos Press (October 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1587432889
  • ISBN-13: 978-1587432880
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #216,969 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

An Alabamian by birth, now a Tennessean happily living in Nashville, Lee is husband of a wonderful wife and father of three active sons--who have been stitched and glued together so many times that there should be a wing at the Vanderbilt Children's Hospital named after him. Lee also teaches at Lipscomb University, loves roots music, and much enjoys writing. Most recently he is the creator and host of Tokens (see TokensShow.com), an old-time radio format show which provides space for the intersection of music, theology, comedy, and author interviews. Lee likes to say that Tokens is like Mark Twain, with all his satire, wit, and social conscience, meeting God, and actually liking the God he meets.

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Format: Paperback
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This weekend marks the tenth anniversary of the tragedies of 9/11. In the days that followed, as we learned more about the men who coordinated the hijackings of planes and who crashed - or intended to crash - these planes into strategic landmarks including the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, there was a huge public outcry, not only against al-Qaeda, the terrorist group who claimed responsibility for the events of the day, but also against the Muslim faith at large. Public opinion of the Muslim community ranged from suspicion to vilification in those days and months following 9/11, which fueled rhetoric that can generally be characterized as depicting a grand conflict between Islam and the West.

As we remember, however, the events of a decade ago, it would serve us well to reflect on the emotions and rhetoric that prevailed in the American public in the months after 9/11. For those of us in the Church, one very helpful tool for such reflection is Lee Camp's new book, the title of which asks the pointed question Who is My Enemy? Camp is professor of theology and ethics and Lipscomb University in Nashville who earned his PhD as a student of John Howard Yoder at Notre Dame, but is perhaps best known these days as the creator and organizer of the Tokens "Old Time Radio" stage show. Camp is also the author of Mere Discipleship, which offers a poignant and compelling call to radically Christ-centered life in the contemporary world.

In Who is My Enemy?, Camp seeks to explode popular conceptions of both Christianity and Islam, contrasting public perceptions with the teachings and traditions of these faiths.
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It seems ironic that sometimes truth that is so obvious is too difficult to accept. Many who call themselves Christians attempt to ignore or twist the clear teachings of Jesus regarding aggression. The childish knee-jerk response to any aggression or perceived threat is to attack. It takes a more mature, thoughtful response to do what may seem counterintuitive. Many of Jesus' teachings are indeed counterintuitive, yet ultimately the "right" thing to do.

In Who Is My Enemy, ethics professor and author Lee Camp contrasts the typical American response to any threat with the clear teachings of Jesus. The rationalization of gun-toting Americans who are protecting their country does not match up with the message we read in the New Testament. If we truly are using the Bible in any sense as a guide for our daily living and as a guide for our nation, our military actions around the world must appear selfish and imperialistic - but not Christian. We condemn terrorism but honor bombing freely.

The message in Who Is My Enemy will not likely be embraced by Americans. Nationalism and "just wars" have replaced even the pretension of Christianity. I stand with Lee Camp in his small but perhaps growing audience.
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It is obvious that Lee Camp's thoughtfulness and gentle questioning have opened a few Islamic leaders and scholars to reveal the real reasons that Muslims view Christians, particularly Americans, with contempt. He finds that Islamic disdain is often more grounded in truth than Christians would care to recognize. Dr. Camp does not shy away from those revelations; he views each as an artifact to be studied from all angles to discern its true value and meaning. It is a refreshing change from the work of many authors that would seek first to refute the veracity or value of Islamic traditions.

Through Dr. Camp's eyes, I understand that we Americans overlook much of the history that prejudices Muslims against the West. It's not because Americans want to ignore these events and their aftermath (although at some point that's probably been the case), but rather we choose to focus on the relatively short history of our own country and its Christian hegemony. Thus, we often excise portions of the Christian record that are most troubling to Islam and, frankly, to modern Christians. We claim that Christianity 'isn't like that anymore' and expect the rest of the world to agree. Likewise, Muslims fully believe that any aggressive actions are measured and necessary to recoup only what is rightfully theirs and expect understanding. The trouble begins when neither is deemed credible by a world filled with spiritual skepticism and both Christians and Muslims adopt portions of the cynical world view as 'evidence' against the other.

So what is to do? Listen. Learn. Be human.
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This book presented an interesting mix of philosophy and history comparing and contrasting Christianity and Islam. I do not know much about the Islamic texts and having finished this book, still don't know much about the Islamic texts. The author choses various quotes from both the Christian and Islamic texts but a few quotes out of an entire religious tradition is hardly a fair sampling for making an argument. I could probably find one quote from each religion that says all humans should slaughter each other and derive from those quotes that "both religions essentially say the same thing." (Which is not at all the central thesis of this book, just an example of skewed logic)

I do like that the book seemed pretty unbiased and avoided making value statements for or against either religion. As the book's main goal seems to be to compare and contrast, a simple conclusion is hard to pinpoint. I appreciated that the author leaves the evaluation and interpretation of data to the individual reader instead of coming out and saying "X is good and Y is bad" or some other such nonsense.

However, in my opinion, far too much of the book was wasted with personal stories about "this one Christian or Muslim I talked to said..." I understand that some readers want the human interest part and/or want to see the author's journey but coming from a scientific background, I prefer to get to the meat of the matter without all of the fluff.

Over all, I would prefer a philosophical or sociological primer/overview of each religion along with historical references to the interactions of the various followers of the two religions.
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