Mission

Humantrustees.org aims to foster understanding and cooperation between Muslims and Christians so as to empower them to live up to their God-given calling as “trustees of the earth.” This Christian initiative seeks to accomplish this goal through scholarship, teaching, news commentary, and networking between scholars, members of both communities, and with anyone else who is passionate about peace and human flourishing.
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Monday, 29 August 2011 00:00

David L Johnston

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Johnston grew up in France, where his American parents started an interdenominational youth movement seeking to introduce Jesus to French teenagers in a non-denominational way. After college (Westmont College, BA in Philosophy), he obtained an MDiv at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and served for nine years as associate pastor in two expatriate churches in Algiers, Algeria. Then he spent another seven years teaching in a language school in Ismailiya, Egypt, and finally at a Palestinian Bible college in Bethlehem, West Bank.

After these sixteen years in the Arab world Johnston turned to academics, earning a PhD in Islamic Studies at Fuller Theological Seminary, which led him to continue research in contemporary Islam in the Religious Studies Department at Yale University. Since 2006 he has been a Visiting Scholar at the University of Pennsylvania, teaching several courses there until 2009, and now serving as an adjunct lecturer at St. Joseph's University. He is also Affiliate Assistant Professor of Islamic Studies at Fuller Theological Seminary. His research and writing have focused on the intersection of law and theology in modern Islamic scholarship and on Muslim-Christian dialogue. Besides a number of articles published in leading academic journals, he is the author of Earth, Empire and Sacred Text: Muslims and Christians as Trustees of Creation (London: Equinox, 2010), and Muslims and Christians Debate Justice and Love (Sheffield, UK: Equinox, 2020).

Johnston is a leader in his local church (Blue Route Vineyard, Media, PA) and for several years a member of Media's Fair Trade Committee, the very first Fair Trade Town in North America. He is available to speak or teach seminars in churches, mosques and more neutral venues as well. 

Sunday, 28 August 2011 00:00

About Us

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The concept of a divine mandate for human stewardship is at the heart of Judaism, Islam and Christianity. As God created the world, he gave humankind the mandate to rule over the earth as just managers, stewards or trustees, with direct accountability to him for the way they choose to carry out this task. Human trusteeship of creation connects to the Declaration of the Parliament of the World's Religions, as it affirms the non-negotiable dignity of the human person. It also reflects the values behind the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the various documents it has generated over time, which have now become the foundation of international law.

Humantrustees.org also leverages the power of Jesus' Good News to bring peace and reconciliation between Muslims and Christians, as well as between people of faith and those of no faith. Jesus, the Second Adam, came to restore God's good creation, making it truly possible for all human beings to live out their calling as "trustees of the earth." This qur'anic expression (e.g., Q. 2:30; 6:165) is parallel to Genesis 1, where Adam and Eve are created in God's image and told to rule over all the creatures of the earth (see Earth, Empire and Sacred Text). Far from "exploiting" the earth for selfish ends – as we have certainly done in the modern period, as God's trustees we are called to bring healing and wholeness to the earth, peace and prosperity to all, humankind and "otherkind."

This initiative by David L. Johnston also starts with the assumption that Jesus is not just for Christians. True, people of other faiths don't see him as God in human form come to redeem humanity from their sins. But Muslims do see him as a great prophet whose teaching is worthy of emulation, and pioneers of nonviolence such as Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr., found great inspiration in his words and deeds. As Christians join people of other faiths to bring blessing to the earth, they showcase the virtues of God's kingdom rule, which Jesus came to preach in the footsteps of the Hebrew prophets before him. And, what is more, all of God's trustees on earth come under the blessing of these words of Jesus: "God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth . . . God blesses those who work for peace, for they be called children of God" (Matthew 5:5, 9).

Still, God's trustees don't simply work for peace and justice. Jesus reminded his listeners that the Law revealed to Moses could be summarized in two commands: love of God and love of neighbor. In fact, he called his disciples to even love their enemies. The Apostle Paul ended his ode to love (I Corinthians 13) by saying that in the end, only three virtues remained: faith, hope and love. Then he added, "but the greatest of these is love." For many Muslim mystics across the ages (the Sufis), Muhammad was the Seal of the Prophets and Jesus was the seal of the Saints. Experiencing God's love was their main concern. This was also the foundation of the Muslim initiative of 2007, "The Common Word" letter sent by 138 Muslim leaders and scholars representing all factions to the Pope and all Christian leaders. What we have in common as Christians and Muslims, it declared, is at the core of our respective faiths: love of God and love of neighbor.

The ethical values enshrined in international law (human rights, in particular) can be mined from all religious traditions. They inspire and sustain the work of countless humanitarian NGOs and the tireless effort of civil society on a global scale. This site is only one humble contribution to this wider reconciliation and peacebuilding effort by offering two ingredients to the mix: good scholarship on issues related to contemporary Islam and religion in general, and specific Christian and Muslim spiritual resources.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011 17:28

Mission

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Humantrustees.org aims to foster understanding and cooperation between Muslims and Christians so as to empower them to live up to their God-given calling as “trustees of the earth.” This Christian initiative seeks to accomplish this goal through scholarship, teaching, news commentary, and networking between scholars, members of both communities, and with anyone else who is passionate about peace and human flourishing.

Books

  • Muslims and Christians Debate Justice and Love
    Muslims and Christians Debate Justice and Love

    This book is now published and available as an ebook. Unfortunately, with the current COVID-19 pandemic, the publisher cannot send out the actual physical books. Read a summary for each of the 6 chapters and buy it on the publisher's page. Here's the abstract, or précis:

     

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  • Earth, Empire and Sacred Text
    Earth, Empire and Sacred Text

    This book seeks to construct a Muslim-Christian theological discourse on creation and humanity, which could help adherents of both faiths work together to preserve our planet, bring justice to its most needy inhabitants and contribute to peacebuilding in areas of conflict. For more information or to purchase (now also in paperback!)

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