The New Head of the World Evangelical Alliance Wants to Talk

Thomas Schirrmacher hopes to lead Christians into conversations, cooperation, and witness.

The first thing you notice about Thomas Schirrmacher’s home are the books.

Stuffed into shelves, stacked in piles, and even teetering on top of the toilet, they range from edited collections of Jewish history to works such as Mark Noll’s The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind.

Schirrmacher is the recently elected secretary general and CEO of the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA). He is also the author of scores of books himself.

Of note on Schirrmacher’s bookcases, however, is a title not written by him but in his honor: God Needs No Defense: Reimagining Muslim-Christian Relations in the 21st Century.

Opening with an essay on “humanitarian Islam” by former Indonesian president Abdurrahman Wahid, the edited collection of essays, statements, and treatises—including an essay by Schirrmacher’s wife, Christine, who is a professor of Islamic studies—covers issues related to Christian-Muslim relations and religious freedom.

The volume is a testament to Schirrmacher’s vision: a world where, as the editors said, “Muslim and Christian believers reach across racial, religious, cultural, and political lines to strive for the equal rights and dignity of every human being.”

The authors said Schirrmacher is a man who is driven intellectually, emotionally, and theologically to work with a diverse range of partners in addressing some of the world’s most pressing issues.

The challenge now is to rally global evangelicals to do it with him.

“Sometimes we [at the WEA] are criticized for our friendly interactions with Roman Catholics or Muslims or others, that we are interacting with the Antichrist or entering into spiritual union with them,” he said. “Sometimes certain …

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