This is the audio recording of a lecture I delivered for the Oxford Centre for Muslim-Christian Studies on 12th May 2015.
It develops a theme I introduce in the book Contemporary Muslim-Christian Encounters which I label the Shifting Third. The abstract for the talk is below which will explain a bit more.
Muslims and Christians never meet in a vacuum, but always in relation to a variety of other contexts and factors. In the contemporary world one of the most important of these is the secular state and ideologies of secularism, which often provide a backdrop to the encounter especially in Western nation states. It can be argued that the secular makes a meeting place on equal terms between the religions, but can also be perceived as threatening by either or both communities, yet can also become an ally of one against the other. The secular therefore appears as what may be termed a ‘Shifting Third’, an extra dynamic within the Muslim-Christian encounter which is not static but interacts with each tradition and the encounter in different ways.