Mission and Dialogue? A New Journal for Evangelical Interfaith Dialogue
For many American Evangelicals the topic of interfaith dialogue is confusing and suspect at best and downright dangerous or wrong at worst. On all accounts they face numerous challenges when considering if and how to enter into the realm of interfaith work.
So begins the inaugural issue of a new journal titled Evangelical Interfaith Dialogue. The journal “seeks to create space for Evangelical scholars and practitioners to dialogue about the dynamics, challenges, practices and theology surrounding interfaith work, while remaining faithful to the gospel of Jesus and His mission for His Church.”
The inaugural issue (winter 2010) is provocatively titled “Mission and Dialogue? Is it possible to be an Evangelical & engage in interfaith dialogue?” Indeed, such questions sum up the main concern for many Evangelicals as they seek to come to terms with this thing called “dialogue.”
The issue contains a featured paper by Dr. Douglas McConnell, Dean of the School of Intercultural Studies at Fuller Theological Seminary. Other contributors include Dr. Erin Dufault-Hunter, Professor of Ethics at Fuller Seminary, Dr. Martin Accad, Professor of Islamic Studies at Fuller Seminary, Carrie Graham, Pastor at Mosaic Church in Austin, Texas, and Cory Willson, Fuller Seminary Student.
Dr. Richard Mouw writes on the “The Importance of Dialoguing about Interfaith Dialogue.”
As we seek out ways of holding evangelism and dialogue together, of relating to others with conviction and civility, it is important that we talk amongst ourselves about how we go about this important task of bearing witness to Jesus in our words and actions.
The relationship between Mormons and Evangelicals surfaces in many parts in the journal not only in McConnell’s and Mouw’s experiences participating in venues such as the National Student Dialogue Conference, but also in Carrie Graham’s experiences with her Mormon friends. I found her writing extremely insightful and her experience resonated with me. “Through IFD,” she writes
I have been enabled to enter into other’s worlds, and have my perception of my own faith challenged and sharpened in ways that could not occur in other contexts. I have seen understanding and peace grow between unlikely friends. Perhaps most significantly, God has met me through IFD when “the other” has entered nto my world.”
I found Cory Willson’s article “Beyond Appreciate and Debate” very thought provoking. Cory introduces readers to four main categories of interfaith dialogue as outlined by scholars: “proclamation, dialogue of life, dialogue of action, and dialogue among experts.”
The Journal contains beautiful photography by Matthew Krabill, editor and founding board member of the journal. Matthew also participated in the National Student Dialogue Conference in 2007. “Over the last couple of years,” Matthew writes on his blog
I have had the privilege of being involved in Evangelical-Mormon dialogue. As a result of these experiences I have been pulled into conversations that have pushed the outer reaches of my own thinking regarding a various issues. Luckily I have had good friends to process my own thoughts, and questions with. One of the ways we have decided to respond the rather messy topic of interfaith is to launch a journal where people can wrestle publicly on these issues.
This journal issue was a joy to read. I was immediately pulled in by the topic and the complex experiences others have had with interfaith dialogue. On the other hand, it will take awhile for me to digest some of the other messages. Like Matthew, I too feel I’ve blessed with good friends who have helped me process my thoughts on these issues. Latter-day Saints will benefit from these thoughtful Evangelical responses to the challenges presented by interfaith dialogue.
Summary Reflections on National Student Dialogue Conference. Morehead’s Musings. Monday, October 22, 2007.
Doug McConnell’s “Missional Principles and Guidelines for Interfaith Witness.” Morehead’s Musings. Tuesday, October 23, 2007