I recently came across a devotional address given November 17, 2009 by Keith H Lane, Associate Professor of Religious Education at BYU-Hawaii. Professor Lane holds a Ph.D. in the Philosophy and Theology of Religion from Claremont Graduate University. He recently published “Kierkegaard & the Concept of Religious Authorship” in the German series Religion in Philosophy & Theology 45 (Mohr Siebeck, 2010), and presented this topic at the SMPT Conference in March 2010.
I listened to his address while doing the final edits of my response to the recent article by Richard J. Mouw, where in he called for Christian hospitality. As I listened to Prof. Lane I began to be surprised at his message, for two reasons. First, he drew upon many of the same quotations from Joseph Smith and other LDS leaders that represent a tolerant tradition that is often not discussed. Secondly because of two paragraphs that spoke openly and bluntly about our discourse about those not of our faith.
Let us as Latter-day Saints reach out to others not of our faith. Let us never act in a spirit of arrogance or with a holier-than-thou attitude. Rather, may we show love and respect and helpfulness toward them. We are greatly misunderstood, and I fear that much of it is of our own making. We can be more tolerant, more neighborly, more friendly, more of an example than we have been in the past. Let us teach our children to treat others with friendship, respect, love, and admiration. That will yield a far better result than will an attitude of egotism and arrogance. (Gordon B. Hinckley, “A Time of New Beginnings,” Ensign, May 2000, 87) Read more…
Individuals of faith care passionately about their religious community. Evangelicals, Catholics, and Latter-day Saints care about the nature and role of teaching (what is taught and how it should be taught), the relationship between faith and society (the nature and extent of political involvement), and the way of the Church (policy and administration).
Engaging in self-criticism or self-critique is part of life in any religious community. Do we practice what we preach? Do we live what we believe? Do we engage in hypocrisy? Are we faithfully teaching the next generation? Does our beliefs make a difference in our community? Read more…
Peter Kreeft, professor of philosophy at Boston College and King’s College, presented “Christianity in the Lord of the Rings: Apologetics in Tolkien’s Classic” at the 2004 National Conference on Apologetics held November 3, 2004. Listen to the mp3 here (total run time 1:04:11). Dr. Kreeft has published several books including “The Philosophy of Tolkien: The Worldview Behind The Lord of the Rings,” “Summa of the Summa” and “Socrates Meets Jesus.”
Using Tokein’s personal writings and correspondance with readers, Dr. Kreeft provides great illumination and insight into Tokien’s Middle Earth. For more audio lectures see Dr. Kreeft’s website.
Last week I was interviewed by John W. Morehead of Morehead’s Musings about my thoughts on “Claming Christ: A Mormon-Evangelical Debate” by Robert L. Millet and Gerald R. McDermott (Brazos Press 2007). The interview allowed me to discuss at length some of the various impressions and concerns I had as I read the book. Read the interview here.
Some of the topics discussed were comparisons and contrasts between Claiming Christ and How Wide the Divide, effective and ineffective methods for interrelgious communication; challenges inherent in dialogue between Latter-day Saints and Evangelicals, including the difficulty but absolute necessity of understanding what others have written about a particular topic. I discuss the importance of an interdisciplinary approach to dialogue and suggest ways that Evangelicals might understand Latter-day Saint interest in the words of early Christian writers. Lastly, I offer suggestions for how we might overcome perennial problems in dialogue through understanding each other’s metaphors.
If you have read Claiming Christ or have an interest in academic exchange between Latter-day Saints and Evangelicals, I hope you find the interview helpful and informative.
Forty-seven posts and over two-hundred comments later it is hard to believe that it has been one year to the day since I ventured out into the blog medium with ‘Summa Theologica – Interfaith Dialogue.’ I want to thank my visitors and readers for their comments and participation.
I’ve engaged in interfaith dialogue and discussion for many years. While I’ve had wonderful opportunities to discuss issues of faith face to face, I’ve been able to increase the frequency of conversation via message boards and chat rooms. During these discussions and observations of discussions of others, I noticed common patterns and predictable areas of misunderstanding between Evangelicals and Mormons. I’ve sought, through trial and error, to find better and more effective means of coming to terms, learning each other’s languages and paradigms and increasing mutual understanding. I feel I’ve been able to have true dialogue on a wide variety of topics with Evangelicals and Catholics, as well as Latter-day Saints. This experience has also affirmed by belief in dialogue and my commitment to dialogue as one of the means of education and understanding. Read more…
The Christmas story is traditionally told by a compilation of the birth narratives from the Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of Luke. We lift the Star and the Magi elements from the Gospel of Matthew and combine this with the Annunciation of Mary and the manger scene in the Gospel of Luke to arrive at the classic nativity scene that we are familiar with today.
What happens when we study the birth narratives independently without breaking away these elements from the structures into which they have been carefully positioned by the authors of the Gospels?
In their recent book, “The First Christmas: What the Gospels Really Teach About Jesus’s Birth,” Dr. Marcus J. Borg, Professor Emeritus at Oregon State University and John Dominic Crossan, Professor Emeritus at DePaul University, Chicago deal with this very question.
While not everyone may share the theological or socio-political perspectives of Borg and Crossan, these interviews provide ample food for thought as to the importance of narrative, the influence of the Enlightenment on biblical interpretation as well as the role of not only the historical but the political context to understanding the Gospel accounts. The authors argue that discussing the birth of Jesus without understanding Roman imperial theology would be like studying about Gandhi without understanding anything about the British Empire or studying Martin Luther King without knowing anything about the political context of segregation in the United States. This week both authors were interviewed about their book.
Interfaith Voices Maureen Fiedler interviews Marcus Borg on December 20, 2007. Listen and download the audio (38 minutes).
KUER Radio West Doug Fabrizio interviews John Dominic Crossan on December 19, 2007. Listen and download the audio (52 minutes, rebroadcast on 12/25/2009 and on 12/24/2010).
WAMC John Donahue interviews Borg and Crossan on December 22, 2008. Listen to the audio (12 minutes).
Gerald McDermott and Robert Millet’s book “Claiming Christ” has recently been published and as any one could predict, critiques from several Evangelical commentators has begun to appear in print and on the web. (See past posts relating to Gerald McDermott)
In this post I am not going to offer a review of the book, but rather, I would like to offer some brief observations of the larger dynamic of joint Evangelical & LDS publications. Ten years ago in the aftermath of How Wide the Divide a similar situation occurred. It is here where efforts at Dialogue come into contact with the wider Christian apologetic community. Generally speaking, Dialogue does not interpret the statements of others in order to defeat or vanquish the other person as an opponent, but rather, Dialogue seeks to better understand the other person. That understanding may eventually be applied to evangelistic purposes which I think is legitimate and, I might add, much more fruitful than the traditional apologetic methods of refutation. However, when dialogue results in a book co-authored by an Evangelical, like McDermott, naturally and in accordance with past precedent, the Christian apologetics community will want to see if the book maintains the traditional distinctions on Mormonism. They want to make sure that Mormonism is properly distinguished from traditional Christianity and that nothing has been conceded in the enterprise of dialogue. This tension is quite real and it will yet to be seen whether responses from the Evangelical community will be different in the wake of ’Claiming Christ’ than the responses received after How Wide the Divide was published. I recall Paul Owen’s observations of reactions to How Wide the Divide: Read more…