The third issue of Evangelical Interfaith Dialogue (Summer 2010) contains an important article by Richard J. Mouw titled “Convicted Civility and Interfaith Dialogue.” Drawing upon Martin Marty’s concept of “convicted civility” Mouw beings to make the case for learning about the religious tradition of others.
I remember some of my first attempts years ago in discussing the need to learn about other faiths. It wasn’t easy to make the case for learning about other faiths. One Christian youth responded to me by saying: “What is the point of learning about the beliefs of others if they are false?” It isn’t always clear the best way to respond to this inquiry.
Mouw begins by saying that “meaningful exposure” to other religions can deepen our religious convictions. I believe Mouw frames the issue by employing the concept of “hospitality” that is, we make room for people to occupy our hearts and minds. As with any form of hospitality, there is a risk and vulnerability involved. Yet, Mouw makes the case for Christian hospitality by pointing out that Jesus often showed hospitality to those “whose lifestyle and ideas he strongly opposed.” Read more…
Discussions between Mormons and Evangelicals sometimes get snagged as to whether works are necessary to salvation or whether only faith is necessary. This particular debate, however, tends not to produce or enhance mutual understanding and therefore there is a need to move beyond the faith-works stalemate.
Sometimes, during these debates, Mormons try to finesse ‘works’ and explain that having faith is a work, or accepting a gift is a work. In their mind, since both sides agree that we need faith and need to accept the gift, then this should resolve the debate. The logic seems sound. However, for reasons below, this kind of explanation confuses more than enlightens, and probably should be substituted for something better. Read more…
Last month, the Mormon Chapter of the Foundation for Interreligious Diplomacy held its inaugural conference, “Mormon Engagement with World Religions: Perspectives and Possibilities with the Abrahamic Traditions.” The conference was held at the University of California from June 11-12 (program here).
I was very pleased to be invited to attend the conference, but unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond my control, I found myself unable to attend. I’ve had a long interest in interfaith dialogue and deeply regret not being able to attend and meet the many persons involved in what to me seemed like a singular event. Hopefully, there will be more conferences of this kind in the future.
Fortunately, however, some individuals have shared their notes of the conference. If you know of other write-ups, please let me know.
Foundation for Interreligious Diplomacy Conference: Mormon Engagement with the World Religions by John W. Morehead at Morehead’s Musings, June 16, 2010
FID Conference (Day One) by Lynette at Zelophehad’s Daughters, June 17, 2010
FID Conference (Day Two) by Lynette at Zelophehad’s Daughters, July 10, 2010
Interreligious — not Irreligious — Diplomacy by Ralph Hancock at Times & Seasons, June 17, 2010
On Interfaith Dialogue
The purpose of interfaith dialogue is not so that in the end everyone will agree about everything they discuss. Rather, one of the purposes in my view is that where there is disagreement, the disagreement will be on the right things, where actual disagreement exists. This can only happen when both sides are informed and both sides seek to understand one another.
At times, perhaps part of interfaith dialogue is allowing both sides to vent and express their frustration. We should, however, also have the goal to move beyond venting, to move beyond expressing frustration about how we have been treated, to increasing mutual understanding.
On the Creeds
It is true that many Latter-day Saints say that they reject the historic Christian creeds. In fact, there are two main disagreements. The first is with the content of creeds, the second is with the function of creeds. As to the content, in reality there is very little in the creeds that Latter-day Saint must reject. Many of the creeds only make sense if understood in their historical context and once a person takes the time to learn the history the reason for the creeds become much less confusing. Read more…
“The Anglicans and Episcopalians have tremendous resources in liturgy and worship, and one group we all need to hear from are the Anabaptists, because they have a tradition of not killing each other. Presbyterians have a great intellectual life and a rigor in approaching the Bible, and the Catholic teachings on social justice should be adopted by everyone.
“The thing that gives me hope is that there’s an attitude among Christians on the ground where so many of us are sick of the kind of debates and fights that cause Christians to vilify one another.”
Such is the manner that Brian D. McLaren explains why he believes “denominations” do not have to be a “source of division, it can be a source of mutual interest and understanding.” Read more…
The Society for Biblical Literature (SBL) is currently holding its annual meeting in New Orleans. The meeting began November 21 and will run to November 24. Abstracts of the many sessions are available online.
Of particular note is F. Rachel Magdalene, University of Leipzig and Humboldt University Berlin, who is presenting Retributive or Restorative Justice: Reading the Nature of God, Justice, and Humanity in the Book of Job on Monday (November 23): Read more…
I’d like to announce a new blog The Pierian Spring. The blog is devoted to further discussion and discourse on Mormon scripture and thought and written primarily towards a Latter-day Saint readership.
Interfaith dialogue necessarily requires one to summarize, describe and otherwise explain one’s faith tradition in a way that others can appreciate and understand. It goes without saying that in order to do this effectively, one must make a concerted effort to learn about the religious traditions of others and become aware of the themes, contours, the history and concerns that has shaped the faith of others. In a sense, one must become religiously “bilingual.” Thus, those involved in interfaith dialogue are continually learning about the faith of others but importantly, and concurrently, studying and reflecting on their own faith tradition, and as a result gain an important perspective concerning their own faith tradition. Read more…
Patheos is currently running a series on Interfaith Dialogue from a variety of religious perspectives including those from a Catholic, Evangelical, Mainline Protestant, Latter-day Saint and Pagan view points. Authors discuss what led them to enter into dialogue with those of other faiths.