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…
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…
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
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…
Christianity Today, a magazine of evangelical conviction, has just published an article written by Richard N. Ostling (co-author of Mormon America) titled “Most Improbable Dialogue.” The article covers the efforts of Evangelicals and Latter-day Saints to engage in a series of dialogues and conferences over the years.
Ostling informs readers of the November 14, 2004 “Evening of Friendship” event at the Mormon Tabernacle where renowned Christian theologian Ravi Zacharias addressed a group of Mormons and Evangelicals. It was also at this event that Fuller Theological Seminary president Richard Mouw shocked the Evangelical world by publicly apologizing to Mormons for the Evangelical distortion of Mormon beliefs. Read more…
A triad of posts appeared this week: “How to Witness to Mormon Missionaries. Or, what to do when you have Mormon missionaries at your door” by Bridget Jack Meyers of ClobberBlog, “Witnessing to Mormon Missionaries” by Tim of LDS & Evangelical Conversations, and “Three Evangelical Perspectives on Witnessing to Mormon Missionaries” by Aaron Shafovaloff at Mormon Coffee. While these three authors do not represent a unified school of thought as to how to approach Mormon Missionaries as Evangelicals, each is a self-identified Evangelical Christian and offer his or her perspective in the matter.
Perhaps you are wondering what I think about these distinct posts from my perspective of interfaith dialogue and interreligious communication. If you are, you’ve come to the right place. What follows are my observations, critiques and commentary. Read more…
Last year during a discussion about why Mormons do not wear the cross I made the following statement:
I think it is very important to look for historical explanations, rather than contemporary or popular explanations for why Mormons do not wear crosses or have crosses on their meeting houses. For that matter, it is important to draw a distinction between the cross as a doctrinal symbol, an architectural symbol and for personal adornment.
In regards to meetinghouses, Bushman observes that “During the course of his life, [Joseph] never built a standard meetinghouse, even in Nauvoo, where the Mormon population exceeded 10,000.” Rather, Joseph’s “architectural imagination focused on temples.” Bushman explains, “However culturally anomalous, the City of Zion occupied a central place in Joseph Smith’s design for world renewal. He conceived the world as a vast funnel with the city at the vortex and the temple at the center of the city.” I haven’t found any historical evidence that Joseph taught using crosses in architecture was somehow unfavorable or improper, but rather he was looking towards the tradition of ancient Israel for his inspiration and sought to create “a church of cities rather than a church of congregations.” (RSR, 216-222). Read more…