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…
Audio file aficionados will be pleased to hear Dr. Craig Blomberg explain in his own words what has happened since publishing “How Wide the Divide: A Mormon and Evangelical in Conversation” in 1997.
Feb 27, 2008, Dr. Blomberg gave a presentation as part of Denver Seminary’s Women’s Forum entitled “How Wide the Divide? Eleven Years Later, Mormons and Evangelicals in Conversation.” (Listen Here)
In this presentation, Dr. Blomberg provides an amazing look from the inside of the events before and after the publication of How Wide the Divide. Dr. Blomberg recounts the history of how he came to enter into communication with Stephen E. Robinson, author of “Are Mormons Christian?,” the various criticism and praise which followed HWD, the events leading up to the 2004 event at the Mormon Tabernacle with Ravi Zacharius, Greg Johnson and Robert Millet’s public dialogues, the publication “The New Mormon Challenge,” and various academic dialogues with religious studies students including the National Student Dialogue Conference. Dr. Blomberg concludes his talk with summaries of lessons he has learned from this experience. A question and answer session concludes.
I personally enjoyed Dr. Blomberg’s talk and found myself nodding amen to essentially everything he had to say.
On January 24, 2008, Speaking of Faith with Krista Tippet, a public radio program focusing on religion through first-person conversations, interviewed Dr. Robert Millet. Tippet, who holds a M.Div from Yale, is well qualified to fill the usual gap in traditional journalism’s understanding of things religious. Read more…
Last week, from September 10th to 14th, Probe Ministries (Richardson, Texas) broadcasted a series titled “Understanding our Mormon Neighbors” (total time 13:12 mp3 here, transcript here). This is a short but fascinating series by Don Closson which seeks to explain to an Evangelical audience what some see as a trend within Mormonism moving closer to orthodox Christianity. The broadcast begins by tracing Stephen Robinson and Craig Blomberg’s discussion in How Wide the Divide, and then discusses Richard Mouw’s statements when he introduced Ravi Zacharias at the Mormon Tabernacle in 2004, and the Barna Survey in which approximately one third of Mormons surveyed were categorized as ‘Born Again’ based on their responses. For those who have not yet had a chance to read How Wide the Divide, this broadcast discusses various issues raised in this work.
Have you noticed that Mormons are sounding more and more like evangelical Christians? In the last few decades individuals inside the Mormon Church, and many outside, have noticed a shift in the content and presentation of the Mormon faith. Certain aspects of Mormon theology, like the physical, limited nature of God, are either downplayed or left unsaid. Other aspects, like salvation by faith in the justifying work of Jesus Christ, are highlighted. Is something significant happening within Mormonism? Although Mormon theology has been somewhat fluid over the decades, some feel that a new band of Mormon scholars are indeed moving the religion in a new direction and that Christians need to be aware of these changes if we are to have effective dialogue with our Mormon neighbors.
Frank Pastore, the host of “The Frank Pastore Show” a radio show dealing with topics on religion and politics, recently discussed his disapproval of the emerging Mormon Evangelical Dialogue. You can hear the audio of his August 15th, and August 16th shows here. (Note: The audio files are unedited and include several minutes of commercial time and a great deal of repetition. Each show is 3 hours long, but it probably could be edited to just 1 hour.)
For those who follow these issues–the November 2004 comment by Richard Mouw of Fuller Theological Seminary at the Mormon Tabernacle, the public discussions with Greg Johnson, of Standing Together Ministries, and Robert L. Millet, professor of religion at Brigham Young University–these things are nothing new.
Specifically, Pastore takes issue with the May 20th event at Mariners Church hosted by Craig Hazen, director of the Christian apologetics program at Biola University, with Johnson and Millet as speakers, and subsequently the August 1st and 15th event which took place at the same location led by Hazen.
Pastore explains his disappointment,
“The problem is, like the event down in Mariners, if you go to these things, and you’re a Christian you come away going where is the beef, where are the tough questions, where’s, you know, all the things that we learn in cult apologetics? If you are Mormon walk away wondering, yep, told you, we’re a denomination, we get a fish on our car too!” Read more…