Interfaith Relations

Interfaith Relations
• At the dawn of the 21st century, religion plays a central role in
public life, and has become a significant identity marker.
• In our increasingly pluralistic societies, more inter-religious
dialogue and cooperation are needed if conflict fueled by
religion is to be constructively addressed.
• Spiritual and religious traditions are a source of values that
can defend dignified life for all; these traditions need to be
• We need new ways to understand both particularity,
universality and plurality; we must learn to live our faith with
integrity while respecting and accepting each other.
Simply• The new commandment is to love God, and to
love our neighbors as ourselves.
• To truly love our neighbors, we need to
understand them, and the burden is on us to
educate ourselves and build those
relationships- on the basis of trust, respect,
and shared humanity.
• 1893- Episcopal presence in the first World
Parliament of Religions “From now on, the great religions of
the world will no longer declare war on each other, but on the giant ills
that afflict [humankind].”- Charles Bonney
• 1910 Edinburgh Missionary Conference- TEC and
Anglican Communion presence, gave birth to
modern ecumenical movement.
• 1965 Nostra Aetate (In Our Time)- Pope Paul VI,
inaugurated modern interreligious dialogue.
Nostra Aetate §2
[O]ther religions found everywhere try to
counter the restlessness of the human heart, each
in its own manner, by proposing "ways," comprising
teachings, rules of life, and sacred rites. The
Catholic Church rejects nothing that is true and holy
in these religions. She regards with sincere
reverence those ways of conduct and of life, those
precepts and teachings which, though differing in
many aspects from the ones she holds and sets
forth, nonetheless often reflect a ray of that Truth
which enlightens all men.
Anglican Communion
• 1988-Lambeth Conference issued a major
report commending dialogue with people of
other faiths as part of Christian discipleship
and mission, mainly concerning the
Abrahamic traditions.
• Also produced “Jews, Christians, Muslims: The
Way of Dialogue”
“Jews, Christians, Muslims: The Way of
“Whilst dialogue with all faiths is highly desirable, we
recognise a special relationship between Christianity,
Judaism and Islam. All three of these religions see
themselves in a common relationship to Abraham, the
father of the faithful, the friend of God. Moreover these
faiths, which at times have been fiercely antagonistic to
one another, have a particular responsibility for bringing
about a fresh, constructive relationship which can
contribute to the well-being of the human family, and the
peace of the world, particularly in the Middle East.
Dialogue is the work of patient love and an expression of
the ministry of reconciliation. It involves understanding,
affirmation and sharing.”
• 2006/2007- “A Common Word Between Us”,
an open letter from 38 scholars and
representatives of Islam in response to
comments by Pope Benedict XVI regarding
Islam in the Middle Ages. First document of its
• 2007 Response from ABC Williams “A
Common Word for the Common Good”
• 2008 " Generous Love: the Truth of the Gospel
and the Call to Dialogue," issued by the Network for
Interfaith Concerns (NIFCON) of the Anglican Communion
 2008 Lambeth Indaba Reflections, § F
-‘The purpose of dialogue is not compromise, but growth in
trust and understanding of each other’s faith and traditions.
Effective and meaningful dialogue will only take place where
there is gentleness, honesty and integrity. In all of this, we affirm
that Christianity needs to be lived and presented as “a way of
life”, rather than a static set of beliefs.’
The Episcopal Church
• 1999 National Council of Churches Interfaith
Relations and the Churches unanimously
approved a policy statement giving a
theological rationale for participating in
interreligious dialogue.
• International efforts through the Anglican
Communion Office, including the Network for
Interfaith Concerns.
The Episcopal Church
• Task force initiatives, first the Presiding Bishop's
Advisory Committee on Interfaith Relations
(through 1997) and then the Standing
Commission on Ecumenical Relations (from 19972003). Also, particular initiatives taken by the
Presiding Bishop as primate and chief pastor of
the church.
• Diocesan, congregational and individual efforts in
peace making and interreligious dialogue.
• 2001- In response to the terrorist attacks of
September 11, Episcopal Relief and
Development funded the Interfaith Education
Initiative, a three-year program in conjunction
with the Office of Ecumenical and Interfaith
Relations that surveyed the interfaith work of
The Episcopal Church and developed
educational resources for interreligious
The Episcopal Church
• Statement on Interreligious Relations, 76th General Convention
“We commend to all our members: dialogue for building relationships,
the sharing of information, religious education, and celebration with
people of other religions as part of Christian life,
1. dialogue begins when people meet each other
2. dialogue depends upon mutual understanding, mutual respect and
mutual trust
3. dialogue makes it possible to share in service to the community
4. dialogue is a medium of authentic witness by all parties and not an
opportunity for proselytizing.
We believe that such dialogue may be a contribution toward helping
people of different religions grow in mutual understanding and making
common cause in peacemaking, social justice, and religious liberty.”
• Good starting point is the letter “A Common
Word Between Us”
• Dabru Emet, “Speak the Truth”- A Jewish
Statement on Christians and Christianity
-The statement listed eight points on which Jews
and Christians could base dialogue, including
"Jews and Christians worship the same God,"
and "a new relationship between Jews and
Christians will not weaken Jewish practice."
Other Faiths
• We’re working on it- most of this work is being
done at the local level, and this is where all of
us come in.
• Not always easy to find folks from other faiths
in your area- plan a study group at your
parish, check with local colleges for
chaplaincies or student groups, or plan a field
trip for a special celebration.
So now what?
• Eboo Patel, “Acts of Faith”- Religion is a bridge
of cooperation rather than a barrier of
-Appreciative knowledge of diverse religious
traditions and philosophical perspectives.
-Meaningful encounters between people of
different faith and philosophical backgrounds.
-Common action projects between people of
different backgrounds.
Start With the Basics
• Take advantage of the secular holidays on our
calendar to plan co-sponsored eventsThanksgiving, Earth Day, Labor Day, Int’l
Women’s Day
• Take the opportunity, if you have it, to attend
celebrations of other religions- Hindu, Sikh,
Muslim, Buddhist, Ba’Hai, etc.
• Common Interests: Hebrew translation group,
cooking classes, service projects.
The Question of Evangelism
“Among all the nations and peoples there has
always been the saving presence of God. Though
as Christians our testimony is always to the
salvation we have experienced through Christ,
we at the same time cannot set limits to the
saving power of God.”
Baar Statement on Theological Perspectives on Plurality
World Council of Churches,
Helpful Resources
• Mission belongs to the very being of the
church. Proclaiming the word of God and
witnessing to the world is essential for every
Christian. At the same time, it is necessary to
do so according to gospel principles, with full
respect and love for all human beings.
Christian Witness in a Multi-Religious World:
Recommendations for Conduct
World Council of Churches, Pontifical Council for Interreligious
Dialogue, World Evangelical Alliance

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