What, exactly, is interfaith dialogue?

 

By Loretta Fulton

What is interfaith dialogue?

Is it important?

What is the purpose of interfaith dialogue?

If you enjoy discussing those kinds of questions, you might consider sitting in on the next conversation when Cafe Conversations meets 7-9 p.m. Oct. 26 at Mezamiz Coffee House, South Seventh Street and Leggett Drive.

Sarah, Dannemiller, student in Abilene Christian University’s Graduate School of Theology, is facilitator for the discussions and comes up with a new topic for each monthly meeting. For more information, contact Dannemiller at snd14a@acu.edu

At the September meeting, about a dozen people in those kinds of questions ran through a variety of ideas. Among the participants were a deacon, a pastor, and two religion professors, Mark Waters from McMurry University and Dan Stiver from Hardin-Simmons University’s Logsdon School of Theology.

Comments such as, “I think I hear what’s being said,” and “This is how I understand my tradition–this is my reality,” are common at Cafe Conversations. An honest attempt is made to have a conversation, or dialogue.

Stiver got the conversation going in answer to the question, “What is the purpose of interfaith dialogue?” Although that question has multiple answers, Stiver said interfaith dialogue should start with a first goal.

“We need to be able to live in peace,” he said.

Other comments were about sharing values within the setting of community. People of all religions have common values, which could serve as a starting point for an interfaith dialogue. Dannemiller posed the question, “Is there a universal human moral system?”

“I think that’s love,” a woman answered.

Waters provided an answer to a question from Dannemiller about the definition of interfaith dialogue.

“It’s between people of faith,” Waters said, “not between religions.”

The conversation ended with participants offering thoughts on the question, “What is the end goal of interfaith dialogue.

Stiver provided an answer, courtesy of Hans Kung, a Swedish Catholic priest, theologian, and author:

“No peace among the nations
without peace among the religions.

No peace among the religions
without dialogue between the religions

No dialogue between the religions
without investigation of the foundation of the religions.”

 


 

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