Saturday, February 09, 2008

Tolerance, Dialogue or Embracing Diversity

We had another interesting discussion last week in the Awareness Course. This time it was on how to dialogue with other faiths. The main emphasis was on humility. By this we meant realising that our faith is ‘incomplete’ in the sense that we are all on a journey trying to understand our faith better. We wouldn’t say that all faiths lead to God but we had to admit that Judaism is based on God’s revelation in the Old Testament and Islam appears to have some Christian roots. Even though we may disagree with the teachings of these faiths we still wondered if someone of these faiths – or others for that matter – who were sincerely seeking God may find him without hearing the message of Jesus.

Anna did a great job pointing to the idea that since Christ died for all then all or justified, for which there is possible support for in scripture. She deliberately presented this as an interesting idea but quite as a convincing idea. What would be the motivation for mission if this was the case? We were a little more convinced that as God reveals himself in creation then there may be a possibility that someone could come to know God without hearing the message of Jesus. But I think in this section we were saying more about what we didn’t know than what we did know. But that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Also we discussed how we may learn from other people who are not Christian ways of outworking our faith. For instance, Eastern culture can teach us a lot about hospitality that we don’t practice in the West as we are socialised to retreat into our own private worlds – especially as we are so busy with our stress filled lives. But hospitality is more than having people round for a meal. Helen mentioned the idea of imaging we are the host wherever we go and so making sure everything is alright for everyone. Finally we were challenged to think of who we know who has a different faith and how we can be hospitable to them.

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