Friday, October 24, 2008

Interfaith Dialogue

I’ve just got back from watching my little daughter Callie’s assembly on Diwali. Being such a multi-cultural school means that many different festivals are celebrated. When we were praying together Callie recently asked if I would pray that she will remember to talk to people about Jesus – which I did. But also I reminded her to listen to other people and ask them what they believe.

Interfaith dialogue is a major theme in the Awareness Course that a small group of us are still working through in our church. We would not identify with fundamentalist Christians who see evangelism as a monologue, yet we do believe that that our message is of vitally importance. Topics we have looked at recently - the incarnation, Christ’s mission to preach good news to the poor and the sending out of seventy in Luke 10 – all show that we do have a vital message.

An arrogant fundamentalism can be very dangerous and often gives a very wrong impression of religion. I’ve just been reading in Erling Thu’s blog about his visit to Orissa and accounts of the Christian’s being violently persecuted by fundemetalist Hindus. Yes, I heard about battles in the story of Rama and Sita this morning but I know that fighting is not what the Hindu faith stands for. These accounts need to be understood in their cultural context in the same way that the battles in the Old Testament do.

Surely true religion involves humble conversations about our faith without hurting one another, even though we are fervently convinced of its truth? Unfortunately, the term 'interfaith dialogue' has become associated with ideas such as 'all roads lead to God' and 'you tell me your truth and I'll tell you mine'. Is it possible to rescue this term and learn from it the idea of listening to others ideas and beliefs with interest as part of a more humble way of doing personal evangelism? What do you think?

Update: See this related post by Daniel Story on respecting those who don't believe.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Time With God 2008

Last weekend our church did our regular Time With God. This is a 24 hour period when our building is open for us to pray, read or however we want to spend some time with God in a similar way to 24-7 prayer. We have candles, music and plenty of paper for people to draw a picture on or write down prophecies, scriptures or prayers to hang around the building. This time as a family we contributed a few beanbags for the ‘comfort zones’. And there was some play-dough to work with as we prayed. During the night I made a model of the ‘body of Christ’ by making many small figures and molding them into one. I spent some praying with others, did a bit of reading but for a lot of the time I sat in God’s presence with the lights off and the candle burning. As we discussed the time on Sunday morning I was encouraged to hear that others had lit the candles and turned out the lights too. Some whom a few years ago would never have dreamt of doing so. And it was great to see the prayers that people had written pegged out on the 'washing line'.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Babylon Halt

My latest reviews for Cross Rhythms are now on the site - they’re the ones marked ‘New’ on My Cross Rhythms page. Among them is a review of Babylon Halt - an excellent new album from Secret Archives of the Vatican. If you go into the review you can see that Vince Millett of the band is offering a free copy of the CD to readers. I’ve got to give my review copy back so I’ve just gone into Broken Drum Records, emailed them from the contact page and asked for my free copy. Why don’t you do the same? Don't forget to mention that you read about it on my review.