Monday, July 30, 2007

Genuine Interfaith Relations is not about Mix'n'Match Religion

At a very pleasant dinner last night with members and friends of the Australian Intercultural Society and the Ecumenical and Interfaith Commission, I was talking to some of my good Muslim friends about the recent series on the ABC's Compass program "The Quiet Revolution" (you can read transcripts here and here). I think "revolution" is much too strong a word for the sort of nonsense these programs cover. "The Quiet Loony-Fringe" might have been more accurate.

Both my Muslim friends and I agreed that this sort of stuff--mix'n'match, make-it-up-as-you-go-along religion--is of absolutely no help whatsoever to the promotion of understanding and peaceful harmony between the followers of the world's religions. Consider:
Susanna Weiss-Interfaith Minister
One thing about being on this sort of cutting edge of inter-faith, is that there is no great history, there is no Mother Church, there is no dogma, there is no, it’s kind of like wide open, so the creativity of it, and what was going to come just started to open up at my ordination.
Just for the record, folks, this stuff is not "Interfaith Dialogue" of the kind that the Catholic Church practices. And neither I nor my Muslim friends would have a bar of interfaith dialogue if we thought that it was.

Recently on the First Things blog, Daveed Gartenstein-Ross wrote about "The First Openly Muslim Priest" makes the following observations:
The question is whether such doctrinal compromise actually creates interfaith opportunities. Not only is this approach unlikely to bolster interfaith activities, but it may actually undermine them. The available evidence suggests that interfaith dialogue is least effective when those engaging in it do not have their feet firmly planted in their own faith traditions...

Conservative Christians and Muslims alike have expressed skepticism about interfaith dialogue and activities precisely because they fear it will lead to bizarre new doctrines such as that held by Redding. Christians and Muslims need not feel ashamed that their respective faiths make irreconcilable truth claims. Nor should they see interfaith dialogue as an attempt to bridge the considerable theological gap between these faiths...

The highest purpose of interfaith dialogue is not to create some strange hybrid religion that reconciles two faiths that make competing truth claims. Rather, at its best, interfaith dialogue can help people build relationships of understanding, respect, and cooperation even though they adhere to faiths that cannot simultaneously be true [his emphasis--and I agree].

3 Comments:

At Tuesday, July 31, 2007 12:36:00 am , Anonymous Christine said...

Rather, at its best, interfaith dialogue can help people build relationships of understanding, respect, and cooperation even though they adhere to faiths that cannot simultaneously be true [his emphasis--and I agree].

Poor Ann Holmes Redding. She is soooo confused.

 
At Wednesday, August 01, 2007 3:02:00 pm , Blogger Athanasius said...

For a bit of fun, I am studying a Grad Dip in Philosophy at Melbourne Uni (yes, I know, I need to get out more!).

As part of that course I studied the philosophy of religious pluralism in a Philosophy of Christianity unit.

Suffice to say, religious pluralism ("they're all different paths to the same Great Unknown") is treated as a bit of a joke in serious philosophical circles.

Of course, it's very popular amongst the Comparative Religion types. But we all know what that means ;-)

 
At Thursday, August 02, 2007 10:08:00 am , Blogger Schütz said...

Best read on this whole matter is (no prizes for guessing): Joseph Ratzinger's "Truth and Toleration". It sorts it all out.

I think the only reason the pluralist "theologians" got any attention at all is that they "bravely and courageously" spoke up in defence of the spirit of the times.

 

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