Can we have a true “inter-faith” dialogue with Muslims if Roman Catholics aren’t at the table?

Christianity Today reports the recent event of the Global Faith Forum held at North Wood Church in TX. It was a meeting of chosen representatives from the evangelical Protestant wing of Christianity (of which I am a part), Muslims and Jews (though no Zionist Jews).

Somewhere way down in my gut I have alarms going off. Not that such an event should not happen (it should) nor that it could not be profitable (it seemed to be), but that until you include the heavy guns from the two largest parts of the Christian Tradition who represents at least 2/3 of those who profess Christianity, you aren’t having a real conversation yet.

I have been an evangelical long enough to know we are easy pickings. There is very little we won’t do or give up to get someone to attend our church, sign our petitions, and generally be nice to us. ¬†The Pope, Cardinals, Bishops, Patriarchs tend to tighten things up a bit, don’t you think? If I see enough vestments in one room, I find it hard to even swallow, much less carry on an honest conversation. Okay, maybe that is the point.

But this conversation feels like recess to me. So let’s call it that. Recess has some value. But it’s still playtime.

2 thoughts on “Can we have a true “inter-faith” dialogue with Muslims if Roman Catholics aren’t at the table?

  1. This was intended as the first annual event to primarily get the evangelical wing to the table as they seem to be the most vitriolic in their engagement with Muslims at the moment and the most support Israel at all costs in their eschatology. In its initial year, it wasn’t intended for this to be comprehensive (ala the Parliament of World Religions)and different aspects and faith representations are planned for future years. The goal for the initial year was to foster a conversation between key parties that appear to be most at odds with one another. Muslims have a much more negative perception of Evangelicals than they do the Orthodox or Catholic Church in the present age. Evangelicals have a much more negative view of Muslims than either mainline or Catholic Christians do (Ed Stetzer’s lifeway research was presented in this regard).

    Also, this was not a typical interfaith dialogue where parties boiled things down to “we all really believe the same thing.” I believe they will post all videos of the Forum will be soon showing that it was anything BUT we all believe the same thing. The evangelical representatives clearly said they believed Jesus was fully God-fully man and the only way to the Father. They also said the respected Muslims but rejected Mohammed as a prophet (if they didn’t they’d be Muslims). The Muslims clearly said they accept Jesus as a prophet but reject Him (or in their case him) as the Son of God.

    I would highly recommend viewing the videos which clarify assumptions of purpose and long term plans of the Forum.

  2. I do not think Evangelicals have a much more negative perception of Muslims. I think they have a much more rigorous theological grid than lay Roman Catholics and are therefore more ready to make a judgement as to what is “in” and what is “out.” RC has many more ethic identities encompassed in its church. Evangelicalis has little of this. I don’t remember meeting Irish evangelicals, Italian evangelicals, etc. When these ethnicities mixed with religious commitments come into the discussion, then we are having some volatile discussions that have to be part of a meaningful rapproachment. When you take away the more volatile aspects of inter-religious dialogue and it seems acceptably successful, I would respond “no wonder.”

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