Guidance for meeting with other faiths

Christians of all traditions are at the beginning of a long period of growing dialogue with people of other faiths. To refuse opportunities for such dialogue would be a denial of both tolerance and Christian love. To predict, at this point in time, the outcome of such dialogue would be presumptuous or faithless; Christians may enter such dialogues in the faith that God will give them deeper insight into the truth of Christ. - 1999, Methodist Conference statement: ‘Called to Love and Praise’.

Let's begin with reflection

As a way into what other faiths believe, and to explore how Christian faith can be deepened and enriched by encounters with people of different religions, individuals or groups could use the materials produced by Churches Together in Britain and Ireland as a Lent resource for 2017.  The link is https://ctbi.org.uk/lent-course-2017/

A good starting point for thinking about dialogue is ‘Acting in God’s Love – Christian witness in a multi-religious world’, available as a download from Churches Together in Britain and Ireland: https://ctbi.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/IFTAG-study-guide.pdf.

 

Helpful ground rules for meeting with other faiths

Simple ‘ground rules’ for meeting with other faiths can be found in the IFN code, ‘Building good relations with people of different faiths and beliefs’.  This was last revised in Dec 2017 and can be found here: https://www.interfaith.org.uk/uploads/IFN_Code_2017.pdf

 

How to meet with other faiths

As a more ‘how to’ resource, IFN also produce ‘Let’s talk: practical pointers for inter faith dialogue' - https://www.interfaith.org.uk/uploads/LetsTalk2017web.pdf

 

Essential reading

Poorly-directed attempts to proselytise or ‘convert’ members of other faiths risk giving considerable offence.  Essential reading are the Ethical Guidelines produced by the Christian Muslim Forum: http://www.christianmuslimforum.org/downloads/Ethical_Guidelines_for_Witness.pdf

 

Some Important Guidance

Much and more detailed guidance has been produced by the World Council of Churches.  The report ‘Christian Witness in a multi-religious world’, from WCC with the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and the World Evangelical Alliance, is a simple and important document: https://www.oikoumene.org/en/resources/documents/wcc-programmes/interreligious-dialogue-and-cooperation/christian-identity-in-pluralistic-societies/christian-witness-in-a-multi-religious-world/@@download/file/ChristianWitness_recommendations.pdf

A more detailed report, ‘Guidelines on Dialogue with People of Living Faiths and Ideologies’, dates from 1979 and is still available here: https://www.oikoumene.org/en/resources/documents/wcc-programmes/interreligious-dialogue-and-cooperation

A 2004 update was given by the paper https://www.oikoumene.org/en/resources/documents/wcc-programmes/interreligious-dialogue-and-cooperation/interreligious-trust-and-respect/ecumenical-considerations-for-dialogue-and-relations-with-people-of-other-religions

For other WCC papers, see the Inter Faith Resources webpage.


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