Dialogue is Two-sided, Right?

This week, a change occured in the Adventist Church’s Council for Inter-Faith Relations. Yes, we have one of those. And apparently, now they want to extend the reach to non-christians as well, thus exchanging the word faith with religion. Read the story at ANN. I’m not sure I get the point of the semantic change, but that’s not really important.

What caught my attention was Director John Graz’ statement: If you don’t talk, they don’t know what you may believe and may even think you’re dangerous or are pushing a threatening political agenda.” This is, of course, true – and as a matter of communications, he’s playing for his home audience and the focus is expected. But nothing is said about the other side of the road: What about us thinking or believing they’re dangerous?

Graz goes on to say that engaging in dialogue does not mean we are pursuing an ecumenical agenda.” Ok. Fine. I probably wouldn’t want you to either. And inter-faith relations are a positive step. But think of this: if other denominations’ views of Adventism are tainted, maybe it’s because our view of them is the same. Think of the Catholics. And to be blunt, if you’re tired of people not wanting to play with you, maybe it’s because you don’t want to play with them.

Fortunately, there are good examples of meaningful dialogue. The Re-Inventing the Adventist Wheel blog had a link today to the website Dies Domini which features well-informed Catholic views on Adventism. And if you haven’t heard about it already, Faith House Manhattan is definitely worth checking out. A very interesting project with an aim to promote coexistence between religions – and best of all, with a strong Adventist endorsement.

3 responses to “Dialogue is Two-sided, Right?

  1. Kenneth,

    Read my latest comment on the Dies Domini post. I’m not so sure their organization’s intent is as meaningfull as I had interpreted at first glance. I’d be curious to know what your thoughts are.

  2. I think one background factor behind the change from “faith” to “religion” is the Jewish objection that their religion is not a faith. Almost time I talk to a rabbi, this distinction surfaces and it offends them that Christians call Judaism a faith. You’ve probably heard this, too. I think it’s a reaction to the faith-centered approach of Christianity (e.g., salvation by faith), but Judaism says it’s not a religion based on faith but on works/deeds/action. Just my 2 ores.

  3. @Marcel: You may be right about their motives not being quite as valiant. Even so, I think their uncommonly (for both parts) gentle approach is an important lesson in how to communicate today. Can the same be said of our apologetics toward RC’s?

    @Julius: Thank you for the clarification. You are right that not all religions emphasize faith as much as Christianity does. In the respect, the semantic change does make sens.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s