Monday, April 14, 2008

Inter-religious Dialogue?

As a nation ruled by law and not by men, we are accustomed to accept the written word in all its forms and formats as an indication of intent or meaning of the author of the document – with the usual reservations of “read the fine print,” caveat emptor, “define key terms,” and how much is the pitchman making?

That’s the positive side. The negative side is the propensity for accepting uncritically the authority of institutions that have a vested interest in promoting their story as the sole repository of all truth. The temptation to simply “be,” to live the unexamined life, to let others distinguish good from bad and so inform the rest of humanity, is particularly dangerous for the three “religions of the book.” This trio – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam – each have movements or schools that claim to be the repository of God’s divine word and truth such that no other claim could possibly be valid.

The claim of exclusivity of truth as the distinguishing attribute of the Scriptures and traditions of the religions of the book is particularly evident in some Christian sects and movements. For these “fundamentalists” who also require acceptance of each word of their Holy Book as literal truth, the New Testament is the account of the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies about the redemption of the human race while Islam and the Quran are false worship and devoid of any truth.

So when King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz, the “Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques” at Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia, proposed that representatives of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, who all acknowledge the same one God, should meet to discuss the future of religion in society, religious leaders took note. Abdullah said he was especially concerned about disintegrating family structures, the rise of atheism, and the “proper balance among reason, ethics, and humanity.”

So far no further details such as when, where, and who would be invited. But that the embodiment of the strict Wahabi sect of Sunni Islam would publicly make known his willingness to meet and discuss religious issues even with “infidels” marks a significant breakthrough on a par with Nixon in China in the world of geo-politics. The question is whether the other faiths will reciprocate.


Blogger Rob said...

Thanks for the good news! I pray this invitation is accepted with open arms by Jewish and Christian leaders.

11:46 AM  

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