Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Dialogue and the “L” Word

Last weekend I posted an interview with Terry Muck that touched on inter-religious dialogue, among other things. Later in the week I noted that another blog had linked to the interview, and with the following comments:

"John Morehead has a brief interview with Terry Muck which touches on the issue of why it is essential for evangelicals to be involved in inter-faith dialog. He's right but "dialog" sounds so liberal -- so much like we're giving up the gospel imperatives in order to have a nice pc conversation. Of course, that's not the true nature of dialog.”

I think this comment highlights a major underlying concern that evangelicals and other conservative Christians have with inter-religious or interfaith dialogue. Liberal strands of Christianity have been at the forefront of such endeavors, and because of this dialogue is now suspect in certain quarters. I find it interesting that the blog referenced above grants that dialogue is essential, but even so, it is still somewhat suspect and linked with concerns over compromise through liberalism and political correctness.

Can’t evangelicals move beyond these suspicions to engage our religiously plural world in ways that broaden our forms of communication beyond mere proclamation and into two-way discussion? Perhaps it is to our shame that we have allowed liberal expressions of Christianity to take the lead in this area while we have been more content with debate and monologue. With concerns like these it’s no wonder some evangelicals are unsettled with evangelical-Mormon dialogue. What will they do with Christian-Pagan dialogue?

4 comments:

philjohnson said...

John

This apprehension seems to be triggered by looking at the consequences and then inferring backwards that the very notion of dialogue is tainted.

On that basis one might infer because the Bible has been misinterpreted by different people and movements (liberal theologians, Jehovah's Witnesses etc) then presumably the trouble lies in the Bible itself.

This does tend to become a dumping of baby with bathwater in an "either/or" way of thinking.
Of course the proper thing to do is not to dump dialogue because of the consequences of its faulty use, but rather to engage in forms of discussion that eschew the outcomes of its misapplication.

Brad Boydston said...

"I find it interesting that the blog referenced above grants that dialogue is essential, but even so, it is still somewhat suspect and linked with concerns over compromise through liberalism and political correctness"

I'm with you. My tongue was somewhat wedged in cheek.

John W. Morehead said...

I'm glad to hear it, Brad.

Matt Stone said...

"What will they do with Christian - Pagan dialogue?" Well John, first they need to learn that we mean Pagan in a non-euphamistic sense. That alone is gonna take another decade or two.