Friday, July 13, 2007
Can We Talk?: Evangelical-Mormon Dialogue and the "Dialogue Decalogue"
I have been working through a lot of academic material in preparation for the October course on Interreligious Dialogue I will be leading at Salt Lake Theological Seminary. One of the more interesting pieces of research is an article titled "The Dialogue Decalogue: Ground Rules for Interreligious Dialogue" by Leonard Swidler. The article appeared in the Journal of Ecumenical Studies 20/1 (Winter 1983): 1-4, and was revised and expanded in The Drew Gateway 58 (Spring 1989: 5-9. The entire article from JES can be found here. While Swidler had dialogue between Christianity and world religions in mind when he wrote the article, nevertheless they do present some interesting considerations for dialogue between Christianity and new religions that are relevant to evangelical-Mormon dialogue and the Christian-Pagan dialogue as well. John Saliba has some interesting thoughts related to Christian dialogue with new religions which he put forward in "Dialogue with the New Religious Movements: Issues and Prospects," Journal of Ecumenical Studies 30/1 (Winter 1993): 51-80 that relate to special considerations and possible modifications in Swidler's commandments. I will comment on these in future posts, but for now I present the Dialogue Decalogue for consideration by evangelicals and Mormons. These commandments, and related issues, raise questions as to whether many evangelicals and Mormons are prepared as individuals and religious communities to move beyond confrontation and debate and into dialogue.
FIRST COMMANDMENT: The primary purpose of dialogue is to change and grow in the perception and understanding of reality and then to act accordingly.
SECOND COMMANDMENT. Interreligious dialogue must be a two-sided project - within each religious community and between religious communities.
THIRD COMMANDMENT: Each participant must come to the dialogue with complete honest and sincerity.
FOURTH COMMANDMENT: Each participant must assume a similar complete honesty and sincerity in the other partners.
FIFTH COMMANDMENT: Each participant must define himself.... Conversely - the one interpreted must be able to recognize herself in the interpretation.
SIXTH COMMANDMENT: Each participant must come to the dialogue with no hard-and-fast assumptions as to where the points of disagreement are.
SEVENTH COMMANDMENT: Dialogue can take place only between equals.
EIGHTH COMMANDMENT: Dialogue can take place only on the basis of mutual trust.
NINTH COMMANDMENT: Persons entering into interreligious dialogue must be at least minimally self-critical of both themselves and their own religious traditions.
TENTH COMMANDMENT: Each participant eventually must attempt to experience the partner's religion "from within."