Monday, November 05, 2007

Concluding Workshop Thoughts on Evangelical-Mormon Dialogue

I thought it might be helpful to post my concluding thoughts from my workshop at the National Student Dialogue Conference on Evangelical-Mormon dialogue which also represent my summary thoughts from the Salt Lake Theological Seminary course I will be wrapping up on this topic on November 30. These conclusions are directed at both the participants in both public and private dialogue, as well as those critical of some expressions of this dialogue process. My hope is that both parties reflect on and impliment such suggestions:

1. A consideration of interreligious and ecumenical dialogue, and cross-cultural missions, provides helpful sources of reflection that are applicable to Evangelical-Mormon dialogue.

2. Evangelical-Mormon dialogue is not often defined or categorized, and those involved in the process might benefit from proactive reflection in this area and the adoption of a particular definitional statement related to the process.

3. Those with concerns about certain expressions of Evangelical-Mormon dialogue might likewise benefit from reflecting on the definition and typology of dialogue to ensure that it has not been confused with debate and polemical forms of engagement.

4. Evangelical-Mormon dialogue participants might consider Richard Swidler’s “Dialogue Decalogue” and how this might be modified for the challenges of the dialogue process between Christianity and new religious novements and adopted in modified form as guidelines for the process.

5. The “heresy-rationalist paradigm,” as reflected in the “counter-cult community,” informs much of the evangelical perspective on Mormonism and Evangelical-Mormon dialogue. This paradigm needs to be reconsidered in light of broader theological and missiological issues.

6. An interdisciplinary perspective is needed for a more balanced assessment of Evangelical-Mormon dialogue, and the metaphor of the missional helix as articulated by Gailyn van Rheenen provides a useful tool for such analysis and praxis assessment.

7. In light of missiology, the “disposition and attitude of the missionary” is the key point of contact and common ground in dialogue. In addition, “interreligious dialogue as an emotion or attitude toward people of other religious traditions,” indeed as a “mood, a spirit, an attitude of love and respect towards neighbors of other faiths” is extremely important in the 21st century Western context of pluralism.


Jeff said...

Do you have an audio file from this lecture that you can post online? Thanks.

John W. Morehead said...

Jeff, I don't have an audio file of this workshop. Only the plenary sessions were recorded. However, I would be happy to make a workshop outline available via email.