Hello everyone. This is my first real post here, so let me say that i’m happy to be here.
My question is about inter-religious dialogue. What is the Catholic view (and the views of other religions) on what the purpose of it is? From my perspective as a Buddhist, I can see that there are some problems that can happen if you go into dialogue without understanding why you are doing it. Obviously, one form of mistaken dialogue is when the point of it is for both sides to try to convert each other. On the other end of the spectrum, it is just as pointless to try to have dialogue to try to find common ground in hopes of trying to blend the two religions together.
Is the purpose to gain deeper understanding of each other in order to dispel misconceptions and be able to interact more respectfully with each other and to encourage cooperation on social issues like world hunger and poverty?
I think the two extremes the OP mentioned do exist - as a means of conversion, and also as a means of blending. While I support people’s mission to convert (as Christians are so called to do by God), I am not in favor of ‘blending’ because it is adding man-made dimensions into that which came from God, and I think that ‘waters down’ the religion.
For example, I have a co-worker who describes himself as a Humanist Jew, or “socially Jewish”. He does not adhere to the religious (or dietary) parts of Judaism, nor does he attend Temple, but he thinks there is a God who wants us to do good things for others, and he partakes in other cultural aspects of Judaism.
I believe the main point of inter-religious dialogue is to find common ground from which relationships can be built for several purposes (political sway, charitable works, etc). For example, the Middle East contains holy sites for the three mono-theistic religions of that region, and no one wants to see them destroyed. Therefore, collaborative efforts are held by inter-religious groups to work towards the common goal of protection these religious sites. It is also seen in politics, where different branches of Protestantism have worked with Catholics to support the right of life regarding abortions, euthanasia, and the death penalty.
I can’t exactly respond as from the Catholic perspective, but having been involved in interfaith activity for some time, I will make a few comments.
Unlike the ecumenical movement, whose goal is Christian unity, the interfaith movement has no such goal. The Catholic Church, but really for that matter, any Christian group, usually approaches other religions from a standpoint of goodwill tempered with belief in the correctness of their religion. This point of view is certainly present among other western religions as well (Islam, the Baha’i Faith, Judaism).
But when one actually encounters members of other religions, one is often struck by the depth and sophistication of their religious systems and beliefs. So all sides tend to agree to disagree but also to see commonalities where they can be found, and friendship if that fails.
One of the pitfalls of the interfaith movement is that you tend to get liberal Christians talking to liberal Buddhists talking to liberal Muslims. The interfaith movement tends to attract the liberals of whatever religion we are talking about.
One thing about Buddhism in interfaith dialogue: Jews and Christians (even Muslims I bet) love to talk to Buddhists because unlike with the Abrahamic religions, there is no assumption of spiritual superiority. A Christian or Jew or Muslim can’t go to Buddhist scripture to justify why the Buddhist should be Christian or Jewish or Muslim. It is a freer type of dialogue than that which occurs between different Western (Abrahamic) religions.
We all are headed to a proper destiny and try to help one another along the way, to take the right path to it. We try to help one another find our way, because we love one another.
We disagree about the way to go, where we are going and how to get there. If we did not love one another we would not care what happens to one another.
The same principle applies to physical and spiritual reality. If a person is doing well we encourage them. If a person is in danger we try to help them escape it even when they want to go the wrong way.
We might try to dissuade a person from smoking cigarettes or taking heroin. We hope for one another’s good. This is why people enter dialogue about religion.
As I have time, I am reading the works of Thomas Maurice, who argued in the 1790’s that Thomas Didymus’s work had a profound influence on the religions of India. Krishna, for example, has many attributes and stories similar to those of Jesus.
I repeat the response. What are the commonalities among the religions of the world, and why are they there-- other than Jungian human commonalities? One cannot work as a missionary without being an anthropologist. I would take it further-- anthropology has its roots in missionary education. Should the missionary learn something positive and worth integrating into his/her own spiritual life, so much the better.
Christian inter-religiouse dialogue towords us tends to to range from “you worship Satan!” to “you worship Satan you just don’t realize it…” and that’s why so many Wiccans can have a rather anti-Christian attitude. It’s rather difficult to have religiouse dialogue when most of the key tenants of your religion is considered devil worship by the other party. That said I do personally find it a little easier to converse with active Christians because I had 13 years of catholic ED and have a pretty good grasp of Catholic apologetics. Not all Christians are like this, especialy Catholics. But alot of zelous Christians see it as their duty to rescue us from Sarandon clutches and to end our “demonic magic”.
But thankfully you Catholics are more understanding than Protestants. I can’t even speek to them without hearing how I will burn in the lake of fire.
I was raised Pentecostal, and converted to Catholicism, so I can agree with you on that. They basically also told me that my mom was going to hell because she wore pants. :whacky: (everyone else wore long denim skirts)
Haha, sometimes I get the fealing that some people are just desperate to fulind a way of fealing like they are better than others. It’s like some people think religions about demonizing others rather than improving themselves.
Yep… I can’t help but think of the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector. The Pharisee prayed loudly in the middle of the courtyard to brag, and show everyone how “holy” he was, while the humble tax collector went to pray quietly in the corner of the temple. Unseen by everyone else.
I agree. It’s a shame more Christians don’t live up to that. But all religions have people like that. There are plenty of egocentric wiccans too, that’s why I’m solitary, noones ego to get in the way of my relationship with the ultimate reality.
DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.