What is your faith in?
Traditions you’ve long known, or in God?
Would you go to an inter-faith dialogue where a Jewish woman is the teacher?
Where would you be on the scale, 1-10? 1 is you see no reason and even think it’s wrong to dialogue with people outside the Christian faith. 3 is that it’s intimidating or stress-inducing even thinking about it. 5 is you are indifferent and you’ve never done it. 7 is that you’d consider it and would very interested. 10 would be you are currently involved or have been to inter-faith dialogues and appreciate them.
The speaker at an inter-faith dialogue this week at Temple Israel in Tulsa was Dr. Dvora Weisberg. She began the first session with a story about rooming in college with a Catholic who after a month rooming together asked, “Why did you kill Jesus?” She tried to interact with her roommate in many conversations about who killed Jesus, the Jews, Romans, us. She said Jews view the crucifixion of Christ as a historical event. Christians view it as historical and theological in the same way Jews view the Exodus and the parting of the Red Sea as historical and theological.
Because of these conversations in college, Dr. Weisberg said she avoided inter-faith dialogue, until she was asked to teach a course on Early Christian Origins. She read the New Testament and examined texts and gained a deep appreciation for the Christian faith. She then illustrated several key points about how we can learn from one another by mutually respecting one another and being confident in our own beliefs but not overconfident.
As Randy Harris said in his book, God Work, before we seek to convert someone from another faith, consider the kind of conversation you would have to have with your family if you were to become Jewish or Muslim or any other faith besides Christian. That’s the conversation you are asking someone else to have to convert to Christianity. That doesn’t lead us to not evangelize but it gives us a Golden Rule approach to sharing our faith in Christ.
Inter-faith dialogue is enriching because we come to understand not only the other’s faith better, but we come back to our own faith with more wisdom and understanding.