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Purpose of this Study
The primary purpose of this Study Guide is to help Disciples examine the report “Disciples of Christ and Interreligious Engagement” and to think through some of the issues it raises.
The report itself is a reflection upon who we are as Disciples of Christ, why we might engage in interfaith dialogue and work, the nature of interreligious relationships, and what gifts we have that uniquely prepare us for constructive interreligious engagement. That is a lot to cover in one report!
This Study Guide is meant to help Disciples unpack this report and to consider for ourselves how we might best live as Disciples of Christ in relationship with our neighbors of other faiths.
However, please note that there are two things the report “Disciples of Christ and Interreligious Engagement” is NOT.
First, it is not a comprehensive treatment of all the themes and issues surrounding interfaith relations. A quick trip to any theological library will reveal that whole books, even whole book series, are dedicated to the wide variety of topics related to interreligious concerns. Clearly, there are some topics that are not covered in the report. Should either the report or this Study Guide raise questions for you that are not addressed, we encourage you to explore the recommended resources listed at the end of this Study Guide or any of the other many good books on these subjects.
Second, “Disciples of Christ and Interreligious Engagement” is not a defense of interreligious engagement. That is, it does not begin by refuting arguments against interfaith engagement or by interpreting those passages in Scripture that have been used to contest constructive engagement. While a defense of interreligious engagement may have its benefits, it often leads to other more fundamental theological debates concerning issues like the meaning and authority of Scripture, appropriate methods of Biblical interpretation, the nature and meaning of Christ, or the meaning of salvation. Almost always, such debates result in much proof-texting and division.
The goal of the report is not to “weigh in” on a debate, but to articulate a theological rationale for interfaith engagement. It gives the positive reasons for engaging one’s neighbors in other faith traditions rather than refuting arguments against it.