Be warned- I’m about to cite an article that will likely rile up a number of people. It came from a blog post about universalism (we’ll save that topic for another day) that you can find in its entirety here. However, it is the following excerpt that I found worth debating and pondering. I included the first sentence (which is the most inciteful, I think) only to provide a brief bit of context:
(Dr. Michael) Youssef argues that the ideas of tolerance and acceptance are used by religions seeking to dominate Christianity in order to mislead the West, where the people do not understand the nature of other religions.
He mentions a former liberal Bush administration official who noticed that other religions did not welcome alternate faiths. She says she tried to instill the idea of “tolerance” until she realized, “We had the imam in our church speaking, preaching several times” but she never saw “him invite the preacher to preach in the mosque.” So the Leading the Way founder brought to her attention that she would be waiting forever for that “because it’s never going to happen.”
I think you can disagree with Youssef’s assumption in the first sentence while still being interested in the interplay between religions that gets brought up in the second paragraph. It caught my interest because I am so used to seeing this question only from my side (how do Christians view other religions, etc.) that I realized upon reading this how very little time I’ve spent engaging the other sides. Personally, I can’t say that I can quote a conversation I’ve had with someone of another faith where they tried to explain to me that they have room for me, in whatever way that means for them. I’ve also never been invited to speak to another faith group. I say that rather neutrally; I don’t think there is any deep ill-will in these exchanges or lack of exchanges. But I would love to hear your experiences and thoughts.
Here are my questions:
Have you ever asked one of your friends from another faith tradition whether they think we have an afterlife/salvation/hopeful future? (Do they think we need to “convert” in any way?)
Can you share examples, if you are a pastor or general Jesus person, of being invited to speak at another house of worship? (I’d even settle for examples of panels, keynotes or classes initiated by non-Christians)
Do you think the problem is that people in general just aren’t having these conversations? Do we need them? Is it that we don’t know how to engage one another on religious issues that require such sensitivity?