Tag Archive: dialogue

CNA, 27 Feb 2010

SM Goh was the guest-of-honour at the official opening ceremony of the new Bartley Christian Church building. He said

inter-faith harmony in Singapore is active, not passive, meaning religious groups make it a point to stay in touch, allowing them to clear up any misunderstandings that may arise.


Singapore is “blessed” because different religious groups are able to co-exist, and because there is inter-faith dialogue … It’s not just passive harmony, but active harmony … We have the Inter-Religious Organisation, where the leaders meet often so that they are in touch with one another, so they are able to very quickly react to any misunderstanding and put things right.

MP Seah Kian Peng added

Let us not forget that our speeches – whether in Parliament, from the pulpit or at community events like these – are heard by many who may not be present at the event. This is, by and large, a good thing … But it also means that we have to be prepared to defend our statements and our views to a larger audience. We can usefully put forward our own positions and views without running others down.

See related articles
Community leaders celebrate racial harmony month with gala dinner (CNA, 10 Jul 10)
Be rational, calm, decisive but do not over-react: Dr Yaacob on ISD detentions (CNA, 10 Jul 10)
Ties among religious leaders remain strong: IRO president (CNA, 06 Jul 10)
Maintaining racial harmony imperative to Singapore’s survival: MFA (CNA, 28 Apr 10)

by Katherine T. Phan, Christian Post
27 Jul 2008

Top Christian and Muslim leaders have convened at Yale University for a historic conference that is expected to promote understanding and peace between Christianity and Islam on an unprecedented level.

The conference, “Loving God and Neighbor in Word and Deed: Implications for Muslims and Christians,” will officially be held July 28-31 but leaders from both faiths have initiated dialogue on peace during closed-session workshops since Thursday.

The gathering is a direct response to a letter signed by 138 Muslim leaders last fall that called for peace between Muslims and Christians for the sake of world peace.

The letter, entitled “A Common Word Between Us and You,” urged followers of the two faiths to find “common ground” in the love of God and engage in more sincere discussions on peace rather than simply just “polite ecumenical dialogue” between certain religious leaders.

Yale scholars responded with a statement that pledged more open dialogue to “reshape” the two communities to “genuinely reflect our common love for God and for one another.” Some 500 Christian leaders – including prominent Christians including Saddleback pastor Rick Warren, theologian John Stott, National Association of Evangelicals president Leith Anderson – endorsed the Yale statement.

But several withdrew their names from the letter following criticism by respected theologians.

(read more)

12 Jan 2008
by Michelle A. Vu

A prominent theologian expressed concerns this week about the recent Christian response to a historic Muslim letter in which signers appeared unclear about their Christian identity and different beliefs of God.

The letter, titled “Loving God and Neighbor Together: A Christian Response to a Common Word Between Us and You,” failed to clearly define the Christian understanding of God as the trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, pointed out R. Albert Mohler, Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, on his national radio program Tuesday.

Mohler explained that Muslims also believe in Jesus but only as a prophet, not as the son of God. Therefore, Christians must distinguish what kind of God they believe in when responding to the Muslim letter, which emphasized love for a common God.

“We don’t believe that Jesus Christ is our hero. We don’t believe that Jesus Christ is merely our prophet. He is Prophet and Priest and King,” Mohler said, according to the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary’s Towers news service. “He is the incarnate Son of God. He is the second person of the Trinity. He is the Lord over all. Any minimization of that is a huge problem.”

The high-profile Southern Baptist theologian was responding to a full-page letter endorsed by nearly 300 Christian leaders that appeared in a December issue of The New York Times. The letter was drafted by scholars at Yale Divinity School’s Center for Faith and Culture in response to an October letter signed by 138 Muslim scholars, clerics, and leaders that encouraged Muslims and Christians to work more closely for world peace.

At the heart of the Muslim letter was the “common ground” that believers of both faiths share – love for God and love for neighbors.

Signers of the Christian letter included Rick Warren, founder and senior pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., and author of The Purpose Driven Life; Bill Hybels, founder and senior pastor of Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Ill.; Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals; and David Neff, editor-in-chief and vice-president of “Christianity Today” Media Group.

Mohler did not sign the letter.

(read more)

See also:
Christian Scholars Apologize for Crusades (Islam Online, 27 Nov 07)


PARIS – LEADING Muslim scholars have addressed warm Christmas greetings to Christians around the world, a message notable both for what it said and the fact that it was sent at all.

The greetings, sent by a group of 138 Sunni, Shi’ite, Sufi and other scholars who recently proposed a dialogue with Christian leaders, called for peace on earth and thanked church leaders who have responded positively to their invitation.

The message, as the dialogue proposal made in October, was unprecedented because there has not been until now such a large group of Islamic scholars that could draft a common letter.

Islam is a decentralised faith, with no pope or archbishop who can speak for believers as a group. While individual Muslim clerics have exchanged holiday greetings with Christians in the past, nothing on this scale has been possible before.

‘Al-Salaamu Aleikum, Peace be upon you, Pax Vobiscum,’ the greetings letter began in Arabic, English and Latin. The text is available on the group’s website www.acommonword.com.

It noted that Christmas came just after the Muslim haj pilgrimage to Mecca and the Feast of Sacrifice (Eid al Adha) recalling how the Prophet Abraham almost sacrificed his son.

‘God’s refusal to let Abraham sacrifice his son … is to this day a divine warrant and a most powerful social lesson for all followers of the Abrahamic faiths, to ever do their utmost to save, uphold and treasure every human life and especially the lives of every single child,’ it said.

‘May the coming year be one in which the sanctity and dignity of human life is upheld by all,’ it added. ‘May it be a year of humble repentance before God and mutual forgiveness within and between communities.’

Islam Online, 27 Nov 07
by IOL Staff

CAIRO — Reciprocating a goodwill gesture by 138 Muslim scholars, more than 300 Christian scholars and clergymen from across the globe have signed a letter apologising to Muslims for the Crusades and the repercussions of America’s so-called war on terror.

“We want to begin by acknowledging that in the past (e.g. in the Crusades) and in the present (e.g. in excesses of the war on terror) many Christians have been guilty of sinning against our Muslim neighbors,” says the letter made available to the press at a news conference in Abu Dhabi on Monday, November 26.

“Before we ‘shake your hand’ in responding to your letter, we ask forgiveness of the All-Merciful One and of the Muslim community around the world,” added the “Loving God and Neighbor Together” letter.

The Crusades were a series of military conflicts of a religious character waged by much of Christian Europe during 1095–1291, most of which were sanctioned by the Pope of the Roman Catholic Church to originally capture Al-Quds from Muslim rule.

The Vatican has never apologised for the Christian expeditions.

“It is an unprecedented gesture to bridge the gap between Muslims and Christians, who make up 55 percent of the world’s population,” Muslim preacher Al-Habib Ali Al-Jafri told the press conference.

Early October, 138 Muslim scholars and dignitaries, including Jafri, sent a letter to the world’s Christian clergy, including Pope Benedict XVI, for dialogue based on common essentials between Islam and Christianity.

The call has already won plaudits from many non-Catholic leaders, including Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, Lutheran World Federation head Bishop Mark Hanson, World Council of Churches head Rev.Samuel Kobia and US Presbyterian Church head Clifton Kirkpatrick.

Roman Catholic cardinals said Sunday, November 25, the Vatican will have a positive response in the near future.

Actions not Words

The signatories of the new letter, mostly clergymen from the United States, said they were deeply “encouraged” and “challenged” by the Muslim letter.

“We receive the open letter as a Muslim hand of conviviality and cooperation extended to Christians world-wide,” they wrote.

“In this response we extend our own Christian hand in return, so that together with all other human beings we may live in peace and justice as we seek to love God and our neighbors.”

Miroslav Volf, founder and director of the Yale Center for Faith and Culture who compiled the response letter, said they hope to narrow all differences between Muslims and Christians.

He hopes the Muslim and Christian letters would serve as a springboard for a more serious and respectful rather than a “polite ecumenical” dialogue between the two religions.

“We are persuaded that our next step should be for our leaders at every level to meet together and begin the earnest work of determining how God would have us fulfill the requirement that we love God and one another.”

Al-Jafri, the Muslim preacher, said Muslims would take more positive steps in the days to come.

“We will hold more conferences and meetings at all levels to enrich inter-faith dialogue.”

(read the letter here)

“Loving God and Neighbor together: A Christian Response to ‘A Common Word Between Us and You” (Yale Center for Faith and Culture)

Christians, Muslims seek ‘Common Ground’ at Historic Conference (Christianpost, 27 Jul 2008)

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