I’ve learned that transparent and meaningful interfaith dialogue begins and ends with mutual trust. Interfaith dialogue is when two groups or individuals engage in discussion to further their understanding of one another, specifically not to try and synchronize their beliefs (a temptation when just starting to build a relationship) but to gain a greater understanding of one another.I have seen that diluting the faith for the sake of the relationship is actually frustrating the goal of interfaith discussion, and the relationship, to understand one another better.
In the Philippines I have started to see the importance of transparent interfaith dialogue as I work daily with people who have a different worldview and understanding of who God is and our role in his creation. Because our theological understanding is the hub of our activity as peacebuilders transparent relationships are a key to action at peacebuilders community.
I currently work with an indigenous person who worships the creator in his traditional indigenous ways and is committed to serving the creator with his life. His life purpose and interpretation of his motivation for justice is fueled by his view of who God is and what he wants for his creation. It has been amazing to learn that God has revealed his character to my friend’s tribe in a way that is consistent with the character of Christ.
His tribe is known for initiating reconciliation between tribal groups and peacebuilding in a way consistent with shalom theology.1 ( That is working to achieve holistic peace addressing all aspects of life: peace with God, peace with ourselves, peace with our neighbor and peace with the environment.) I have been encouraged and affirmed in my understanding of who God when I see that other cultures see God revealing himself.
I think that the western missionaries idea of spreading our perspective of the gospel and our specific revelation in order to fulfill Gods will for creation is far too self-centered. We must share the specific revelation of Christ with people all over the world, but only after spending the time to learn what God has been saying to them through their own culture first. What happens when their own theological understanding encounters a biblical theological world-view? This is the first question that I think should be asked before we attempt to evangelize a new culture with our specific revelation from God.
Reflection: Interfaith Dialogue