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Welcoming the Interfaith Future

Religious Pluralism in a Global Age


Frederick Quinn

Members of many religions live alongside one another in sprawling urban centers and isolated rural communities, and conflict and misunderstanding among religions are widespread. From a Christian and Anglican perspective, this book searchingly examines the nature of such encounters and explores the meaning of religious dialogue and terms like conversion, syncretism, salvation, and pluralism. Tightly focused historical chapters discuss expanding twentieth- and twenty-first-century Catholic and Protestant views about other religions and conclude with a fresh interpretation of the formative Asian contribution to contemporary interfaith encounters. Three established, successful examples of on-the-ground religious interaction are also presented, including the work of Muslim leader Eboo Patel in Chicago, Episcopal Bishop William E. Swing in San Francisco, and Anglican Bishop Tim Stevens in Leicester. Ultimately, interfaith religious dialogue benefits from the prayerful use of visual symbols in addition to written commentaries. Several important, innovative Anglican figures are considered, including Kenneth Cragg, Alan Race, David F. Ford, Keith Ward, Desmond Tutu, Ian S. Markham, and Rowan Williams. The Anglican document «Generous Love» (1998) is presented as a wider, inclusive discussion of possibilities for interfaith dialogue. The author concludes by reflecting on the importance of the old hymn, «There’s a Wideness in God’s Mercy» in the evolution of his own views and as a foundational statement welcoming the interfaith future. This book is a solid, lively, and lucid introduction of a volatile issue rippling its way through the contemporary Anglican Communion.


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7. The Prismatic Present 145


The Prismatic Present Three Examples of Interfaith Encounters ❦ Several divergent roads emerged in the interfaith encounter by the opening decades of the twenty-first century. Conceptual and attitudinal horizons were expanding, and through the Internet, publications, diaspora communities, and world travel, a vast amount of information about world religions had become available everywhere. Members of world religions could expect to daily encounter persons belonging to other religions, live in the same neighborhoods with them, share schools and workplaces, and intermarry. But this did not pro- duce any sort of a peaceful, unitive world setting, as witness the murderous bat- tles between Christians and Muslims in parts of Nigeria and political–military flare ups elsewhere in the Middle East and Asia—much of it framed in religious language. Finding accommodation among religions, or reaching a new under- standing of them, remained a global challenge at every level. Max Warren, gen- eral secretary of the Church Missionary Society early in the twentieth century, highlighted the dilemma, “We have marched around the alien Jericho the req- uisite number of times. We have sounded the trumpets. And the walls have not collapsed.”1 Interfaith encounters, broadly considered, represent a continuing complex stream of encounters with both predictable and unpredictable accep- tances, partial amalgamations, or rejections, all occurring within a variety of cul- tural envelopes, including families, neighborhoods, schools, religious meeting 7 d_ch 7 thru end_t5 6/14/2012 12:28 PM Page 145 places, and broader institutions. No single way exists to describe or control...

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