Pastor launches forum to promote interfaith discussions
A new program was launched recently by a pastor in Texas, with hundreds in attendance including Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and atheists to foster understanding between people of different faiths.
Pastor Bob Roberts Jr. kicked off Global Faith Forum at NorthWood Church, using a new communication approach which he described as “multifaith” as opposed to “interfaith,” The Christian Post said.
According to The Christian Post, a multifaith approach involves conversation that veers away from talking about other faiths, to having conversations with people of other faiths, The Christian Post reported.
Among the speakers at the forum are His Excellency Le Cong Phung, Vietnam ambassador to the United States; HRH Prince Turki Al Faisal, former Saudi Arabia ambassador to the United States; John Esposito of Georgetown University, Eboo Patel of Interfaith Youth Core, and Mark Galli of Christianity Today, among others, The Christian Post said.
Roberts said in a multifaith forum, participants can converse with other faiths in a way that they can still hold true to their convictions, without compromise. At the same time, it is hoped the crowd will be open, listen to each other and even better, build friendships, according to The Christian Post.
By contrast, an interfaith approach implies “dumbing down one’s faith to get along with those of other religious traditions,” according to The Christian Post. Roberts noted that there are theologically “irreconcilable differences in some of what I believe and what others believe. But, how we relate to others, and how we work together in the world is everything.”
The Christian Post noted that prejudice and stereotypes in a pluralistic world encumbers understanding. But they quote Roberts’ blog where he says, “there is a better way than hate and fear.”
Roberts wrote in his blog, “Everyone is saying that the tension between the U.S. and the rest of the world is bad, tension between the faiths is bad, and things are spinning out of control. We can complain, gripe, fear, worry – or we can act. This is an opportunity to gather and act.”
For Roberts, the important questions in the forum that he seeks answers to are not regarding salvation or who God is, but simply to open roads among different faiths, The Christian Post said.
Noting a general disfavor in the world towards evangelicals, Roberts said, “It’s time to begin to understand that and change that. The Great Commission demands it. The love of Jesus for all of humanity and his desire to see transformation demands it,” The Christian Post reported.
Prior to the forum, attendees were given advice on cultural mores of different faiths. For example, the different customs regarding shaking hands with a woman. They were also encouraged to have a conversation as opposed to an interview, and to mix small talk with any theological questions, The Christian Post said.