Is Interfaith Dialogue a Good Thing or a Slippery Slope That Threatens Our Faith’s Essence?

I’m a huge advocate of Christian unity and an equally huge opponent of denominations. After all, denominations are the antithesis of unity. Think about it: Virtually all denominations resulted from disunity: of disagreements over things that didn’t really matter, of not getting along with one another, of saying “it’s my way or the highway.”

The solution is for all Christians to focus on our commonality in Jesus and not let anything else divide us. It’s that simple.

Now, what about other faiths? What should our reaction be to them?

Interfaith dialogue is a great start; it certainly beats not talking. I recently heard a missionary explain that interfaith dialogue isn’t about sinking to find the least common denominator between two faiths; instead it’s about sharing who we truly are, of fully embracing one another.

Then I shared this idea with some ministers. They were shocked; in their experience, interfaith dialogue is always about finding the least common denominator. They didn’t see how it could be any other way.

I think the key is perspective. If we go into interfaith dialogue seeking to find the least common denominator, we will surely find it and likely find the experience disappointing. However, if our goal is to mutually share who we fully are in our respective faiths, then true communication will take place and understanding is poised to occur.

When interacting with people of other faiths, we need to communicate our differences, not cover them. That’s when understanding can take place. While we don’t need to agree with one another, we do need to respect one another.

If we approach interfaith dialogue with a least common denominator attitude, then it does indeed become a slippery slope. However, if we seek to share the totality of our respective faiths, then greater understanding and increased respect is the likely outcome. And that’s a good thing.

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