Multi-Faith Dialogue Part 1: Why Interact with Non-Christians?

Multi-Faith Dialogue Part 1: Why Interact with Non-Christians?

October 6, 2010 by

The greatest opportunities of our lives will not be those that we go after but those that come after us unexpectedly. They are God moments—not things that we would choose or even desire. If anything they are “Moses” moments: “Not me Lord, send Aaron.” Sometimes in the middle of a whirlwind we find ourselves at the right place at the right time with a hard and unwanted job. We can either embrace the moment, follow God, face our fear and pay the price or quietly retreat into silence and human security only to wonder “what if” the rest of our lives. Those moments of opportunity carry with them the ability to act and a responsibility.

That is exactly how I feel about the Global Faith Forum that we are hosting at NorthWood Church in Keller, Texas, on Nov. 11-13. Too long of a journey to write here, but what started as a call to the world for and out of a local church took us to Vietnam, then Afghanistan, and then me personally to other places around the world. Along the way people of other faiths have become my close friends. Many of them are world leaders—and initially the Global Faith Forum was a response to a request from several of them to come visit our church and meet other pastors like me.

This multi-faith dialogue is so important because it’s the gospel message. Jesus commanded us to love our enemies, and as Ed Stetzer recently said, “You can’t reach and hate a people at the same time.”

It’s important to interact with people of other faiths because we share common needs. By coming together there are some things people of all religions want:

  • First, we want others to know what we believe and we honestly want to know what others believe. Nobody wants to be judged or treated as second class. We want our message heard and this kind of dialogue gives us that opportunity.
  • Second, each of us has questions about what the other believes, about their worldview, about why they do what they do.
  • Third, each of us want relationships that we can trust so that when things are hard or difficult or a crisis comes we have someone to talk to.
  • Finally, I believe we want legitimate friendships and opportunities to serve together in our cities and world for the common good.

The world is connected and I’m convinced of the truth of Jesus Christ. I’m also convinced it is no longer realistic and even safe to communicate and relate to people of other faiths in the same we did in the 18th century. This is the 21st century!

Communicating words, however, is not enough. Hearts and relationships must be cultivated for real communication to take place. That’s the kind of great opportunity I hope the Global Faith Forum can be. Join us for parts two and three of this series in the next few weeks as we talk about communicating big ideas and ways to overcome roadblocks to multi-faith dialogue.

Post By:

Bob Roberts Jr.

Bob Roberts Jr. is founding and senior pastor of NorthWood Church in Keller, Texas. Roberts writes and speaks on global engagement and faith both to Christian and non-Christian groups around the world.
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2 Responses to “Multi-Faith Dialogue Part 1: Why Interact with Non-Christians?”

  • Bob
    October 7, 2010

    Interfaith movements are seemingly about tolerance, co-existence, appeasement, compromise and the acceptance that many roads lead to God. Seldom is evangelistic outreach an objective. Instead a watered-down global spirituality results.

    May your program instead, honor and glorify the one true God.

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  • David Bunce
    October 10, 2010

    Having much experience in various interfaith initiatives in the UK, I would suggest that they are not watered down and based upon compromise. If anything, I would posit this it is the opposite.

    Most of us taking part are comfortable and rooted in our own faith traditions – for those of us who are Christians taking part, we are confident in Jesus. This means we can engage with ‘the other’ without fear and, perhaps more importantly, without needing to find some sort of ambivalent mushy spirituality.

    Does engagement and dialogue mean preaching to convert? Probably not. In fact, there is a deep gospel question as to how far we respect the humanity of the other if we are trying to change them before we listen to them. Instead, interfaith is going into conversation with people from different faiths, listening to them and understanding them, whilst all the while living lives that are deeply rooted in the way of the crucified and risen Christ.

    If what we believe is true, I trust God can work through his world without us bulldozing others in our eagerness to proclaim ‘the Gospel’


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