Dialogue: Challenge and Opportunities
a world that daily provides us with reminders about the
tensions between the different religious traditions in the
world, this course will explore the whole issue of
Starting with some of the fundamental principles of
dialogue, the course then moves through the areas of: ethical
disagreement, exploring different belief systems, facing up to
difficult political issues, and finding ways to worship
In addition, students will be given guidance in how to
start their own interfaith dialogue.
At the end of the course, it is hoped that we will
appreciate both the importance, challenges, and opportunities
of interreligious dialogue.
Day, Time and Dates:
June 20 – Friday, June 24 from 9:00 - 4:00 p.m.
Adjunct Professor of Interreligious Dialogue and Program
Executive in Interreligious Relations and Dialogue, World
Council of Churches
recommended literature, providing space for Christian as well as Jewish and
Muslim voices, is not per se theological literature but reflections coming out
of experiences in dialogue leading to theological reflection.
of the functions of dialogue is to allow participants to describe and witness
to their faith in their own terms. This is of primary importance since
self-serving descriptions of other peoples' faith are one of the roots of
prejudice, stereotyping, and condescension.
(WCC Guidelines on Dialogue in Community)
find ourselves recognizing a need to move beyond a theology which confines
salvation to the explicit personal commitment to Jesus Christ.
(WCC Statement from Baar)
I am I, because I am I, and you are you because you are you, then I am I and
you are you. But if I am I because you are you and you are you because I am I,
then I am not I and you are not you.
(Rabbi of Kotzk)
response to a secularized intelligentsia, at least in the West, we have tried
too hard to put a positive face on religion, when the truth is we know that
all religions have their demonic underside.
people I can pray with, I can't talk to, and the people I can talk to, I can't
pray with. (Ernst Simon)
which we can do together, we should not do separately.
(Faith & Order)
the course and via different foci we will delve into different belief systems
and their possible ethical implications and disagreements as well as facing
difficult political issues. At the end of the course, it is hoped that we will
appreciate the importance, challenges, and opportunities of interreligious
come to an informed understanding of
interreligious relations and dialogue, including attitude and ethical values
and implications for relations between people of different faiths;
learn about interreligious relations and dialogue as it has been
pursued by the WCC since the World Mission Conference in Edinburgh 1910,
including a review of texts produced and their interpretations;
become familiar with the involvement of different religious traditions in
the WCC work on interreligious relations and dialogue;
ambiguous relation between identity and religion in today’s religiously
and culturally plural world and the increasing role of religion in public
life and in conflicts situation
Prior to the start of the class, students are requested
to read Hans Ucko, Common Roots, New Horizons, WCC, Geneva 1994 chapters 4 (pp.37-50)
and 8 (pp.85-100)
to write max. 5 pages on experiences, personal reflections
and concerns on and in relation to interreligious dialogue. This
written assignment should be sent to the Hartford Seminary,
attention Dr. Hans Ucko latest by 17 June 2005.
The readings of the course will use the following books and documents for study
Amin Maalouf, On Identity, The Harvill Press, London 2000
Jonathan Sachs, The Dignity of Difference, How to Avoid the Clash of Civilisations,
Continuum, London – New York, 2003
Tariq Ramadan, Western Muslims and the Future of Islam, Oxford University Press,
New York 2004, pp.200-213
Pro Dialogo – Current Dialogue Bulletin 1998/2 Interreligious
Perspectives on Plurality,
Ecumenical Consultation in Baar, Switzerland, WCC Geneva 1990
Considerations for Dialogue and Relations with
People of other Religions,
WCC, Geneva 2003
and Global Interreligious Initiatives, WCC, Geneva 2004
Plurality and Christian Self- Understanding, a document produced by the networks of Faith & Order, CWME and
Interreligious Relations and Dialogue, WCC Geneva 2005
fifteen-page double spaced paper on a subject related to the subject matter of
the course, and agreed upon by student and professor. The paper should combine
insights from readings and lectures along with personal reflections by the