Friday, April 24, 2009

Parliament of the World's Religions

Whilst stuck on a long drive today, I was lucky to come across an interview with Rev Dirk Ficca, Executive Director of the Council for a Parliament of the World's Religions. The Parliament is meeting here in Melbourne in December this year and I'm looking forward to being a part of it.

Dirk spoke intelligently and articulately about purpose of the Parliament, making two important points about what they are trying to achieve:

Firstly, they are aiming for harmony rather than unity. The point is not to pretend that all religions are the same or to blend them into a universal, homogenous belief system. Rather, acknowledging and accepting our differences, we learn to live together peacefully and in harmony with one another.

Secondly, trust is more important than agreement. There are people that agree with me on many things that I still may not trust, just as there are those with whom I might have significant disagreement but feel that I could trust with my life.

You can find out more about the Parliament at


David said...

After you've established harmony and trust, you can ask them to accept Jesus as their personal saviour. What other purpose would you have there? You know other faiths are Satanic in origin. These people are heading for Hell.

JDK said...

I guess this is what happens when I don't blog regularly...I get confused with other bloggers. :-)

Or perhaps, David, you are so trapped in a particular line of thought that you have lost the capacity to understand anything outside of that?

David said...

it is part of your duties as an officer of the Salvation Army to spread the gospel of Jesus. Don't you believe Jesus is the only way to God? This message contradicts that of other faiths. You have an opportunity to tell them as much.

How can meaningful and lasting harmony and trust be achieved if each faith believes it's the right one?

The best outcome would be an agreement to extinguish all faith based belief.

David said...

Continuing: To extinguish all faith-based belief. By that, I mean to only believe as far as evidence and reason permits, whilst still leaving room for ideals that serve the common good.

I don't see how you can subscribe to the above and pursue a Christian agenda at the same time. The New Testament message of salvation seems to not allow for the type of compromise required.

Does a liberal form of Christianity dilute the gospel message so much, that it becomes little different from humanist idealology?

JDK said...

Many of these questions depend upon a particular understanding of the gospel. Perhaps it's a matter of perspective, but I don't see progressive Christianity as diluted at all - despite the fact that it looks quite different from fundamentalist or literalist interpretations. If there are commonalities with other religions or with humanism, then at least we have some common ground on which to dialogue.

For more of Dirk Ficca's interview, see here

David said...

Hmmm. Another pattern, others have probably noticed ages ago.

Fundamentalist style Christians are not open to debate or discussion about fundamentalist beliefs.

Progressive/liberal (I know they are not the same) Christians are so keen on dialogue, they are extremely reluctant to discuss belief, reluctant to reveal a coherent system of belief, for fear of offending others.

Neither approach is satisfactory.

How can a dialogue between an atheist and progressive and conservative christians ever be successful. Is it even possible to get these three talking together in a sensible manner?

It's much easier to enter into inter-faith dialogue.

Peter said...

From a musical standpoint, the term harmony is from the Greek word ἁρμονία (harmonia) which means agreement or to fit together. Having that said, Christianity cannot be in harmony with other religions. It is counter-productive and Jesus said that He is the way the truth and the life. NO ONE can get to the Father except by Him.

We serve a living God, a Risen Savior, and a powerful Holy Spirit. Should we be meeting with people from other belief systems? Yes. Only with the full intention of evangelism, for no one is promised tomorrow. Who's blood would be on our hands if they die and go to Hell?

JDK said...

Peter, I agree with everything up to the end of your first sentence. Not only do I think that Christians CAN live in harmony with other religions, I am convinced that we MUST. Evangelism is a rather lofty goal, first we need to stop killing each other. Christian claims to exclusive truth and threats to send everyone else to Hell only serve to demonise others, re-inforce prejudice and discredit Christianity.

Peter said...

I agree that people need to stop killing and murdering each other. Do Christians need to live peacefully and respectfully of other religious views? Yes. But that is where we differ from every other religion. Our Salvation only comes by faith in Christ and His atoning work on the cross. I have worked along side many people from other religious persuasions and the conversation of faith has always surfaced.

I respectfully listened to their concept of theology while I interjected my understanding of their religion from an anthropological point of view. Then I share my faith with them and plant of seed of sharing the gospel with them in a non-threatening way leaving the Holy Spirit to do His work.

As a Salvation Army soldier I understand my role in saving the world around me by proclaiming the Truth. As an officer, you would understand this. I trust that you would approach it the same way.

Do we have the truth? Yes! Should we preach it? Of Course! But it should be shared in love.

I guess an analogy for me would be this. A person has to go to court for an abundance of misdemeanors including traffic tickets, speeding, lewd conduct, etc. The defendant states that they are sorry and will work their fingers to the bone in order to appease the judge. The judge says work all you want but the sentence will still be the same.

Then comes along someone who was guiltless in life and offered to take the place of the defendant to go free. That is a way I share my faith with anyone. Be they a Muslim, Buddhist, Mormon, agnostic, atheist, etc. or even a person who just goes to church but has never been born again.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Jason,

Thank you for your blog I am a regular reader and find your point of view refreshing and thoughtfully stated. I am quite confused about the two people placing comments also on this article. It is obvious that they don't agree with you on many points and are keen on pushing their own beliefs. My confusion comes when I wonder what they are doing on your blog? Are they interested in your thoughts, or only to undermind and insult. I would encourage anyone who isn't interested in this blogs point of view to bugger off and find something they are interested in, it's not like the internet hasn't got something for everyone! I only comment because it interupts the enjoyment of your writings for me and many others, who I know follow your blog. Anyway keep up the good work!


Nicky said...

Well said Frogger!!

Whilst I struggle with telling them to "bugger off" as you so eloquently put it, ;-D I wish that they might at least show some mutual respect (especially you, David.) No one is forcing you to read these comments you know.

As for Peter, who's truth are you proclaiming, from whos world view and from whos religious perspective. Don't kid yourself, your perspective on truth is not the only perspective on truth. Is Jesus' perspective on the truth about slavery the correct one or is Wilberforce's. If you aren't aware, Jesus' condoned slavery and more than likely thought the world was flat - does that mean I have to believe the world is flat? That just seems dumb.

The way to God is through love, forgiveness, compassion, mercy, kindness, long suffering, justice, that's right, that's the way of Jesus, so maybe you are right when you say Jesus is the only way, maybe however my truth about that statement is different to your truth about that statement.

God's grace and peace to you all