Speaker: Interfaith tolerance important

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    Effective communication in a multicultural and multireligious world is the key to tolerance and appreciation of different religions, a theology professor told Brite Divinity School students Tuesday.

    Peter C. Phan, Ignacio Ellacuria Chair of Catholic social thought at Georgetown University, discussed in a church at Weatherly Hall whether leaders of different religions engaging in dialogue will undermine or replace the mission of evangelism.

    Phan said at the Asian (Korean) Studies workshop that he believes interreligious dialogue will minimize the need for evangelism because more people will understand and accept different religions.

    Phan spoke about the importance of the roots of Christianity, because, he said, it is not just an American religion.

    “There is no way for us to know how many Christians there are, because many countries, like Asia, have underground religious services,” Phan said.

    Although there are many people from many different backgrounds, everyone shares four things, Phan said: life experiences, common actions, theological exchange among believers and shared religious experience.

    Tim Lee, an assistant professor of church history and director of the Asian (Korean) Church Studies program at Brite, said interreligious dialogue is a crucial topic, especially now as globalization creates encounters among many devoted to specific religions.

    “We all must learn to live together in this increasingly shrinking world, which entails that we understand others’ religions and be able to converse about our religions in respectful ways,” Lee said.

    Carl Stoneham, a graduate student at Brite and one of 50 people at the event, said he came to the workshop because he is getting his master’s degree in interfaith dialogue.

    “I learned more about interfaith dialogue and how to integrate aspects of it into my own life and studies,” Stoneham said.

    Nash Wiggins , a graduate student at Brite, said he learned not only the Asian perspective of Christianity but also how to better understand the roots of Christianity through interreligious dialogue.

    Phan said everyone deals with relations between different religions, and it would be helpful for students and faculty to understand the challenges and benefits of interreligious dialogue.

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