Interfaith Relations and the Church:
study guides on key issues

The Missional Challenge. In a world often characterized by spiritual apathy or unbelief and with increasing poverty, hunger, illiteracy, deteriorating health and education infrastructures, and increasing levels of violence all around us—what is the mission of the Church? As Christians and as the Church scattered, we embrace the opportunity we have to participate in the missio Dei, the mission of God. The missio Dei is the source and wellspring of the mission of the Church ... In a world of many faiths, what might our participation in God’s mission look like, and how can we faithfully pursue it?

The Moral Challenge. The increasing cultural and religious plurality in our country, coupled with recent world events—especially in the wake of 9/11—make it difficult for many Americans, including American Christians, to know just how to relate to people of other faiths. We are faced with moral questions at every turn. There are two spheres of moral questions that we are concerned with in this study. First, we consider how we apply a moral test to Christian witness and relationship building with people of other faiths. Second, we explore the moral lenses through which we assess the actions of all religious persons and religions, including our own.

The Theological Challenge. Faced with the presence and religious diversity of people of other faiths, Christians must ask the difficult but necessary theological questions about our relationships with people of other faiths. Christians hold a variety of perspectives on the role that other faiths play in God’s work of salvation. The goal of this study is to present a range of those perspectives and to help us think theologically about interfaith relations.

The Ecumenical Challenge. Committing to interfaith relations presents churches with an ecumenical challenge because of the diverse emphases and commitments of different Christian communions. Christian unity and interfaith relations may at times stand in real tension.

The Identity Challenge. Our engagement in interfaith relations, like our engagement with other Christian traditions, calls us to re-examine ourselves, our formulations of our faith, and our practices. We are called to ask: how does interfaith engagement affect the way we understand ourselves—or affect our identity—as followers of Christ? Some people may respond to this challenge to Christian identity with worry that engaging with neighbors of other religions will cause us to doubt and perhaps even lose our faith. For others, encounters with those who are different from us offer the opportunity to contemplate our own faith more deeply and embody it more clearly.