Called to Dialogue: Interreligious and Intra-Christian Dialogue in Ecumenical Conversation

2016, 28 pp
The ecumenical movement faces a number of contemporary challenges. One of them is the question of the relationship between intra-Christian dialogue and interreligious dialogue. This issue has come to the fore for a number of reasons. These include the shifts in demography caused by large-scale human migration, the changing nature of relationships within the global Christian family itself, the maturity yet also frustration of developments in institutional inter-church relationships, and overt political and humanitarian pressures that have an explicit interreligious dimension in a number of regions of the world.

Both forms of engagement in dialogue – intra-Christian and interreligious – are affected by these developments, both are experiencing a degree of defensiveness, and the new situation has altered the dynamics of the relationship between them. At times it has led to a certain amount of confusion or even hostility. At other points the overlapping of the two areas has offered creative and positive opportunities. The changing contexts for both intra-Christian and interreligious relations, namely the crisis in traditional expressions of ecumenism and the rise of religious extremism and fundamentalism across several religions, impinge on one another but also seem to undercut the efforts of both endeavours.

However they also impel us to explore new language and methods to affirm and promote both intra-Christian and interreligious relations, recognising both their commonalities and distinctiveness. Despite their differences, both forms of engagement hold the promise of diffusing tensions, addressing violence, fostering understanding and reconciliation and deepening the religious commitment and spirituality of those involved.

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