I am pleased to serve as a panelist on a new project undertaken by The Washington Post and Newsweek magazine. “On Faith” is described as “a conversation on religion” — with religion described as “the most powerful yet least understood topic in global life.”
The project went live this past Wednesday, and the first question is sure to get the conversation moving:
If some religious people believe they have a monopoly on truth, then are conversation and common ground possible? If so, what would be the difficulties and benefits of such a conversation?
My first column for the project was also published Wednesday, and I attempted to answer the question as fairly as possible. That column, along with the others I contribute to “On Faith,” is found at my Web page for the project [go here].
I attempted to explain that evangelical Christians are committed to obeying the Bible as the Word of God. Thus, we cannot enter a conversation in which everything is negotiable. I called for a proper humility, but argued that humility cannot mean that we show up as if we do not believe that God has spoken.
I rejected the idea that a belief in divine revelation is a “conversation stopper,” and went on to explain that if evangelicals are excluded on this basis, only liberals will be involved in the conversation:
The only conversation worth having is an honest conversation among persons who respect each other’s deepest beliefs as being honestly held and honestly presented. The reality is that too many “interfaith” discussions are held among those who have only a tenuous hold upon the faiths they claim to represent. We should not be afraid to disagree, nor to risk the conversation. So, let the conversation begin . . . and let us show up as who we are, beliefs and all.
As of this posting, 88 responses to my column had been posted. Some of them are hot, some are cool, but all are interesting. This response section may be one of the most interesting features of the “On Faith” format.
A full list of the panelists reveals an incredible diversity, including figures like former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and historian Martin Marty. I am sure the conversation will be most revealing. I will post a notice at this site when I post a new column for “On Faith.” Let me know what you think.