The Foundations on which to build
All substantial buildings need to rest on firm foundations. This is as true for interpersonal and communal relations as it is for the tallest skyscraper. However, the materials and processes needed to build relationships are, perhaps, harder to procure and process than concrete, steel and timber. Relationships between groups of people are built on a foundation of beliefs, values and understandings.
The view being promoted in this site is that interfaith relations need to be based on positive and realistic beliefs and understandings of the importance of religion(s) in shaping human life at a personal, family, communal and international level.
Human beings are great at asking questions. Among the more challenging questions are those that can only be answered by belief and faith. Here are a few.
- Is there any purpose in life other than satisfying my own needs and wants?
- I know what I can do but how can I know what I ought to do in my day to day living ?
- Why is there such a mix of goodness and evil in human behaviour?
- Why is the world a place of awesome beauty and of destructive natural disasters?
- Will my life have any significance after I die?
- How, when, where and why did life begin?
The religions of the world major on asking these kinds of questions. They also offer faith responses to these questions. They have also developed communities that fashion lifestyles reflecting their particular faith responses.
The interfaith movement seeks to build relationships between members of the different religions. When these relationships mature people involved might not only learn about each other, they might also learn from each other how to address these life questions and challenges.
The foundations on which these kinds of relationships can be built are sets of beliefs and understandings about the nature of religion.
OUR CREDO (see OUR STORY page)
WE BELIEVE THAT:
- RELIGION IS ONE SIGNIFICANT FACTOR INFLUENCING HUMAN BEHAVIOUR AND LIFESTYLES;
- EACH RELIGION DESERVES RESPECT FOR ITS OWN IDENTITY AND LONG TRADITIONS;
- THE RELIGIONS CAN ENRICH HUMAN LIFE, MOTIVATE REFORMS, ALLEVIATE SUFFERING AND HELP SOLVE WORLD PROBLEMS.
- THE FOLLOWERS OF EACH OF THE RELIGIONS CAN BENEFIT GREATLY FROM HONEST AND RESPECTFUL CONVERSATIONS ABOUT EACH OTHER'S BELIEFS, VALUES AND PRACTICES.
IN OUR CONVERSATIONS WE WILL:
- AFFIRM THE IMPORTANCE AND DIGNITY OF RELIGIOUS DIFFERENCES;
- AVOID DENIGRATING OTHER RELIGIONS IN ORDER TO ASSERT THE SUPERIORITY OF OUR OWN RELIGION;
- MAINTAIN A HUMBLE RECOGNITION THAT OUR PROCLAMATIONS ABOUT "GOD'S" SELF-REVELATION ARE PARTIAL AND PROVISIONAL;
- REFRAIN FROM USING SACRED TEXTS, PAST HISTORICAL EVENTS AND RELIGIOUS DOGMA TO JUSTIFY VIOLENCE AGAINST INDIVIDUALS AND/OR COMMUNITIES.
Any acceptance of these beliefs and procedural values needs to be supported by some beliefs, teachings, and experiences within each participant’s own religious tradition.
However, because religions are constructed and populated by humans they embody all of the strengths, frailties, achievements and limitations of being human. Because of this, participants in interfaith relations need to acknowledge that the religions of the world have too often been one of the causes of friction, division, suffering and even war between the different peoples of the world.
The religions of the world have not been the sole causes of human conflict, pain and death. Consequently, Interfaith relations and dialogue will not of themselves solve all of the world's problems.