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Lambeth calls for cooperation and dialogue in inter-faith relations

Posted on: August 8, 1998 3:03 PM
Related Categories: Interfaith, Lambeth Conference 1998

by Allan Reeder
Lambeth Conference Communications

The Lambeth Conference has set up a check-list to guide Anglicans who are living and working alongside members of other faiths.

The resolution approved by Wednesday's business session (IV.1) suggests the approach of Christians to people of other faiths should be marked by "co-operation ... in working for justice, peace and reconciliation" together with a "frank and honest exploration of both the common ground and differences between the faiths."

There should also be a commitment to loving relationships, "even in situations where co-existence seems impossible," the resolution states.

Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali of Rochester (England), chair of the conference's Inter-Faith Team, who led the debate, admitted some bishops lived in nations where inter-faith relationships were hard to pursue.

Dialogue needed on grass-roots level

"We have been aware of the great difficulty that some of you have in relating to people of other faiths in your own context," Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali told the bishops. "But we have also been aware that in spite of these difficulties, and perhaps because of them, dialogue remains necessary."

"Dialogue is not just for academics, it's not even just for religious leaders," Bishop Nazir-Ali said. It should be "between neighbours, between colleagues at work."

Mission is impossible without dialogue, he said. "Unless we understand how our neighbours think, what are their values we will not be able to proclaim to them the Good News of the Gospel."

Bishop Nazir-Ali said that while "conversion" is valid as a theological idea, "We've said again and again . . . that proselytizing is inappropriate for churches of this communion. There is no place in our strategies of mission for material inducements, psychological pressure or the targeting of individuals or groups."

He stressed, "The integrity of individuals or groups must be respected at all times."

The Lambeth Conference also asked the Anglican Network for Inter-Faith Concerns (NIFCON) to "monitor Muslim-Christian relationships." The Church's international umbrella-body, the Anglican Consultative Council was also asked to consider how to provide NIFCON with more funding and personnel resources.