Interfaith Dialogue: An Existential Necessity for the Very Survival of the Human Species
Jesuit and sociologist Rudolph Heredia’s article neatly summarises the case for interfaith dialogue. Going beyond the all-too-common tendency to see interfaith dialogue as a means to enable others to understand and appreciate one’s own faith better (or even to convert to it), Heredia stresses that dialogue is—or, rather, should be—a valuable means for each dialogue partner to be spiritually enriched and to grow through encountering and learning and benefitting from other religious traditions and their adherents. Seen in this way, interfaith dialogue becomes a “mutually enriching encounter”. For us to be able to be truly transformed by this encounter, Heredia tells us, romanticizing our own religious traditions (and also refusing to recognize that they might, in part, need to be rethought or revised—a possibility that the dialogical encounter might provoke) is indefensible. Heredia also adds that for dialogue to be more than people talking past each other there must also be a realization that God or the Ultimate Reality is a mystery that is far beyond human comprehension and that, therefore, no single religion or other such worldview can contain or represent Him/Her/It in His/Her/Its totality.