attacks on Charlie Hebdo in Paris several weeks ago are but the latest reminder
that we live in dangerous and violent times. Not only does Al-Qaeda1 continue
to exert its influence despite claims from the US government that the terror network
has been decimated, there is also the continuing violence from ISIL in Syria and
Iraq, threats from Boko Haram2, the ever
present possibility of renewed hostilities between Israel and Palestinians,3
not to mention the less lethal conflicts in the public square in the West between
competing religious and irreligious groups. In light of this, somehow it seems like
it misses the mark to refer to our time as "post-9/11". I prefer a more
expansive term like the "Age of Terrorism and Religious Conflict".
been reflecting on all of this for some time, and I think Evangelicalism has something
significant to contribute that can make a real impact globally. If resources were
not an obstacle, here is my “Wish List” for Evangelicals in multi-faith engagement.4
Train Multi-Faith Ambassadors in Every Evangelical Church Congregation
Testament refers to Christians as "ambassadors" (2 Cor. 5:20), and these
diplomats are desperately needed in multi-faith contexts characterized by ignorance,
fear, conflict, and violence. I would like to see the Evangelical FRD Chapter train
and equip Multi-Faith Ambassadors in churches throughout the United States and beyond
to serve as a resource within congregations, preparing them to love their religious
neighbors, and to exercise this love not only in their local communities surrounding
churches, but also around the world as these churches seek to make an impact globally.
Make Multi-Faith Engagement a Theological Priority for Evangelical Seminaries
noted in a previous post, the National Association of Evangelicals5 recently
distributed their Winter 2014/15 newsletter, and for many of their members who are
seminary presidents, multi-faith engagement is not a theological priority. In fact,
it does not even show up on the radar for a list of concerns. In light of our globalized
and multi-faith world it is time for seminaries to recognize that our future pastors
need a basic religious literacy and they need to develop a neighborhood theology
of multi-faith engagement that embraces the Christian values of love of neighbor,
compassion, and hospitality while maintaining faithfulness to Evangelical convictions.
In the recent past the Association of Theological Schools provided a grant to fund
the “Christian Hospitality and Pastoral Practices in Multifaith Society.”6 Perhaps they could serve as a catalyst here
through similar grant funding for multi-faith engagement projects for seminaries.
Help Evangelical College and University Students Embrace Multi-Faith Diplomacy as
a Course of Study and Vocational Calling
students, whether they attend Christian colleges and universities, or secular ones,
need to consider multi-faith diplomacy and activism as a valid vocation that can
be informed by and exercised as an expression of their faith. Presently Evangelicals
pursue their educational goals with a wide variety of vocations in mind, including
politics. In light of multi-faith tensions and conflict around the world, Evangelicals
should consider a different form of diplomacy, a multi-faith one, that moves in
political circles but also theological and religious ones in order to make an impact
through peacemaking. This could be done through additional coursework in connection
with existing programs, or through the creation of “new interreligious or interfaith
Put Multi-Faith Engagement on the Agenda for Evangelical Social Activism
is a large religious movement, and our subculture has a lot of resources at its
disposal. When certain social issues capture our attention, we make a tremendous
impact. Consider our work in addressing world hunger, poverty, HIV/AIDS, race relations,
human trafficking and the sex trade, as well as religious freedom. I hope that in
the near future Evangelicals will come to see multi-faith engagement and diplomacy
as a pressing global issue that becomes a part of our agenda for social activism
alongside these other important causes.
four things make up my wish list, for now. What is on yours in relation to this
4This article is
reprinted with permission from the author and the Evangelical Chapter for the
Foundation for Religious Diplomacy: http://www.evangelicalfrd.org/#!My-Wish-List-for-Evangelicals-in-our-Age-of-Terrorism-and-Religious-Conflict/ckvz/FF66560F-5660-4619-B8A8-D77A2DC8EFC2.
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John W. Morehead is the Director of the Foundation for Religious Diplomacy and the Western Institute for Intercultural Studies.