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[COMMENT: John Rankin takes on some of the best of those who disagree with the Judeo-Christian faith. He is worth keeping up with.
The series of questions below is super. If you are in the area of any of these debates, go to hear them. E. Fox]
"The Bible, the Qur’an, Freedom and International Politics"
(The BQF Series – Beginning February, 2007)
New York City and Washington, D.C.
Sponsored by the Theological Education Institute (TEI) of Hartford, CT
These forums seek to highlight intelligent, honest and gracious conversation between the Christian and Islamic communities; with prior Jewish reality in the background. The goals are twofold:
To equip Christians and Jews to learn how the Qur’an understands itself on its own terms; and to equip Muslims to learn how the Bible understands itself on its own terms.
To maximize religious, political and economic liberty for all people equally.
The challenge is to navigate through the shoals of two temptations, and attain a third possibility:
No to meaningless dialogue rooted in the fear of giving offense.
No to cowardly debate which has the goal to give offense.
Yes to honest conversation in the face of real debate for the sake of mutual understanding; this requires humility and courage in equal measure.
This series is sponsored by the Theological Education Institute (TEI) of Hartford, CT, which is rooted in a classic Protestant and evangelical faith. The TEI articulates "The Six Pillars of Honest Politics" which are biblical at a prior level, and with conviction that they are universal to human nature. They were first articulated with respect to U.S. politics, but apply equally to international politics.
The power to give affirms that the unalienable rights given by the Creator belong to all people equally, and human government serves such a gift.
The power to live in the light means that government at every level should be as fully transparent as possible.
The power of informed choice is rooted in an honest definition of terms in political debate, apart from which informed choice is not possible.
The power to love hard questions is in place when political leaders honor those who pose them the toughest questions.
The power to love enemies recognizes that even the harshest of political opponents share a common humanity and are to be treated with respect.
The power to forgive extends mercy to those who seek to overcome past transgressions, and become honest participants in civic life.
These six pillars are by definition pre-partisan. In other words, they set the foundation for healthy partisan debates over public policy, in service to the consent of the governed.
The deepest partisanship is the creation of a level playing field for all partisan ideas to be heard equally, knowing that truth will rise to the top.
The BQF Series is hosted by the Rev. John C. Rankin, President of the TEI, and he seeks out the most qualified Muslim scholars, activists and leaders as interlocutors.
Biblically rooted Jews and Christians share the belief that the Hebrew Bible is given by Yahweh Elohim (the Hebrew transliteration for the LORD God), is trustworthy in all it claims, and its text has been faithfully stewarded by the Israelite and Jewish community across four millennia. The key difference between a Jew and a Christian is the question of the Messiah’s identity. Christians believe that the New Testament is given by the Lord God, is trustworthy in all it claims, including Jesus as Lord and Messiah, and its text has been faithfully stewarded by the Christian community across two millennia. Muslims believe that the Qur’an was revealed by Allah to the last Prophet, Muhammad, it fulfills and completes the Jewish and Christian Scriptures, is trustworthy in all it claims, and its text has been faithfully stewarded by the Muslim Ummah (community) across its 1400 year history.
In international politics today where Jews, Christians and Muslims interface, the deepest questions are rooted in the interpretations of the Bible and the Qur’an. In looking carefully at the theological assumptions in place in both, only then can questions of political implications be fully understood and addressed. Any shortcuts in this regard will shortcut political health for all concerned.
For a vigorous dialogue in service to these ends, the BQF Series seeks to make sure that all perspectives are truly heard by all others present. Thus, there is no rush to accomplish anything apart from integrity in relationships.
For those who affirm the Bible on its own terms, and for those who affirm the Qur’an on its own terms, can we each accomplish the following goals?
To articulate the positives of what we believe and why, and then listen to the positives of what the other believes and why;
With humility and intellectual rigor, to have the freedom to question one another as equals on points where we may not agree;
Upon such clear definitions of terms, to then have the freedom to leave all open questions open; and
Upon such a basis, to work together, each on our own articulations, to serve religious, political and economic liberty for all people equally.
When we know where we agree and disagree, and why, only then can trust be built, and only then can mutual positive goals be effectively pursued. Both the Bible and the Qur’an speak of light versus darkness – who among us, in mutual accountability, lives with open agendas in the light, and who retreats into the darkness?
Topics for this series include:
The Bible, the Qur’an, freedom and international politics: What are the issues?
What is Yahweh Elohim’s nature in the Bible and Allah’s nature the Qur’an? [Confirmed: New York City (locale and date pending), with Imam Talal Eid of the Islamic Institute of Boston (Th.D. Harvard Divinity School)].
How does Yahweh Elohim reveal himself in the Bible and Allah in the Qur’an?
What is human nature in the Bible and the Qur’an?
What is the nature of male and female in the Bible and the Qur’an? [Confirmed: April 13, 2007, Washington, D.C. (locale pending), with Dr. Asma Afsaruddin (Ph.D. Johns Hopkins), Associate Professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies at the University of Notre Dame, and chair for the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy of Washington, D.C.].
What is the nature of human equality and freedom in the Bible and the Qur’an? [Confirmed: Washington, D.C. (locale and date pending), with Hassan Abbas (Ph.D. candidate, Fletcher School of Diplomacy at Harvard), former member of the Musharaf government in Pakistan, and fellow at the J.F.K. School of Government at Harvard].
How does science serve an understanding of the Bible and the Qu’ran, in such fields as evolution versus intelligent design, and archaeology?
How does verifiable history serve an understanding of the Bible and the Qur’an, in such fields as the lineage of Abraham, historical witness before and after Muhammad, and the history of Israel and Palestine up to the present conflict?
What is the nature of government and human rights in the Bible and the Qur’an, in such fields as the interface of religion and politics, U.S. foreign policy, and social issues?
What is holy war in the Bible and jihad in the Qur’an?
How has the Christian church grown, and how has the Islamic Ummah grown?
How crucial are the issues of guilt and forgiveness, of shame and honor, in Christianity and Islam, and what is their interface?
Are Jesus and Muhammad prophets in the same tradition?
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