Towards Respectful Relations between Christians and Muslims: An Interfaith Dialogical Approach

Neil Bowey

Research output: ThesisMasters Thesis

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As the subtitle of this thesis indicates, the emphasis is on an ''interfaith dialogical approach" towards Christian-Muslim relations. As a prelude, Chapter 1 ''sets the scene" by giving some selected background material. Its function is to lead the reader into the later, more substantive chapters. The chapter begins by precosomg Race's typologies of exclusivism, inclusivism and pluralism to examine the interfaith perceptions that Christianity and Islam have about each other; but as the chapter demonstrates, this approach is, by and large, ineffective in promoting mutually respectful relations. For reasons of practicality, Judaism is omitted from the discussion; nevertheless the question of supersessionism is germane to the thesis and thus is discussed in this frame of reference. Supersessionism, in this context, revolves around the double question, does Christianity supersede Judaism; and/or does Islam supersede Christianity? This chapter affirms that no religion is superseded by another. Much of the bias perceived by some against dialogue is the result of history and therefore, Chapter 1 concludes with a brief outline of some pertinent reasons for such opposition. Chapter 2 forms the heart of the thesis. It begins by discussing what constitutes dialogue and how it may be conducted; it also indicates what is not dialogue. Section (b) concentrates on the problems specifically encountered in Christian-Muslim dialogical exchange. Section (c) is pivotal, introducing and examining the Muslim overture, A Common Word, where Muslim scholars and clerics reach out to their Christian counterparts. A Common Word represents a seminal breakthrough in Muslim-Christian relations. This leads on to the Christian response (the ''Yale Response") where Christian scholars reply to the Muslim overture. The next section (e) examines the Muslim reply to the ''Yale Response." To give balance to the overall positivity of this chapter, section (f) analyses the opinions of those, both Christian and Muslim, who oppose any attempt at dialogue.Chapter 3 is, in effect, an extension of the previous chapter, serving as the thesis'' major example of a specific way of addressing Christian-Muslim dialogue. Both conventional Christianity and Islam may be regarded as following rational bases of faith, and up to this point, the thesis has been constructed using these same rationalities. Chapter 3 however presents constructional difficulties, in that mystical concepts, by their very nature, are non-rational; a thesis, by definition, must be rational. As this chapter explains, mystics resort to lyrical and poetic analogies to explain the non-rational in rational terms. At various times I resort to the same techniques. This is the reason why, in the later sections of this chapter, scientific analogies are drawn. Even in a subject as empirical as physics, scientists are at times forced to resort to seemingly non-rational explanations.On the surface, mysticism would appear to have no place in interfaith dialogue. This chapter, especially in section (g), strongly argues to the contrary, and suggests that such an approach could have practical benefits. As the chapter asserts, this approach is a pathway whereby a number of both Christians and Muslims are able to bond in ''mystical friendship" without having to contend with the impossibility of coming to terms with conflicting theologies. Mystical concepts are thus considered beneficial in the sociological concept of humanity living together in peace.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationMaster of Theology
Awarding Institution
  • Charles Sturt University
  • Douglas, Brian, Principal Supervisor
  • Emilsen, William, Co-Supervisor
Award date01 Feb 2015
Place of PublicationAustralia
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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