wedging and dancing

Moscow (ENI). July 4, 2006
More than 200 religious leaders from several dozen
countries have arrived in Moscow for the World Summit of
Religious Leaders, which is scheduled to adopt a resolution
addressed to the leaders of the Group of Eight (G8) countries who
are to meet in St. Petersburg on 15-17 July. “Attempts are being
made to divide the world along religious or ethnic lines, to
drive a wedge first of all between Christianity and the Islamic
world,” Russian President Vladimir Putin said in his address to
the gathering. “The world is practically being forced into a
conflict of civilisations.”

Moscow (ENI). July 6, 2006
The World Summit of Religious Leaders, the largest interfaith
gathering to convene in Russia since the time of the Cold War,
has closed by passing a resolution condemning terrorism, economic
inequality, environmental abuses and the denigration of moral
values in the modern world. “We condemn terrorism and extremism
in any form, as well as attempts to justify them by religion,”
reads the statement. “We deplore the activities of
pseudo-religious groups and movements destroying freedom and
health of people as well as the ethical climate in societies.”

Ecumenical News International, PO Box 2100 CH – 1211 Geneva 2 Switzerland
Tel: (41-22) 791 6088/6111 Fax: (41-22) 788 7244
Email: ENI Online –

Shall We Dance?

Geoffrey Robinson was conducting one of his “hypotheticals” on ABC TV recently.
He had introduced the metaphor of the school dance and asked Muslim school principal Silma Ihram, “Who’s going to walk you to the dance floor, the Jewish boy or the evangelical Christian?”
“I like a challenge, I like a discussion,” she fired back light-heartedly. “So I’d be willing to debate about why I’m damned or not. I’d be quite happy to take him on and say ‘tell me why you think that and let’s have a theological debate’. It would be a very interesting part of the night.”
“It would be a very long walk to the dance floor!” quipped Robinson.

She chose to ‘dance’ with the “evangelical Christian”, the Archbishop of Sydney, Peter Jensen, who had previously just very politely told her on camera that, as she was not a Christian, she was going to hell.

The debate never happened. Robinson moved on to who was going to clean up the mess the morning after!

Pity, because we might have seen how far such a debate could have gone.

I think Robinson got it wrong. I reckon it would have been quite short.

Hypothetically, I think it might have gone something like this…

Ihram: So tell me Peter…you don’t mind if I use your Christian name do you?
Jensen: Not at all! (beaming benignly)
Ihram: …tell me why do you think I’m damned?
Jensen: (continuing to beam) Well the Bible clearly tells us in Acts Chapter 4 verse 12 : “Salvation is to be found through him alone” – the ‘him’ referring to Jesus – and goes on to say “in all the world there is no-one else whom God has given who can save us”. The Christian message is that Jesus Christ died for our sins and that, believing in him, our sins are forgiven – we are made acceptable to God for salvation in Him. The Bible tells us that there is no other way to salvation – John Chapter 14 verse 6 : “I am the Way”, said Jesus, “the Truth and the Life. No-one comes to God the Father but by me.”

Ihram: We have a saying in the Holy Koran, Surah 37, 36-40. “They said, ‘Are we going to abandon our gods for the sake of a mad poet (referring to Muhammad – peace be upon him)? No! Mohammad (peace be upon him) has come with the truth – Allah’s religion – Islamic monotheism and this Qur’an – and he confirms the messengers who brought Allah’s religion. Truly you are going to taste the painful torment; and you will be requited nothing except for what you used to do – disobedience to Allah, save the chosen ones of Allah, the true believers of Islamic monotheism. For them there will be a known provision in Paradise.”

Jensen: Well, I can’t accept the Koran as God’s revealed truth.
Ihram: Well the Koran recognises Jesus as one of the prophets. But it supercedes the Bible, having been dictated by Allah to Mohammad (peace be upon him), his holy messenger, well after the advent of Christianity.
Jensen: Well I suppose we are just going to have to agree to disagree then.
Ihram: Perhaps so… Shall we dance?
Jenson: Sorry, I don’t dance.

P.S. But I think Robinson was right to think about cleaning up the mess afterward!

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