As there are many different reasons for interfaith activity, so there are many different types of interfaith engagement. Here are some of the definitions given by a selection of scholars.

Professor John Hick, recently interviewed by the International Interfaith Centre as part of its Faith and Interfaith video series, identified 3 main types of interfaith activity:

I myself have been involved in three kinds of interfaith dialogue….

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Professor Eck has identified these 6 categories:

The first is parliamentary style dialogue. She traces this back to the 1893 World’s Parliament of Religions and sees it carried forward by the international interfaith organisations, although…their way of working is now very different from the approach of the World’s Parliament.

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Reverend Alan Race:

To say that ‘dialogue is a whole new way of thinking’ leaves open the question of how to chart the relationships that are implied by such an assessment. Let me express this by way of what I call the Dialogue Grid:

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Marcus Braybrooke writes in ‘Pilgrimage of Hope’:

There are various levels of dialogue and it is a process of growth. An initial requirement is an openness to and acceptance of the other. It takes time to build trust and to deepen relationships. This is why some continuity in a dialogue group is helpful and why patience and time are necessary – all of which are particularly difficult to ensure at an international level.

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Norman Solomon, previously Director of the Centre for the Study of Judaism and Jewish/Christian Relations at Selly Oak, Birmingham, said in his inaugural lecture there:

Dialogue admits of degrees: there is dialogue which is of value though it does not reach deep. Much of the dialogue between Jews and Christians is a matter of simply learning to be nice to each other, trying a little to understand what the other is doing, co-operating in social endeavour…

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Click on the link for an article by Prof K R Sundarajan on The Hindu Models for Inter-Religious Dialogue

[box type=”info” style=”rounded” border=”full”]What are the differences between these approaches? Which do you prefer and why? Write about which of the types mentioned would fit best with the kind of interfaith activity that interests you and why.[/box]