Buddhist-Christian encounter to explore new mode of dialogue
An upcoming World Council of Churches (WCC) consultation in Bangkok will attempt a distinctive mode of interreligious dialogue.
In collaboration with the Christian Conference of Asia and organized by the WCC unit on Interreligious Dialogue and Cooperation’s an “interface” of 25 Buddhists and Christians will take place 27 to 31 May in Bangkok, Thailand, and center on themes of life, justice and peace, central elements in the WCC 10th Assembly theme.
“Today’s multi-religious environment does not just provide Christians with the ‘context for’ engaging in the pursuit of life, justice and peace; rather it opens the possibility of ‘collaboration with’ people from other faiths who are already engaged in such pursuits,” said Peniel Rajkumar, programme executive in the WCC’s interreligious dialogue unit.
The Asian locale, like that of the assembly itself, is also important, Rajkumar says, since it embodies religious plurality in a scene that also involves religious conflict, environmental destruction, gender discrimination, and economic exploitation.
The conversation is aimed at “joint discernment” of constructive approaches to life, justice and peace and is premised on the idea that “being distinctively rooted in our respective religious traditions need not necessarily deter joint discernment but can rather deepen our thinking on and engagement with life, justice and peace in creative and concrete ways,” he said.
Built on practices of hospitality by all participants, many of whom will be staying during the consultation at the Bangkok Christian Guest House and visiting a Buddhist monastery, the interface methodology also seeks to augment theoretical knowledge with case studies, mutual spiritual enrichment, and participation by grass-roots actors who have benefited from resources and insights of both traditions.
The 10th Assembly, to be held from 30 October to 8 November in Busan, Republic of Korea, will feature an Ecumenical Conversation on “Religions working together for peace and freedom,” where, it is hoped, insights emerging from this interface initiative can be further elaborated, said Rajkumar.