Ten Rules

This blog is indirectly influenced by Morehead’s Musings. I don’t read it but I know it’s there. I actually checked into it yesterday and discovered that he had posted The Dialogue Decalogue: Ground Rules for Interreligious Dialogue” by Leonard Swidler.

I think these should be the rules of this blog for everyone who visits.

FIRST COMMANDMENT: The primary purpose of dialogue is to change and grow in the perception and understanding of reality and then to act accordingly.

SECOND COMMANDMENT. Interreligious dialogue must be a two-sided project – within each religious community and between religious communities.

THIRD COMMANDMENT: Each participant must come to the dialogue with complete honest and sincerity.

FOURTH COMMANDMENT: Each participant must assume a similar complete honesty and sincerity in the other partners.

Each participant must define himself…. Conversely – the one interpreted must be able to recognize herself in the interpretation.

SIXTH COMMANDMENT: Each participant must come to the dialogue with no hard-and-fast assumptions as to where the points of disagreement are.

SEVENTH COMMANDMENT: Dialogue can take place only between equals.

EIGHTH COMMANDMENT: Dialogue can take place only on the basis of mutual trust.

NINTH COMMANDMENT: Persons entering into interreligious dialogue must be at least minimally self-critical of both themselves and their own religious traditions.

Each participant eventually must attempt to experience the partner’s religion “from within.”


4 thoughts on “Ten Rules

  1. Thanks for your interest in the Dialogue Decalogue and for posting it in connection with dialogue between evangelicals and Mormons. This will be the subject of further posts as I continue to develop my own views, and prepare for the Salt Lake Theological Seminary course I am teaching on the topic in connection with the National Student Dialogue Conference. Keep up the good work.

  2. I think those are good rules in general for anyone trying to understand someone else, but most of all when discussing matters of faith.

  3. You mght be interested in the follow up piece I posted which consists of an interview with John Saliba on interreligious dialogue and which looks at modification of Swidler’s decalogue in light of the circumstances involing Christian dialogue with new religions.

  4. I would also like to mention Krister Stendahl, Lutheran Bishop of Stockholm, Sweden, and Dean of Divinity Emeritus, Harvard University. At a press conference in 1985 he offered three rules for interfaith discussion. The event was related by Truman G. Madsen, professor at Brigham Young University who was in attendance at the press conference.

    Madsen: “Professor Krister Stendahl, of Harvard Divinity School, became the Bishop of Stockholm, in Sweden. During a visit we made there, he called a press conference, invited various of his friends, and then said the following;

    “He said, ‘I have three rules for interfaith discussion, to wit:

    Number one: If you’re going to ask the question, what do others believe, in their various faiths, ask them – not their critics, not their enemies.'”

    Stendahl: “Because what one religious tradition says about another is usually a breach against the commandment, ‘Thou shalt not bear false witness’.”

    Madsen: “‘Number two: if you’re going to compare, don’t compare your bests with their worsts, but compare bests with bests.'”

    Stendahl: “Most people think of their own tradition as it is at its best and they use caricatures of the others.”

    Madsen: “And then number three, he said, ‘Leave room for holy envy’ and then he said, ‘Let me give you an example of my holy envy for the Latter Day Saints: We Lutherans, when we lose our loved ones, we have funerals, we have cemeteries, but that ends our concern with those who have gone before. But the Latter-Day Saints care about their forebearers to the point that they want to bring the blessings of Christ’s atonement to them, so they build
    temples, and according to Paul’s instruction in First Corinthians, they perform baptisms for the dead,’ and then he smiled and said, ‘I have holy envy for that.'”

    Stendahl: “In a world where we finally have learned what I call the “holy envy”, it’s a beautiful thing; I could think of myself as taking part in such an act, extending the blessings that have come to me in and through Jesus Christ. That’s generous, that’s beautiful, and should not be ridiculed or spoken badly of.”

    Citied from “Between Heaven and Earth” DVD, 2002, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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