Building upon personal experience of
inter-faith dialogue in the UK, Europe and Africa, the paper is
a practical-theological exploration of the dynamic that transforms
the parallel inter-faith words, that Bassett calls pre-dialogue,
into diallel social action. The dynamic is an ongoing cycle of understanding,
sharing, reflection, transformation, discussion and action that
creates hope and delivers social change, for the vulnerable, the
oppressed, and those of faith involved in the six simple, and yet
profound, steps of the diagenetic paradigm.
This paper contexts the century of inter-faith dialogue that culminated
with Swidler and Mojzes offering a seven-stage model of ‘Deep-Dialogue’.
This ranges from ‘radical encountering of difference’
to ‘personal and global transforming of life and behaviour’.
What they fail to explain is why their practical theology has not
become a significant reality.
During 2005, Race, Rao and Kenny, sensing a ‘sea
change’, invited a dialogue on fresh models of ‘living
positively with religious difference’. Initial responses included
contributions from King, Yoshida, Hick, Pedersen and Walker. Walker’s
‘Diagenetic Paradigm’ became a focus of dialogue throughout
the year, as an empirically based model inspired by the reality
of inter-faith social action in the world’s poorest country,
This paper, however, continues the exploration of
work for social justice, facilitated by Religions for Peace, the
largest coalition of representatives from the world’s great
faiths, working together for peace. With the continuing experience
of over 50 national chapters, including some in the most troubled
regions on earth: Iraq, Israel, Sudan, Rwanda, Congo… the
discuss here considers emerging inter-faith movements in some of
the ‘new’ European countries, the Czech Republic, Hungary,
Slovakia and Slovenia.
Finally, there will be opportunity for engagement
on how this paradigm reaches beneath the model of ‘Deep-Dialogue’
to generate the metanoia necessary for inter-faith dialogue to become
action for social change.
Dr. Brian Walker is Chair of Religions for Peace (UK).
He is also an Executive Member of the World Congress of Faiths.