Mohler participates in Washington Post/Newsweek online faith dialogue

Communications Staff — November 20, 2006

Evangelicals must insist on the absolute truth of Scripture but at the same time listen respectfully to people with radically divergent beliefs, R. Albert Mohler Jr. writes in an online dialogue about faith sponsored by The Washington Post and Newsweek magazine.

Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, is one of more than 60 panelists who will post responses to religious questions posed at least once a week. The forum, known as On Faith, is hosted by Newsweek managing editor Jon Meacham and Washington Post writer Sally Quinn. Along with Mohler, On Faith features Southern Baptists Richard Land, president of the SBC’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, and Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif.

The panel also includes personalities from a wide spectrum of religious viewpoints. Readers can post comments and questions in response to all panel comments.

In the forum’s introduction Meacham asks how people in the modern world can engage in conversation about faith in a productive manner.

“At the Washington Post and Newsweek, we believe the first step is conversation—intelligent, informed, eclectic, respectful conversation—among specialists and generalists who devote a good part of their lives to understanding and delineating religion’s influence on the life of the world,” Meacham writes. “The point of our new online religion feature is to provide a forum for such sane and spirited talk, drawing on a remarkable panel of distinguished figures from the academy, the faith traditions, and journalism.”

The forum’s first question—”If some religious people believe they have a monopoly on truth, then are conversation and common ground possible? If so, what would be the difficulties and benefits of such a conversation?”—was posted in mid November.

In his response, Mohler argues that no human should claim a monopoly on truth and that only God knows all truth. Humans can, however, be confident of the truth God reveals to them, Mohler writes.

“Evangelical Christians must make clear our belief that God has in fact revealed himself to us through the gift of his self-revelation,” Mohler writes. “Thus, we now know what we otherwise never could have known. Our knowledge of God and all things He has revealed are no tribute to our intelligence, but rather to God’s love for us.”

In conversation with people of other religious beliefs evangelicals must not shy away from claiming biblical authority as absolute, he writes.

“In other words, we have to show up at such a conversation with the acknowledgement that we will claim a biblical authority that is absolute, universal, and timeless,” Mohler argues. “While we may misunderstand or misapply this authoritative word, any problem lies with us, not with God’s self revelation to us.”

Despite difficulties inherent in discussion about topics pertaining to faith, honest conversations about beliefs honestly held and honestly presented are highly valuable, Mohler concludes.

“The reality is that too many ‘interfaith’ discussions are held among those who have only a tenuous hold upon the faiths they claim to represent,” he writes. “We should not be afraid to disagree, nor to risk the conversation. So, let the conversation begin … and let us show up as who we are, beliefs and all.”

On Faith is available online at http://newsweek.washingtonpost.com/onfaith.

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