Smorgasbord Spirituality

Evangelicals make a thin showing as the world's religions gather to make common cause.
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The third Parliament of the World's Religions met peacefully in Cape Town, South Africa, in early December, despite a heavy police and military presence caused by unrelated bombings in the area.

The global gathering—created to celebrate the uniqueness of different religions and finding common ground on moral and ethical issues—sparked none of the friction that marked the two previous gatherings held in Chicago in 1893 and a century later (see CT, Oct. 4, 1993, p. 42, not available online).

One lone Muslim group held up protest signs at the opening day's processional. Jim Kenney, international director of the parliament, described the meeting as "remarkably harmonious."

Missing In Action?

Evangelicals—mostly from South Africa—made up a tiny fraction of the parliament's six thousand delegates representing more than 200 different religious groups.

In an interview with CT, theologian Hans Küng encouraged more evangelicals to participate in the next parliament, which will be held in five years.

"I would welcome the presence of evangelical Christians," says Küng, author of the last parliament's controversial "Global Ethic" and professor emeritus at the University of Tübingen. "If present, you get to say something. If you are absent, you miss the chance to share your convictions."

Elliot Miller, a Christian Research Institute (CRI) scholar and one of the few evangelicals at the parliament, believes evangelicals should be willing to play a greater role in future parliaments "as long as they are grounded in their faith" and "prepared to resist attempts at common worship."

"There is no contradiction," Küng responds, "between being rooted in your own Christian faith and being open-minded in regard to ...

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