Putting Evangelism on Hold
One session of the Global Faith Forum—a conference for Muslims, Jews, and Christians—began with everyone singing, "Father Abraham had many sons, many sons had father Abraham … ," that old children's chorus with body motions. There's nothing uniquely Christian, Muslim, or Jewish about it (though it's uniquely evangelical in its silliness!). But the prominent evangelical standing next to me did not join in, and later told me, "I just couldn't decide if singing that song with Muslims and Jews constituted joint worship, and I'm not convinced we can worship together."
Such was the tension that many evangelicals experienced at the forum, held at NorthWood Church in Keller, Texas, November 12-14.
Bob Roberts, pastor of NorthWood Church and catalyst of the forum, opened the event by emphasizing his own beliefs:
"I am an evangelical Christian. I believe in the Bible," he said to a group of about 500 who had gathered the first night (eventually over 600 attended the event held Nov. 12-14). "I believe that Jesus is the Son of God, that he died for my sins, that he will come again."
Then he added that he was not interested in a lowest-common denominator faith, or "inter-religious" dialogue. For him "inter-religious" means dumbing down everybody's beliefs to some bland, sentimental, global civic religion. Instead he organized this conference to be "multi-faith," so that people could discuss openly and frankly the differences of the three Abrahamic faiths.
In fact, the conference spent relatively little time on theological differences, and more on trying to clear up stereotypes we have of one another. In two different plenary panel ...