The second meeting of a delegation of the Muslim Council of Elders led by the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, His Eminence Professor Dr Ahmad Al-Tayyeb, and a delegation of the World Council of Churches (WCC) led by Dr Agnes Abuom, Moderator of the Central Committee of the WCC and Rev Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary, took place at Al Azhar, Cairo, Egypt, 26 April. Dr Al-Tayyeb opened the gathering by welcoming the World Council of Churches to this important meeting which was taking place at a critical time in the history of the Middle East and the world.
The WCC general secretary offered public remarks, along with Bishop Angaelos, general bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, and Prof. Dr Heidi Hadsell, president of Hartford Seminary, Connecticut, United States.
Tveit reflected that, together, Christians and Muslims represent about half the world’s population. “So as we are here, we are not talking about only ourselves,” he said. “We are talking about humanity in many ways. We should address these questions from a basic theological perspective. What does it mean to believe today in one God that created the one humanity?”
He also emphasized that, because we are accountable to God, we have to see how that leads to an accountability to every human being. “This is our mutual accountability to one another, to every human being, whatever belief or non-belief we have,” he said. “I think this is a very important reflection, working jointly toward equal citizenship. It is not only a political or a legal principle; it is also a principle that expresses our deepest faith in one God creating the one humanity.”
Prof. Al Tayyeb said “Citizenship and peaceful co-existence are the greatest challenges that have to be focused on and built upon to counter fanaticism, terrorism and baseless theological claims and conceptualizations. He added "Citizenship is the major guarantee for achieving absolute equality in rights and duties.”
Al-Tayyeb was chosen as Grand Imam of the Al Azhar mosque in Cairo 2010 and is an outspoken advocate for religious dialogue and peace as well as a strong critic of religious extremism.
Bishop Angaelos noted the difference between reactive and proactive leadership. “We ourselves are being very reactive,” he said, “and reactive leadership is good in times of crisis. It is good to solve problems: we have a crisis, we have an attack, we try to solve it. But what we need is a proactive leadership - a leadership that looks beyond the problem and tries to address the future.”
Bishop Angaelos asked: “Where would we like to be in five years, 10 years, the next generation? Let us address the whole world together instead of just speaking to ourselves.”
Prof. Hadsell discussed ways leaders can promote citizenship and co-existence from a Christian perspective.
“God’s vision of what should be in our human social world has been described and understood in many ways,” she said.
“The moral nature of the vision includes a shared sense of the dignity of every being; just relations within communities and between communities and peoples; the recognition of the intrinsic worth of every human being so that all human beings are viewed as ends in themselves, created by God, and not as means to an end.”
The capacity to cross borders and boundaries, including especially the boundaries of religious communities, has been one of the most important attributes of leadership in the histories of our communities and remains so today, she continued.
“For without the capacity to see commonalities in the other, and to cross boundaries to build relationships with the other, one cannot construct peaceful interactions and co-existence between peoples of different communities.”
Representatives of each of the WCC member churches in Egypt also attended the day of dialouge, which precedes an International Conference on Peace organised by Al Azhar. Participants also visited the Coptic Cathedral and the Anglican Church in the heart of Old Cairo. Pope Francis is expected to address the conference on 28 April.
Media contacts: Please contact WCC director of communication Marianne Ejdersten: firstname.lastname@example.org, +41 79 507 63 63
The World Council of Churches promotes Christian unity in faith, witness and service for a just and peaceful world. An ecumenical fellowship of churches founded in 1948, today the WCC brings together 348 Protestant, Orthodox, Anglican and other churches representing more than 550 million Christians in over 120 countries, and works cooperatively with the Roman Catholic Church. The WCC general secretary is the Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, from the [Lutheran] Church of Norway.
To tell the story of Leonard (“Len”) Swidler is to tell the story of the Temple’s Department of Religion — and,
in a way, the university itself.
Swidler started at Temple in 1966, shortly after the university became state-affiliated.
“Suddenly there was this influx of, relatively speaking, huge amounts of money,” he explains. “The money situation
this shift meant was that the university was able to hire hundreds of
new faculty. Swidler was one of those
hires—and almost accidentally. At the time, he was living in Pittsburgh
with no plans to relocate. He was an associate professor in the
philosophy department at Duquesne University. He had recently founded
Journal of Ecumenical Studies (link is external),
the first scholarly journal for interreligious dialogue, and he had an
FM radio program where he would interview visiting academics.
“I wasn’t interested in going anywhere,” he says. “Things were so exciting there.”
In fact, Swidler was actively seeking candidates for Duquesne’s new theology department. One of the people he
approached was a member of Temple’s (also new) religion department, who said he would think about it and get back to him.
“A couple of days later he called me up and said, ‘Well, I talked to my chairman Bernard Phillips and he said
he wants to hire you, Leonard Swidler, your co-editor Elwyn Smith and the journal,’” Swidler remembers.
Swidler was not interested in the position, his co-editor was. Swidler
agreed to take the interview for
him but resolved to make a particular demand: he would not consider the
job unless Phillips committed himself to hiring a number of faculty
representing each major religion.
“And I said to myself, ‘Of course, he’s not going to say yes, but that’s it.’”
But Phillips surprised Swidler.
“He said ‘that’s a great idea. I’ll do it.’ And he did it!”
may not seem notable from a contemporary perspective, but at the time
interreligious study was not standard
practice. Departments typically only taught the prevailing religion of
their particular university; moreover, many programs were housed within
schools of divinity instead of majors within a liberal arts college.
Swidler, Smith and the
Journal of Ecumenical Studies moved to Temple. Phillips kept his promise and the department grew in size and recognition.
Phillips hired giants, and so Temple University’s religion department
was known worldwide, anywhere in
a circle of academics in the study of religion,” says Swidler. “There
was no place where you could get a doctorate in religious studies. It
did not exist. We were creating it.”
Not everyone thought it was a great idea. The department model received criticism from the University of Pennsylvania.
were all Protestant, of course,” Swidler explains. “The then-chair of
that department publicly remarked
that we were operating on the ‘zoo theory.’ What did he mean by that?
Well, you have one lion, and you have one tiger, and you have one
antelope; you have one Catholic, and one Jew, and one Presbyterian.”
Of course, thanks to Swidler, there was not just one representative per religious group. There were many—more
a safari than a zoo. Before long, the rest of the nation’s universities followed suit.
This year, Swidler celebrates his 50th year at Temple University. The
Journal of Ecumenical Studies remains the premiere journal for interreligious dialogue and has been joined by the
Dialogue Institute (link is external), the journal’s home and outreach arm.
And what does he say to those who criticized his ideas?
“Imitation is the greatest of flattery,” he laughs.
Links zu Leonard Swidler:
Leonard Swidler, Ph.D., S.T.L., LL.D., LL.D.
Prof Catholic Thought & Interreligious Dialogue (skype:
Der im Februar 2012 verstorbene englische Theologe und Religionsphilosoph John Hick gehört zu den Wegbereitern der religionspluralistischen Theologie weltweit. Seine Werke sind für das gegenseitige Verständnis der Religionen bahnbrechend. Nur wenige seiner Bücher bzw. Beiträge wurden ins Deutsche übersetzt. Dazu gehört auch das Buch "Gott Has Many Names" (1982), das in deutscher Übersetzung 2001 (2. Aufl. 2002) herauskam, aber inzwischen vergriffen ist. Durch die Möglichkeiten der Digitalisierung konnte dieses Buch mit aktualisierenden Nachworten erneut herausgebracht werden. Dadurch lässt sich dieser wichtige Markstein für religionspluralistisches Denken in die Gesamtentwicklung der Theologie von John Hick einordnen. Zugleich gibt es die Richtung an, die die weiteren Veröffentlichungen des großen Religionsplualisten nahmen.
Das heutige Bayern mit seinen Landesteilen Altbayern, Franken und Schwaben ist in dieser Epoche von einer enormen Vielfalt geprägt: Das Herzogtum Bayern entwickelte sich schon früh zu einem Hort der Reformationsgegner, leitete aber gleichzeitig kirchliche Reformen ein. Der Ingolstädter Theologe Johannes Eck personifiziert diese Linie. Ausgehend von der Reichsstadt Nürnberg und Reformatoren wie Andreas Osiander setzte sich die neue Lehre in Franken dagegen rasch durch. Auch in Schwaben gab es mit Memmingen und Lindau Zentren der Reformation. Augsburg ist hingegen mit zwei Ereignissen von weltgeschichtlicher Bedeutung verbunden: 1530 überreichten dort die Protestanten dem Kaiser die „Confessio Augustana“, 1555 wurde der Augsburger Religionsfriede geschlossen.
Martin Luther selbst hielt sich in Bayern nur wenig auf, sein persönlicher Einfluss war gering. Gleichwohl ist die bayerische Reformationsgeschichte ohne seine zentralen theologischen Schriften nicht vorstellbar. Sein sechsmonatiger Aufenthalt auf der Veste Coburg, damals zum Kurfürstentum Sachsen gehörig, ist bis heute wichtiger Bestandteil deutscher Erinnerungskultur.
bavarikon hat für die virtuelle Ausstellung 120 hochwertige Objekte aus mehr als 20 Archiven, Bibliotheken, Museen und Pfarrämtern zusammengetragen, darunter historische Drucke, Gemälde, Kirchenausstattungen und Kunsthandwerk. Besondere Highlights sind 26 Originalhandschriften Martin Luthers und eine 3D-Präsentation seiner Coburger Wohnstube.
Die Ausstellung hat ihren zeitlichen Schwerpunkt in den Jahren von 1517 bis 1530.
Quelle: bavarikon - Portal zur Kunst. Kultur und Landeskunde des Freistaates Bayern