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MR549: Evangelicals and Interfaith Dialogue (4 units)

Doug McConnell, Provost and Professor of Leadership

Richard Mouw, President and Professor of Philosophy

Winter 2012 Pasadena / Fuller Live!




This course will expose students to both the theoretical and practical components of Evangelical approaches to interfaith dialogue, primarily focusing on Islam, Judaism, and Mormonism. As Christian mission continues to be challenged and reshaped by globalization, increasing migration, pluralism, and polarizing conflict based on religious and cultural identity, interfaith dialogue provides the mutual opportunity to develop relationship, understanding, and cooperation across cultural and religious lines while remaining consistent with a Biblical framework for witness. This course explores the necessary theological and missiological foundations for dialogue and develops critical reflections for praxis through student participation in interfaith dialogue. The course will culminate in a final paper in which students will reflect on the implications of course material for their current and future vocational contexts within the church and in society.


LEARNING OUTCOMES: By the end of the course, students will be able to

1.     define Christian interfaith dialogue in its various expressions and articulate its range of theological, missiological, and practical goals;

2.     demonstrate an understanding of Christian interfaith dialogueŐs relationship to the mission of God and his church;

3.     demonstrate a critical engagement between the goals of dialogue and issues arising from a specific historical, cultural, and theological context;

4.     demonstrate the ability to place a particular ritual practice within the theological system of a religious tradition.

5.     develop a personal theological and missiological basis for dialogue and identify both possibilities and potential problems for praxis in oneŐs own ministry context.


COURSE FORMAT: Class will meet once per week for three-hour sessions. The class combines lectures on major issues in interfaith dialogue with small group engagement centered on specific encounters.


REQUIRED READING: A minimum of 1500 pages total is achieved through reading from the required text, the course reader (as assigned), and additional reading drawn from the bibliography. Please select your additional reading in the areas of theology and missiology. You may also read significant parts of various titles to familiarize yourself with the contents. If you have previously read any of the required texts, please select an alternative text from the recommended reading list or a book approved by the instructor.

Tennent, Timothy. Christianity at the Religious Roundtable: Evangelicalism in Conversation with Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2002. 270 pages. ISBN: 0801026024. Pub.price: $22.43.

Course Reader.

For those students without a background in Muslim, Latter-day Saint, and/or Jewish life and theology, selected chapters from the following texts will help supplement your knowledge of these religions. These texts are on reserve in the library.

á       Islamic life and thought: Chapman, Colin Gilbert. Cross and Crescent: Responding to the Challenge of Islam. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2008. 400 pages. ISBN: 0830834850. Pub.price: $13.14.

á       Jewish life and thought: Fishman, Sylvia Barack. The Way into the Varieties of Jewishness. Woodstock: Jewish Lights Publishing, 2008. 262 pages. ISBN: 1580233678. Pub.price: $14.81.

á       Latter-day Saint theology: Millet, Robert. A Different Jesus? The Christ of the Latter-day Saints. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2005. 226 pages. ISBN: 0802828760. Pub.price: $18.00.



1.     Books/Articles/Essays chosen from the bibliography from studentŐs particular faith of interest totaling 1100 pages. (This is in addition to the 400 pages of reading in the Course Reader and the Tennent text.)

2.     Submit a 300-word weekly synopsis of assigned readings from the Tennent text and/or Course Reader for weeks two through five of the course.

3.     In the second week of the course, students will form a Moodle discussion group in which they will take turns either posing a course-related question or a response on a weekly basis.

4.     Students will choose a religious tradition and participate in (or observe) a religious service of this particular faith. A 1000-word reflection that locates a specific religious practice from this service in the theology of that religious tradition will be due by week four of the course.

5.     Write a 1000-word critical analysis and response to an ethical dilemma presented in a case study on interfaith dialogue. The analysis should take into account socio-cultural, theological, and missiological considerations. The case will be handed out in class in week three and the paper is due by week five of the course.

6.     In week nine of the course, student discussion groups will engage in an in-class critical discussion of each otherŐs missiological/theological basis for dialogue and its vocational implications.

7.     A final 3,500-word position paper detailing the studentŐs theological and missiological basis for dialogue. The final third of the paper will be devoted to exploring the implications for the studentŐs present/future vocation in the church or in broader society. This paper will be due by 5 p.m. on March 16.