Reasons For Our Hope is a project carried out by the McGrath Institute for Church Life and the Oasis Foundation to foster understanding between Christians and Muslims
Peace be with you, in Arabic assalamu ‘alaykum.
We are happy to introduce our project, aimed at addressing Muslim questions about Christianity. Why have we taken this step? Because we know that many Muslims are not satisfied with the usual stereotypes about Christianity. They look for something deeper. No less importantly, we are convinced that Christians can reach a new understanding of their faith by taking Muslim questions seriously.
Many Christians who have studied Islam have heard from their Muslim friends: “You know Islam now, why don’t you become a Muslim?” In our videos we hope to illuminate why Christians remain Christians, to explain and share the “reasons for our hope,” as the apostle Peter says. We intend to do this in a way which is both meaningful to Muslims and respectful of their rich spiritual tradition.
In our endeavor, we have found inspiration in the words of the late Pope Saint John Paul II, who in 2001 wrote a letter to all Catholics outlining the priorities of the Church for the new millennium. Among them he gave a special place to dialogue, as he wrote:
In the climate of increased cultural and religious pluralism which is expected to mark the society of the new millennium, it is obvious that this dialogue will be especially important in establishing a sure basis for peace and warding off the dread specter of those wars of religion which have so often bloodied human history. The name of the one God must become increasingly what it is: a name of peace and a summons to peace.
Dialogue, however, cannot be based on religious indifferentism, and we Christians are in duty bound, while engaging in dialogue, to bear clear witness to the hope that is within us […] This missionary duty, moreover, does not prevent us from approaching dialogue with an attitude of profound willingness to listen. We know in fact that, in the presence of the mystery of grace, infinitely full of possibilities and implications for human life and history, the Church herself will never cease putting questions, trusting in the help of the Paraclete, the Spirit of truth, whose task it is to guide her “into all the truth”.
This is a fundamental principle not only for the endless theological investigation of Christian truth, but also for Christian dialogue with other philosophies, cultures and religions. In the common experience of humanity, for all its contradictions, the Spirit of God, who “blows where he wills”, not infrequently reveals signs of his presence, which help Christ's followers to understand more deeply the message which they bear. Was it not with this humble and trust-filled openness that the Second Vatican Council sought to read “the signs of the times”? Even as she engages in an active and watchful discernment aimed at understanding the “genuine signs of the presence or the purpose of God”, the Church acknowledges that she has not only given, but has also “received from the history and from the development of the human race”. This attitude of openness, combined with careful discernment, was adopted by the Council also in relation to other religions. It is our task to follow with great fidelity the Council’s teaching and the path which it has traced.
(Novo Millennio ineunte, nn. 55-56)
We feel that these words of John Paul II fully express what we would like to do. You will judge if we have succeeded in approximating them. Wa-l’llāhu al-mustaʿān, and God is the One we invoke for help.
Oasis International Foundation,
McGrath Institute for Church Life
Write us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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