1 Remarks at the 2nd Annual Interfaith Dinner for Clergy at the Sheraton Premiere Hotel. We are living at a time when new models of interfaith dialogue are emerging. These models invite us to live within our tradition and find reasons within our tradition for the commitment to dialogue and peaceful coexistence. The older model that denies differences and focuses on a generic spirituality and generic ethics is disappearing. Instead we work with our differences and learn from these differences. This new approach creates options for persuading our undialogical co-religionists. In so doing we illustrate how we can serve God and serve humanity. (summary provided to the organizers). A kid turns to his Dad. “Dad, I notice when you come out to preach, you spend a few moments with your head down and your eyes closed. What are you doing”. The Father looked at his son: “I am praying that God will give me a good sermon”. The kid paused, looked puzzled, and finally said: “So why doesn’t he?” 2 We all want to be servants of the Lord God; yet it is difficult. Perhaps working for peace is some of the hardest work of all. I think we are living at interesting times. It is a time when an older model of interfaith dialogue is dissipating and a new model is emerging. The older model stressed the need for us all to become a little less committed to our tradition. So, said this model, be more relaxed about those doctrines that divide us. So Christians were told “stop believing that Jesus is the Incarnation of God and the “way, truth, and life”; Muslims were told to “apply critical approaches to the Qur’an”; Jews were told to stop talking about a connection between the Land and their faith. The hope was we would all be more relaxed; and we would ussher in peace between the world religions. The problem was that those most committed to our respective tradition saw this as a ‘selling out’ – as unacceptable compromise. It meant that it was only the liberals involved in the hard work of peace making; it meant that those who needed 3 to be invited into the circle were asked to make an unacceptably high price for admission. Those most committed where asked to be less committed. And anyway, traditions have a system for knowing what God wants; the liberals were destroying that system. Then the world changed. It was through dialogue that a new model started to emerge. This was one which invited us to be deeply committed to our tradition; to believe with all our heart our distinctive truth claims. And then to find within our tradition reasons why the God we worship is calling us to peaceful coexistence. It was a completely different model. All traditions have their examples of such advocates. Advocates who argue out of the particularism of their tradition for peace and dialogue. However, my favorite is Beduizzaman Said Nursi. It was Nursi who argued that it is because he was a deeply committed Muslim who believes in the infalliability of the Qur’an and the reality of Muhammad’s prophethood that he is a person of peace. It is because he believes in Islam that he wants Muslims to be at peace with their neighbor. He called for 4 a jihad of the word that demonstrates the power and elegance of the message of Islam to persuade. A self-confident Muslim he argued will never resort to violence. This new approach is one that doesn’t require us all to give up our beliefs, but to live within those beliefs and see them differently. It invites those who are most conservative to be part of the conversation – the price for entry is no longer disbelief or skepticism. This new approach is to be welcomed. This might well make a difference. What we end up preaching, might still be boring to a child, but at least we can explain how and in what way we trust it is from God. This is a big improvement.