Christianity counts some two billion adherents and Islam a billion and a half. It is unlikely that any large numbers on either side will soon convert to the other. The only practical aim for the foreseeable future, therefore, can be peaceful coexistence. But is such a hope realistic?
For 50 years Christian thinkers have been carrying on discussions with representatives of other religions, such as Judaism and Buddhism, and within Christianity itself, between its different branches, such as Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy and Protestantism. These dialogues have been very fruitful, and have led to mutual recognition and appreciation. Representatives of all these bodies now meet regularly and attend one another\’s events, in ways that once would have been impossible. In this seminar we will learn from Professor Leonard Swidler, who has been engaged in many of these dialogues, what has been happening in regard to Islam.
What has been accomplished, if anything? Have there been any formal discussions between official representatives of the two faiths? Has there been much informal dialogue between interested lay people? Is there any Muslim literature exploring possible commonalities with Christianity? Have there been any unexpected agreements? Are there cases where Christians and Muslims are engaging in common practical enterprises together, such as charitable activities, in lieu of more theoretical discussions? Are there portions of the Muslim world that actively wish to engage in dialogue with Christianity, or is it a one-way street? What are the prospects for the two religions to reach any significant agreement at the present time?