Thursday, 6 December 2007

Still lots of interesting things happening about conversion

Just read this on Tom Heneghan's excellent blog and thought I should post it here although I am now posting at

Monday, 3 September 2007

Perhaps a final link...

Some of you may be interested in this book review on Islamic history from this weekend's Financial Times
Meanwhile greetings to you all from Sibiu in Romania which has a fascinating story to tell about conversion, minorities and migration.

Friday, 31 August 2007

Birth of a new blog

I shall be going to Sibiu tomorrow, on the train. It will take 27 hours (if I'm lucky). In honour of this extended rail travel I have just started a new blog which may be more long term than this blog on conversion. I have no idea if anyone is still reading this but I shall make one or two more posts here as news comes in on the conversion meeting.

What has been fascinating for me has been thinking about and writing about a topic I would not naturally think about or possibly even choose to avoid. It's been a good experience.

Thursday, 30 August 2007

A press release from the World Evangelical Alliance on the Toulouse meeting

Below is a press release from the World Evangelical Alliance on the meeting in Toulouse.

Those of you who attended the meeting will be interested to note that a transcripton the meeting will be available on the WEA website in the near future, so keep checking. I'll try to post the link when it comes out and that may well be the final post on this blog - we'll see. Articles keep on being posted on the meeting and on the subject.

I shall be launching a new blog in the next few days which will start from the Third European Ecumenical Assembly (known as EEA3 to insiders!) in Sibiu, Roumania. I'll be travelling there in a non-Internet equipped train so posting may be rather intermittent to begin with. I'll put up the link tomorrow.

"Towards an Ethical Approach to Conversion - Christian Witness in a Multi-religious World"
Consultation held in Toulouse, France, 9 - 12 August 2007
The World Evangelical Alliance, together with Pentecostals from the United States were invited by the World Council of Churches and the Roman Catholic Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue (PCID), to participate in a consultation entitled "Towards an Ethical Approach to Conversion - Christian Witness in a Multi-religious World" held in Toulouse, France, 9 to 12 August 2007. Three delegates represented the WEA: Richard Howell from India, Thomas Schirrmacher from Germany and John Langlois from the UK.
Due to significant media coverage of this event we felt it was important to clarify for our membership our involvement in it.
The consultation was one of a series of three. The first was held in Italy last year between representatives of Christian churches and representatives of other faiths. This second consultation was a consultation solely between representatives of the Christian churches to provide input into the eventual Code. It was useful for evangelicals to have had input into the process. The draft code will now be prepared and then presented for discussion at the third and final consultation next year. Therefore no one has committed to any Code yet. It has not yet been drafted.
The consultation arises from allegations that have been leveled in recent years at Christians by members of other faiths that Christians are using unethical methods of conversion to Christianity. Amongst the allegations are that Christians seek to convert through education at Christian schools and medical work at Christian hospitals and clinics.
The participants at the consultation rejected all such allegations and maintained that help and compassion for the poor and needy, including medical and educational work, is intrinsic in the Gospel and cannot be compromised.
The participants declared that the spreading of the Good News of salvation through Jesus Christ alone is the central core of the Gospel and all Christians have the right to assert the claims of the Gospel even if persecution ensues.
It was acknowledged by a number of delegates that in the past some Christians had fallen short of the principles set out in scripture but these were far and few between. Those opposed to the Gospel appeared to target the relatively few instances which fell short of acceptable.
Once the code has been drafted it will be reviewed by the WEA International Council, International Leadership Team, Theological Commission, Religious Liberty Commission and Mission Commission. After reflection by these WEA entities we will then determine if it is appropriate for us to adopt and recommend such a code to our members.
The WEA is pleased to stand united with all sections of the Christian church in maintaining our rights, and indeed our duty, to proclaim the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Churches in other traditions acknowledge that it is evangelicals who are bearing the brunt of persecution through their active evangelism, as a result of which the numbers of evangelical Christians are growing strongly in many countries. We are grateful to those of other Christian traditions who are standing with us to assert our God-ordained right to evangelise a needy world, which is lost without Christ.
A transcript of the Consultation will be available on the WEA website next week.

Monday, 27 August 2007

A further link and discussion line on conversion

From the Guardian comment is free section there is an intersting discussion from late July to read and maybe also contribute to.

Saturday, 25 August 2007

More news about conversion - from Norway, Egypt and India

On August 22 the Islamic Council of Norway and the Church of Norway Council on Ecumenical and International Relations presented a joint declaration on the freedom of religion and the right to conversion. You can read more about the declaration by clicking on the link.

While lying in the bath on Friday morning I listened to an interesting report from Egypt about conversions between Christianity and Islam. It included interviews with Dr William Hanna from the Coptic Church in Egypt. If you are quick you can also listen again to the report from Friday 24th August - it comes about 10 minutes in on the 6.30-7.00 slot
You can also read more about the case that triggered the report here.

Meanwhile P. Ninan Benjamin has just sent news that Justice K. T Thomas (a retired judge of the supreme court of India) will deliver this year’s Dr. Stanley Samartha memorial Lecture on October 4, 2007 at St. Mark’s Cathedral, 1, Mahatma Gandhi RoadBangalore. The lecture's tilte will be, "The Indian Consitution and the Freedom to Convert".

The rhetoric of conversion

My colleague Theodore Gill sent me the content of this post about the rhetoric of conversion spilling over into politics in the US. Anyway Theo's email is the perfect opportunity for me to urge him to start a blog - he has a great eye for the quirky story and a very dry sense of humour. So thanks for this Theo.
"The Republican candidate for governor of Louisiana is a formerly Hindu convert to Roman Catholicism. And I mean convert! His Democratic opponents are calling attention to an article he wrote for a 1996 issue of the New Oxford Review, in which he argued:
'Post-Reformation history does not reflect the unity and harmony of the "one flock" instituted by Christ, but rather a scandalous series of divisions and new denominations, including some that can hardly be called Christian. Yet Christ would not have demanded unity without providing the necessary leadership to maintain it. The same Catholic Church which infallibly determined the canon of the Bible must be trusted to interpret her handiwork; the alternative is to trust individual Christians, burdened with, as Calvin termed it, their "utterly depraved" minds, to overcome their tendency to rationalize, their selfish desires, and other effects of original sin. The choice is between Catholicism's authoritative Magisterium and subjective interpretation which leads to anarchy and heresy.'
I've always suspected that Calvin was a little soft (or 'wet', as the British say) on the whole Magisterium thing...
The trouble is that the whole thing may backfire on the Democrats in Louisiana, which is the most Catholic state in the US. Also, the Democratic attack ads oversimplify, saying that the Republican believes that Protestants and other non-Catholics "are utterly depraved" - which is not what he wrote. (Whether he believes that is another question.) For more, see item 3 on the following web page:"