By Joseph Fialkowski
Last Wednesday, November 5, Reverend Dr. Walter Wagner spoke in Beers Lecture Hall as a guest speaker to the Interfaith Dialogue series. This event was held by Dr. Heon Kim, a religious studies and philosophy professor.
Last year, Dr. Martin Kafka of Lehigh University, spoke at the interfaith dialogue from the perspective of a Jewish Messianism.
Rev. Dr. Wagner was here to speak about interreligious dialogue from the Christian perspective. He is an ordained reverend and an academic specialist who, for fifty years, has dedicated himself to interreligious dialogue.
As an author, Rev. Dr. Wagner has written four books including “Opening the Qur’an,” published by the University of Notre Dame Press in 2008.
Currently he continues his work and service while lecturing at Moravian Theological Seminary.
The discussion began with secularism and modernity in the West as a whole as the focus of Muslim “rage.”
According to Bernard Lewis, Muslims have declared the USA the leading country of the West and modernity and this has caused it, as a country, to become the primary focus of Muslims’ disdain.
Several Christian and Muslim representatives were in attendance. Leonard Swidler and John Esposito were a couple of the representatives of the Christian view point.
Fatih Harpci as well as our own Dr. Kim are both Muslim representatives.
Rev. Dr. Wagner also spoke of the clash of current cultures and a remaking of world order within this country due to its complex structure and vague societal classifications.
“Dialogue is relational, transformative, deliberate, disciplined, patient, and persistent,” said Rev. Dr. Wagner.
He added, “It results in commitment, action, and cooperation, recognition of substantial similarities and acceptance of limits of belief.”
However, his use of the term “dialogue” may be a bit private as compared to the public definition, for there is a series of requirements that must occur in order for true “dialogue” to occur.
According to Rev. Dr. Wagner, there are five stipulations en totale, two of which are: “To be willing to be patient with an interlocutor’s version of one’s positions and to be clear in responding as well as being attentive to the interlocutor’s responses to one’s version of the interlocutor’s positions,” and, “To be willing to bear the criticisms and accusations of one’s own co-religionists for engaging is said activity, and to continue in the discussion.”
The ultimate goal of his colloquy, however, aims at building peace.
The key principle is to generate an ethos of responsibility and solidarity, due to the fact that we are all bound together on this single planet.
Rev. Dr. Wagner made it clear to note that “every religion has within itself those who believe their religion reigns supreme,” as to imply one individual person (or action for that matter) does not and cannot represent a culture or religion as whole.
Roughly seventy students attended the talk as well as several professors and general citizens.
Email Joseph at: