Interfaith Dialogue Initiated in Shanghai

A symposium entitled "Symbiotic Harmony - Interfaith Dialogue between Christianity and Islam in Shanghai" was held November 26-27, 2006, to initiate interfaith dialogue between Christians and Muslims in Shanghai.

The symposium, organised by the Shanghai Christian Council, Shanghai Christian Committee for Education and Shanghai Islamic Association, brought together believers, academics and religious authorities to discuss the beliefs and challenges of Christianity and Islam in today's China. Also attending were the vice-director of the State Administration of Religious affairs (SARA) Wang Zuo'an and the director of the Institute of World Religions at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Zhuo Xinping.

"A symposium like this has great symbolic value", said Wang Zuo'an in his address, which encouraged religious circles to deepen mutual understanding and collaboration. He acknowledged that "In building a harmonious society, what is beneficial to religion is also beneficial to the society".

When introducing the major challenges faced by Chinese churches, the Rev. Hua Yaozeng, Chairman of the Shanghai Christian Council, told the ANS editorial team, "In the Chinese church, we need to further develop our theological thinking. We need to look into the Bible and find biblical ways of building bridges between Christianity and different groups in society. Initiating inter-faith dialogue is one way of doing that. Muslims and Christians are Abraham's children, and thus we need dialogue to increase understanding of each others' beliefs without imposing our own model of faith on the other. Instead of re-enacting the story of Cain and Abel, we also need to follow Jesus' example in dealing with people from different faiths." In this way, Rev. Hua expounded the central theme and purpose of the symposium.