Interfaith: Building Bridges Across and Among Religions
Interfaith is a new approach to religion that believes there are many paths to the divine and we must not assume there is only one. Although religious practices vary extensively among the many world religions, their wisdom literature is remarkably similar. The Golden Rule is an excellent example of the many paths, as almost every faith tradition has their version of the Golden Rule. Interfaith merely asks you to know and embrace the beauty of all faith traditions and to try to create bridges among the various faith traditions. If we wish a harmonious world, those bridges are important as are deeper understandings of faiths other than your own.
If you wish a more harmonious world that works together to bring peace and well-being, then you should consider exploring Interfaith as one way to achieve those ends. Interfaith allows and even encourages you not to leave your current faith but to also embrace a deeper understanding of all faiths in the spirit of being one with each other in peace and harmony. You may even decide to become an Interfaith Minister and be an active agent in building bridges across faith traditions.
An Interfaith Minister not only believes in God but embraces the many paths to find peace, knowledge, and comfort in the divine. Peoples around the world reach out to God from their culture and those perspectives need to be honored and celebrated. God is universal and no one set of people have an exclusive right to God, who loves us all. If we are to honor God’s love, we must reach out to one another and build understanding of others within ourselves. Honoring God should include honoring all those who seek God and have an acceptance of other faith traditions and their efforts to worship God in their own manner.
Truth be told, religions are controlled by men, who sometimes manipulate others for greed, power, and ideological purposes. However, religions have also been selfless to the poor, giving to an improving culture, sponsors of education, agents of love and care of those in disasters, and peace makers among us. The latter achievements are what Interfaith celebrates and encourages among those who will listen.
For an Interfaith person, the world is not the home of one culture but it is the home of many cultures and species, including our own. Interfaith is not about division but about being a part of the Oneness that is everything—all living things, all things, our environment, and our universe. That Oneness is interconnected and when you touch one, you touch everything. Division makes us less and unity makes us more. Our challenge is to be that “more” by reaching out to others to encourage working together to make that Oneness be as functional as possible for all of us.
Interfaith persons see unity in diversity. They supports greater bonding and harmony among the faith traditions. However, they see the differences as examples of the imagination and beauty among all peoples. They see the various human-to-almighty connections as examples of the magnificence of the Oneness with its many ways of embracing each other and God. Each culture becomes yet another way to feel and touch the multifaceted Oneness.
Interfaith is about spirituality that transcends religion. Interfaith strives to encourage growth of human consciousness within the individual but also within us as citizens of the universe. Interfaith people believe that individuals, with an egocentric consciousness, are sometimes antithetical to an ever improving Oneness. They also believe that religions are in an ideal position to assist those who are willing and able to move forward along the conscious continuum toward great selflessness as defined by the Golden Rule of almost all religions. By increasing selflessness in the world, a greater spirituality will grow that will transcend religion.
Like other religions, Interfaith Ministers perform ceremonies of welcoming babies into the community of humankind, celebrating children becoming adults, regular collective worship, counseling for the troubled, religious education, weddings of couples, and the passing of loved ones. However, they are more than then a list of activities. They build awareness and foster bonds between and among peoples of all faiths.
How to Become an Interfaith Minister?
There are several seminaries and religious institutions that train interfaith ministers. One can receive Interfaith Minister Training on a full time or a part time program of study as well as in a face to face, internet, or a hybrid approach to training. One such seminar is the International Academy for Interfaith Studies (Interfaith Academy) based in Honolulu, Hawaii. You can check it out by merely going to the internet and typing in interfaithacademy.org.
Author’s Bio: Rev. Dr. Thomas D. Lynch is President of the Interfaith Academy. He been an educator for four decades and has written many books and articles. His last book is The Christian Enigma that he wrote with Rev. Dr. Cynthia E. Lynch and they are currently finishing Awakening Consciousness.