dean for Methodist studies and research professor of evangelism and Wesleyan studies, participated in a panel discussion, “Love of God and Neighbor: Children of Abraham in Conversation,” moderated by Dean Hays.
Antepli and Curtis Freeman, director of the Baptist House of Studies and research professor of theology, followed a March 2010 screening of the film “Different Books, Common Word: Baptists and Muslims” with an open discussion.
These events serve as models for students, faculty, and staff on how to have conversations with a person of another faith “without compromising your own integrity, religious beliefs, and practices,” says Antepli.
He rejects the premise that interfaith conversation should focus only on similarities between the world’s religions. It’s more important, he says, to emphasize the differences.
“Those differences ultimately make us who we are!” he says. “Until we understand and admire our differences, and see them as God’s fingerprints, we won’t see the unique ways God is manifested in the world.”
The particular challenge for Christian/Muslim dialogue, he says, is that the faiths share fundamental similarities: both believe in one God who sustains creation, in the revelation of God’s word through a holy book, and in prophets as messengers from God. The differences between these two great faiths come into play in the details and interpretation.
Looking ahead, Antepli will lead a seminar on Muslim/Christian relations with Mennonite theologian Paulus Widjaja of Indonesia at the Duke Summer Institute June 6-11 (dukesummerinstitute.com). His future goals include keeping Duke University at the forefront of interfaith dialogue—and Muslim engagement—within American society, improving support services for Muslim undergraduates, and strengthening the alumni base of Muslim graduates since the 1950s. Connecting those alumni and their work throughout the world with campus life will enrich the Muslim experience for all of Duke, he says.
“Muslims and Islam are at the center of attention in our time. Divinity students will have parishioners whose daughters and sons will fall in love with Muslims. Or, perhaps, they may have a mosque built next door, and ‘love your neighbor as yourself’ will come to have a different meaning.
“Or the members of their congregation may want to understand this whole Muslim business. The first person they will turn to is a pastor, priest, or other clergy. In a society where we are coming closer to new global realities, God is putting everybody together. And we are called to learn to love and respect each other.”