Fr. Keating on Interreligious Dialogue

From an interview with Fr. Thomas Keating, Trappist Monk and author of Centering Prayer, a classic of contemplative prayer in the Christian tradition:

Austin American-Statesman: Tell me about your wish for the world. You want people to be guided by divine love. With all our approaches to the divine, including the belief that there is no God, is it possible to channel this energy through all humanity?

Fortunately, if one engages in interreligious dialogue or ecumenical dialogue, which is the dialogue between Christian churches, one discovers that people in other religions have grace, too, and the Holy Spirit works in them. You still may prefer your own religion, and the beliefs then become a path or a stepping stone to the mystery of God that surpasses description by any religion. . . . Sometimes, God draws people to himself through nature, art, science, conjugal love. . . . but for most people, religion is the best way, unless they were subjected to distortions of the religion by the people who presented it.

Gandhi used to say he loved Christ, but he never met a Christian. I think we can sometimes say the same of other religions if we know people who have not born witness to it but still claim to be devotes of it. . . . Perhaps the best way of sharing its values is to manifest in our behavior its values, which is love for one another and forgiveness, concern for the poor. We need the love of God to balance these contraries and to develop a great respect for the religions. And this will not endanger our own religion. I think knowledge of how God works in other religions will actually increase our own faith in Christ who, incidentally, goes by other names in other religions.

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