April 29, 2011

Why I Invited Imam Feisal to be Interviewed at Q

Albert Einstein said, “The free, unhampered exchange of ideas and scientific conclusions is necessary for the sound development of science, as it is in all spheres of cultural life.” Einstein spoke accurately about both science and culture. If we as Christians desire to be involved in the creation and development of culture, we need to be willing to enter into the free exchange of ideas that are already happening around us.

At Q, we’ve set out to bring pressing cultural conversations into a space where they can be viewed and critiqued through the lens of the Gospel. Because we believe in the power of that Gospel and the ability of God’s word to “rightly divide truth,” we’ve never been afraid to make space for new and even different ideas at our gatherings.

As our team was planning this year’s gathering in Portland, we were drawn to address the heightened tension among Christians and Muslims in America. Debates rage between our faith communities, and they aren’t going away. Recent events such as Terry Jones’ Koran burning and the “Ground Zero Mosque” discussion have only exacerbated them.

That is why I decided to interview Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf of the “Ground Zero Mosque” at Q this year. Soundbytes may serve the purposes of network news shows, but thoughtful Christians need to engage these issues through serious dialogue. In our time together, I’ll be seeking to understand what he believes and why. We’re going to discuss many of his views that some might call “radical,” and I’ll ask him how he plans to square those with the larger American culture.

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