World Religions Course: Understanding Christianity by Dr Michael Barnes

Dr Michael Barnes

Centre for Christianity and Interreligious Dialogue

Where: Dialogue Society, London
by Dr Michael Barnes, Lecturer in Interreligious Relations and the Theology of Religions, Heythrop College, University of London

What is this course about?

This course is intended to help Muslims and non Muslims understand the deeper meaning and inner spirit which characterises Christianity today. We will be looking at such topics as:

  • Scripture and tradition
  • Belief and theology
  • Prayer and practice
  • Ethics and social life

The questions which we will explore include:

  • Who is Jesus for Christians?
  • What has God revealed?
  • How do Christians understand the human condition?
  • What is meant by Trinity?
  • How do Christians pray?
  • What do Christians think about Islam?

Biography of Dr Michael Barnes

Dr Michael Barnes has been Senior Tutor at Heythrop, a member of the Academic Board and a Governor of the College where he lectures in the theology of religions and religious studies. He taught Buddhism at the Pontifical Gregorian University for some years and has also been Director of Westminster Interfaith, a diocesan agency of the Diocese of Westminster dedicated to developing good relations between communities of faith in the London area.

He has been a consultant to the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue in Rome. He is a member of the Roman Catholic Committee for Other Faiths and is a theological consultant to the ecumenical Churches Commission on Inter-faith Relations. From 1996 to 2001 he was General Editor of The Way journals.

His main academic interests include the relationship between Christianity and other religions, Indian philosophy and religion, inter-faith spirituality, and philosophical and hermeneutical issues in the history and theology of religions.


He has written many articles in journals such as The Month, The Way, The Heythrop Journal, Religion, Spiritus and The British Medical Bulletin, and contributed to various symposia on inter-religious matters. He has written three books published in the UK: Religions in Conversation (SPCK: 1989), God East and West (SPCK: 1991) and Theology and the Dialogue of Religions (Cambridge University Press; 2002) – a theological study of inter-religious encounter which draws on the ethical philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas.

Published in India are two short books: Walking the City, subtitled Christian discipleship in a multi-faith society (ISPCK; 1999), and Traces of the Other, subtitled Three philosophers and inter-faith dialogue (Satya Nilayam; 2000). These are based on the Teape lectures, given in Delhi, Pune and Bangalore, in 1998, and the Arrupe Memorial Lectures, given in Chennai, India, also in 1998. Most recently he has published contributions to the New Dictionary of Christian Spirituality (SCM; 2005), the Handbook of Religious Studies (Routledge; 2005) and the Blackwell’s Companion to Christian Spirituality, (Blackwell’s, 2006). He has also contributed essays to collections honouring his fellow Jesuit theologians of religion, Jacques Dupuis (In Many and Diverse Ways; Orbis: 2003) and Aloysius Pieris, Encounters with the Word (Colombo: 2004).

This course is ideal for those who engage in interfaith dialogue; those who are in regular contact with members of the Christian faith; those who are generally interested in learning more about the Christian faith and those who would like to find the answer to a number of unanswered questions about Christianity.