Four Principles of Dialogue: Christian Origins

Open to Everyone
Free to Attend

Dialogue Society, London

Prof Paul Weller

Universities of Coventry and Derby, and Regent’s Park College, University of Oxford

In 1979, the Dialogue-Sub Unit of the World Council of Churches (WCC) produced a set of 13 secific Guidelines on Dialogue with People of Living Faiths and Ideologies (Geneva, 1979) for use among its Protestant and Orthodox Christian member Churches worldwide. The publication also suggested that member Churches might considering adapt the guidelines for use in their own contexts. Here in the UK, the then British Council of Churches (BCC) responded to this suggestion in 1981 by producing Relations with People of Other Faiths: Guidelines on Dialogue in Britain (London, 1981). This was structured around 4 so-called “principles of dialogue”. These pirnciples were: Dialogue begins when people meet each other Dialogue depends upon mutual understanding and mutual trust Dialogue makes it possible to share in service to the community Dialogue becomes the medium of authentic witness The seminar will introduce these principles; their background in relation to the WCC and BCC; and their later development and use. Over a quarter of a century on it will also explore the question of how appropriate and useful these principles might still be? In addition, it will ask whether these principles might have continuing value not only for Christians – among and for whom they were originally developed – but also for people of other faiths and beliefs?

For full unedited transcript please click here.

Paul Weller is Professor of Inter-Religious Relations at the University of Derby and Vice-Chair of Trustees of the Multi-Faith Centre at the University of Derby. He stands personally within the Baptist tradition of Christianity and is a Visiting Fellow of the Oxford Centre for Christianity and Culture, based at Regent’s Park College, the Baptist Permanent Private Hall in the University of Oxford.

Professor Weller has been engaged in inter-faith relations for the past three decades, including as a founder member of the Joppa Group of Baptist Christians for dialogue. In the period following the development of the British Council of Churches’ Guidelines on Dialogue in Britain he was (1982-1992) Chair of the Committee for Relations with People of Other Faiths and Community and Race Relations Unit joint Social Policy Group of the former British Council of Churches (now Council of Churches for Britain and Ireland).

His published work on dialogue from a Christian perspective includes

  • P. Weller (1990), “Freedom and Witness in a Multi‑Religious Society: A Baptist perspective Part I”, in The Baptist Quarterly, Volume 33, April 1990, pp. 252‑264
  • P. Weller (1990), “Freedom and Witness in a Multi‑Religious Society: A Baptist perspective. Part II”, in The Baptist Quarterly, Volume 33, July 1990, pp. 302‑315
  • P. Weller (2006), God, Jesus and Dialogue: The Beach Lectures for 2005, Centre for the Study of Religious and Cultural Diversity, Occasional Papers No. 3, Newbold College, Bracknell
Four Principles of Dialogue   Christian Origins   Wider Ownership