Evangelical Christian students: interfaith work is Christ's work
Today's guest bloggers are Cameron Nations and Gregory Damhorst, students at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Evangelical Christians, and co-founders of the new blog Faith Line Protestants, which aims to discuss the role of Evangelicals in a world in need of interfaith cooperation.
When we set foot on the campus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, we were exposed to new ways of thinking and living that differed from our established beliefs about the world. As evangelical Christians, this provoked a necessary identity crisis. This crisis dealt not only with how we should nurture and sustain our faith, but also with how our faith relates to the world at large--especially in a country growing increasingly diverse by the day.
Admittedly, as evangelical Christians, we often found our role in the world of religious diversity - and religious tension - rather confused and sometimes unflattering. Could there be an alternative to disagreement and strife?
More importantly, could we as Christians play a role in changing the conversation on our campus? We knew it was more pressing than ever to engage in cooperation with people of other faiths - but also sought to stay committed to the absolute claims of our own faith, and to sharing that message with our fellow students.
As we jumped into interfaith cooperation projects, such as the national, student-led Better Together campaign focused on social action, we've realized that building bridges with people of other faith traditions has only enriched our beliefs.
In fact, interfaith engagement has given us new ways to think about evangelism - though perhaps not in the ways most evangelicals would find familiar. Relationships are at the core of evangelism, and interfaith cooperation enables powerful relationships between people who ordinarily may not work together.
Our involvement in interfaith social action projects has brought to life our commitment to act as peacemakers and ambassadors of Christ in ways we never imagined.
Overcoming these barriers of difference through social action yields tremendous results. At the University of Illinois last April, we helped organize 5,119 volunteers of different faiths in packaging 1,012,640 meals for Haitians in the wake of the terrible earthquake there. The event was organized in a matter of weeks and the task completed in less than 12 hours. How? Through people of different backgrounds coming together to change the world for the better, on the basis of - not in spite of - their shared values.
To continue sharing these experiences, and to call our fellow evangelical Christians to action, we want to continue these conversations on our new blog, Faith Line Protestants. Young Evangelicals can play a key role in building a model of interfaith cooperation where we don't blur the lines between faith traditions, but instead seek to appreciate our differences and unite under our shared values to address the needs of our world across cultural, religious, and racial lines.
Interfaith cooperation, by definition, cannot happen through walls. As the world becomes smaller, the importance of interfaith cooperation only grows. Forging relationships with those of other faiths is a necessary component to fighting the ignorance and violence we hear about every day.
We are ready to develop the Evangelical Christian's identity in interfaith work through ongoing discussion - to rewrite the headlines to show that religion can be a catalyst for good.
So please, join us at Faith Line Protestants. Help tell a new story.
The content of this blog reflects the views of its author and does not necessarily reflect the views of either Eboo Patel or the Interfaith Youth Core.
January 11, 2011; 5:34 PM ET
Religion & Leadership
Save & Share:
Previous: Ambassadors for Christ in an interfaith world | Next: Obama's American gospel