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Spring 2016 · Vol. 45 No. 1 · pp. 47–59 

Mennonite–Shi’a Engagement: Proclamation, Friendship, Peacebuilding

Harry Huebner

In 2002, the first meeting of what would turn out to be a regular event took place. A formal dialogue began between Iranian Shi’a Muslim clerics and North American Mennonite scholars, a meeting of faiths which, after fourteen years, still has energy and momentum. This event is held approximately every two years, alternating between Canada and Iran. The exchange, which currently takes several forms, grew out of a relationship that was initiated by Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) and the Iranian Red Crescent Society in the early 1990s.

To be the kind of people who reflect God’s love to the other requires that we draw on our faith to push us to see the other as friend.

This paper will offer reflections on the nature of the Mennonite-Shi’a engagement as I have experienced it. And it will ask some philosophical and theological questions out of the Christian/Mennonite context, especially about how we understand what is going on when people of two different faiths take each other seriously enough to listen carefully and speak candidly with one another. What are we doing? Why would we do {48} it? What are our goals and inducements in doing it?


The Shi’a Mennonite exchange had its origins in tragedy. In June 1990 a massive earthquake rocked Manjil-Rudbar, Iran, snuffing out the lives of 40-50,000 people. A four-person MCC delegation visited the site and a material aid and reconstruction response ensued in cooperation with the Iranian Red Crescent Society and the Housing Foundation of Iran. It soon became clear that both sides were interested in relating at another level, one where differences and similarities of faith and culture could be discussed. Hence, by the mid-1990s student exchanges were set up where Iranian students from the Imam Khomeini Education and Research Institute (IKERI) in the city of Qom came to Toronto to study, and several North American Mennonite students went to Qom.

The first formal dialogue was held in Toronto. These dialogues emerged from an official agreement between MCC and IKERI about a larger educational exchange. Scholars from IKERI and from North American Mennonite colleges and universities have been the primary participants in the dialogues. Initially, Dr. A. James Reimer from the Toronto Mennonite Theological Centre and Conrad Grebel University College (CGUC) gave leadership to this process on the Mennonite side, while on the IKERI side Dr. Khaveh Haghani took the lead. The process meant that Mennonites and Shi’a needed to agree on a general topic and subtopics, and then both sides appointed presenters to write papers on the selected themes. These papers were then read and discussed.

The following have been the topics to this point: 1

  1. The Challenges of Modernity (Toronto, October 2002)
  2. Revelation and Authority (Qom, February 2004)
  3. Spirituality (Waterloo, May 2007)
  4. Peace and Justice (Qom, May 2009)
  5. Theological Anthropology (Winnipeg, May 2011)
  6. Religious Ethics I (Qom, May 2014)
  7. Religious Ethics II (Winnipeg, 2017, currently being planned) 2

One of the factors that has colored this exchange is that Iran and the West (especially the United States and Canada) are not on friendly terms. This means, among other things, that it has not been possible to hold these dialogues in venues in the United States. 3 Moreover, there are always challenges when it comes to visa procurement, although for the most part, Canadian, American, and Iranian visas have been granted to the proposed presenters in the dialogues. 4

There are numerous other dimensions to the Shi’a-Mennonite engagement. Several professors have visited from Iran, especially at {49} Eastern Mennonite University (EMU); there have been student exchanges at Canadian Mennonite University (CMU), EMU, and CGUC; and several Iranian students have attended the Summer Peacebuilding Institute at EMU and the Canadian School of Peacebuilding at CMU. Courses have been taught by Mennonite professors in Qom, primarily at the International Institute for Islamic Studies, and by Iranian professors who have visited Mennonite universities. Several Mennonite scholars have attended conferences in Iran and several Iranian professors have attended conventions in North America. In addition, MCC and IKERI have collaborated on three learning tours that enabled North American Mennonites to travel to Iran, attend lectures on Islam, and travel to some of the famous historical and cultural sites in Iran, as well as make friends with Iranian people. I present this list of involvements here to show that the engagement goes considerably beyond formal dialogue. 5


Interfaith dialogue 6 is important for many reasons. It can promote mutual understanding, enable appreciation of differences, break down stereotypes, and it can help to clarify one’s own faith. Yet I believe it is dangerous to think of dialogue in general as having a secondary end or goal that justifies it. If there is any such goal it is to see where the dialogue itself takes us, the vistas it opens up. In other words, dialogue is its own justification. The reason is our shared humanity. This means that the onus is on those reluctant to pursue it to justify their view: Why not dialogue? The answer to the question, “Why would you talk with a person like that?” is that we are both human beings and share the same humanity under God. So choosing not to speak with another person requires justification—to engage in dialogue does not.

Of course, interfaith dialogue is a specific kind of engagement and warrants further interrogation. It is especially important to ask what representatives of two different faiths are doing or what they think they are doing when engaging with one another about faith. In the introduction to Peace and Justice, a collection of essays from our fourth dialogue, Dr. Legenhausen and I reflect on our practice. We even wonder what it should be called: Interreligious dialogue? Religious dialogue? Cross-denominational conversation? We continue:

By whatever name, it is a practice that few are experts at and many of us are not very good at. It is in fact not always clear what we are doing when we engage voices from other faith traditions. Are we engaged in religious propagation? Are we defending our beliefs? Are we trying to identify common elements, or irreconcilable differences? Are we bearing witness? Sometimes {50} uncertainties about these questions seem to arise in the course of our discussions. At base dialogue is an encounter with difference that pushes boundaries and sometimes even the comfort levels of those engaged in it. Clearly not all that happens in such dialogue can be grasped or categorized intellectually. This makes dialogue a rather unusual event, especially for academics who are used to resolving differences through careful thinking according to the intellectual norms of their own traditions. Indeed, the most cherished product of such dialogue may be much closer to something called friendship than intellectual advance. So while the goal of inter-religious dialogue is sometimes thought to be a single religious understanding, that proves to be a mistake, and a dangerous one, because of its tendency to impose closure not warranted by intellectual honesty. The current dialogue is lodged in another pursuit; of freely giving each person the voice to speak for his or her faith tradition. We come together and try to explain some of our most deeply held convictions for colleagues of our own denomination and for other colleagues whose perspectives on what we have to say is largely unknown. This requires a posture of very attentive listening in respectful openness, and a care with our own expressions in recognition of the fact that we cannot just assume that what we mean will be understood. This mode of presence with the other is rooted in the shared conviction that God has given all of us hearts, minds, and searching spirits and that the voice of truth may be lodged in places stranger than we might ever have imagined.

This posture of open engagement might be said to be a mode of peacemaking; a way of engaging difference that is very far from the all too common view of the other as dispensable enemy. The dialogue over the past ten years is in fact testimony to the refusal to permit the powers of division to define for us who our enemies are. To put it positively, it is an admission that we have become friends and that difference does not negate the possibility of trust and deep and lasting friendship. 7

As can be seen from these words, those of us who are participating in this practice are reticent to be too precise in naming what we are doing. Why? In part at least because dialogue, to be genuine, must remain open-ended. To foreclose it with narrow objectives runs the danger of truncation. And I suspect that if we were to push hard, both sides would give different rationales for the value of this exchange. Yet both would claim that they wish to listen as profoundly as possible to the faith of the {51} other, and to speak as clearly as possible the convictions of their own faith.

Fundamentally, interfaith dialogue is about engaging with the other from the conviction that the other, too, is a child of God, given existence by the same creator who birthed us. And the other, too, shares this conviction. Yet in the conversation it becomes clear that the details of the other’s convictions differ, sometimes profoundly. Therefore, trust is essential. Without trusting the other to be ready to gain meaning and even well-being from my meaning and well-being, interfaith dialogue is at most a charade.

The reflections that ensue should be seen as an effort to explore the underlying conviction that dialogue, including interfaith dialogue, is an essential part of being human according to the Abrahamic faith that Jews, Christians, and Muslims share. I say this because of a basic conviction that to confess God as creator and parent is to confess our neighbors as brothers and sisters, siblings whom we love and with whom we speak. I believe that this reading of the Abrahamic faith calls us to be intentional about notions such as the other, friendship, truth, and peacebuilding.


On September 27, 1953, Jewish philosopher and theologian Martin Buber (1878–1965) gave a speech on the occasion of accepting the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade at Frankfurt-am-Main. He began his speech with these words:

About a decade ago a considerable number of Germans—there must have been many thousands of them—under the indirect command of the German government and the direct command of its representatives, killed millions of my people in a systematically prepared and executed procedure whose organized cruelty cannot be compared with any previous historical event. I, who am one of those who remained alive, have only in a formal sense a common humanity with those who took part in this action. They have so radically removed themselves from the human sphere, so transposed themselves into a sphere of monstrous inhumanity inaccessible to my conception, that not even hatred, much less an overcoming of hatred, was able to arise in me. And what am I that I could here presume to ‘forgive’! 8

And then he continued, “With the German people it is otherwise.” 9 In the rest of the presentation he pushed the meaning of humanity emphasizing the distinction between homo humanus and homo contrahumanus. Those who are with humanity are in dialogue. Then there are those {52} who define themselves against humanity by seeking to justify themselves in relation to others who are dispensable. And the language of the dispensable is the language of war, expressing the desire to excise those whose nonbeing, it is thought, would make this world a better place. A blasphemous claim, really! To say that anyone whom God has given life and whose life God sustains does not deserve to live is to claim authority higher than God. Dispensability and its partner, dialogical refusal, comprise the logic of all wars. Buber says it this way:

War has always had an adversary who hardly ever comes forward as such but does his work in the stillness. This adversary is speech, fulfilled speech, the speech of genuine conversation in which men understand one another and come to a mutual understanding. . . . War soon conquers speech and enslaves it in the service of its battle-cries. But where speech, be it ever so shy, moves from camp to camp, war is already called in question. 10

For Buber these were anything but platitudinous words on how to be nice to one another. They have to do with the fundamental quality of human existence—relationality. We are who we are because our being is defined by our relation to the other. Some thirty years earlier (1923) Buber had published what became his seminal book on dialogue, Ich und Du, translated as I and Thou. 11 The book explains how the mode of placing ourselves in the world has everything to do with how we see humanity—ours and others’.

The most common form of relationality, says Buber, is I-It. Most often we experience the contents of this world as “its” (objects), meaning that the experiencing “I” sees itself before objects with qualities and quantities. In fact, the “its” we experience often have an objectifying effect on the subject as well. That which we experience is seen as something to be put to our own use. Hence, we become users. On this mode, the experiencing “I” sees itself as the perceiver and manipulator of objects. While clearly the experiencer and the experienced are differentiated in space and time, they are nonetheless affected by the relationship to the other in ever so subtle ways.

While this form of relationality is the common way of beholding the world, it is not all that’s available to human beings. In fact, Buber sees the limits of this model and the failure of contemporary culture to see these limits as contributing to human alienation and existential mistrust, even despair, because it is so far from what human beings are. He also believes that this view of the other contains within it the possibility of seeing the other as expendable.

We know intuitively that under creator God the other is no mere {53} object; the other is as I am, a relational being invited into “encounter.” 12 That is, dialogue stands at the core of humanity, for encounter with the other holds the promise of both real human and divine disclosure. This is why in every encounter with the other (in I-You relations) we feel that there could be more. Buber speaks of this as the desire for “absolute relation.” He argues that while God can never be an object of our experience, we can open ourselves to encounter with God. Hence dialogue is Buber’s answer to the enmity, strife, alienation, and despair so prevalent in contemporary culture. For Buber, genuine dialogue as an I-You encounter is a form of peacemaking and war prevention.

What Buber is talking about, of course, could go by many other names. For example, when Jesus is asked to name the greatest commandment, he says:

The first is, “Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God, the Lord is one: and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” The second is this, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these. (Mark 12:29–31 RSV, passim) 13

The challenge to love God, neighbor, even enemy, is the challenge to engage, not only at the level of experiencing the other, but at the level of an I-You encounter. This is no easy challenge for it requires overcoming the distrust we commonly have of others as strangers and our temptation to use truth standards to exclude.


Buber’s insights offer profound challenges to the modern rendering of what it means to be human. From Rene Descartes’s cogito ergo sum (I think therefore I am), which would have us believe that we understand ourselves best as thinking subjects, to John Locke’s tabula rasa, which suggests that we are “empty slates” to be written on by experience, to Immanuel Kant’s emphasis on reinen Vernunft (pure reason), which casts our essence in terms of rationality, we learn that being human is best understood through the primacy of the autonomous mind. On this model, dialogue with difference means that we are engaged in an enterprise to change the minds of those with whom we disagree, or, at least, that we enter into a forum of rational discourse and sorting out of what really makes universal sense and what does not. This approach projects the goals of certitude and rationally grounded beliefs, so that what is true for one is true for all.

On the approach opened up with Buber’s I-You encounter, humanity {54} is not seen through the lens of “I am a thinking ego,” or “I am an empty slate,” or “I am a rational mind,” but rather through the confession that “we are friends,” or “we may become friends,” since we see the other as God’s gift to us. Friends walk together in the search for meaning and truth. Notice the important shift from “I” to “we” with the language of friendship. The shift could not be more significant, especially as it affects engagement with difference. Among other things, it is a move from the quest for certitude to vulnerability, from dialogue to “encounter,” and from rational debate to confession. For on the model of the modern intellectual tradition, the focus is on how we come to a common understanding. But on the model of friendship, common understanding, while perhaps a by-product of the encounter, is nevertheless not the primary driver, especially not if by “understanding” is meant agreement. The driver here is the process itself; that is, truth arises out of the encounter in ways we do not control. Truth names the process of moving to a shared end and is guided by the virtues of prudence, integrity, patience, courage, trust, hope, and love. We might say, it is the coming together of Jesus’s three sayings: “I am . . . the truth,” “Follow me,” and “No longer do I call you servants . . . I have called you friends” (John 14:6, 12:26, 15:15). Hence, respectful listening, trusting vulnerability, and patient engagement open the possibility to generate truthful outcomes that cannot be named in advance.

To link truth-seeking with the dialogic process is, of course, not new. It goes all the way back to Plato. Yet for Plato this was important and possible because truth was housed deep within our souls, and could be aroused and brought to the surface through proper interrogation. But this is quite different from the Abrahamic religions, which are based on the revelations of different and sometimes competing texts. Here it is the authority of texts themselves that gets put in question when we disagree. This makes the challenge of interreligious dialogue difficult in a distinctive way.

When faiths are embedded in texts that grow out of historically preceding texts, cultures, and traditions (as is the case with the Abrahamic faiths), one of the temptations is supersessionism. This is the view that a subsequent revelation supersedes and replaces the earlier one. For example, supersessionists would claim that Christianity replaces Judaism, and Islam replaces both Judaism and Christianity. The problem with this view, however, is that supersessionism makes dialogue superfluous and impossible in principle because religious representatives of the “earlier” revelation are not afforded a legitimate place from which to speak. Hence, to “enter into dialogue” with those who consign one’s views to an archaic faith is already to capitulate. {55}

One of the issues that interfaith engagement brings to the fore is how to understand theological reasoning. I want to suggest, along with scholars like George Lindbeck and Peter Ochs, that postliberalism can help us clarify what it is we are doing when we engage representatives from other religions. 14 Both Lindbeck and Ochs lament that the theological enterprise itself has been significantly reshaped by Enlightenment logic. For example, Lindbeck identifies two common views made popular by Enlightenment thought: “cognitive-propositionalism” and “experiential-expressivism.” The cognitive propositional approach sees theological claims as first-order truth statements about “objective reality.” Here theological disagreement is seen as a standoff between different positions only one of which can be true; the others by implication must be false. The common alternative to this approach is to see faith and religion as rooted in human experience where theological claims are not seen as truth statements about objective reality but as symbols or linguistic expressions naming subjective realities. As human beings we may well give different accounts of our religious experiences, but the experiences themselves are essentially universal. Interfaith dialogue then seeks to sort out the theological language used to account for our common inner religious experiences.

Lindbeck finds neither view compelling and contrasts these modernist (liberal) approaches with what he calls the “cultural-linguistic” model of theological reasoning. Here the understanding and function of theology begins neither with a claim to know objective reality nor with religious experience. Rather the task of theology is to open up the possibility of seeing reality more richly and experiencing God more deeply. On this view theological discourse has a distinct function “not as expressive symbols or as truth claims, but as communally authoritative rules of discourse, attitude, and action.” 15 In other words, the task of theology is to develop a discourse that shapes lives capable of reflecting God’s love and mercy in this world.

Peter Ochs argues that Lindbeck’s “postliberal” understanding of theological discourse makes nonsupersessionism possible. Why? Because it opens the possibility for recovering the shaping power of Scripture, the development of the capacity to see and to read the practices of religious people in the light of their theological affirmations. Moreover, it makes it possible to enter into the exchange with respectful openness to hearing the stories and language of the other and to affirming that God is at work among us. That is to say, it is to affirm the principle of semper reformanda (our need for ongoing reformation) which takes seriously the voices of all of God’s people. Because it places truth within the seeking, it emphasizes the demeanor or posture of the engagement more than agreement. Serious interfaith dialogue is therefore rooted in existential {56} trust; a trust that God’s faithfulness, my well-being, and the well-being of the other are deeply intertwined.

David Burrell, a long-time interfaith interlocutor, makes a similar comment:

[A]ccording to an Aristotelian view of friendship, by contrast with a more romantic one, we become friends to the extent that we share in an attracting and encompassing goal or good. Interestingly enough, however, such a sharing has more to do with intention than with agreement. Indeed, as a friendship unfolds, it offers the paradigm for sustaining a relationship beyond disagreements—even “all the way down,” so long as we recognize that there are depths beyond the reaches of reason itself, and we continue to journey into these together. 16

Friendship therefore names the condition for the very possibility of truth. It acknowledges that lodging truth either in objective reality to which privileged access is claimed at the expense of the other or within the supposedly universal experiences of the subject reduces the search for truth to power brokerage. While there are those who would worry that this is but to affirm that truth is relative, Burrell answers that when truth is seen as emerging from friendship encounter, “objectivity” itself gets recast as intersubjectivity. 17


There are, of course, many aspects to peacebuilding just as important as interreligious dialogue. Yet in a world where the politics of religious conflict is on the lips of our political leaders, dialogue among the religious leaders takes on a special role.

Peacebuilding is not about ridding the world of enemies; it is about relating to enemies in a manner that avoids violence. But this is also why peace can be a threat to justice, for justice wants to give enemies what they deserve, often on a particular retributive model. This is the approach that undergirds many contemporary conflicts. For wars to work there must be an enemy, and so dialogue with the enemy must be demonized since speech is the adversary of war. In fact, dialogue is often seen as aiding and empowering the enemy, and hence frustrating the good people/bad people binary. And that is bad for war! The rationale for war therefore rests on a particular logic. The logic of the enemy is the logic of separation; the logic of separation is the logic of hatred; and the logic of hatred is the logic of vilification and dispensability. This is the homo contrahumanus that Buber speaks about. Dialogue, on the other hand, is the logic of friendship, and friendship is the logic of peace. {57}

Consider an anecdote of how dialogue calls into question the view of the other as dispensable enemy. Several years ago I was asked to deliver a lecture on ethics at the University of Qom. It was an impromptu speech since I was in the region for other purposes. I was asked to speak about my book on Christian ethics 18 and how, as a Christian ethicist, I understood the task of ethics. The audience in attendance (several hundred) consisted mostly of university professors and graduate students from a large public university. I could not avoid addressing the importance of peace and justice in my teaching of Christian ethics. In the discussion that followed, the questions quickly centered on the relationship between peace and justice. The questions there, as is also often the case in North America, deemphasized peace in favor of justice. The assumption is that justice is what it’s all about, and if peace gets you there, fine, but if not, unpeaceful means must be employed to get to justice.

I was trying to hold up peace not only as a tool for justice but as the name that qualifies an exchange with difference; that is, as a way for enemies to engage each other that is not easily trumped by a favored view of justice. It was not working. I finally got frustrated and so I said something like the following: “Look! The United States has a view of justice on which you as Iranians, and especially your leaders, don’t cut it. You are dispensable on their view of justice. And the United States, especially their leaders, do not cut it on your view of justice. People are dispensable on both sides. I am here to suggest that justice without peace is dangerous and contra-human. There is another way. Peaceful dialogue is what makes it possible for people in the world to resolve their differences without killing one another.”

Peacebuilding and dialogue need each other because only through the exchange of words, feelings, desires, passions, and faith is it possible to create the conditions for seeing within the threatening “other” someone besides a mere enemy. And those who claim faith in creator God need to model and cultivate this practice.


Worshippers of the God of Abraham and Sarah have a special calling. As our Christian text proclaims it, “Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister” (1 John 4:21). Human beings are not natural enemies; God created us creatures who need one another to be fully who we are. True fulfillment of human life moves beyond security to peace, beyond the objectified view of the other to encounter.

At the beginning of this paper I wondered whether dialogue could be justified on a base beyond itself or whether it was best seen as its own justification. I have suggested that interfaith dialogue is best lodged {58} in the claim of a shared humanity under God. Might it then not be that friendship with “difference” shows the way to the truth that can save us? The world today is a dangerous place because its dominant rhetoric is power and protection of self and country. While difference will of course always exist, there are better and worse ways of engaging it. Having bigger weapons than our enemies will not save us, even though the belief that they will is widely shared.

Adherents to the Abrahamic family of faith comprise well over half the world’s population. On one occasion in Qom, after I presented a paper entitled “Peace: The Desire of God” at a public conference on “Religion and Ethics,” I was challenged by a Muslim cleric to think of the impact it might have on world peace if the Abrahamic family would commit itself to live by the faith and peace ethic we all profess. He was speaking especially of religious leaders, but also of ordinary people of faith, cultivating friendships and harvesting the rich resources within our sacred texts. He suggested that we as religious leaders, worshippers of God, ought to be leading the way! We have a special calling.

We should not permit impediments of conflict or structural forces of separation to define us against one another. To be the kind of people who reflect God’s love to the other requires that we draw on our faith to push us to see the other as friend. Of course, it sounds like an impossible and hopelessly idealistic dream to work for world peace through interfaith dialogue. And it is! Might we gain inspiration from Jesus’s parable of the mustard seed? Success is not the issue here. The issue is faithfulness to the call to participate in God’s desire for peace in this broken world—as witnesses. And for this, friends with a shared vision for peace can show the way.


  1. For a fuller summary of the first four of these events, see A. James Reimer, “Preface: Ten Years of Shi’ah Muslim Mennonite Christian Dialogue,” in Peace and Justice: Essays from the Fourth Shi’i Muslim Mennonite Christian Dialogue, ed. Harry J. Huebner and Hajj Muhammad Legenhausen (Winnipeg, MB: CMU Press, 2011), 15–20.
  2. Most of the papers presented in these dialogues have been published. Papers from the first two dialogues were published in The Conrad Grebel Review (Fall 2003 and Winter 2006); the papers from the third dialogue were published in On Spirituality: Essays from the Third Shi’i Muslim Mennonite Christian Dialogue, ed. M. Darrol Bryant, Susan Kennel Harrison, A. James Reimer (Kitchener, ON: Pandora Press, 2010); papers from the fourth dialogue appeared in Huebner and Legenhausen, eds., Peace and Justice; and papers from the fifth dialogue appeared in On Being Human: Essays from the Fifth Shi’i Muslim Mennonite Christian Dialogue, ed. Harry J. Huebner and Hajj Muhammad Legenhausen (Winnipeg, MB: CMU Press, 2013). {59}
  3. Dialogue VII, for example, planned for the summer of 2016, was to be held at Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Virginia. But we were informed that our partner institution in Qom (IKERI) would not be able to send any presenters to the United States. The event will now be held in Canada in 2017.
  4. There have been several delegations and conferences for which visas have not been granted to everyone. Both the United States and Iran have rejected visa applications. I cite this difficulty merely to indicate that there are complexities associated with this venture that involve people from countries who officially consider each other enemies. Yet despite these obstacles the richness of the exchange has not been diminished.
  5. It should also be said that funding for these events has come primarily from MCC and the participating Mennonite universities. Also, CMU received a generous “Connection Grant” from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) in 2014 to make some of these events possible, especially enhancing our student exchanges.
  6. I am using the term “interfaith dialogue” in a general sense and it should be read to include all our engagements, not merely the formal dialogues.
  7. Huebner and Legenhausen, Peace and Justice, 13–14.
  8. “Genuine Dialogue and the Possibilities of Peace,” in Martin Buber, Pointing the Way, ed. and trans. Maurice S. Friedman (New York: Harper and Row, 1957), 232.
  9. Ibid.
  10. Ibid., 236.
  11. Martin Buber, I and Thou, trans. and ed. by Walter Kaufmann (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1970).
  12. Buber distinguishes between “experience” which is the name for the I-It exchange and “encounter” through which we can meet the other in the fullness of being.
  13. We should note that in Luke 10:25–28 the same answer is given to the question “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” and here the Good Samaritan parable, told in response to the further question, “Who is my neighbor?” has Jesus critiquing religious leaders who find it possible to exclude undesirables from the neighbor category.
  14. See for example, George Lindbeck, The Nature of Doctrine: Religion and Theology in a Postliberal Age (Philadelphia, PA: The Westminster Press, 1984) and Peter Ochs, Another Reformation: Postliberal Christianity and the Jews (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2011).
  15. Lindbeck, 18.
  16. David B. Burrell, Friendship and Ways to Truth (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2000), 5.
  17. Ibid., 60–62.
  18. Harry J. Huebner, An Introduction to Christian Ethics: History, Movements, People (Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2012).
Harry Huebner is Emeritus Professor of Theology and Philosophy and Director of International and Interfaith Initiatives at Canadian Mennonite University. Since 2007 he has been involved in Shi’a-Mennonite dialogue.
I thank Dr. Ed Martin, Director of the Center for Interfaith Engagement at Eastern Mennonite University, Harrisonburg, Virginia, for reading an earlier draft of this paper and making helpful suggestions.

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