Dr. Jeff Childers, associate professor of Bible, missions and ministry, will share the stage with a Muslim during the Summit lecture, “Just Three Questions.”
Ibrahim Sumer, professor of religion at the University of Houston, will join Childers at 10 a.m. Monday in the Chapel on the Hill for a discussion of the Christian and Muslim faiths.
During the conversation, Childers will pose three questions to Sumer about what Christians would want to know about Islam, and Sumer willÂ do the same with questions Muslims have about Christians.
“It’s not a debate. We won’t be attacking each other or trying to prove each other wrong,” Childers said. “What we hope to do is model starting points for conversations that Christians and Muslims were to have together.”
Brady Bryce, director of ministry events, said the idea for the conversation came after he met Sumer while traveling through Turkey with Childers and several other ACU faculty in December.
Childers said Sumer is a member of the Institute of Interfaith Dialogue. The organization includes people from many backgrounds, but Childers said it’s primarily a Muslim institute for the purpose of furthering education and creating dialogue and understanding. He said it sponsors events that allow intercultural and inter-religious exchange and conversation to occur, which is the reason Sumer went to Turkey with the ACU group.
During and after the trip, Bryce said faculty engaged in deep discussions about Islam and Christianity, and he decided to bring those conversations to a pubic venue.
“A student has a chance to sit down and listen to someone who is not a Muslim who has become a Christian, but who is speaking from their faith,” Bryce said. “That’s more challenging. They will ask harder questions and probe us to think about our own faith and our own view of God in ways we haven’t before.”
Childers said his questions would focus on what Islam actually says about Jesus, present hard questions about Islam and violence and terrorism, and explore what it’s like for Muslims living in America.
Sumer said his questions would be about the role of “deeds” in salvation. Specifically, he will ask why, if faith is the only basis for salvation, so many divisions exist in Christianity.
He will also bring tough questions about why, despite fundamental values of love and forgiveness, Christians played such a large role in events like the Crusades, colonization efforts and world wars.
Both Childers and Sumer said they chose questions after asking people of the same faith what they would want to know about the their religion.
Sumer said he hopes people will learn how to make connections across religions. Similarly, Childers said he hopes people will learn how to treat others who may disagree with other religions.
“I hope they’ll see it’s possible for two people to disagree respectfully, and that that’s a better starting point than attacking one another from a distance,” Childers said. “I hope they’ll want to go learn more. I hope they’ll want to go have a conversations like this one with someone.”