Believers and Our Ethics in the Public Square

Christian and Muslim Perspectives

June 24, 2024
4:00 p.m. - 5:45 p.m. EDT
Location: Healy Hall Riggs Library Map

The twenty-second Building Bridges Seminar, chaired by Rev. Daniel A. Madigan, S.J., met June 24–28, 2024 in the Washington, DC, area on the theme of "Believers and Our Ethics in the Public Square: Christian and Muslim Perspectives." This international circle of scholars engaged in dialogical close reading of Muslim and Christian texts on the relation between law/ethics and scripture and tradition, the role of reason and experience in identifying the good to be sought, and speaking and acting convincingly in the public square. The public was invited to the seminar’s opening session which featured overview lectures by Professors Jonathan Chaplin (Wesley House, Cambridge Theological Federation, United Kingdom) and Mahan Mirza (University of Notre Dame, United States). Dr. Ryann Craig, special assistant to the vice president for mission and ministry at Georgetown University, introduced the event.

In our different ways, Muslims and Christians are convinced that the ethical insights we have inherited or developed are crucial for humanity. They are a treasure with which we have been entrusted. We share a sense—along with serious people of other religious traditions or of none—that we have an obligation to promote and defend what is good and to oppose and prevent what we believe to be evil. The ethical disagreements both within and between our traditions arise from how we arrive at an understanding of what is the good to be done and what is the evil to be avoided or prevented. The purpose of our seminar is to explore together how we go about ethical reasoning in our respective traditions: What kinds of authority do scripture and tradition exercise? How does reason function? How can our ethical discourse be of value in the public square? For all our long traditions of ethical and legal reflection, believers can scarcely boast of our successes in creating the perfect society with our commands and prohibitions. This history demands of us great humility before making any claim to ethical certainty.

The Building Bridges Seminar is planned and convened by Georgetown University, and this public session is co-sponsored by Georgetown's Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs.


4:00 - 4:10 p.m. EDT | Welcome Remarks
Daniel A. Madigan, S.J., Georgetown University and Australian Catholic University; Chair, Building Bridges Seminar

4:10 - 4:40 p.m. EDT | Muslim Lecture
Mahan Mirza, University of Notre Dame

4:40 - 5:10 p.m. EDT | Christian Lecture
Jonathan Chaplin, Wesley House, Cambridge Theological Federation

5:10 - 5:45 p.m. EDT | Audience Q&A

5:45 p.m. EDT | Reception

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