Fifteenth Building Bridges Seminar: Affirming the Unity of God

Monotheism and its Complexities

The fifteenth Building Bridges Seminar, chaired by Professor Daniel A. Madigan, S.J., was held at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., and the Airlie Center in Warrenton, Virginia. On the first afternoon, a public panel discussion on "Monotheism and Its Complexities” featured Richard Bauckham, Asma Afsaruddin, Christoph Schwöbel, and Sajjad Rizvi providing an overview of the issues the seminar would entertain. Daniel Madigan, S.J., moderated the conversation.
During the succeeding three days, selected texts from the Bible, the Qur’an and hadith, the Christian tradition, and the Islamic tradition were studied in plenary and small group sessions. Each morning, the day’s theme and texts were introduced by a lecturer and a respondent. Thus Richard Bauckham spoke on “Worship of the one God in the Biblical witness and the complexities it raises,” with Maria Massi Dakake responding; Asma Afsaruddin on “The affirmation of God’s unity and unicity in Qur’an and hadith and the questions it poses,” with Sidney Griffith responding; Christoph Schwöbel, on “Grappling with the unity question in the elaboration of Christian doctrine,” with Martin Nguyen responding; and Sajjad Rizvi, on “Safeguarding tawhid in the elaboration of the Islamic tradition,” with Janet Soskice responding.

The 2016 seminar’s topic, “Affirming the Unity of God,” was perhaps the most central and challenging theological theme that Christian-Muslim dialogue has to address. In previous years, Building Bridges considered subjects such as prayer, justice and rights, religion and science, death and the afterlife, which can be addressed by each tradition almost in isolation from the other. However, on the question of monotheism, Muslims and Christians have been directly and forcefully engaged with one another from the beginning of the Islamic tradition in the Qur’an.

The proceedings of this seminar will be published in due course.

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