Thirteenth Building Bridges Seminar: Sin, Forgiveness, and Reconciliation

The thirteenth 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. The year’s theme was “Sin, Forgiveness, and Reconciliation: Christian and Muslim Perspectives.” On the first afternoon, public lectures by Jonathan Brown and Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen provided an overview. On the second and third days of the seminar, seminar participants heard pairs of lectures that set the stage for detailed discussion in private sessions, focusing on relevant scriptural texts. Thus lectures on “sin” were given by Christoph Schwöbel and Ayman Shabana; on “forgiveness” by Susan Eastman (read in her absence by Joel Marcus) and Mohammad Khalil; and on “reconciliation” by Philip Sheldrake and Asma Afsaruddin. Excerpts from the proceedings of this seminar are available in PDF form, provided by Georgetown University Press.
The nature of human sin and divine forgiveness has often been a point of contention between Christians and Muslims. The Muslim critique of Christian positions on these topics raises some very important points—posing questions, particularly about “original sin”—that Christians themselves often ask. Christians have some questions about sin and redemption to put to Muslims as well. The purpose of the seminar was not to arrive at agreement, but rather to make sure that each has understood the other's concerns.

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