Monday, May 21, 2007

the agenda behind Blair's inter-faith mission

Tony Blair has announced that he wants to encourage inter-faith cooperation in his retirement. He "plans to act as an ambassador for multi-faith dialogue in Britain and abroad." Blair recently declared: "The tragedy is that Christians, Jews and Muslims are all Abrahamic religions. We regard ourselves as children of Abraham but we have fought for so long." The plan is to set up a Blair Foundation having as one of its main aims to promote further communication between Christians, Muslims and Jews. Apparently Blair's discussions with the present Pope in May 2006 centred around interfaith conversation and cooperation between religious leaders in order to combat extremism and international conflicts. The Blair foundation is said to have won the support of Canon Guy Wilkinson, the Church of England's adviser on interfaith relations, and Sir Sigmund Sternberg of the Three Faiths Forum.

Blair has also been in conversation with ecumenical Swiss Roman Catholic theologian Hans Küng whom he has taken for his mentor. Hans Küng is founder and president of the Global Ethic Foundation in Tubingen, where Tony Blair has met him and spoken at his conferences. Küng champions what he calls a "global ethic" for people of different belief systems, both religious and non-religious. Küng's aim is to seek common religious ground in a global affirmation of human rights as defined by western liberal ideas. He believes that this will lead toward universal peace. In 1992 he drafted a "Declaration of the Religions for a Global Ethic" for the "Council for a Parliament of the World Religions". This synthesised all the major religions of the world to create a consensus of their moral teachings. He is said to have gained the interested support of former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and other world leaders.

Küng's latest book "Islam: past, present and future" pursues this goal further.
Küng demands categorically that Christian theology and the Christian Churches should recognise "without reservation" that: "Through the Qur'an the Prophet gave countless people in his century and in the centuries that followed infinite inspiration, courage and power to make a new religious beginning: a move towards greater truth and deeper knowledge and a breakthrough towards enlivening and renewing traditional religion. Islam was the great help in life."

Concerning dialogue among Christians, Jews and Muslims, Küng argues that historic Christology must be jettisoned in favour of a Christology that would be decidedly "Jewish-Christian in character" would make this possible. Küng believes that the Nicean Creed and Chalcedon have "altered the message of the New Testament".

Although he was a key figure behind Vatican II, long ago Kung had his canonical license to operate as a Roman Catholic theologian removed. He had discussions with the current Pope in 2005, however, and he remains a priest.