Home Ice Advantage: A Christian Perspective

Relating to People of other Faiths

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Home Ice Advantage:  A Christian Perspective
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Reverend Dr. Morar Murray-Hayes

Reverend Dr. Morar Murray-Hayes

The Reverend Dr. Morar Murray-Hayes is the Minister of Maple Grove United Church, and is a member of the Interfaith Councill of Halton. A chatty extrovert with a conversational preaching style, a multi-tasker who is a “multi-worrier” when it comes to caring about people’s problems, and a leader who treasures teaming with the lay people in her church, Morar says that at Maple Grove she has experienced “a deeper level of ministry than I thought possible.” Anyone who has personally received Morar’s deeply compassionate caring and wise counsel will testify to what an inspirational, healing and encouraging ministry it is.

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Once we are firmly weighted in our own faith, we are prepared to meet with those of other faiths.

Paul visits the Areopagus
St. Paul seeks out people of a variety of faiths and philosophies at the Ariopagus in Athens, Greece. Acts 17:22-31 In Paul’s time it was the place where philosophies, laws and religion were discussed.

The first thing he says to them is,
“Athenians, I see how very religious you are for as I went through the city and looked carefully at the objects of your worship, I found among them an altar with the inscription, ‘To an unknown god.’”

Paul studied their context until he found a connecting point and then with this image of the unknown God, he spoke about his faith, what he knows about his God, in a way that his listeners would understand. And in doing so, he introduced us to a cosmic God:

“God who made the world and everything in it, he who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by human hands, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mortals life and breath and all things.”


  • doesn’t use his faith as a weapon, but seeks a connecting point between the religious views of his listeners.
  • does not misinterpret or water down his faith. He challenged the worship of idols; he presents his message biblically, but doesn’t assume they know the bible.
  • researched the “evidences and inscriptions” thoroughly.
  • engaged in dialogue.
  • didn’t worry about what his audience does with what he says — some believe, some scoff, and others want to come back the next week to learn more.

The Problem
This topic is timely in the light of the recent libel suit brought by the National Council of Canadian Muslims against Prime Minister Harper and his spokesperson for libel for stating that this group had ties to terrorists.

Whether the accusation is true or not, it is clear that many people in North America think about Muslims as one huge, homogenous group.

But we would do well to remember how Paul discovered in this city of Athens many different perspectives, and among the strange philosophies and beliefs, he found something familiar, which became an entryway into dialogue.

The Home Ice Advantage
Christians are on home ice, here in Canada; we have the advantage. We have grown up with Christianity as the foundation and the norm. Yes that is changing, but that’s not the fault of Muslims. In fact people of faith tend to agree that secularism is a greater worry than people of other faiths.

Home Ice Responsibilities
Paul’s method is a good model for us — he spent the time finding out about the religious views of those he was speaking to. He learned about their context, and then he connected with them, using the familiar to explain the mysterious.

If we follow Paul’s example and begin by learning, we might find ourselves surprised.

It is hard to hear about negatives in another faith and not generalize. Yet if you hear a Muslim leader describe her faith, beginning with the creation, Noah, Abraham and moving through the prophets to Jesus — and speaking of the five pillars of Islam: one God, prayer, charity, fasting and self-discipline during Ramadan, and making a pilgrimage to Mecca once in their lifetime if possible, — then, you would have a very different view.

When Paul encountered the Athenians he was challenged to express the Christian faith in new and creative ways:
“From one ancestor he made all nations to inhabit the whole earth, and he allotted the times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they would live, so that they would search for God and perhaps grope for him and find him—though indeed he is not far from each one of us. For ‘In him we live and move and have our being.’”

From there he was able to talk about God’s desire for repentance and Christ’s resurrection — not watered down, but following logically from where his listeners started.

Paul offers us a model for engaging non Christian forms of faith today, and a challenge for us to look at the relationship between how we interpret scripture and how that plays out in our relationships with others.

Paul found an opportunity for genuine religious dialogue that didn’t threaten his faith, but rather stimulated him to express his faith in new and creative ways.

Like Paul, we can

  • research the ways of Muslims thoroughly.
  • learn enough about the faith of others to seek a connection between their views and our views.
  • communicate our faith in a way that meets the reality of others.
  • engage in open, honest dialogue about the depth of our faith.
  • trust God that the end, the goal of the dialogue will be grace-filled.

Paul passes the challenge to us.



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