A prominent Indonesian Muslim has stressed the urgent need for all religions to come up with a so-called shared theology that maintains diversity and promotes tolerance. The move is especially necessary in order to address serious problems facing mankind, said Din Syamsuddin
, co-president of the World Conference on Religions for Peace and president of the Asian Conference on Religions for Peace. He was speaking to nearly 150 religious leaders attending a one-day gathering in Moscow, Russia, on March 25. The gathering was discussing the need for a shared theology as religions have points of tangency in terms of diversity and tolerance despite their different conceptions of God. Syamsuddin, who is also chairman of Advisory Board to the Indonesian Ulema Council
, told the meeting that Islam highlights the humane aspect of religiosity and this can be seen in the Quran which says that the Prophet Muhammad’s apostolic mission is to spread his blessing to all people.
So now is the time to introduce a shared theology based on such a humane aspect of religiosity, he said, believing that the problems of mankind can be resolved if a shared theology is introduced. Speaking to ucanews.com on March 27, Syamsuddin said accumulative global destruction has generally created problems for humanity, such as poverty, injustice, violence and environmental destruction. “These demand that religions, which serve as problem solvers, speak up for an answer. That is why a shared theology is needed,” he said, adding that it should serve as a guideline for each religious community to tackle problems facing humanity together. Franciscan Bishop Adrianus Sunarko of Pangkalpinang, chairman of the Indonesian bishops’ Commission for Theological Concerns, welcomed the idea and said that a common good must be a priority of each religion. “Each religion’s theology is different. However, each religion should put forward their own theologies that encapsulate values that promote the common good. This is what a shared theology means,” the prelate said. “Our founding fathers thought about the idea a long time ago. We have the philosophy of Pancasila
[five principles]. But we need to continue promoting this idea,” he said. Reverend Henriette Tabita Lebang, head of the Communion of Churches in Indonesia, believed that Syamsuddin’s idea is based on the Indonesian model of a plural society. “It can be a contribution to the creation of a humane civilization in which each individual from whatever religious or ethnic background is respected. This is what is called true civilization,” she said.
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