- Birmingham, UK
Richard Tetlow offers his views and deep insights about Christianity and interfaith relations in his book Perceptions of Christianity from People of Different Faiths: To See Ourselves as Others See Us. He stresses the opportunity for each and everyone to listen and learn about the other. He also invites the readers to go deep into their own understanding of religion, why this matters and how we can be respectful of each other’s differences and similarities. Tetlow, with his twenty years of experience as an Anglican priest, lays open his own interfaith journey as a Christian too. He sees understanding, respect, love and a multi-faith society as vital for human well-being and society at large.
Readers will discover answers for questions and necessary adjustments in the search for meaning, sincere faith and honest personal experience, both religious and non-religious. The book seeks to understand social differences, faith, ways to world peace and our own life journey.
Do you believe that there’s hope for every religion to be respected and become united with each other?
Yes, very much so. That is the richness of life. All people and members of every religion should respect one another which means accepting our differences and similarities as the realistic truth of life. However, there is no need to be united with one another in only one religion. Except in the understanding that all people do themselves justice by seeking meaning and understanding our world guided by the values of love, goodness, justice and peace. The challenge and satisfaction is to work together in partnership with our natural similarities and differences.
How did your background influence the book?
My early life was devoted to history, psychology and sociology in teaching and in social casework and community work. Theology has always been important as it has been my lifetime church membership. After being ordained in midlife as an Anglican priest, I lived as a vicar of a multi-racial, inner-city parish where I led the restoration and redevelopment of as a multi-faith arts and education center.
Why and when did you start having the vision and passion to write this book?
Back in 2013 the idea came to me. I took up as many informal interfaith conversations as I could. I found different ideas about God to be common between faiths. I still enjoy these mutual relationships enormously and have started a Muslim and Christian group with a Muslim leader for selected people we know who wish to reach outside their own faith to understand what may lie behind our two faiths.
Why do you think people are not as religious as they used to be?
The massive and overwhelming consumer society, increased individual freedom, questioning of the status quo and traditional values, breakdown of old communities, increased challenge to anything apparently superstitious, lacking rational evidence, etc.
If you can pick three of the most significant verses in the Bible that will help bring back faith in humanity about God’s existence what would that be?
Matthew 22.37-9, ‘Love God …..And love your neighbour as you love yourself’
Acts 17.28: in him we live and move and have our being.
1 John 4.7 ‘Dear friends, let us love one another because love comes from God’
What do you hope people takeaway from reading your book?
We are all God’s agents in creating a loving, peaceful and just world for everyone. I suggest that God is neither a person nor an intervening agent despite what is said in the Bible and much religious practice of different religions. God is at root the name given by many religious writers and adopted by humankind for the source of love and the energy/spirit/ force of life that is common to the human experience.
I can only wish that it gives people hope hat people can live together harmoniously. Life throughout the world with all its different people, faiths and circumstances are remarkably similar. Differences are to enrich one another in our experiences and relationships of peaceful living.
What is the meaning of religion to you?
Religion binds people together in ideas that begin with the spiritual and spread to the social and cultural.
Perceptions of Christianity from People of Different Faiths: To See Ourselves as Others See Us is available via Amazon.
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