All the Rivers of Paradise: Christian Responsibility in an Interfaith World

Earl Lectures and Pastoral Conference, January 23–25, 2007
Sponsored by Pacific School of Religion
Held at First Congregational Church of Berkeley

In Genesis, a single, unnamed river flows out of Eden and branches into tributaries that run to different parts of the world, providing us with a metaphor for the world's religions and reminding us that Americans today live in an interfaith world in ways never imagined in our history. "We the people" now include Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Zoroastrians, and new varieties of Christians and Jews, while the original people of this land still hold fast to their own sense of the sacred. Members of all the world's religions now live in the same neighborhoods, profoundly affecting schools, markets, and the halls of government. And all the while the world bristles with the weapons and wars of religious intolerance.

The 2007 Earl Lectures grappled with these momentous questions, challenging and informing our thinking about the place of Christianity among the world's religions and changing our practice as we become profoundly involved with people of other faiths.

Earl Lecturers and Preachers

Mahmoud Mustafa Ayoub, professor of Islamic studies and comparative religion at Temple University, has written a number of books in English and Arabic on Islam and interreligious dialogue, including Redemptive Suffering in Islam and The Qur’an and Its Interpreters (two volumes to date). Ayoub is editorial consultant for The Muslim World Journal, chief editor of Qur’an Commentary al-Mizan, and a member of the editorial board of the journal Islam and Christian Muslim Relations. He earned his MA in religious thought from the University of Pennsylvania and his PhD in the history of religion from Harvard.

Bernice Powell Jackson has served the past 18 months as president of the World Council of Churches for North America. She was on the national staff of the United Church of Christ for nearly 20 years, most recently as one of five officers of the church and as head of Justice and Witness Ministries. During the 1980s, she was director of the Bishop Tutu Scholarship Fund in the US, working closely with the archbishop. Currently, she is doing pastoral ministry and visioning with a New Orleans UCC congregation which is without a pastor, helping it to rebuild after the hurricane.

Tat-siong Benny Liew taught at Chicago Theological Seminary for eight years before being appointed associate professor of New Testament at PSR in 2006. He received his MA from Olivet Nazarene University and his PhD from Vanderbilt University. He is author of Politics of Parousia: Reading Mark Inter(con)textually and is a guest editor of the Semeia volume on "The Bible in Asian America." Professor Liew specializes in gospel studies and postmodern literary theory.

Choan-Seng (C.S.) Song has been a seminal figure in the interaction between Christian faith and the social, political, cultural, and religious situations in Asia. He was recently featured as one of 12 thinkers whose work epitomizes theology in the 20th century (God at the Risk of Engagement: Twelve Theologians and Philosophers of Religion in the 20th Century, by Henry Mottu). Professor Song lectures internationally and has served as a visiting professor at Harvard's School of Divinity and Doshisha University in Japan. He is an ordained minister of the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan, where he was born, and has served as president of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches. Recently he was named director of the Graduate Theological Union's Partnerships in Transforming Theological Education in Asia, the Pacific, and North America.