These pages give an overview of the practice of Scriptural Reasoning and its role within the Cambridge Inter-faith Programme. For text packs and guidelines on how to do Scriptural Reasoning, visit its dedicated website at www.scripturalreasoning.org.
Shaping all of CIP’s work is a practice that has become known as ‘Scriptural Reasoning’, in which Jews, Christians and Muslims meet to read passages from their respective Scriptures together.
What is Scriptural Reasoning?
In Scriptural Reasoning (SR), participants meet to read passages from their respective sacred texts. Together they discuss the content of those texts, and the variety of ways in which their traditions have worked with them and continue to work with them, and the ways in which those texts shape their understanding of and engagement with a range of contemporary issues. The goal is not agreement but rather growth in understanding one another's traditions and deeper exploration of the texts and their possible interpretations.
A participant on CIP's annual Summer School wrote:
"Scriptural reasoning is engrossing. It is a tool that, at least in my modest opinion, will change the face of inter-faith and the workings therein. It breaks down the mostly useless, practically ineffective superfluous talk about our beliefs and their similarities and gets straight to the bone: these are our texts, this is the core of my belief, and I want you to tell me how you feel about it. This is an act which exposes one another, lets down defences, and allows for attack; but miraculously, it inspires only greater peace and understanding. I want to be trained to teach others this precious tool, so that I can be effective when I return to my hometown and God willing gather Pastors, Preachers, Imams, and Rabbis, and sit down and begin to draw the community together."
A young participant in a Scriptural Reasoning dialogue in Chester, UK said:
“[Scripture] bridges a gap... because it is something to focus on - if everyone focuses on the same thing, relationships can happen around that focus, so you can talk with people you may not usually talk to.”
The use of sacred texts in Scriptural Reasoning allows for religious study to be part of the solution in a world characterised by intractable problems between religions. It engenders respect and friendship, and it provides a medium for discussing wider questions of identity and culture.
Scriptural Reasoning and the Cambridge Inter-faith Programme
SR is at the heart of the Cambridge Inter-faith Programme's work. CIP supports, sponsors and practises Scriptural Reasoning:
- Since 2002 CIP has hosted the Society for Scriptural Reasoning for annual SR conferences
- CIP runs open demonstrations of Scriptural Reasoning each term in Cambridge - keep an eye on our news page for details of upcoming events
- CIP has developed Scriptural Reasoning Online, a web forum for studying and discussing religious texts
- CIP supports a regular Scriptural Reasoning group in Cambridge