Noted theologian speaks at BYU about building interfaith communities

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The Rev. Dr. Andrew Teal, visiting scholar at BYU and a chaplain and fellow at Pembroke College, speaks during an Oct. 26 forum address. Teal taught that seeing across perceived boundaries is key to “building a beloved community.” (Addie Blacker)

The Rev. Dr. Andrew Teal taught that seeing across perceived boundaries is key to “building a beloved community,” in his Oct. 26 BYU forum address.

Teal is a chaplain and fellow at Pembroke College and lecturer in theology at Oxford University. He was ordained as a parish priest at age 23, and is now great friends with Elder Jeffery R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. He is also a visiting scholar for the Maxwell Institute.

“I hope what I’m trying to say is that looking together across boundaries which are usually quite watertight, can open our understanding and deepen our faith,” Teal said. “Scholarship need not and must not lead to cynicism, rather it’s an opportunity to become friends and to discuss things like grown ups!”

Teal started the forum by sharing his gratitude for the opportunity to speak at BYU. He said his purpose in coming was to share his love for the community at BYU, although he was tempted to focus on himself. 

“In 2 Nephi 1:25, a text that has lodged in my heart since I first read it; it’s clear that the Book of Mormon’s testimony to the truth of Jesus Christ is not manipulation, or the desire to take power and authority over others; but to see and celebrate the glory of God in service and love,” Teal said. 

Teal’s speech continued to focus on love and more specifically, the love of God. “We need to show that whoever somebody is, whatever their colour, creed, background, gender, orientation — you name it — the Lord loves you,” Teal said. “We don’t have to build that, that’s the fact.”

Recently Teal stayed in the University of Utah Hospital after injuring his feet. He compared healing religious rifts to physical healing. Healing such wounds is often slow and painful, just like bridging the gaps. 

Teal said his love for Jesus Christ has grown by making friendships with members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The path to better relationships and community is steep, but still possible. 

“However long it takes to build this enduring communion between Oxford Pembroke and BYU, I commit to journeying with you,” Teal said. “Even on these feet, however ragged they become, even if I had to walk over hot coals to get to where I am now!”

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