Interfaith discussion answers forgiveness questions


Ryan Fischer

Grad student Malak Khader helps introduce the panelists at the Interfaith Discussion in the Memorial Student Center, April 5, 2016.

Representatives of Islam, Judaism and Christianity formed a panel discussion Tuesday as a part of Islam Awareness Week.

Dr. Ahmed Nusair, Rabbi Jean Eglinton and Pastor David Kephart answered the question: How do we find forgiveness from a holy God?

Each speaker had 15 minutes to answer the discussion questions, then asked each other questions. The floor was then opened for audience questions.

Kephart said it is important for students to know how to have honest and respectful conversations about religion.

“I hope that they learn they can have these type of conversations with each other in a very respectful and genuine way, and they can feel open and honest with one another and have these conversations, not as a debate or as something like that but something that needs to take place,” Kephart said.

Eglington spoke first about seeking forgiveness from a holy God.

Englington said ancient Jews used animal sacrifices to atone for their sins, but since the second temple was destroyed, no more animal sacrifices have taken place because they could only be done there.

Englington said there are three ways to approach God, which are prayer, study and good deeds.

“The thing that we all agree on is forgiveness is part of the makeup of the universe,” Englington said.

Kephart spoke second and used the Bible to give his answer.

“Being a Bible believer, I’m going to use the Bible,” Kephart said.

Kephart said there is a biblical theme of God providing a lamb as a sacrifice for sins and that Jesus fulfills that theme by becoming the sacrifice for all sins.

“It’s only because he lived the life that we couldn’t and he died the death that we deserved,” Kephart said.

Nusair said God is a true entity, but he is beyond what humans can understand.

Nusair said forgiveness comes from acknowledging mistakes and sincerely repenting. Nusair said everyone, religious or irreligious, has a conscience.

“If you do something wrong, you would feel something inside you that tells you it’s wrong,” Nusair said.

The panel continued to ask each other questions about things like the justness of God, the afterlife and atheism.

Several students also asked questions in response to all the representatives said.

The discussion ended with closing statements from all three speakers.

Kephart said discussions like this are important in our changing society, as these topics come up in communities and politics.

“We’re already seeing that take place, so the best way to handle these type of things is to be informed about the different religions,” Kephart said. “As long as we can be informed about one another, respectful for one another, that’s a good place to start.”

Lydia Waybright can be contacted at [email protected].