Panel of religious leaders to discuss identity of Jesus

Wednesday, January 30, 2008 | 5:05 p.m. CST; updated 11:18 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

COLUMBIA — Almost everyone has an opinion on who Jesus was, and on Friday, Karis Community Church will host a forum to discuss answers to that question.

“Jesus... Who?” will be held at 7 p.m. at The Tiger hotel ballroom and featuring a panelist from each of the Baptist, Islamic and Unitarian Universalist religious traditions.


What: Forum to answer “Jesus ... Who?” When: 7 p.m. Friday Where: The Tiger hotel ballroom For additional information about Schreiner or the forum, go to or

Kevin Larson, lead pastor at Karis, said the speakers all have “dramatically different pictures” of Jesus.

“Some people see Jesus as the Christ, and others think of him as just a prophet, or a good man,” Larson said.

A panelist, Tom Schreiner, pastor of Clifton Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky., said the forum is a unique event and opportunity for interfaith discussion on the figure of Jesus.

“I don’t know of many forums where you have an Islamic person, an evangelical Christian and a liberal Christian all come together to discuss the person of Jesus,” Schreiner said.

The other panelists are the Rev. Bill Haney, minister of Unitarian Universalist Church of Columbia, and Shakir Al-Ani, an Islamic scholar and activist from the Islamic Center of Central Missouri. Schreiner is also a professor of New Testament Interpretation at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

The forum is part of Karis’ first Theology Weekend, which features Schreiner in its other lectures and discussion on Saturday and Sunday.

This forum will resemble a debate, though with “a little less hostile format,” Larson said. Each speaker will have 20 minutes to present his stance on who Jesus was, then 10 minutes to respond to the other panelists. The audience will then have a chance to ask questions, and each panelist will have three minutes to answer.

The discussion will not only be about the personal views of each panelist, Shreiner said. Instead, the forum will give the public a chance to hear experts explain who Jesus is to three major faiths.

“It’s not just my thoughts,” Schreiner said. “What do the Biblical sources say about who Jesus is and what he came to do?”

Larson said he expects people from each panelist’s congregation or organization as well as many from out of town and in the Columbia community to come to the event.

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