Memo to Tony: Ignore the carping from critics, you're on to something real. Let me be your brain for five minutes. Here's a Third Way growth system for faith projects, with special reference to Christianity and Islam.
Functional goal of your Faith Foundation: integration of world religions. Strategic pathway: create inclusive faith message, sell in by outreach, institutional development to lock in integrationist gains. Tony, what you are saying is precisely in the mainstream of the Christian tradition:
One: The first strategic rebranding was implemented immediately after the crucifixion. St Paul was the first moderniser. He took the aspirations of the disciples and fashioned a totally new, Big Tent message to take a purely Jewish Christian brand global.
The entrenched attitudes of the traditionalists had to go, obviously. Food rituals – out. Dress code – out. Racial preference – out. Doctrinal requirements – minimal. Everlasting life was the promise; the New Jesus was the way. Paul made the message inclusive. He went for what worked. We've been here before.
Two: "I am the way, the truth and the life" looks like the bottom line for Christianity in a doctrinal sense. It's a sticking point. But we mustn't get hung up on the literal sense of those words. For instance, it depends what the meaning of the word "I" is (let alone "way", "truth", "life", "the" and "and" are). Because it's already been adapted. The Nicean Council (325 CE) dramatically refashioned this message and drew in big new buy-in from throughout the Roman empire. Suddenly it was not just one God but three. The polytheists went ape for it. All credit to the bishops. But we've moved on. Values have changed. Aspirations have changed. The Trinity as a leadership team is no longer intrinsic to the brand.
We need to hammer out a new message for the times, because (this is the kicker) I believe the Trinity could be the Clause Four of Christianity. Because – a Trinity? Why a Trinity? If three, why not four? God the Father, God the Son, God the Mohammed, God the Holy Ghost. It's the same tradition; an extension not a fracture. It's evolution not revolution. We are stronger together than we are alone.
Proposal: We go back to Nicea in 2025 for the 1700th anniversary of the Nicean Council. It'll be like the Olympics but spiritual. Also, we need theological infrastructure. We'll need to keep a grip on the number of God-figures in the leadership portfolio. Realistically, I think the tent isn't going to be big enough for Hinduism.
Three: The project needs institutional expression to carry the inspiration (St Paul again, he was right). We need a supra-faith organization to be the custodian of the values and aspirations. If we're looking for parallels, you are M. Monnet and your Faith Foundation is the Coal and Steel Agreement. If we can get buy-in from the Vatican and Mecca, we can set up a purely voluntary, mutually beneficial bilateral with no integrationist agenda.
On no account must the participants know this is a political project for a super-faith. The personnel are the key to it? Can we get Alastair? Would he do God? Peter? Gordon will soon be free too won't he? He'd be up for it. The world will never need saving again if you pull this off.