This book is designed to be a concise history. It will provide information on the major events and persons of the interfaith movement. It is far from being exhaustive. Much more research and publication is needed. This study will begin with an examination of the history of religious toleration. This will be followed by a discussion history of the field of comparative religion. This will be followed by an examination of interfaith activities prior to the 19th Century. The chapter that follows will examine the transcendentalists and the Free Religious Association. The importance of the Parliament of the World’s Religions held in 1893 will be examined in a subsequent chapter. The next chapter will examine the interfaith activities of the 20th and 21st Centuries. A general discussion of syncretism and religions with interfaith elements will be contained in the next chapter. The last chapter will examine the history of Interspirituality.
The historian has a considerable number of problems when presenting a history. There are the problems of numbers of sources especially their reliability. There is the concern of the correct interpretation of sources and events. There is one question that arises in this study: are the events discussed significant to successor events. We think of history as linear, events occurring in the past have an effect on something in the future. Of course, everything in the past must in some way affect the future. But to what extent? Are some past events even worth mentioning? In this study, the reader must make the decision. This kind of history is more difficult than history of wars and countries and such. This is a history of an idea. The question remains: How can we know how an idea was formed and transmuted? We can’t, but we can see the results including publications, events, and documents. So in this book, the author focuses on events and accomplishments, because that is all we have.