Saturday, November 28, 2009

Interfaith Christmas and All Year Round...

Several things have popped up lately that I think go along with this happy whatever you wanakuh series of posts.  One in my AOL mailbox...and one showed up randomly on a google search while I was looking for something pretty much unrelated.

The first was a link to an article that annie found and posted on EU entitled, Three Clergymen, Three Faiths, One Friendship.  The article is about Rabbi Ted Falcon, the Rev. Don Mackenzie and Sheik Jamal Rahman, the “interfaith amigos.” They travel around the country speaking about interfaith dialogue. They are buds in spite of doctrinal differences. How do they stay friends since religious beliefs are such a hot button topic and oftentimes cause such discord?

Rabbi Falcon told the crowd at the Second Presbyterian Church here. “We try to honor the truth. This is the truth for you, and this is the truth for me. It may not be reconcilable, but it is important to refuse to make the other the enemy.”

During their presentation, each of them tell the audience what they value the most in their own faith tradition. 

The minister said “unconditional love.” The sheik said “compassion.” And the rabbi said “oneness.”

But then, they fess up and reveal what they regard as untruth.

 The minister said that one “untruth” for him was that “Christianity is the only way to God.” The rabbi said for him it was the notion of Jews as “the chosen people.” And the sheik said for him it was the “sword verses” in the Koran, like “kill the unbeliever.”

And about those "kill the infidel verses in the Koran?"

“It is a verse taken out of context,” Sheik Rahman said, pointing out that the previous verse says that God has no love for aggressors. “But we have to acknowledge that ‘kill the unbelievers’ is an awkward verse,’ ” the sheik said as the crowd laughed. “Some verses are literal, some are metaphorical, but the Koran doesn’t say which is which.”

And neither does the Bible, Sheik Rahman.  Many of the religious squabbles among Christians are because every denomination picks and chooses which verses they deem literal and which verses they deem spiritual.  




The other article I came across this morning...and it is not nearly as current.  It is an interview between Shane Claiborne and Tony Campolo about interfaith dialogue.  Tony sums up a very important point.

In a mystical relationship with God, there is a coming together of people where theology is left behind and in this spirituality they found a commonality.

It seems to me that when we listen to the Muslim mystics as they talk about Jesus and their love for Jesus, I must say, it's a lot closer to New Testament Christianity than a lot of the Christians that I hear. In other words if we are looking for common ground, can we find it in mystical spirituality, even if we cannot theologically agree, Can we pray together in such a way that we connect with a God that transcends our theological differences?

So we make sure we don't compromise what we believe. But we also make sure that in mystical spirituality we find a kind of oneness that we leave judgment of who goes to heaven and who goes to hell in the hands of God and just preach the truth as we understand it.

Could it be that the little pet doctrines that we cling to are not all that important to God?  Perhaps there are so many irreconcilable differences even among Christians...(thinking free will/determinism, the various atonement theories, inerrancy of the scriptures)...because God purposed it to be that way?  Perhaps theology (or to borrow an annie term..."theory-ology ") is not what God wants us to focus on. 

And Shane says: 

When it comes to living out the Biblical vision of justice and peace, there are times when I feel like I have more in common with folks of other religions than I do with some other evangelicals. I have often found that while we may not agree theologically, we have a similar vision for how God calls us to live. Can we work together in service and action, even though we disagree theologically?

These two articles sound promising...hopeful but as Tony says:

There is going to be one segment of evangelicalism, just like there is one segment in Islam that is not going to be interested in dialogue.

Hmmmm....Ann Coulter comes to mind.  Jerry Fallwell...Pat Robertson....Fred Phelps...Kirk Cameron...Jack Chick, John Hagee. 

But there are other evangelicals who will want to talk and establish a common commitment to a goodness with Islamic people and Jewish people particularly.

The article contains several stories which tell of actions, heroic and selfless, that crossed religious lines. 


Dena said...

I've been startled, and then delighted, to discover how much the "different" faiths have in common..!

I discover that I relate to, and learn from, the mystics of all faiths ... and from those mystics who claim no particular faith ... who just can't deny their connection to God.

Their being IN God, and Him IN them.

I like what you found and shared, Cindi - thanks!

Cindi said...

Hi Dena...
Yes I have learned from all kinds of mystics. Even found some stuff among Osho's teachings a while back...and from what I can gather, he was an atheist. There is stuff to be gleaned from so many places, if we are willing to look. I know you are willing. And you know what... he has his ways of making us willing to be willing to learn the lessons in this life he wants to us.