The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:5-6)
Ramadan has begun - a month of fasting and spiritual
reflection for Muslims. That prompts a thought about religious pluralism in the
Today, we have a diversity of faiths, suspicion of
faith(s), hostility toward faith and a lack thereof. That's how I would describe pluralism. I wish that definition included a greater respect for faith.
America is now characterized as a post-Christian nation. Many
lament this, but it’s probably the natural result of globalization. I believe
an informed, inquiring tolerance is the appropriate reaction. Be prepared to explain your faith. Take an interest in what others believe. Show respect for their views.
Some bemoan tolerance, but it is an act
of grace. The alternative is choosing sides and estrangement. What’s Christian
about that? (Maybe we are post-Christian because the Christians drifted
Re-reading Acts 4:1-21 recently, I had an attitude
adjustment. The passage contains a strong statement about the primacy of
Christianity, but the Apostles were not theological scolds. They were very much
engaged with the people of their own multicultural world - with a positive message,
a healing touch (literally) and a contagious enthusiasm for their work.
I affirm the exclusive claim you have on my soul, on my
life, with the words of St. Peter:
Salvation is found in on one else, for there is no other
name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved. (Acts 4:12)
I worry that some of my brothers have turned that passage
into a threat, dispatching non-believers to hell. That’s not a compelling
Now I understand that Peter spoke those words - to a doubting,
hostile audience - as an invitation. He had just healed a crippled man and
defended his faith with passion. He wasn’t looking for a scrum; he was excited
about your teaching and your power!
Help me, Holy Spirit, to follow Peter’s example - to live
courageously for my faith, to share it with enthusiasm, to see the
opportunities for healing, to be a living invitation to Christianity.