Monday, July 8, 2013


Ramadan has begun - a month of fasting and spiritual reflection for Muslims. That prompts a thought about religious pluralism in the U.S.

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 off-message?)

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.

Lord Christ,

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 witness!

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.

In the name of Jesus - my Lord, my Savior. Amen.

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