I’ve mentioned Brian McLaren’s new book on interfaith dialogue and overcoming the hostility that exists among religions (Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddah and Mohammed Cross the Road?). It’s a very busy time of year and I have precious little time for reading, so the book is still in my study on a stack of other books I want to read soon. But those of us fortunate enough to be able to attend his talk on the topic at the Wild Goose Festival got a little taste of what to expect from the book.
The principal challenge he addresses is how to have a strong Christian identity without hostility to “others.” Within that challenge he discussed historical challenges, doctrinal challenges, liturgical and missional challenges.
Of course we must start any examination of this subject from the reality that we in the Abrahamic tradition (Christians, Muslims and Jews) have a bloody history of failure, conflict and violence when dealing with those who don’t share our faith (or our particular version of it).
On the subject of what our faith, and specifically Jesus himself, teaches us about living peaceably with those of different faiths, Mr. McLaren makes the fairly obvious point that despite Christianity’s violent history, Jesus himself never killed anyone and on the two occasions when his disciples wanted to, he rebuked them.
To get to a world where people of all faiths live peaceably together, we have lots of work to do. But for Christians one obvious starting point should be the truth that when Jesus told us to love our enemies, that rules out killing them.
I’ll share more from the book if I ever find time to read for pleasure again.
In the meantime…