The New Christians

The New Christians

Interfaith Heroes Month

Geez, I had no idea.  It’s actually Interfaith Heroes Month, at least according to David Crumm, late of the Detroit Free Press and now the editor of  Today he asks one of my favorite persons in the world, Sheryl Fullerton (my editor at Jossey-Bass) to reflect on inter-faith work, and she speaks of another of my favorite persons in the world, Samir Selmanovic, the convener of the amazing Faith House Manhattan.  Sheryl is currently editing Samir’s first book, and here’s her money quote:


I remember when I first opened up Samir’s proposal. His opening
statement hit me right between the eyes: “For years I’ve been talking
about three monotheistic religions to faith house manhattan.pngnonbelievers. And here is what I
hear: ‘At best, Jews, Christians, and Muslims look like three religious
stooges in a slapstick comedy. At worst, they look like three brothers
with hands clasped in prayer and soaked in blood.’ We have littered
history with incredible amounts of stupidity, injustice and suffering.
The world has simply had it with us. They are not listening anymore…
Judaism, Christianity, and Islam have painted a picture of God that is
difficult to admire, much less worship….Either monotheism will die, or

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posted January 22, 2009 at 8:35 am

I don’t know Tony, While I truly agree that there have been mistakes made by those who claim the name of Christ, does that mean that the message of Christianity as found within the pages of the New Testament has to be changed. If so, aren’t we just simply “marketing Jesus”?
Jesus Himself said “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it(Matt 10:34-39 ESV).”
Doesn’t really sound like Jesus was interested in being marketable, does it?
Grace and peace,

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posted January 22, 2009 at 10:20 am

I think Samir’s sentiment has a deeper undercurrent than one might assume. Even among committed Christians. If our narrative with God begins with the Abrahamic covenant to bless ALL nations, then efforts at inter-faith peace-making are more than the fanciful aspirations of progressives and emergents.
We’ve been entrusted with the vocation of being the body of Christ for the blessing and reconciling of this world. I find it quite ironic when Christians prejudice a verse like the one Rick quotes above over others where Jesus clearly rejects swords and the wielding thereof. Nevermind the fact that in Matt 10 Jesus was warning them about the repercussions of preaching the kingdom to a religously stuck and captivated culture. Jesus is explaining the reality of going to the lost sheep of Israel…calling them lost when they assumed they were found, chosen, “saved.”
The message of the kingdom feels like a sword to a people who assume they know exactly who God is and what “His” plan for the world is. When considered in context, Rick’s verse of choice proves Samir’s point. Monotheism will die by the sword as long as it attempts to live by it.

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posted January 22, 2009 at 11:02 am

People have often said “such-and-such belief will die.” Yet, most of those beliefs are still around. It was thought that Christianity would eventually die after the Enlightenment, and though it is severely hurt in the West, it is not dead.
What Christians have done in the past is abhorrent, but it does not reflect upon Christ. Those who claim His name and Christ Himself happen to be different people. Though much evil has been done in His name, far more good has been performed. The Hindu culture in India stopped burning the live bodies of wives when the husband died under a missionary’s plea. England peacefully stopped slavery because of a Christian. Orphans have been taken in, the hungry fred, the naked clothed, and the imprisoned kept company all because of Christians. No other religion has attempted to perform this amount of good (other than Judaism) because no other religion teaches what Christianity teaches; that humans are significant and made in the image of God, therefore worthy of love.
That message will never die, just as Christ promised. If our message and belief can die, then it is not from God and is worthy of death.

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posted January 22, 2009 at 1:12 pm

zach…. comment of the day.

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