Sunday, October 21, 2007

Scholars try to reconcile problematic texts in Judaism, Christianity and Islam

Apparently ecumenicalism means the rejection of your sacred text:

Speaking with mutual respect and sensitivity, prominent Christian, Jewish and Muslim scholars and clergy from around the country met in Los Angeles this week to "wrestle" with what one rabbi described as the "dark side" of the three faith traditions.

Experts cited "problematic" passages from the Hebrew Scripture, the New Testament and the Koran that assert the superiority of one belief system over others.

As an example, the Rt. Rev. Alexei Smith, ecumenical and interreligous official of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles, quoted from the Gospel of Mark: "Go into the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned."

Rabbi Reuven Firestone, director of the Institute for the Study of Jewish-Muslim Interrelations at Hebrew Union College in Los Angeles, mentioned a series of texts, including a verse from Deuteronomy: "For you are a people consecrated to the Lord your God: of all the peoples of the earth the Lord your God chose you to be His treasured people."

And Muzammil H. Siddiqi, chairman of the Fiqh (Islamic Law) Council of North America, quoted from the Koran:

"You who believe, do not take the Jews and Christians as allies: they are allies only to each other. Anyone who takes them as an ally becomes one of them -- God does not guide such wrongdoers."


"After wrestling, I hope people can understand these texts in the appropriate contexts and realize that not all of them, but many of them, are bound by conditions of social milieu, of culture, of historical context."

In some instances, he continued, people of faith need to say to themselves, "This is part of my sacred tradition, but I reject it. I find this text offensive. It goes against my own morality, and it goes against what I believe God expects of me in the world today."

That calls for a great deal of theological introspection, education and courage, he said.


"We want to foster serious theological and moral thinking about those aspects of our traditions . . . that are intolerant and delegitimizes the other and have been used by extremists to foster violence and hatred," said Rabbi Eugene Korn, executive director of the Center for Christian-Jewish Understanding. "It's absolutely critical now because of the increase in religious violence and extreme hostility."


Speakers at the Los Angeles conference also included Rabbi Elliott Dorff, rector and professor of philosophy at American Jewish University, and Richard J. Mouw, president of Fuller Theological Seminary.
There will be two more meetings and then they plan to publish a book of the papers from the conference on the Internet. I can't wait to read it :-)

In the article they attempted to explain away the text of Mark stating that it was added later during the time when there were struggles between Christians and Jews (I wonder if they are referring to when James the brother of Jesus was put to death illegally).

Unfortunately, they're asking us to reject a whole lot of our Bible:
John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

John 6:44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. 45 It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me— 46 not that anyone has seen the Father except he who is from God; he has seen the Father. 47 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life.

John 6:64 But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) 65 And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”

Acts 17:30 "The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”
And that's just a small portion of the texts that I could cite. Christians who believe the Bible is the word of God have no intention of rejecting passages from the Bible because we would be sitting in judgment of God. That would not be a wise move on our part. Sorry, if the text offends some with it's claims of exclusivity but you're going to have to take that up with God.