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Agents for Peace in a Diverse World
by Tom Goodman
February 18, 2015


That's one of Austin's favorite bumper stickers, using the symbols of the world's major religions to spell the word.  The Muslim crescent moon, for example, becomes the "C," the Star of David serves as the "X," and the cross stands in for the "T."

The decal preaches the conviction that no one religion can corner the market on truth.  "You have your way of perceiving God, and I have my way," the sticker seems to say.  "We're all just taking different paths up the same mountain, so I'll see you at the top."

Because of that, many in our culture object to the Christian belief in Jesus as the only way to God.  They see it as impolite at best or disruptive at worst.  But the gospel message, even with its exclusive claims about Jesus, has the resources to make believers agents for peace.  I can think of three resources.

Common Grace.  Christianity teaches that there are basic values self-evident to everyone, not just Bible readers.  So, we can work together with people of other faiths -- and no faith -- to build decent communities.

Saving Grace.  The gospel teaches that our salvation comes by grace alone.  God drew us to himself not because of our nationality or our ethnicity or our moral self-discipline.  It wasn't that we were smarter or had a greater moral sensitivity.  It's all of grace.  So we can relate to others who don't get it, because there was a time when we didn't get it.

The Example of Jesus.  At the very heart of the Christian story is a man who died for his enemies, praying for their forgiveness.  Reflection on this can only lead to a radically different way of dealing with those who are different from us.

Sadly, Christians don't always put these resources into practice in their relationships in the world.  But the more we understand the gospel, the more we can communicate the exclusive claims of Jesus in a manner that builds relationships, even with those who don't accept our claims.

To that end, this Thursday I will be joining a panel to discuss the differences and similarities between Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and Buddhism.  The event takes place February 19 from 7:00 - 9:00 PM in the King-Seabrook Chapel of Huston-Tillotson University.  There's more information here.


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