Multi-Faith Engagement Involving Christianity and Judaism: Ask Jewish Questions of Jewish People

Multi-faith engagement in a pluralistic culture requires asking questions that invite open conversation rather than handcuff religious self-expression. Take Christian and Jewish discourse for example. It is easy for Christians to ask Christian questions of Jewish people. But I don’t think it is easy for adherents of Judaism to answer them. As one rabbi said to my world religions class years ago, he can’t win when Christians ask him what he thinks of Jesus. If he doesn’t agree with Christians abou … [Read more...]

Muslims, “Go Back Home!” — Home? They are Home.

A Muslim leader shared this morning at the mosque, as my World Religions class visited him, how supportive the Portland community has been since 9/11. Mr. Harris Zafar is the national spokesperson of the Ahmadiyyah Muslim community. He added, though, that he still gets messages from individuals (not necessarily Portland residents) on social media to "Go back home!" Then he quipped, "Tigard? San Francisco? Chicago?" He lives in Tigard, Oregon now. He lived in the other two cities when he was … [Read more...]

How Can We Become Pure of Heart if We Are Blind to Our Need for God and Others?

The reader should consider first the biblical meditation titled, “Blessed are the pure in heart”—not the double-minded and those with cloudy vision.” It can be found here. My friend Phil is blind. But his blindness does not keep him from seeing God’s will for him. God has recently given him a new outlook or perspective on the Christian life. While Phil is a very hard working, resilient, and creative business leader, he has come to realize he needs others’ help more than most because of his blind … [Read more...]

The Trinity Is Not Just for Trinity Sunday, But for Every Day of the Year

The Trinity Is Not Just for Trinity Sunday, But for Every Day of the YearThe doctrine of the Trinity is not just for Trinity Sunday (June 11th, 2017), but for every day of the year. Unfortunately, according to Lesslie Newbigin, many Christians from the High Middle Ages up until the latter half of the twentieth century were averse to referencing the Trinity, perhaps not even on Trinity Sunday: It has been said that the question of the Trinity is the one theological question that has been … [Read more...]

Be Quick to Listen, Slow to Speak, Slow to Become Angry, And Slow to Size People Up.

One of the most profound qualities of the late Abbot Kyogen Carlson, a Zen Buddhist Priest, was how slow he was to size people up. He did not presume to know people’s motives, or grasp everything about those with whom he interacted. Rather, he simply addressed what he experienced in terms of behaviors. It reminded me of James 1:19: “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger” (ESV). Could not James have added, “Be slow to size people up”?On … [Read more...]

Security in Jesus Christ Leads to Humility and Civility. How Secure Are You and I?

Jesus knew where he came from, where he was going, and to whom he belonged. As a result, he was exceptionally secure in his identity. As a result, he was also very gracious and humble. He was so humble that he washed his disciples feet, though he was their Lord and Teacher. He even washed Judas’ feet, even though he knew Judas would betray him that night. Now that’s security!Jesus wished for his disciples to experience the same security he had in relation to his Father. In John 13, we see thi … [Read more...]

Pentecost Sunday: Happy Birthday, Church! Are We Celebrating a Missional Movement or a Monument?

Just as people celebrate birthdays, and nations, too, the church celebrates its birthday today on Pentecost Sunday.Pentecost is the fiftieth day after Easter (including Easter). The Old Testament backdrop is the Jewish festival of Shavuot or the Festival of Weeks (Exodus 34:22; Numbers 28:26-31; Leviticus 23:15-21). This festival occurs fifty days after the Passover celebration. The Passover celebrates God’s deliverance of Israel from slavery in Egypt. The Festival of Weeks celebrates God’s g … [Read more...]