Remembering a biblical narrative that shapes our interfaith commitments

BUILDING BRIDGES THROUGH INTERFAITH WORK

By J. Herbert Nelson, II
Stated Clerk of the General Assembly

Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ:

After one month of serving in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Office of General Assembly (OGA) as Stated Clerk, it is clear that there are knowledgeable and committed servants of God in our denomination. I have received calls, cards, emails, letters, texts, tweets, and voice messages offering support and prayers. Thank you for your expressions of support for our denomination and the journey ahead. I feel both privileged and humbled to lead the PC(USA) during this period in history.

우리의 종교 간 약속을 형성하는 성서적 이야기 기억하기

Recordamos una narración bíblica que moldea nuestros compromisos interreligiosos

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  1. No one is advocating violence against Muslims. All people are entitled to equal protection under law. Christ teaches us to love our neighbors. I would assume that to include our Muslim neighbors. But, do not invite them to lead our worship. They would never allow you to represent that Jesus is above their prophet Mohammed. We should strive to live in peace and love with all of mankind and work with any religion that advances that goal. However, Our mission as Christians is to share the good news that Jesus Christ is Lord. To allow someone to contradict that from our own pulpit is unacceptable.

    by Andy Spencer

    November 3, 2016

  2. All of us are children of God. God loves each of us

    by robert H Wright Jr5

    October 22, 2016

  3. Over the last 7 years, I have become more involved in work with neighbors from other faith traditions in Upstate South Carolina. This interest started at my daughters' elementary school when I noticed my daughter - a Presbyterian PK - eating lunch with Muslim and Jewish classmates. I was reminded that "a little child shall lead them", and was amazed at how these 3 children from different faith traditions were modeling table fellowship, talking and laughing and sharing with each other. My Muslim and Jewish neighbors have become friends, as we have sought ways to strengthen our community and work together to appreciate differences. My experience has taught me that we share the same desires - a peaceful place to worship, work, serve, and play that allows our children and our community to flourish. The Islamic Society has sponsored "Meet Your Muslim Neighbor" events, with food and information that challenge stereotypes and misconceptions. I've learned that building relationships with people from other faith traditions has strengthened my own faith, and made me a better Presbyterian pastor. I'm grateful to our denominational leaders for helping us to negotiate these conversations, reminding us that “Our bond with one another is bridged by an ethic of love.” May we as faithful Presbyterians practice such an ethic as we seek to be partners in God’s work in our churches and communities.

    by Andy Casto-Waters

    October 3, 2016

  4. Dear Mr. Clerk, I appreciate your words focused on love. I was interested to hear that both the "Koran and Bible teach a faith grounded in love." Maybe you could send out a document to the church extrapolating the passages from the Koran which teach a faith of love, comparing and contrasting those with the verses on violence toward others (not Christians early in the writing - but later including Christians). That would be an interesting read, and would also show a good understanding of the Koran as well as Scripture. This was not as concerning to me as when you change the very words of Scripture to make your point seem to hold water. When this kind of thing happens from the leadership of a denomination, there is a problem at the root of the discussion. Let me explain. In your section on "commonality of faith expression", you misrepresent Mark 9. The issue was not that people were casting out demons in "another name" as you state. These others were casting out demons in Jesus' name as Mark shares. There is a big difference here, and you use this misrepresentation to make the point that Jesus pointed to "centrality of purpose" not the "joining of their band." This shows poor exegetical work. The real point Jesus is making here is that not all Kingdom work in Jesus' name happened with the approval or involvement of the twelve. But in both cases, unlike what you point out, the name of Jesus is the source of power being used to accomplish the work of the kingdom. In the future, I would encourage you to practice better exegesis, rather then taking scripture out of context and misrepresenting it to make a point, especially one not seen in Scripture.

    by Robert McClelland

    September 28, 2016

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