The other day I was driving down a road near Miami, FL looking for a mosque. I got lost. Like REALLY lost. Like 30 minutes-out-of-my-way-and-have-to-back-track-now-and-I'm-super-late-for-my-appointment lost. Even though I was wearing a Hawaiian shirt and some Raybans, it was hard for me to keep my cool (rim shot!).
Then I drove past an Eastern Orthodox Church. Then a menorah popped up on the right hand side of the road. Then there was a branch of a Brazilian Pentecostal church trying to evangelize the Americas. Then there was an herberia with statues and accessories for Santeria rituals. Once I took the time to calm down and open my eyes I could appreciate the drive (sort of) for en education in Miami's stunning religious diversity.
The thing is -- Miami isn't alone in its spiritual miscellany.
Religious pluralism is a fact in an ever more globalized, individualized, and post-modern society. The reality of religious pluralism, and its attendant ideology of tolerance, presupposes a serious shift for the "Christian Church" from a position of privilege to one of marginality among many.
-- How can we navigate such a shift? --
Christian apologist, evangelist, and teacher had me on his podcast "Re-Connect" to talk about my journal article "Building Bridges: Toward Constructing a Christian Foundation for Inter-Religious Relationships in the Shift from Religious Privilege to Spiritual Plurality," I wrote for Missio Apostolica last year.
In the podcast we talk about my "six steps to encountering the religious other" and I go back-and-forth with Andy who has a more outspoken and assertive style.
If you don't have time to listen to the whole episode, here's a synopsis. Basically my point is this -- given the religious pluralism we live in, it is necessary that faithful, missional, Christians reconsider their foundational theology concerning other religions and worldviews and begin constructing a revitalized and benevolent approach to the “religious other.”
This paper is an attempt to not only outline the facts, trends, and philosophy of religious pluralism, but also sketch a blueprint for a friendly, missionary, encounter with other religions founded on God’s Word a six-step process for better engaging with individuals from another religious point of view. It draws on the Scripture passages above and from my own experience as a ministry leader and interfaith activist over the last decade. The process is not meant to be comprehensive, but a sketched blueprint for your own constructive efforts as an individual or, as I suggest, as a congregation.