How do we deal with adherents of other religions?
Adam Walker-Cleaveland of pomomusings has been running a series of posts called ‘Plurality 2.0.’ Each post has been contrinuted by a guest author. I’ll admit that I haven’t really followed the series, but I was struck by a comment made by the most recent contributor, Brian McLaren:
Of course there’s a place and time for speculating on the fate of people of various religions and no religion. (Where and when – and for how long – is another question in itself.) But my sense, after spending quite a few years on the path of following Jesus, is that my primary duty is to look in the mirror and focus, not on the failures or deficits of “the other,” but on my own. My identity as a disciple prompts me to ask what it would mean for me to love my neighbor of another religion as myself, to do for my neighbor of another religion as I would have her do for me, to be willing to sacrifice and suffer (and even die) on her behalf, to take the Christ-like posture of a servant toward my neighbors of other religions – washing their feet, showing them true respect, considering them as better than myself and not looking out for my own interests only, but also theirs.
And this line of thinking raises still more questions: would I want my neighbor of another religion to be preoccupied with my status as an outsider – as “other”? Would I want him constantly seeing me either as a potential convert or as a threat and competitor in the religious market? Would I be happy for her to minimize any common ground we might share and instead, repeatedly and habitually maximize our differences? If my answer to these questions is no, then how can I justify doing these things to my neighbor?
Hmm. When Jesus told us to treat others the way we want to be treated, I think he might have meant it.