The Five Fundamentals: A Conclusion

Column by Bishop John Shelby Spong on 7 November 2007 0 Comments
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I love your writing and your views that embrace
compassionate deeds rather than creedal concepts. It seems to me
that your message would have a much broader appeal if you opened
your invitation to follow your belief paradigm to all comers, not
just Christians; and broadened your teaching authority to other
sages and ethical and moral teachers beyond Jesus. I think your
call and message could be far more inclusive than being
restricted to Christians alone. Have you ever addressed a
non-Christian audience and broadened your message to accept their
way of worshipping God?


Thank you for your letter and suggestion. Yes, I have
addressed audiences of other faiths, especially in synagogues,
but I have also conducted a dialogue with a rabbi and his
congregation in Richmond, Virginia, with a Buddhist monk in China
and with a trio of Hindu scholars in India. Every significant
contact I have had with other faith traditions has deepened my
appreciation for what they are and has broadened my understanding
of my own faith.

I do not believe that I contribute to the
interfaith dialogue by seeking to master a faith tradition other
than my own. While I certainly do not think that God is a
Christian, I believe the ultimate pathway to religious unity
comes through my willingness to go so deeply into Christianity
that I escape its limits. Only then can I bring to the
interfaith table the pearl of great price that I believe
Christianity has to offer. I hope that all religious people of
all traditions will be equally dedicated to discovering the
essence of holiness that their faith tradition possesses so that
they can share with me the essence, the pearl of great price that
they have received from their life in Judaism, Islam, Buddhism
and Hinduism. My goal is to enrich the world with the essence of
Christianity even as I am being enriched by the essence of other
worship traditions.

I hope I never disparage or look down on the way any
person journeys into the mystery and wonder of God. I do not
want to be against any religion. I want to walk beyond all
religions, even my own, in my lifetime quest for the truth of God
that all of us can only "see through a glass darkly."

Thank you for writing.

John Shelby Spong




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