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Just Because You Love Jesus Doesn’t Mean You Have to Disrespect the Buddha, Dishonor Muhammad or Disregard Moses

More and more of the faithful of every religious tradition are realizing that they don’t have to have antipathy or hate for other religions to be strong in their own.

Brian Mclaren’s research on hostility as an expression of religiousity leads him to some interesting conclusions.:

Just Because You Love Jesus Doesn’t Mean You Have to Disrespect the Buddha, Dishonor Muhammad or Disregard Moses

by Brian D. Mclaren (Huffington Post)

On this 11th anniversary of 9/11, it’s a good day for us to look back and assess the damage.

The damage to buildings long been accounted for, and much has been rebuilt. The damage to the economy has also been debated and estimated — and replaced by new, greater, primarily self-inflicted economic wounds.

The damage to families is, of course, impossible to assess or quantify. It can only be mourned.

But there’s another impact of those attacks that is still too seldom tallied: how our religious communities have turned from their deepest teachings and values of peace and reconciliation, and have too often become possessed, we might say, by spirits of fear, revenge, isolation and hostility.

As a Christian, I’ve certainly seen it and felt it in the Christian community, expressed often in a sense that the more you love Jesus, the more inhospitable you’ll be toward other faiths. “Don’t let them build mosques or temples on our turf,” some say. “Don’t let them express their difference in dress or ritual,” others suggest. “Require them to conform to our holidays and cultural codes,” others demand.

This turn toward hostility has disturbed me, so a few years ago I began studying it more in earnest. My research led me to the underlying relationships among religious hostility, religious solidarity and religious identity. Today, the results of my research and reflection go public in a new book (“Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road?“), and among many conclusions, one stands out — one that I hope my fellow Christians can hear and ponder.

To be a strong Christian does not mean you have to have a strong antipathy toward other faiths and their leaders.

To be hostile rather than hospitable, in fact, makes you a worse Christian, not a better one.

To be respectful, curious, humble, inquisitive and hospitable to people of other faiths makes you a better Christian — meaning a more Christ-like one. To love your neighbor means, at the very least, not to discriminate against him, not to dehumanize him, not to insult him or what he holds dear, not to act as if God made a mistake in giving him a place in this world.

Put more positively, to love your neighbor of another faith means to seek to understand her, to learn to see the world from her perspective, to stand with her, as it were, so that you can feel what she feels and maybe even come to understand why she loves what she loves.

In the book I recount a conversation I shared over lunch with an imam who became a good friend in the weeks after 9/11. We each shared what it was we loved about our religions and their founders. He went first, and then as I was sharing, he interrupted me. “I have never heard a Christian share what he loves about his faith,” he told me. “I have only heard my fellow Muslims tell me what Christians believe. It is so different to hear it from you.”

I knew what he meant.

What would happen if more of us, whatever our religious tradition, extracted ourselves from the vicious cycles of offense and revenge, hurt and resentment, misunderstanding and counter-misunderstanding, rumor and innuendo? One thing is certain: We would become more faithful to the vision of our founders, not less. May that be so.

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  • Jai

    “Gandhi said it best: “I like your Christ. I don’t like your Christians.””

    To give the full quote (which explains Gandhi’s remark better, and which was directed specifically at “Christian” British imperialists at the time), Gandhi said “I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ”.

    Unfortunately, the message is still pertinent in the cases of various modern-day fundamentalist Christians and particularly some of the most prolific “Christian” anti-Muslim propagandists. Including Robert Spencer.

    Perhaps such people need a reminder of the following parts of The Bible:

    Matthew 5:43-48:

    “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

    Matthew 7:21-23:

    “[21] Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

    [22] Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?

    [23] And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

  • steve

    Your coddling headline is part of the problem. It’s not that Christians “don’t have to” be disrespectful at all. It’s that they aren’t permitted to be.

    Hatred and disrespect violate both the Ten Commandments and the teachings of Christ, so according to the Bible (which few Christians actually heed), they’re actively engaging in sinful behavior when they are bigoted or even judgmental.

    Gandhi said it best: “I like your Christ. I don’t like your Christians.”

  • Charles Riley

    Being a Christian is not all bluebirds sitting on your shoulder. Christianity has tenets to its faith, one being that Jesus is the son of God. To maintain this point Christianity must point out that they do not recognize Mohammad as a prophet and the Koran thus, must be rejected. This is insulting to many Muslims, just as when Muslims maintain that Jesus was only a prophet thus insulting Basic Christian belief. Now both sides can agree to disagree, and they can be respectful as to allowing each to practice their religion. Just remember that to practice either religion one must refute the tenets of the other. For Islam this seems to be Blasphemy. I have never went out to burn a Koran, though the thought does not disturb me it is not something I would not simply go out and do. I also do not make fun of or harass Muslims. Following the golden rule is important as a Christian. Muslims may not daily burn bibles but they were willing to burn local language translations of the bible in the thousands in Afghanistan in order to keep them from being distributed. They did unto the Bible as they would not have done unto the Koran. So nobody is perfect and no one should be killed or imprisoned for the bible burning just as no one should for the Koran burning. Muslims are going to have to become more tolerant if they are going to interact with the outside world. People are not going to stop speaking, writing, drawing, and making films just because the subject matter makes Muslims upset or angry. In fact, due to the reactions worldwide, I think you will see more of it as various people make stands for free speech. They will write or say things not because they believe them but because they simply have a point to make.

  • Burritoboy

    Y’all are both missing the point of the discussion and this thread (before it goes all to hell).

  • Susanna

    Unfornately, both McClaren and Melvin are dead wrong. A true Christian doesn’t just follow Jesus, one has Jesus in them. “This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did” 1 Jn 2: 5. We are commanded to love one another, but we are also called to speak the truth in love. Because a Christian follows the Great Commission simply means we reach out to the lost.

  • Yes, more thoughts like this! Actually, I have come to the conclusion that the more in touch and the more you practice your own religion the more you come to see the beauty of other people and their religion(s).

  • Melvin

    These people dont even follow jesus they follow a religion ABOUT Jesus, not OF him. Pauline doctrines and Jesus stripped of his Jewishness and backround only to be Hellenized and Anglicized. He followed Judaism and never heard of Christianity. He didn’t come to found a new religion but REVIVE Palestinian Judaism. He said nothing about Rome or the coming of Paul, he actually warned against LAWLESS teachers like Paul, who abolished the Law without Divine authority. Jesus never said the Law is abolished, not even after the resurrection (?). Jesus never said “I am the end of the Law”, it was Paul who said that (Rom 10:4) and “Christians” follow him. Jesus never heard about vicarious atonement and the “original sin”, those are based on Pauls teaching. The Gospels are strategically placed before Pauls epistles when Paul came before the Gospels. Christianity is closer to Ancient Paganism than Judaism and Christians invented the “prophecies about Jesus by reading their Own ideas back into the Hebrew Bible and Christianizing it. The Jews never expected a Divine Messiah or dying rising Messiah, that concept is ABSENT from Judaism because its pagan. Thats why large number of pagans immediately embraced Christianity because it was very similar to their traditions. Read up Robert Price. J

  • Christian-friend

    “As a Christian, I’ve certainly seen it and felt it in the Christian community, expressed often in a sense that the more you love Jesus, the more inhospitable you’ll be toward other faiths”

  • Steve

    ““I have never heard a Christian share what he loves about his faith,” he told me. “I have only heard my fellow Muslims tell me what Christians believe””

    Really? Was in the USA?

  • mindy1

    More thoughts like this please 😀 We need to extract ourselves from hate.

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