A: Not all religious views and actions are compatible with faith in the God of Jesus Christ described in Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective. Convictions expressed in the FLC document, such as "God is sovereign, God's reign is universal," "We acknowledge that God is greater than any human construct," and the Bible calls humans "to repentance in light of God's coming judgement grounded in the resurrection," acknowledge the need to be discerning about religious and spiritual beliefs and practices. The document does not support a simple relativism, an "anything goes" approach.A: The most central confessions that Jesus "is the one who reveals God to us," makes known God's purposes for humanity, "speaks and acts on behalf of God, is "obethent to God's will," and "guides our view of life and our ethics," because he is "the Way, the Truth and the Life," while crucial, are vague in the document. What did it mean for Jesus to be "obethent" and what does that imply for us?By being "imitators of God" in a holistic sense- not only or primarily in prophetic speech- the "unfruitful works of darkness" are exposed by the light. This kind of witness has Christian substance and integrity, is "slow to condemn," and, as I Peter encourages, can gently and with reverence "account for the hope" that is in us, even in the midst of religious difference, conflict and suffering.
6 Canadian Mennonite January 25, 2010 profess a faith and a spiritual way that God’s way is revealed to us most fully mean we give up our responsibility to differs from our own. Like the Apostle through Jesus Christ (Hebrews 1), we share the good news of Jesus Christ. And Paul, who engaged with the Stoics in the should proclaim faithfully and courage- as Christians committed to peace, we market square (Acts 17:16-34), we should ously the gospel of God’s grace in Christ. should also have an interest in promoting seek common understanding and be slow While some of us need to grow in our peace with people of different religious to condemn. This requires deep humility appreciation and respect for the wisdom persuasions. In a volatile age, where and a posture of careful listening on our from God that may be found outside of religious and cultural conflicts may part. A genuine concern for evangel- our Christian faith, others of us need to surface easily, we must find ways of living ism and mission does not rule out God’s take courage to confess and proclaim the together as neighbours and fostering presence in a religious faith or spirituality truth that has been given to us in Jesus. community among all people. l apart from our own. An appreciation for God’s work in the At the same time, given that God and world outside of the church does not Speaking prophetically The Faith and Life Committee invited Gayle Gerber Koontz, professor of theology and ethics at Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary, Elkhart, Ind., to respond to some questions arising from the Faith and Life presentation at the Saskatoon assembly. Q: Not all the beliefs within the spiritual- divine to a particular familial, racial/eth- ities and religions around us—including nic, denominational or national identity within Christianity—are noble and good. and membership. Confessing Jesus in a religiously plural- Religious views that claim, or more istic time also invites us to speak proph- subtly assume, that “God is on the side of etically. How would you respond to this my nation, not yours,” or “God prefers my statement? race or religion to yours,” are suspect. The A: Not all religious views and actions are biblical interpretation offered in the FLC compatible with faith in the God of Jesus document points out that “outsiders” Christ described in Confession of Faith are other dimensions of our lives: family, to the Hebrew people and Israel were in a Mennonite Perspective. Convictions local organizations, economic arrange- sometimes instruments of God’s blessing. expressed in the FLC document, such as ments, political entities. One Christian This would suggest that we should worry “God is sovereign, God’s reign is univer- example is the “health and wealth” gospel about spiritualities and religious views sal,” “We acknowledge that God is greater that assumes that faithfulness brings that are secretive, that presume superior- than any human construct,” and the Bible material riches, or that good health is a ity over those not included in their mem- calls humans “to repentance in light of sign of God’s favour and illness due to bership, and that are closed to hospitable God’s coming judgement grounded in the lack of faith. Je
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