Friday, April 3, 2009

The New Syncretism

From Christianity Today:

The shift towards pluralism has been long in coming. In his 1993 book, A Generation of Seekers: The Spiritual Journeys of the Baby Boom Generation, Roof reported that surveys of American baby boomers—Protestant, Catholic, or Jewish, liberal or conservative—all showed a trend towards religious consumerism. The values of the new generation were focused on choice, tolerance of different lifestyles, blending faith and psychology—a cafeteria-style religion where you believe in whatever works best for you.

Roof called this individualistic religious consumerism "transformed narcissism," and predicted it would come to dominate American religious life. The results of an August 2008 study conducted by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life appear to bear him out: a majority of American Christians (52%) believe that some non-Christian faiths can lead to eternal life...

In an October 18, 2006, interview broadcast on NPR's "Here and Now," Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori stated, "Christians understand that Jesus is the route to God. That is not to say that Muslims, or Sikhs, or Jains, come to God in a radically different way. They come to God through human experience—through human experience of the divine."

Jesus Christ is the way and the truth and life for us, Canadian Anglican Bishop
Michael Ingham argued in his 1997 book Mansions of the Spirit, but there are other "diverse paths to God." The Bible stands as an account of "emerging God-consciousness," he argued, but our knowledge of God is not solely confined to Scripture, as there is "a yet wider view of God's self-disclosure" through human mystical experiences...

The former director of Christian Formation at St. Mark's Episcopal Cathedral in Seattle, [Ann Holmes] Redding began to study Islam in the wake of 9/11, after hearing Muslim imams speak at interfaith events at the cathedral. A personal crisis spurred her onto a spiritual quest that ended with her publicly reciting the Shahada, the Muslim profession of faith.

A public symbol of conversion to Islam, the Shahada does not contradict anything in Christianity, Redding argued, nor did the professions made at a Christian baptism contradict anything in Islam, for the language of either creed was not to be taken in a literal sense.

"We Christians, in struggling to express the beauty and dignity of Jesus and the pattern of life he offers, describe him as the 'only begotten son of God.' That's how wonderful he is to us. But that is not literal," she said.
Read the entire article HERE.

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