A year-long series of weekly essays re-imagining the Reforming Church. This is not a scholarly effort, crafting neither an ecclesiastical nor a theological system. Rather, it is simply a futurist’s snapshot – it is how I imagine the church proceeding forward through the next decades in the tradition of the Reformation.
“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” – Philippians 1:2
As we live in a multi-religious world the Reforming Church has accepted the Matthew 28 commission, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you” (NRSV vs. 19-20a).
Choosing to witness in the multi-religious context, the Reforming Church exercises great caution as not to diminish the lessons or values of other faiths. Recognizing that its own teachings, beliefs, stories, and wisdom are embraced with an emotional intensity that severely resists challenge, the Reforming Church greets other faiths in peace with the same respect for their centuries of wisdom that the Reforming Church holds for its own wisdom.
Finding such areas where there is harmony, the Reforming Church stands in solidarity with other faiths. Where there is any deviation, the Reforming Church, in humility and good will, claims its strongest position emphasizing, not the lessons or doctrines of its faith, but rather by living the teachings of Jesus as have come down through the history of the prophets, and to which Jesus calls those who follow him.
In this light, the Reforming Church’s most effective witness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the life lived doing justice, mercy, and forgiving sins. In its witness to other faiths, the goal of the Reforming Church is not to convert or save those of other faiths. Its sole responsibility is to be present in the world with the mind and spirit of Jesus Christ.
Echoing Jesus, the Apostle Paul taught, “For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’” (NRSV Galatians 5:14). This command is ancient, from the beginning and was first and foremost in all that Jesus did. And at the end, preparing his disciples for his death, he taught, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14You are my friends if you do what I command you” (NRSV John 15:12-14). It is in this spirit that the Reforming Church witnesses in the Interfaith context – as friends on the journey of faith.
To the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever!” – Romans 16:27