Canadian Council of Churches - 75 Years

Lutheran Perspectives on Religious Diversity – Two Views

Context is essential to how Lutherans think and live theologically. Our current political and cultural landscape requires Christians to re-evaluate our approach to religious diversity. For Lutherans, the conversation on religious diversity requires authenticity and hospitality.

One approach is by encouraging mutual engagement. Authentic dialogue begins with embracing and articulating one’s own faith tradition and religious practices. From there, a widening of space fosters a platform for exchange and mutual understanding. The capacity and willingness to be transformed by the encounter of “otherness” is at the core of harmony in religious diversity. Seeking to understand is a task not only for theology, but it is a way to establish and to develop deeper appreciation for the expressions and experiences of the Divine beyond our frame of reference or comprehension.

Another approach is based on a fundamental flavour in the Lutheran tradition – radical grace.  A posture of unconditional hospitality encounters the “other” with the grace and welcome we experience through our sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion where God receives us just as we are. As Lutheran Christians who believe in radical grace—even though we do not always succeed at living out our beliefs—we are called to be gracious to all of our neighbours, especially those who might be seen as strangers and pilgrims. We do not have to agree with people in order to be friends and neighbours.

* This text was based on “Gracious Hospitality? Toward a Lutheran Theology of Religious Pluralism in a Secular Democracy” by the Rev Dr Robert A. Kelly andReligious Plurality and Christian Self Understanding” by the Rev Dr Allen G. Jorgenson writing for the CCC Commission on Faith and Witness