By Graham Glover –
Wait, what? A reformation with non-Christians? Wasn’t the whole point of the Reformation to reform the Christian faith? How can we talk about a reformation with faiths that deny the most important belief of Christianity, namely, that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God?
Before I’m accused of syncretism, let me be clear, I’m not suggesting that Christians, Muslims, and Jews abandon their theological distinctions. While these three monotheistic faiths share somewhat of a common heritage, they most assuredly do not confess the same thing. They are three different faiths who believe in three different gods, which is why there can never be a reformation like the one we celebrated yesterday among those who do not agree on who God is.
However, this doesn’t mean there can’t be any type of reformation with Christians, Muslims, and Jews. Obviously then, I have in mind a different type of reformation. The reformation I’m referring to is not one that tries find the least common denominator of these three very distinct faiths. I’m no “coexist” bumper sticker supporter and neither should anyone who takes their faith seriously.
Rather, the reformation I’m referring to is one that finds these three faiths uniting for the common cause of religious liberty. In an era where secular progressivism dictates how much of the world understands knowledge, power, culture, and morality, those that confess and practice a particular religion are increasingly at risk of being completely atomized in society. This isn’t just an American thing. It’s not only a Western world phenomenon. It’s a global threat. And my fellow Christians, we cannot fight this battle alone. We need help. We need a wholesale commitment among other “believers” to assist in the effort to maintain any real semblance of religious freedom in our world. Which is why I think it’s time for a reformation of sorts with those who share our commitment to religious liberty.
This reformation wouldn’t be focused on uniquely theological things. In fact, any attempt to do so would find it meeting little or no success. Questions about who God is, how one is made righteous before this God, etc. can be debated (and reformed) in different venues.
This reformation though can attempt to find a shared cooperation, a reforming of the secularized ethos, on some of our common values. This reformation can attempt to affirm the belief that community matters, including religious ones, and that within such communities there are beliefs, customs, and practices that deserve protection. While we affirm freedom, we reject the secular progressive idea that human beings must be free to choose all things and that inclusion of newborns and children in religious communities is somehow an attack on such freedom. This reformation can affirm the importance of serious minded theologies and the right for religions to maintain beliefs that necessarily exclude some from their fold. None of us should presume to think that Christianity, Islam, and Judaism are three different ways of believing in the same god. This is the type of presumption that has fed the secular progressive mantra for centuries. And it is the very presumption that could see these three faiths even further ostracized. For this presumption has at its core a belief that theological differences are somehow an offense to freedom – a presumption that is as backwards as it is offensive.
I was reminded last week at a forum discussing this very topic that if one is confident in their own faith, that we should never be threatened by others. Serious minded Christians, Muslims, and Jews are wise to hear this and to begin a movement that reforms our world away from is secularized progressive notions of religion and anthropology. If the desire to live in a religiously free world is shared by all three faiths, then our cooperation with one another on the ability and necessity for us to maintain our theological distinctions must be embraced.
Religious liberty is our call to reform. A call Christians, Muslims, and Jews can support.