Personally,due to the different faith and religions in our communit plus the practices of different christians,I would personally first ensure my walk with the lord is strongly built and my actions plus behavior amongst other christians reflect God thus living Christlike life. Secondly,associate with the christians of different faith,preach to them the truth and live by it.Do charity ats to the community
Hi Mirembe, I like what you mentioned about first ensuring that your walk with the Lord is strongly built and that your actions plus your behavior amongst other Christians reflect God and a Christlike life. That is so important in this conversation. I feel like some people like attacking other Christians and focusing on what others are doing wrong instead of attending to their own lives and the space there is for them to grow in their faith and as a person in general. It is important to evaluate our lives before pointing out flaws in others.
Hi Janet, that’s a great point that I need to be reminded of! It’s so important to make sure that my own walk with God is strong and that I have a great faith community of my own before I go out to learn about others. Otherwise, you may end up joining that tradition instead of just learning about it. While that may be the Lord’s plan for your life, you would need to be strong in your faith to be able to discern that.
Three ways I plan on improving my relationship with Christians from other traditions or denominations are to 1) Ask questions 2) Attend or Participate 3) Agree on Common Ground. Asking questions is a great step to take in efforts of learning about another denomination or tradition in the Christian faith. Instead of giving space for assumption or judgment, it is important that we approach situations like these with an open mind ready to learn. Asking questions can ease your doubts, answer your questions, and contribute to clarity. I personally love asking questions to my friends of other denominations to learn why they practice what they practice. The second step is to attempt to attend or participate in a service! This is fun because it gives you a chance to experience what they experience on a Sunday service for example. Certain elements can seem questionable at first but when seen through the culture or the context of that specific service, it can begin to make sense. At least twice or three times a year, my church friends and I will attempt to attend a service of another denomination. This helps us increase our understanding of different traditions and also equips us better for diverse conversations. The third way is to agree on common ground. It may seem tempting to draw differences. But there is way more that denominations agree on rather than disagree on. I think it is important to outline what we consider as foundations and non-negotiables. This will help tie us in together and can show us that we are less different from one another than we think. God Bless.
Hi Tina, I like how you mentioned the importance of agreeing on common ground. I think some people out there like to spend all their time pointing out the differences between themselves and another believer from a different denominational background. I think our time would be better spent recognizing the common ground and noticing how much our faith beliefs align, rather than differ. The diversity of thought is still beautiful, but I think some people forget to focus on the common ground that is there as well.
Building friendships with them
Work with them at Faith & Law
Spend time reading them
One of the first ways I can improve my relationships with Christians from other traditions and denominations is reading books by authors from those traditions. Engaging with the best expressions of another’s ideas would help me to understand the coherence in other’s thought processes, while positively challenging me in my own beliefs. It would also expose the straw-man arguments and stereotypes I may be holding.
Second, I can continue building friendships with people from traditions. Next week, I’ll be visit my friend in Canada who is a member of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. Our practices and emphases are quite different (I’m a member of a Southern Baptist, elder-led, congregational church), but when we engage we’re both strengthened.
Third, I can work with people from different traditions through a current organization I’m already a part of called Faith & Law. It challenges Christian staffers on Capitol Hill to consider how the Christian worldview should affect the ways we view public policy. Christians from many different stripes are involved and I can choose to invest in those relationships for the good of the organization and for other Hill Staffers.
Hi Zack, thanks for your input. Yes, I agree, building a relationship is very important and also working practically with each other. Experiences are very important and spending time together on a project is very valuable. If there are differences of opinion, open and appreciative questions are helpful. In our traditions, there are quite big cultural differences, which are interesting but also challenging. This is how relationships can grow and mutual understanding too. In the case of immigrants, it also contributes to integration.
I think the best first step for me personally would be asking more questions of friends (with strong convictions) of different denominations. I admittedly approach other faith traditions with a less than fully open mind (as most Catholics do) but when I have asked questions, I find more similarities than I had initially expected to.
Another strong step is to learn more about your own faith tradition, though it may seem counterintuitive. If you’re able to answer questions about your own faith more confidently, your dialogue with others will be that much deeper and more helpful to both parties. You can debate better and find whether your argument or theirs can stand up to the scrutiny it will face amongst less friendly company.
I also believe reading books written by other denominations can be a way to improve your relationship with Christians of other traditions! Its understandable to not be too eager to risk offending a friend with more sensitive questions- a book with a distant author can fix that situation!
Thanks for sharing on this topic. I really enjoyed your input. I must say, as a cradle Methodist, I was pretty closed-minded and biased towards other denominations. Similar to you, I found myself really enjoying the conversations I was having with others outside of my faith. Eventually, I noticed the similarities between myself and those that lived and worked around me. Some of the best writings surrounding this come from Flannery O’Conner and C.S. Lewis. Thanks again for sharing. I really enjoyed your input.
I think you could also be well served if you speak to your friends that do not have strong convictions and see where that conversation leads. Some of my friends that are not strong spiritually, will sometimes spark a conversation that leads to us getting into very deep conversations that give both of us points that make us think. I know the prompt addresses Christian’s from other traditions but we shouldn’t limit ourselves there.
Cristina, I think that learning more about your own tradition is a great way to improve your relationship with Christians from other traditions. I gather from your post that you were born into the Catholic tradition. I was born into the non-denominational tradition and have always been apart of independent churches. Knowing why my Dad decided to join our church when he was raised Lutheran really helped me to understand about the differences of different traditions in a really respectful way.
When interacting with Christians from other traditions, it is important to listen and ask questions, to not assume that you know what they believe already, and to give them genuine respect. When listening and asking questions, we should seek to understand the traditions and beliefs of the Christian individual who is different than us. Asking them what they believe is much better than assuming that just because they are Catholic they believe a certain thing or just because they are Orthodox, they believe a certain thing. People’s beliefs cannot be totally summed up by the name of their denomination or Christian belief structure. Also, we should not assume that they believe something in particular just because they are associated with a certain denomination. For example, if someone goes to a certain meeting with a preacher, we should not assume that the preacher at that meeting describes their whole theology. Furthermore, we should give them genuine respect, which involves not jumping to conclusions and calling them condescending names. I have heard this be done in Christian setting before, even hearing the word “heretical” being used to describe people of other denominations. Using that strong word in that context disturbs me because that is such a strong word.
I like your point about not assuming that we know what they believe already. Even though we have a lot of great opportunities to learn here and elsewhere, I think that is important, particularly for building relationships with others. I think it may also be true that someone may individually believe things differently than the church that they go to, and it is useful to know the differences, or how they came to believe what they currently do. Humility is such an important aspect of interacting with other Christians, often something that is lacking far too often.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this topic. I think you hit the nail right on the head by suggesting to ask questions. When assumptions are made, bridges often get left unfinished. What could be a moment for community to be made, people often automatically arrive at areas of difference rather than commonality. I think one way that this program is unique is by seeking those areas of faith that bring everyone together. Thanks again for sharing. I really enjoyed your input.
Hi Connie, I appreciated your thoughtful response on this. I’ve also heard Christians talk demeaningly about those from other traditions (particularly along the protestant-Catholic divide) and uncharitable remarks I have made myself about other believers also comes to mind. So I think this is a really good reminder that our words should be seasoned with salt, and that we should not approach people with preconceived notions based on their background but instead rejoice over the relationship offered by Christian fellowship.
//People’s beliefs cannot be totally summed up by the name of their denomination or Christian belief structure. Also, we should not assume that they believe something in particular just because they are associated with a certain denomination.//
These 2 points are so important! I have a few friends outside of my tradition and sometimes our conversations get lively. In those conversations I have learned it is always wrong to assume someone’s position from their tradition. We are called to debate firmly but with gentleness and respect and it can be easy to straw man your opponent rather than really trying to understand them. This quote will help me to remember what not to assume.
I think it starts with asking questions in dialogue and relationship with people. From there, one can learn about peoples’ religious backgrounds and how they practice their faith tradition. Secondly, attending their church worship services and learning what certain traditions mean to them. Thirdly, through reflection, study, and conversation, learn the differences and similarities between one’s own faith practice and theirs. Working to understand the framework through which other Christians evaluate truths and practice, and how they view other religious traditions is helpful to see things through their perspectives and how they might interact with others. There is a lot of religious diversity in the DC area, providing opportunities to engage with communities that may have emigrated here, or been in the area for a long time. While I am regularly involved in my own church’s worship services, there are likely opportunities to learn more about other Christian churches through mid-week services. Additionally, there are some monasteries or Basilicas in driving distance.
I agree strongly with your third point of reflection, study, and conversation. I think the key part of that would be the reflection aspect. For us to improve personal relationships with other Christian’s we must know our own traditions and what our own personal opinions on those are before we can truly converse with others about their own tradition. Going into a conversation about traditions with others, while not knowing our own tradition, is not a good way to lead to productive conversation.
This has been one of my favorite courses in the Pathfinder program, and I have loved reading through all of your posts and the ways that you intend to improve your relationships with Christians from other traditions. Especially living within the United States, it can be incredibly difficult at times to comprehend how to engage with practices different than those that we are familiar with. However, as this course has demonstrated, the body of Christ is extremely diverse, and it is essential to understand Christians who hold traditions unique from our own. Even within America, I have noticed how my Catholic friends hold different traditions and rituals when compared to my protestant friends and family members. When considering this, it becomes even more apparent how diverse Christianity in other regions of the world can be! Although this may seem intimidating at times, it is crucial to learn how to connect with our brothers and sisters in Christ. To achieve this, I plan to accept invitations from my friends to their church services more often, engage directly with Christians from other regions with both an open mind and heart and position myself with the humility to understand how complex my faith is and that the unique practices of other Christians throughout the world should be treated with respect and tolerance.
Hi Taylor, thanks for your thoughtful response to this question. I really appreciated that you shared how you want to be more intentional and open to accepting invitations to engage with your friends from other church backgrounds. I’ve definitely turned down those kinds of invitations in the past as well and stayed wrapped up in my own faith practice, so I think this was a good exhortation to step outside my routines/comfort zone more often!
Taylor, this has also been my favorite course in the Pathfinder program. I think it is because I am a Christian whose world has just expanded by exploring other Christian traditions. For example, I loved watching the interview of Robert Nicholson with a Maronite Christian bishop. Though I am Roman Catholic and not Maronite, I found myself agreeing with many of what the bishop said and he inspired me! This course also sparked my interest in Lebanon, to my surprise, and I now have a desire to learn about Christians in Lebanon.
I think that there are many ways to improve my relationships with Christians from other traditions. First of all, by leaving my preconceived notions and biases about other denominations at the door. When meeting with Christians from other traditions or visiting other churches, it’s important to show up with a clear mind and an open heart. I personally come from a tradition that is often misunderstood, and I can’t explain how much it means to me when another Christian earnestly wants to hear about my faith and recognizes my heart for God. I try my best to extend that same grace to others. While it’s important to learn from each other, we must ensure that each denomination is able to firming draw a line around their own doctrines. Blurred lines often lead to confusion and weak theology that in turn leaves the congregation feeling as though they can pick and choose what works for them.
Although we all read from the Bible and strive for the same path of salvation- different denominations and Christians from other traditions have a lot to offer. This lesson really helped to establish the benefits of engaging in dialogue with others. (1) Building friendships with others is a simple way to learn more about others. By welcoming religious conversations amongst friends and introducing others to your faith you can exchange insights. While traveling I have been able to connect with people from abroad- in doing so I have been able to keep in touch and exchange prayer requests. (2) Actively learn about the tradition. Reading books and attending cultural events is a great way to expose yourself to the traditions and nuances of different backgrounds. (3) Introduce the Christian worldview to different situations. Throughout this course, we have discussed the value of developing a Christian worldview. I think trying to pinpoint ways to integrate a Christian worldview into crisis management is important.
Hi Katelyn, you and I had similar a thought to the discussion question: start by building a friendship foundation in order to understand their traditions. Humans are by nature drawn to relationships and wanting community, and God wants us to have that. By building a community that is humble, kind, and compassionate, we can learn so much about another person including the practices they use on their faith journey. Reading about other traditions is one idea I hadn’t thought of, especially since I don’t read near as often as I can, but it’s a very tangible way to keep yourself on track as you learn. Appreciate your insight!
Personally, I grew up in a Methodist household in a strong Catholic community. Eventually, I found myself attending non-denomination churches to spend time with friends on Wednesday nights. Before I left for college, I was raised to believe that the denomination everyone was in was a strong factor in who and what they were. Almost as if the beliefs were vastly different.
While in college, I got to explore my faith deeper by doing the following – attending differing services, having coffee with others from other denominations, and participating in theological courses at the churches in the area. Those three tangible actions made me find my identity in Christ. Moreover, it helped me realize just how similar the Christian community can be when slight differences are put to the side. Because of my greater understanding and back of experiences, I was able to have deeper conversations with others and find community with those I wouldn’t have been so fortunate before.
You’ve made many good points in this post. I think it’s so important for Christians to put aside small differences, especially for the sake of loving a brother or sister in Christ. Your commentary on how you discovered your own identity in Christ through the conversations and various theological courses at different churches is powerful and has encouraged me to look into that in my own area. Thank you for your post, I appreciate it!
As a Protestant-turned-Roman Catholic, I am familiar with the importance of ecumenical dialogue across denominations. I think applying three principles would help to further along inter-Christian relationships. The first thing to do is to learn the theological, liturgical, geographical, and historical contours which define each Christian denomination. Because I know the least about denominations outside of Roman Catholicism, Protestantism, and Eastern Orthodoxy, this course served as a good example of beginning a future dialogue with Christians of the Near East outside of those traditions. The second thing to do is to sympathize with these other traditions by seeing history through their own eyes. I have found this to be especially important with regards to understanding Eastern Orthodoxy: how did it develop after the split? Why might they view various global conflicts differently? And finally, the third and most important principle is to honor and respect the interlocutor. They have human dignity and their thoughts deserve respect.
I very much appreciate the focus on orthopraxy this question presents. While listening to this course it struck me that one of the most important things I can do to improve my relationships with other Christians from various traditions is to not just learn about them from a safe/cold/intellectual distance, but to be willing to enter into fellowship with them. This could look like going to church services with them and asking questions about various aspects of the service afterwards, or asking them to share stories about what is meaningful to them about their church tradition. I’ve benefited in the past from attending a Shabbat dinner hosted by orthodox Jews and from attending a Catholic Mass with a friend, more so than simply reading about either. But I also realize there are plenty of Christian denominations/traditions (as well as other religions) I haven’t experienced so I think widening my circle to include more religious diversity would also be something that I’d like to incorporate. Lastly, I think I need to be more willing to share about my own background and experiences–topics I sometimes am tempted to stay away from out of the old adage that its impolite to discuss religion/politics.
We have similar tangible ways listed. I find it to be rewarding to share about my personal background and faith. I too once held back, because of that old adage. However, people are curious and more importantly, our faith calls us to share the Gospel. Thankfully, the Lord has opened up so many opportunities of amazing dialogue in the ER, airports, grocery stores, studying at school, etc. I find that as long as one is confident in their faith, they will have no need to fear this adage. Yes, we are to use wisdom when discussing sensitive topics, however, having honest and sometimes uncomfortable dialogue is needed.
One of my first classes in my Undergrad was Church History, and I remember being blown away and oftentimes overwhelmed by the diversity amongst Christians. I think lots of people react to this diversity with hostility, largely because they believe their views could be under attack by merely associating with Christians from other traditions. In the South, where I’m located, it’s prevalent for Christians to stay in their own traditional bubble and look down on those who disagree. I would love to be part of the solution, rather than unknowingly advance a cultural problem. I can do this by checking my preconceived notions at the door and embracing Christians from different traditions with the love of Christ. Likewise, I should attend services with those Christians of different traditions, and engage in fruitful conversations with them. Lastly, asking questions to those who come from traditions that I might not understand!
Hi Olivia, I agree that churches can be click-y and sadly look down on one another. Human nature gets to us even inside the church. But just as you stated about wanting to be part of the solution to that problem – if we are able to humble ourselves and get to know each other, that will help solve it. We have to continue reminding ourselves that people who practice other tradition or religions are in fact loved and valued by God, and that we are called to love them, too. Because after all, that’s what we were out on earth to do – and how funny that it’s one of the things that’s the HARDEST to do, because the enemy is constantly tempting us to put ourselves first. He tells us to put our comfortability first, but God wants us to care for one another – no matter if it makes us uncomfortable or not. Thanks for sharing!
I agree that humility is so important. I think we need to have the disposition of a student whose interaction with another Christian tradition is on the first day of class. We can ask questions in humility by showing interest and an obvious listening ear. If we disagree on a point, we can still be humble by accepting that that is their viewpoint. When necessary and well-timed, we can then speak of our own point of view which hopefully leads to peaceful dialogue.
You last point is very key. Someone has said, “The one who asks many questions will never miss the road.” Jesus said in John 8:32 (ESV), “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” The question now is, how can we know the truth? By asking questions! By asking friendly critical questions open the doors for learning and increase in knowledge. This why Peter Abelard points, “The master key of knowledge is, indeed, a persistent and frequent questioning.” And that is the mark of a good leader. John C. Maxwell alluded to this by saying, “Good leaders ask great questions.” In fact, asking questions is the key to acquiring knowledge on those traditions that you were novice to. I strongly believe that asking question greatly helps improve our relationships with other Christian brothers and sisters.
I appreciate this because I also experienced the shock of finding out that catholics are *actually* Christians and not a different religion entirely! I was brought up to believe that other Christian sects merely paid lip-service to Christ, while protestants are the only truly saved group. This has since been remedied, and while I still remain convinced of my own tradition, I hope one day soon we can be reconciled to one another in Christ.
Thanks for the contribution Olivia!
I really dislike the division amongst believers, especially the pride that can come from it. I often think about what unbelievers may think when they observe this. I feel that Christians as a whole have lost sight of the church of Acts and how the unity in Christ was exemplified. I have not taken Church History yet, but I am looking forward to the dialogue that course will bring. In regard to your statement about the South, I have found this to be happening now in the Midwest.
I would like to spend some time with christians from others traditions. To being introduced into their world could be awesome and It would help me to understand without judgements asking and listening and learning about theirs culture, history and of course, their faith.
I hope one day to have the opportunity like that.
Like many of the participants that posted before me, and what was mentioned by our lecturer, the best way to learn is to sit down with someone from a different background and get to know them. Take initiative to start conversation, ask questions, and share my own experiences. Whether they grew up in a different culture, religion or denomination, I think approaching the subject by getting to know them as a person helps me understand more of their beliefs. I now attend a non-denominational church, but I grew up Methodist. Many of my friends in my current church grew up in different denominations, so when we are talking about their faith journeys I like hearing about the teachings they received. From the way they recite the Lord’s prayer, to how they offer communion, to their church’s process for baptism – I find it interesting. One of the traditions that has been on my mind recently is baptism, and the different processes and requirements each denomination has. Baptism is a key moment in the life of a Christian, and as a person who is wanting to understand God better I think hearing about the different baptism traditions from various churches is helping me weed out what I believe – and gives me the ability to understand more of my brothers and sisters in Christ.
One way to improve my relationship with Christians from other traditions is to ask questions in a safe, non-judgmental place. For example, I am a Roman Catholic, and I interviewed three Chaldean students at my university for a class. It was amazing! Conversing with each of them was very easy. We found that we had so much in common. As it was an interview, I typically asked questions of interest, and I was surprised to see how eager my interviewees were to respond. When I finished one interview, one student asked, “Is that it?” It was, but the student offered to help me with anything I may need for my class project.
A second way to improve my relationship with Christian traditions is to travel right where the many traditions are! For example, when I was in the Holy Land and visited the Holy Sepulcher, there were several different Christian traditions. I loved listening to the Byzantines chant and as our professor said, I love incense!
A third way to improve my relationship with other Christians from other traditions is to pray. I am a very strong believer in the power of prayer. I actually have an Orthodox icon in my room and candles, an oil lamp, and incense to get myself into a disposition of prayer. I firmly believe that we cannot improve our relationships without praying to God–the same God of many other Christian rites.
You said it right by mentioning that one needs “to travel right where the many traditions are” in an attempt to improving one relationships with other Christians. I believe this can really help in understanding their culture as I mention. I believe that what makes this “Philos Project” unique and different from other leadership course is, the path-it-finds (“Pathfinder”) into other faith and traditions making it clearer for others to appreciate and cherish. I think there where the crafters of “Pathfinder” got everything right – to travel in to other’s territories (traditions). I do hope I can be a part of the learning experience to the Near East soon!
There are many ways in which I can personally improve my relationships with Christians from other traditions. However, three of the many ways are: 1) By living with that Christian groups from other traditions. By that, I mean, understanding their culture, belief and value system, and creating a sense of belonging with such people group. In short, I need to be enculturated. 2) By valuing their faith and traditions. In other words, being appreciative of their faith and traditions helps people of other faith open up to you – it creates an inroad to their faith which will give one a broader perspective. And 3) Listening plays a very key role if I should improve my relationships with other Christians. James 1:19 (ESV) says, “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.” Listening carefully to people makes them feel accepted and have some sense of belonging. In fact, this is one of the pillars on which an improved relationship is built.
Kenneth, I really resonate to what you said about listening to each other so we create acceptance and a sense of belonging. No one learns by doing all the talking themselves. Where I live, the majority of churches are non-denominational. However, my church is different in practice from others. We celebrate Advent, have a very solemn Good Friday service, and have one of our services at a non-traditional time. I would not say we are a typical non-denominational church and I’m sure there are more churches like ours, but in my experience churches do not really listen to those with different traditions.
In the past few years I have had to do this, and in the light of my recent experiences and the lectures, a few things come to mind. First, really sitting down and learning some of the differences and similarities in a way which can be stated. This is often overlooked because some people have interacted superficially with other Christian traditions, but the differences are sometimes still unclear. Having clear lines of disagreement is good, so long as we are all committed to respect one another. Second, avoiding cliché characterizations of other traditions. Things like accusing catholics of being idolators or accusing protestants of being “a church of one” can be wounding or exasperating. Avoiding the clichés can really help to disarm tensions. And last but not least, know the weak spots in your own traditions. My catholic friends are very clear that they are uncomfortable with the protestant church’s lack of clear leadership. My orthodox friends are very clear that protestant’s inability to trace apostolic succession makes them uncomfortable. Acknowledging the difficulties my tradition must carry is both humbling and disarming when interacting with persons outside of my tradition.
Love your post here, Jordan! I think you’re absolutely right that respect can go a long ways. I think that learning to listening to people from other traditions and forming relationships can help break down those cliché characterizations that you are talking about. It does take intentional humility but it’s so worth it.
Thanks for your thoughts!
Three tangible ways I can personally improve my relationships with other believers in the Christian faith from other traditions are the following: 1) Reach out and begin to establish a personal relationship built on trust and understanding; 2) Extend an invitation for an open dialogue about our faith; 3) Visit worship service with them and extend invitation for dialogue after. I have recently come into contact with a lot of Christians who have attended predominantly African descent of black churches. I would not place all of these churches into Pentecostalism tradition. I was able to have a great dialogue with someone recently who has never seen expressive forms of worship. By expressive, I am referring to dancing, clapping, use of various instruments. I informed this person that black American Christians often have expressive worship due to our African descent as well as the use of spiritual hymns sung in slavery times. Our dialogue consisted of learning the importance of cultural context behind worship and traditions before jumping to assumptions. Needless to say, honest dialogue is key to improving relationships with one another.
Three tangible ways that I can personally improve my relationship with Christians from other traditions are serving together, talking about what we believe, and visiting their churches. On my Passages trip this past summer, I learned a lot about other traditions that I would not have otherwise. Serving together gives us something in common and a place to begin conversation. Instead of jumping in awkwardly to questioning each other, we could first converse about a service project. Second is having a conversation about the finer points of what we believe. The diversity of belief among Christians is something that has surprised me. I have grown up in the Midwest with most of my exposer to traditions being Baptist and Non-denominational. I would love to have a discussion about what an Eastern or older Protestant tradition is like in practice. Finally, visiting houses of worships from other traditions could help me improve my relationship with Christians more broadly. I am on staff at my church and seldom am I in another house of worship. When I was in the Holy Sepulcher, I was caught off-guard with the church because of how it was decorated. The icons are something I am not used too and visiting a church with these would help me learn about them.
Hi Ashley, thank you for sharing your response. I also personally enjoy being exposed to different denominations at least twice or three times a year. It gives me a fresh perspective on my faith and also helps me learn about the different nuances my peers may be experiencing. It is easy to highlight differences but in my response, I touched on the importance of agreeing on common ground. If both denominations love and accept Jesus as their Personal Savior, then we are off to a great start!
God is good and He is King over all. I pray that the Global church will keep our eyes steadfast on our Messiah. He is faithful.
Ashley, I also grew up in a charismatic environment and currently attend a non-denominational church. I really like the point you mentioned of hospitality. It is a great to learn about someones life and faith while sharing a meal. Hospitality demonstrates an openness to others by serving others’ needs and showing kindness. It is also a great way to learn about their cultural understanding around eating. Hope you Arabic skills are going well. My Hebrew is so rusty.
Hi Haley, I enjoyed reading your response. I also agree that is very important that we understand the history behind a denomination or why a person decided to pursue a certain tradition over the other. In the Indian culture, cultural traditions are weaved into faith in certain ways. Indian churches will encourage attendees to wear formal Indian wear to their services. Though it is not Biblical, it is also not harmful, which is why these nuances exist. Culture is important and Faith is obviously important too. It is a wise choice to understand all perspectives of these decisions and to always pray that God helps the church maintain a healthy balance between culture and religion. God Bless.
Haley, thank you for taking us back to the 7 steps we learned from the course. Your post made me examine each one more closely to see how I could incorporate that into my church experience. I think maintaining a posture of humility and continuing to learn history allows us to withhold judgment from other traditions. When I have had the opportunity to experience another tradition, I have learned something new about God and others – What a blessing to our faith to see Christians worshipping God across the world and across traditions! It is encouraging to see unity in Christ across diverse tradition.
Thank you for sharing! Your third reason really stuck out to me. Being out of school and taking courses like this in the classroom is so much easier when its part of a course plan or your friends are doing it with you. Post grad- planning is so very important, as things don’t just fall into your lap anymore. We need to actively block out time to learn from others and even pray ourselves- it isn’t just academically helpful, it can help your faith life as well.
I loved taking the time to read through your post and the tangible ways you plan to improve your relations with Christians from other traditions. Personally, I have found it extremely difficult at times to comprehend how different the practices of Christians within different regions of the world can be. Even in America, we constantly witness how different denominations of Christianity hold unique practices and rituals. I love how you mentioned how you intend to demonstrate humility. After all, this will be essential in postering ourselves correctly to learn about practices different than our own!
Hi Haley, first and foremost congratulations on your impending graduation. I have found in recently moving and starting a new job that finding a diverse community is very important to me. I feel as if you can strengthen your faith by communicating with Christians of varying traditions they help you grow rather than just limiting yourself to a homogenous faith community. Differing opinions can help strengthen your faith.
I like your approach here. While I feel that Learning about traditions from college courses and other seminars is good, I think direct engagement with other traditions is the best source of learning. I have taken several biblical college courses learning “about“ other traditions. However, it wasn’t until I directly engaged with diverse believers that I began to truly understand my friend’s faith. I felt that the college courses made me judge my friends while the direct engagement developed empathy for them.
I really appreciated your second tangible example in particular. I think its easy to cough up a question or 2 to be polite, but genuine curiosity is the only way we’re going to benefit from questions posed. I also like how you touched upon it being a discourse, meaning a 2 way street. Both sides benefit when a dialogue occurs. Lastly, the ability to listen is so important. I imagine the majority of people interested/ taking these courses have pretty strong opinions & voices but listening is crucial as well.
I enjoyed taking the time to read through your post and loved the insights you provided into the tangible ways you plan to personally improve your relationships with Christians from other traditions. I appreciate how you acknowledge how easy it can be to believe that our practices and ideas of Christianity are all that there are, when in reality the body of Christ is extremely diverse. I have also experienced this and will be further willing to be a present and active participant when engaging with different practices!
Hello Yasmin, thank you for sharing your story. I really appreciated your insight and plan to proactively learn more and engage with Christians from other traditions. Understandably we all have our own biases based on our church’s teachings. Christianity itself is very diverse, however, we are all united through a singular text. We can strengthen our faith and reinforce our perception of religion by exposing ourselves to different groups.
Thank you so much for sharing this information. I think it is important for us to remember that just because we were raised with a certain tradition it does not mean our viewpoints are 100% correct. There is strength in diversity of thought and witnessing God‘s love for all of his children. I love the perspective of asking questions. Sometimes when we mingle with other denominations we think we must debate. Asking questions out of curiosity and love is far more productive
Your astute response reminds me of how Proverbs tells us that ‘iron sharpens iron.’ The value in listening to and reading Scripture together is that we accumulate insight into an entirely different but still Christ-centered method of biblical interpretation. Of course theological differences remain, but such substantive edification may be derived from this exchange of commentary on the Word of God. This course has made me hopeful of the unity that may arise from such an intentional conversation.
I love this idea Esther! I think that it’s so important to focus on our shared values and tradition, and to let the Holy Spirit do the rest. Rather than debate theology, let’s read the Bible together and learn from one another. I belief that each tradition brings their own gifts to Christianity that we can all learn from.
It’s similar to my approach with Jewish people, which is to focus on our share belief in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the Tanakh.