Thoughts by New Jersey Presbyterians on the 221st General Assembly

Amidst all the sound and fury of some of the General Assembly’s other actions, a significant statement on interfaith dialogue has not received all the attention it deserves. We’re living in a world in which interfaith understanding is becoming more important every day, so I share it here in the hope that it may be useful in our churches:

An Affirmation of Interreligious Commitment

We believe the Bible proclaims God’s love for all people, that Christ’s Great Commandment sets the standard for all of our relationships: “… ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind,’” and, empowered by the Holy Spirit, “… ‘love your neighbor as yourself’” (Mt. 22:37, 39).

We confess

that the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has sought to live up to its commitment to

love people of other religious traditions, but many times we have not;

with God’s help we resolve to do better;

that self-serving theologies and goals and triumphalistic attitudes pull us apart;

with God’s help we resolve to do better;

that some of our confessions and the dated perspectives of our religious

heritage have resulted in patterns of unhealthy relationships with people of other religions;

with God’s help we resolve to do better.

We resolve to do better and not perpetuate divisive relationships among our neighbors and ourselves.

God calls us to have loving relationships with people of other religions.

God calls us to approach others in a spirit of openness and trust as we follow Jesus Christ

in respecting and affirming the freedom of others.

God calls us, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to work with people of other religions

for peace, justice, and the sustainability of creation.

Guided on our way by the Holy Spirit, we will

meet human needs,

work for social justice,

participate in mission and evangelism,

pursue peace,

strengthen families,

educate for greater understanding,

nurture diverse communities,

value hospitality in our congregations, and

respect one another in our workplaces.

We follow Christ’s call to work for God’s kingdom; we believe that God will complete what we leave incomplete. To God be the glory!

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