A Muslim cleric and I were on a discussion panel a few years ago, describing the essence of our two religions to college students. The Muslim explained there is no god but God, and that asserting Christ's divinity is blasphemous. I explained that Jesus Christ's claim to be the unique God is the core of Christianity. But then a student stood and responded, "I don't see any difference between the two."

The cleric and I explained the differences again, but we could not convince the young man that if one of us was right the other must be wrong. Religious pluralism had taught the student he must never claim that one religion is superior to any other. Such claims are to be categorized quickly as intolerant and exclusionary.

Following the World Trade Center tragedy, unchurched New Yorkers began looking for churches that would address their pain and questions. Redeemer Presbyterian Church has been like flypaper, attracting and keeping those that would normally stay away from Christianity.

While skeptics and unbelievers have always been a significant part of Redeemer's congregation, now nearly 30 percent of our attendees are non-Christian. Many of them are steeped in religious pluralism and have little patience for claims of Christianity's superiority.

Maintaining my ministry to people of a pluralistic culture requires me to preach in a way that neither forsakes the truth of Christianity nor needlessly alienates those raised to assume a plurality of religions.

One of a kind

I don't directly make the naked claim "Christianity is a superior religion," and I certainly don't malign other faiths. Instead, I stress Christianity's distinctiveness.

My father's pastor recently provided a living example. My mother had suffered a stroke, and my father ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview
To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.
Already a Leadership Journal subscriber?
or for full digital access.
Winter 2002: Preaching to the Times  | Posted
Read These Next
See Our Latest