Saturday, April 11, 2009

Krister Stendahl on Religious Pluralism

Via Exploring our Matrix I came across this, From God's Perspective We Are All Minorities, by the late Krister Stendahl, Swedish biblical scholar (New Testament) and former Bishop of Stockholm. He was also a Professor at Harvard. It's quite a marvellous piece on the interrelatonship of Christianity (or really one should say, Christianities) with other religions. It's in the Pluralism Sunday blog. I wont say anymore but urge you to check it out. Jjust to tempt you, I've provided a sample below - Stendahl is reflecting here on 1 Corintians 15:

It is the day of consummation and the whole world is gathered and there we are, we Christians. Now as we look up there is God and Christ on God’s right hand exactly as we have been told. So we turn around and see that there are also all the others. We see a sort of pan‑religious and ecumenical representation and we turn around with a Christian smile which says: “You see, it is just as we said and isn’t it wonderful that our God is so generous that you can all be here!” When we turn back towards God there is no Christ to be seen on God’s right side because Christ will never be present to feed into the smugness of his believers; or, as the text says: ‘And so when the end comes, Christ will lay it all down before the Father and God will become panta en pasin, all in all.’ That is another way of witnessing to the mystery ‑- lest I be conceited.

1 comment:

  1. Michael, I really enjoyed Krister Stendahl's discussion and way with words. A joy to read and full of personality. As a gift in the spirit of pluralism I offer a translation of a Pali scripture, the Viggahika Sutta*:

    "Monks, do not wage wordy warfare, saying: 'You don't understand this Dhamma and discipline, I understand this Dhamma and discipline'; 'How could you understand it? You have fallen into wrong practices: I have the right practice'; 'You have said afterwards what you should have said first, and you have said first what you should have said afterwards'; 'What I say is consistent, what you say isn't'; 'What you have thought out for so long is entirely reversed'; 'Your statement is refuted'; 'You are talking rubbish!'; 'You are in the wrong'; 'Get out of that if you can!'

    "Why should you not do this? Such talk, monks, is not related to the goal, it is not fundamental to the holy life, does not conduce to disenchantment, dispassion, cessation, tranquillity, higher knowledge, enlightenment or to Nibbana. When you have discussions, monks, you should discuss Suffering, the Arising of Suffering, its Cessation, and the Path that leads to its Cessation. Why is that? Because such talk is related to the goal... it conduces to disenchantment... to Nibbana. This is the task you must accomplish."

    And who has the energy to demolish others' beliefs anyway? I take it as an ongoing source of inspiration that if I can believe in anything sincerely and enthusiastically, then others can too, which is challenging, exciting, and somehow gloriously hopeful.

    And anyway I think in these imperiously rationalist times there are natural communities of interest amongst those who don't subscibe to the humanist, rationalist (mostly capitalist) hegemony.

    * From: