In the chapter "The Church Arrogantly Claims All Other Religions Are Wrong," the author quotes from emergents Duggan and Penny and then explains that "Christians come across as naive and arrogant when they can't even carry on a conversation about the religions they reject. We need to understand that people in emerging generations . . . place a high value on respecting and seeing beauty in all faiths and expressions of spirituality. If we don't recognize this and aren't sensitive in how we talk about other faiths, we come across as unintelligent, primitive, close-minded, and uncaring of people who hold different views." (pg. 165)
Concerning her own spiritual search, Penny stated: "Eastern religions were more attractive to me, because they focused more on being kind to others, loving other people of other spiritual beliefs even if they are different from you, treading lightly, and being humble. I think that was similar to the message of Jesus, ironically, but that's the opposite of what I experienced from church and Christians." (pg. 166)
Keep in mind that America is a post-Christian nation. Where we used to assume most people were Christian at least nominally, that is increasingly no longer the case. America has become the most religiously diverse nation because of our acceptance of other faiths being practiced here freely. Thus we need to know about other beliefs so we can speak intelligently with people. Don't just spout a Bible verse and say "Jesus is the only way." Be willing to listen to others as they share their beliefs and build relationships with them. The author reminded us that the Apostle Paul spoke differently to those at the synagogues than those on Mars Hill. The former group feared God while the latter worshiped many gods. Paul's starting points and approaches were different depending on whom he was addressing, and we have to keep in mind that people in our nation won't often have the same worldviews and perspectives as those who grew up in the church.
So what about us? Do we expect "Mars Hill folks" to have the same knowledge as those from the synagogue? As a foreign missionary goes to another country and learns the culture and language, we must know the culture of ... well, our own culture! Let's be willing to listen and learn and don't arrogantly dismiss others' beliefs. Show them the love of Christ by hearing them and caring about what's on their hearts.
(And, yes, I know I am preaching to myself....I am the one most in need of this lesson. )
From: They Like Jesus But Not the Church by Dan Kimball