Dear Friends in Christ,
protests across the Muslim world have dominated the news in the past week.
Responding to a video ridiculing Mohammed, Muslims in the Middle East and beyond
have taken to the streets, threatened American embassies, hurled rocks and
insults, and killed and wounded diplomatic personnel.
stark reminders to us that we live in a multicultural, religiously pluralistic
world. Perhaps even more challenging, people of many cultures and a variety of
religious traditions call the United States home.
One of the
great strengths of our nation–and of our Anglican heritage–is our persistent
commitment to religious tolerance. We insist on acknowledging and respecting
religious beliefs different from our own. Even while we deplore the violence by
mobs composed of Muslim individuals, we show due respect for individual Muslims
and for their faith tradition.
that tolerance assumes difference. A common error in our attempts to exercise
tolerance involves confusing tolerance with relativism and subjectivism.
says that all religions are equally true. They are all partial perspectives on
the great whole that is God. Now the problem with relativism is twofold. First,
consider the person who says that religious belief is relative. He or she must
see the greater whole in order to say that religious believers are unwittingly
seeing only slices of the whole. In other words, relativists make a claim to see
a total picture and at the same time says no one else sees the total picture.
This is at once condescending and contradictory. Second, to say that all
religions are equally true is actually to say that none of them is true in any
is an extreme case of relativism. This point of view is summed up in the oft
heard phrase, “It’s true for me.” In other words, a subjective approach to
religion reduces every faith to the whims and fancies of each individual and
surrenders any claim to describing a larger spiritual reality. Usually,
subjectivists end up admitting that they live according to a comforting and
comfortable fiction. They do not know God. They cling to a practical, reassuring
Jesus do not claim a perfect knowledge of the mind of God. We claim friendship
with Jesus because he has claimed us as friends. We are committed to following
him, with the humble awareness that we will always do so imperfectly. Our
commitment to Jesus does not make us morally superior and gives us no room for
condescension toward or condemnation of anyone else.
followers are tolerant because we are humble. We do not relinquish the truth of
Jesus’ saving love when we acknowledge that others have chosen to take a
different path in life. Tolerance does not require that we agree with those who
are different. That just makes us the same. In fact, tolerance calls us to
continue to love those who are different. As spiritual challenges go, that seems
essentially Christian. Our Friend and Lord has called us to love even our
And now for
Sunday’s sermon is entitled “Speaking of God.” As usual, here’s where to find
the text and the audio:
we will celebrate the new era of ministry at Redeemer, Ruston, with the
Institution of the Rev. Bill Easterling as Rector at 6:00 p.m. Our color is
Wednesday I will be present for a book signing at St. Michael’s in Pineville at
6:00 p.m. Everyone is invited. Books will be available as a premium for
donations to outreach. My next signing will be at Diocesan Convention. Just
email me if you would like for me to come to your congregation for a brief talk
and book signing. I would love to come!
of my recent visits, check out my Facebook page. If you’re on Facebook, send me
a friend request. I would love to keep up with you and help you to stay
connected to our Diocesan family.
much Jesus loves you. It is such an honor and a joy to be your bishop! I love
you with Christ’s own love.
Rev. Jacob W. Owensby, Ph.D.
The Diocese of Western Louisiana
P. O. Box
2031, Alexandria, LA 71309-2031