A MINISTER’S MUSINGS………………………….ON WORLD RELIGIONS
When I was a little girl, visiting my grandmother in Ogema, Saskatchewan, she would always find a moment or two to read me stories from the Bible. It was the book that she read most often in her life, as a deeply devout Christian. Books like The Qu’ran, the Book of Mormon or a tract from the Jehovah’s Witness neighbours were not allowed in the farmhouse. There was one book worthy of merit and one book only. And she didn’t really place much credence in the Old Testament either. It was not Christian, after all.
It was, in fact, my beloved grandmother who planted the first seeds of faith in my heart -Christian seeds. Wilhelmina, bless her loving heart, used to pray for the Jewish people because they had “rejected” Jesus and would spend an eternity in hell. And so she prayed and wept for them.
My grandmother was able to maintain the narrow frame of her faith because, in those days, she was blithely unaware of the rich diversity of faith in our world. I often wonder what she would think of her granddaughter now. I suspect that she would be overjoyed to know that I am a Minister in the Christian church. But I also suspect she would be appalled at where my journey of faith has led me – to embrace the wide diversity of spiritual expression that is a part of the mosaic of our wonderfully diverse world.
Her brand of Christianity, that easily excludes over 5 billion people on the planet, is much too narrow for me. But it is alive and well in our world today. All of the world must be converted to Christianity or all of the non-Christian world is damned to perdition and hellfire. Such is the faith of a Franklin Graham or a Pat Robertson, two fellows who have absolutely no difficulty with excluding those 5 billion people from dancing in the circle of God’s love.
I know in my heart that such a narrow view of faith is not Godlike. And I know that such a narrow view of faith, if it persists, will only lead to constant and never ending conflicts. Because if I am right and you are wrong, I must do something about that. Convert or die. That was certainly what the Crusades of the Middle Ages was all about.
That is not my faith. In my view, there is place and space for all of God’s children to bask in the light of God’s love. I will always be grateful to my grandmother for planting the first seeds of faith in my heart, but I am also exceedingly grateful that those seeds have grown into a full tree, filled with the diverse leaves of a multi-faith world.