A lot on my mind today for a number of different reasons so I will try to keep this post near 1000 words ;). I read the Tennessean this morning and saw that a “pastor” in Gainesville, Florida has plans to burn 200 copies of the Koran (Quran) on September 11 to memorialize what happened to the U.S. on 9/11/01 (see story here for a good response to this see Anderson Cooper’s CNN interview here). It upsets me to see this and I hope that the emotive radicalism spurned by a few does not discredit the good of so many Christians out there. Perhaps the same could be said for Islam as not every Muslim is a radical who believes all pagans should die. I am not here to argue about this, the Islam community center plans near Ground Zero or any other facet of Islam but the nature of World Religions itself and what Youth Ministers should do about it.
Jeremy Zach in his article, “5 Problems American Youth Ministry is Facing” at REyouthpastor.com relates that one problem is that youth ministries contain weak teaching on other religions.
“Our students need to know how to talk about other religions. It’s unproductive when our students start talking down about other religions. Especially when they are uninformed. It is not good when it becomes ‘us’ versus ‘them’…I see more youth ministries teaching students the fundamentals of other religions while also educating how to respect and admire them.”
I think we border on sheer ignorance when we make claims of moral/spiritual superiority when we do not have a clue about what others believe. The problem also lies in the FACT that most of us do not have a Muslim friend or a Buddhist contact or someone who believes something completely different from us. I am not advocating that we become ecumenical but I AM advocating that we become educational and that we, like Jesus and Paul, get to know them. In Acts 17:22-27 Paul learns of the Athenians and what they believe and what they teach. Then he compliments them and then he teaches them about God. It’s not hateful, it’s not coercion, it’s relational and incarnational.
Let us learn what we can about others because last time I checked we ALL are created in the image of God (Imageo Dei) and all need Him.