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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Our interreligious world

What does it mean to be Lutheran, to appreciate Judaism and Islam?

We live, as Lutheran Christians, in a pluralistic world where people maintain differing and sometimes conflicting opinions, moral standards, social perspectives, political allegiances and religious fidelities. In historical terms, this richness of differences happened to us almost overnight.

For instance, our grandparents wrote letters that took over a month to travel across an ocean; today, we correspond instantaneously through technologies like e-mail. It should come as no surprise that when communication accelerates, our differences are heightened. Constant news of unfolding events from Vermont to Syria may mean that differences give rise to questions of who we are, as Lutherans, in relation to everything we witness in the world.

Such times of immense world change challenge our self-understanding: “In the midst of such diversity, what does it mean to be Lutheran?” They also offer new opportunities to learn about others: “In the midst of such diversity, what does it mean to be Jewish or Muslim?”

During times of upheaval and conflict, media inform many of our answers, sometimes long before we even have formed a question. Consider the conflicts in the Middle East that often change radically in any given week. Many times we hear about Shiite and Sunni, or the High Holy Days, or the mention of land, or the term Imam—but many of us don’t know why these terms are so significant in a particular situation.

How do Lutherans develop informed perspectives about Jews and Muslims amid political and religious conflict?


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