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Sunday, January 02, 2011

NOT an endorsement

Krister Stendahl, Lutheran Bishop of Sweden and past Dean of Harvard Divinity School, is credited with creating "Stendahl's three rules of religious understanding", which he presented in a 1985 press conference in Stockholm, Sweden, in response to vocal opposition to the building of a temple there by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

His rules are as follows:

(1) When you are trying to understand another religion, you should ask the adherents of that religion and not its enemies.

(2) Don't compare your best to their worst.

(3) Leave room for "holy envy." (By this Stendahl meant that you should be willing to recognize elements in the other religious tradition or faith that you admire and wish could, in some way, be reflected in your own religious tradition or faith.)

I think that we who aspire to religious understanding have reason to sometimes think that THEIR religion is bettern than OUR own PRACTICE in the following areas (and I remember my own mother's comment about the unitarian Fellowship movement as being a community of caring folks who aspire to simple values, and there is much continuity between some of the BEST values THOSE unitarians practiced and TRUE Christian faith as Baptists understand their faith in Christ. That was not an endorsement of unitarianism or unitarian theology, but rather a critical observation about how SOME of the local people did find some moral legitimacy in realities they observed and how they had attempted to put those values into practice.

It took me years to put her observations into a better frame of reference; it was not an endorsement; it was a religious look at another group's 'moment' of religious searching and insight.

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