Summary: This sermon addresses the opportunity and challenge of how to live out our faith in a multicultural/multifaith context such as is experienced in Canadian/American cities.

How Should We Live In A Pluralistic Polytheistic Society?

July 17, 2016

As we begin this morning I want to ask you a question – if you had to move to a different city, a different province, even a different country, how would you want people who live there to treat you? What would you want them to specifically do to make you feel welcome? Let me say that again (2X).

I’m sure some things have come to mind. Now turn to someone next to you and for a minute or so each share your answer.

If you would, shout out briefly some of your responses to the question of what you would want people to do to make you feel welcome in a new locale.

This morning I want to address a topic that we literally face every day when we step out the door and especially so here in the Mill Woods area. And that is, “How should we live in the context of a pluralistic society?”

To begin with I want define the term – pluralism. The term pluralism simply put is a belief that various and diverse religious, ethnic, racial, social classes, and political groups can live together harmoniously in a society.

And with this already happening to various degrees in our very midst, how should we live in the context of a pluralistic society in which we exist here in Canada, Alberta, Edmonton, and Mill Woods?”

But before I go further I want to remind you that at the end of this presentation you will have an opportunity to ask questions on this topic of our expert panel of Phil and Lorry Tayllor. You can do so by emailing your question to

Alternately you could write down your question on a piece of paper and give it at the media center at the back and they will email for consideration.

And in case you are wondering, the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ is not a stranger to pluralism because Jesus’ disciples including the Apostle Paul first proclaimed this good news throughout the Mediterranean world with its many gods, temples, Greek philosophies and emperor worship. So what we face today is not new, just perhaps new to us.

So how should we live in a literally multi everything society?

It begins with a knowledge of ourselves and our own particular faith.

In The Bible in the book of John 14:6 Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. John 14:6 (NLT).

We as Christians believe that the way to God is only through Jesus.

In John 3:16 it says, For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 (NIV).

We as Christians believe there is no other way to heaven except Jesus.

With those thoughts in mind we are reminded in Matthew 22:37 to 39 what Jesus said. You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself. Matthew 22:37-39 (NLT).

And so even though people of other religions believe differently, if we are to live in some measure harmoniously with other diverse groups, especially religious groups, I believe we need to love these people, in part by understanding them, just as we ourselves desire to be understood.

So with that in mind, let’s watch this video describing the 5 major world religions. The Five Major World Religions. Fade out at 11:09!

So where do we go from here? Knowledge with understanding are starting points but how do we proceed? Perhaps an important point is to recognize what we have in common as is demonstrated by this Golden Rule Poster

Each of these religions has an understanding which is summed up in the words of Jesus found in Matthew 22:39 ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Do to others what you want done to yourselves. We know intrinsically what we each and together ought to do. The challenge is in doing that.

So we do have something in common with all religions, yet at the same time we must not discount the differences, some extremely significant that exist between our faith and that of other faith communities.

Getting back to the description of pluralism, Diana Eck Professor of Comparative Religion and the Director of The Pluralism Project at Harvard University said some important things we need to keep in mind in the midst of our pluralistic society.

First, pluralism is not diversity alone, but the energetic engagement with diversity. Diversity can and has meant the creation of religious ghettos (separate areas and communities) with little interaction between or among them. Today, religious diversity is a given, but pluralism is not a given; it is an achievement. Mere diversity without real encounter and relationship with others of different faiths will yield increasing tensions in our society as it has done in many parts of the world.

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