Adopted by the 211th General Assembly (1999)
Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations, PresbyterianPresbyterian is the general name for churches governed by elected presbyters or elders and refers especially to Reformed churches in Scotland and England that shaped Presbyterian churches worldwide. The church is distinguished both from those in which aut... ChurchThe term church has come to wide use to refer to the organized and gathered religious community. In the Christian tradition, church refers to the organic, interdependent “body” of Christ’s followers, the community of Christians. Secondarily, church ... (U.S.A)
1. Pluralistic U.S. and global societies are the context within which Christians relate to people of other faiths.
Christians live among people grounded in other religions and ideologies, or in none. If our immediate circleIn some Pagan traditions, a “circle” refers to the people who gather for a ritual. When standing in a circle, all the participants are able to see each other, with no one member elevated over any other. This practice is often felt to encourage egalita... of neighbors or friends does not reveal the religious plurality of the world, we need look no further than our cities, our nation, and our globally‐connected world to see the diverse religious traditions which increasingly intermingle there. In this environment, persons and communities affect one another even when they are unaware of doing so.1 Pluralistic U.S. and global societies are the context within which Christians relate to people of other faiths.Christians live among people grounded in other religions and ideologies, or in none. If our immediate circle of neighbors or friends does not reveal the religious plurality of the world, we need look no further than our cities, our nation, and our globally‐connected world to see the diverse religious traditions which increasingly intermingle there. In this environment, persons and communities affect one another even when they are unaware of doing so.
3. We are called to work with others in our pluralistic societies for the well‐being of our world and for justice, peace, and the sustainability of creation. We do so in the faith that, through God’sGod is a term used to refer to the Divine, the Supreme being, Transcendent deity, or Ultimate reality. Spirit, the Church is a sign and means of God’s intention for the wholeness and unity of humankind and of all creation.
At a time when the cultural hegemony of the Christian religion in many parts of the world is waning, we may have new roles among other people.
• When religion is used for purposes of power, and when religion is manipulated as an instrument of conflict, our role is to be peacemakers and peacekeepers.
• When all inhabitants of the planet bear joint responsibility for its life (e.g., for the environment or the globalized economy), our role is to cooperate with others in seeking mutually acceptable ethical standards for behavior.
• When privilege is granted to some and denied others, our role is to be advocates for others’ freedom, just as JesusJesus is the historical figure considered by Christians to be the Christ, the Messiah, whose life and teachings, death and resurrection give clear evidence of God’s love for humankind. Jesus was born shortly before the death of Herod the Great (d. 4 BCE... approached others with full awareness of their freedom.
• When persecution is unleashed upon fellow Christians or upon other religious communities, our role is to champion the cause of those marginalized by their minority status and to practice our own faith in ways that do not abridge the freedoms of others.
5. We are called to relate to people of other faiths in full humility, openness, honesty, and respect. We respect both others’ God‐given humanity and the seriousness of their spiritual quests and commitments. It is our Christian faith in the Triune GodGod is a term used to refer to the Divine, the Supreme being, Transcendent deity, or Ultimate reality. and our intention to live like Jesus, not our cultural standards, that require this of us.
• We recognize that all religions, including our own, stand under the judgment of GodThe term god with a small “g” is used to refer to a deity or class of deities whose power is understood to be circumscribed or localized rather than universal, or to refer to a plurality of deities. and we acknowledge our own sins against others both in the historical past and in our own times. These realities keep us from condemnation of others while they encourage our own commitment to the Christ who forgives and reconciles.
• We recognize that our culture relativizes and privatizes all religion‐‐propagating marketplace attitudes toward religious choices. We pray for God’s power to live in firm commitment without trampling upon the God‐given freedom that Jesus respected and challenged in all persons. In our journey, we are helped by ecumenical partners around the world who, with us, are part of the church yet who live with different cultural values.
• We recognize the integrity of others’ religious traditions yet we avoid any attempt to create some new religious community by merging our separate identity with theirs.