Modern Christianity, both Catholic and Protestant, has a tendancy to add new “themes” and “festivals” to the Church’s calendar for this or that cause, eg. “Creation Sunday” or “Respect Life Sunday”. Apart from the liturgical question, these will generally be judged by most readers of this ‘ere blog according to the doctrines which drive them.
However today, while listening to a rather “challenging” and (at times) amusing account of “Progressive Christianity” on an old ABC Spirit of Things, I heard “Pluralism Sunday” referred to. According to this website:
On the first Sunday in May- this year, May 2, 2010 – (or other times during the year) churches around the world dedicate their worship to a celebration of our interfaith world. Progressive Christians thank God for religious diversity! We don’t claim that our religion is superior to all others. We recognize that other religions can be as good for others as ours is for us. We can grow closer to God and deeper in compassion—and we can understand our own traditions better—through a more intimate awareness of the world’s religions. On PLURALISM SUNDAY, churches celebrate elements of other world faiths in their sermons, litanies, and music; many feature speakers and singers from other faith traditions. Some congregations have exchanges with other faith communities, going to each other’s houses of worship.
I remember that in my Lutheran days, when I was on the LCA’s Commission on Worship, the comment was made that the Sunday Liturgy has only one “theme”, namely “Our Lord Jesus Christ”. I guess “Pluralism Sunday” is the point at which a “Christ-less” liturgy finally ends up in a style of religion that describes itself as “Christianity without Christ”.
Some were surprised to see me recently alluding to a quotation from John Knox in a recent comment (“monstrous regimen”). I will double the scandal by today quoting from another Protestant reformer, Theodore Beza.
I came across this quotation early this morning while preparing material for my intensive course on the Reformation at Nazareth House in Ballarat this weekend (all invited – see here). I think it is a good one for us today, even though Beza originally meant it in a different context. It is a comment that was made to Huguenot King Henry of Navarre (later Catholic Henry IV of France of “Paris is worth a mass” fame):
Sire, it is truly the lot of the Church of God, for which I speak, to endure blows and not to strike them. But may it please you to remember that it is an anvil which has worn out many hammers.
The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT – the same body that heard the infamous “Catch the Fire” case) is currently determining whether or not to hear a case brought by a gay youth group “Way Out” against the Christian Brethren (see the story in The Age here).
Apparently this youth group inquired as to whether they could use “The Phillip Island Adventure Resort” (run by “Christian Youth Camps” and owned by the Christian Brethren) and were respectfully told “no, it wouldn’t be appropriate”. “Way Out” is claiming this is discrimination on the grounds of sexuality and that it is against this state’s “Equal Opportunity Act”, although the act does allow for “religious groups to discriminate against anyone as long as it is done because of genuine religious beliefs or principles”.
Keep your eye on this one. It hasn’t been approved to go to trial yet. The decision about whether to hear the case or not will in itself be significant.