Religious Pluralism

We live in a multi-faith society: an ever-growing, diverse cultural climate, where various religions and belief systems co-exist. It is important that Christ-followers not only share the Word of God but also listen and learn how to interact meaningfully with those of diverse perspectives as we engage in life’s most important conversations. New Wine encourages believers to be not only better communicators and witnesses but also better listeners to people of other worldviews and traditions. Such skills that are crucial in defending against today’s negative connotations and ineffective approaches often associated with Christian evangelism.

For over 17 years now, New Wine has been in relationship with a Zen Buddhist community in Portland, Dharma Rain Zen Center, which was founded by Abbotts Kyogen and Gyokuko Carlson. Over the years, we have partnered with Dharma Rain to host potlucks where friendship is the basis for deep and challenging dialogues on matters of faith and practice. The fruit of this and other relationships with different faith communities and leaders led Dr. Metzger to write and publish Connecting Christ: How to Discuss Jesus in a World of Diverse Paths in 2012, The volume includes responses from adherents of other faith traditions. He also authored Evangelical Zen: A Christian’s Spiritual Travels with a Buddhist Friend in 2015 with contributions from Kyogen Carlson. Both books embody New Wine’s ethos of robust and charitable engagement with other faiths. Abbot Carlson passed away in 2014 but continues to shape Metzger’s work in this domain. You can find here Abbot Carlson’s disciple Sallie Jiko Tisdale’s article on New Wine’s and Dharma Rain’s partnership titled “Beloved Community” for Tricycle: The Buddhist Review. You can also find here the recording of Metzger’s and Tisdale’s Evangelical Zen book reading at Powell’s and a video of Carlson and Metzger here. Professor John W. Morehead interviewed Carlson and Metzger the day before Abbott Carlson’s passing. You can find it at this link.

John Morehead has been a partner of New Wine, New Wineskins for many years. He oversaw two Louisville grant initiatives with which Paul and New Wine participated. Those initiatives became the basis of Multifaith Matters and served as a principal impetus for a volume Morehead co-edited and to which Metzger wrote the afterword. It is titled A Charitable Orthopathy: Christian Perspectives on Emotions in Multifaith Engagement (Pickwick, 2020). Morehead and Metzger have also partnered for years at the Foundation for Religious Diplomacy, as well as participated on behalf of New Wine and Multnomah Seminary in a Wabash grant initiative led by Rabbi Dr. Rachel Mikva and titled “Training Religious Leaders for our Multifaith Context.”

Another example of Morehead and Metzger’s work together involves their partnership with leaders Ed Stone and J. Spencer Fluhman of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints titled “Fence Posts and Front Porches: When Joseph Smith and Billy Graham Live Next Door.” Here are a few examples in video format of Metzger and Morehead’s exchanges with our Latter-day Saint colleagues: “Saved By Grace? An Evangelical and Mormon Dialogue;” “Fence Posts and Front Porches: When Joseph Smith and Billy Graham Live Next Door,” Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3; and “Religious Trauma and Resilience: Evangelical & Mormon Engagement.”

Dr. Metzger and New Wine are also grateful for the friendships and partnerships with Humanist leader Tom Krattenmaker and Ahmadiyya Muslim Community leaders Harris Zafar and Rasheed Reno, among others.

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New Wine, New Wineskins is doing the important and visionary work of building relational bridges inside and outside the local church. In November of 2017 our congregation, St. Matthew Lutheran Church (ELCA), hosted an open and gracious dialogue (Saved by Grace, Pt.2) between Mormon and Evangelical Christian leaders in the Portland-area which challenged and blessed those in attendance. At the very least, people gained more information about the beliefs of “others,” while also gleaning a greater appreciation for their own faith traditions. Even better, it provided opportunity to pursue shared ministry goals across institutional lines. I would commend this ministry to anyone seeking to become more aware of and involved with issues of justice, advocacy, theological engagement, ecumenical partnerships, and multi-faith dialogue with others from all walks of life.

Rev. Paul S. Lyda, St. Matthew Lutheran Church, Beaverton, OR