We Are All Already Multireligious


A great article in the Christian Century recently about “Double Belonging” features my theological mentor, Paul Knitter.  Paul is one of several people interviewed in the article who see themselves as more than just Christian.  Each story gets to a basic Truth that I’ve begun to recognize more clearly this past year of Open Hearts Gathering’s existence–that none of us are of just one religion.

When we get together as a group, we come from many different Christian backgrounds, influenced by a number of other religious sources. Over this first year of our existence, we have brought together with us other people who practice forms of Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Wicca, Bahai, and Gnostic ways.  Christianity isn’t the only religion that we practice and preach.  We believe in and live within all kinds of different religious traditions.

So, whether I pray the Jewish Shema in the morning, walk through some Tai Chi moves after breakfast, or practice Zazen for a few minutes in the afternoon, I do all these things through a Christian lens, and beyond it.  We all belong doubly, triply, quadruply, because all these religions permeate the one religion we think we belong to.  It’s time to recognize our inherent interreligiousness. Thanks, Paul, for pointing it out to us so publicly!

Rev. Dennis Teall-Fleming is a Licensed Minister and Pastor of Open Hearts Gathering, a new Disciples church plant in Gastonia, NC.

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4 thoughts on “We Are All Already Multireligious

  1. A People’s History of Christianity: The Other Side of the Story
    Diana Butler Bass
    p. 304

    Most interesting, perhaps, were the Christians who claimed some sort of multiple or blended identity, thus embodying practices of religious friendship in their own lives. Jason Byassee, who is proudly Methodist, is also a Roman Catholic. When he was a baby his Catholic grandmother had him secretly baptized in her church against the wishes of his “pagan” parents. When his parents had their own religious experience, they also baptized him – this time with the Methodists. “I’ve had a joint identity ever since,” he jokes. “We’re all church mutts these days.”

  2. When one finds wisdom, one is honor-bound to use it. Whether the wisdom comes from a Buddhist, Pentecostal, or Atheist is on no concern. Humanity is the only earth-bound creature to have self-awareness, and therefore critical thinking. Whatever label we slap on ourselves or others, we’re all on this spinning rock together. We’d best learn how to think and live as one. It sounds like your ministry is a wise and proper one. Peace!

  3. Here, here, Dennis! Good for you!

    We attended a wedding in Charleston two weeks ago, the bride is Christian, the groom is Jewish, there were Muslim guests.. It was so moving to see the blessing of challah bread and then communion, as well as a myriad of traditons represented. May we all grow and serve.

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