Christianity on the Religious Other

Christianity’s approach to the religious Other is largely shaped by three things: 1) its Jewish origin, 2) its insistence on Jesus’ divinity and 3) the Gospel injunction to “make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19). The church began as a Jewish sect, and centuries of Christian anti-Semitism rested on the view that Jews had rejected their own Messiah. Since the Enlightenment and after the Holocaust, most churches have repudiated anti-Semitism and affirmed Jewish scripture and covenantal relationship with God. Differences with Judaism—as well as Islam and other faiths—have historically revolved around two core Christian teachings: the Trinity (God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) and the Incarnation (Jesus as God). Christian proponents of interreligious dialogue, a growing movement since the 1960s and the Second Vatican Council of the Catholic Church (1962-1965), have tended to deemphasize these doctrinal features of Christianity and focused instead on shared ethical commitments to peace, justice, and human dignity across the world’s traditional religions. In contrast, some evangelical trends emphasize the central role of Jesus as the only way to God and dismiss interreligious dialogue unless it focuses on religious conversion.