In a time when disdain for other faiths is commonplace, even blessed in some religious circles, how does a Bible study instructor contrast the teachings and doctrines of another tradition and his own without seeming intolerant? And conversely, can the increased sensitivity to multiculturalism and religious diversity in early 21st-century America gradually diminish the celebration of one faith tradition's distinctive place in the theological spectrum?
"If you're going to take your religion seriously, you should feel it's superior to others. Why else believe in it?" said Alan Wolfe, director of the Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life at Boston College. "On the other hand, society does require a hands-off attitude toward other faiths in order for us to all live together. It's a dilemma."
Thomas, who was on staff at Concordia Seminary in Clayton for 18 years, said he believes the Bible studies at St. Paul's have stayed on the respectful side of the line. His goal with the classes, he said, is to explain the teachings of another religion and to ask why Lutherans don't believe the same thing.
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