Religious Animosity

St. Bartholomew displaying his flayed skin in Michelangelo's "The Last Judgment."

St. Bartholomew displaying his flayed skin in Michelangelo’s “The Last Judgment.”

Yesterday was St. Bartholomew’s Day and it got me to thinking about religious animosity. Bartholomew was one of the 12 and the New Testament tells us very little about him, but ancient tradition held that he was a missionary to Armenia and suffered martyrdom there when his skin was flayed from his body. A millennium and a half later, on St. Bartholomew’s Day, 1572, Roman Catholics in Paris launched a massacre that went on throughout France for days and killed thousands of Protestants.

So, on a day remembering how religious animosity cost an Apostle his life, religious animosity cost thousands more their lives.

Trinity and Humanity is founded on the idea that God the Holy Trinity has united all of humanity to the Divine nature through the incarnation of the Son as the man Jesus. If that idea of union between divinity and humanity has any meaning it must, at least, mean this: religious animosity must end. We cannot believe in the God who has redeemed the world through Jesus Christ and at the same time hate Muslims, slander Jews, and laugh at Hindus, Wiccans, and Atheists. We cannot believe that Jesus brings humanity into God and then ignore the profound humanitarian crisis of Muslim refugees from places like Syria.

We cannot say we love Jesus and then endorse actions that express hatred for our Muslims brothers. If we are all included in what Jesus is doing then there is no place for animosity against, persecution of, or even neglect of those with whom we disagree theologically.

By his martyrdom St. Bartholomew points us to the reconciling cross of Christ and calls us to begin living the Kingdom now – a Kingdom where our natural tribalism around our belief systems is washed away by the love of God.

~ Jonathan Stepp

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