The Common Good

Q Conference - Miroslav Volf On Faith in Public Life

An interconnected, interdependent world means a greater intermingling of faiths and the possibility for conflict. We’ve seen it in the United States in anti-Shariah legislation and the recent atheist Reason Rally.

Theologia Miroslav Volf, director and founder of the Yale Center for Faith and Culture, argues that globalization and the resurgence of faith in the United States increases the need for pluralism in public life.

Volf spoke on Wednesday at the Q Conference in Washington, D.C., where he pointed out the potential danger in the country’s simultaneous phenomena of religious authoritarianism and secular exclusivism.

Religious authoritarianism perpetuates the idea of the United States. as a Christian nation to an extreme. Secular exclusivism is a gut reaction to that idea, seeking to remove all religion completely from the public square. The two extremes are playing out in politics, schools and individual lives.

“We need to give up on the idea of Christian America. We need to give up on the idea of secular America as well,” Volf said.

He added that we as Christians, informed by our faith, need to think of the U.S. as a pluralistic space in which everyone has an equal voice—that Christians should lead the charge to make room for all.

And, Volf said, there are very Christian reasons for doing so. God embraces all, and no one comes to God through forced conversion.

“We fear each other, but we have lost the fear of God,” Volf said.

A fear and reverence for God means allowing God to work in the lives of others without force. It means giving people the freedom in the way they come to faith.

“[We need] reverence for Jesus Christ, who on the cross died so that all people can find space in the embrace of God,” Volf said.

Sandi Villarreal is the Associate Web Editor for Sojourners. You can follow her on Twitter @Sandi.

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