Former National Council of Churches chief Joan Brown Campbell, in her sermon at Chautauqua today (Aug. 22), urged that Christians reject the “exclusivity” of their own faith. And in today’s published interview with the Chautauqua, NY newspaper, Campbell reiterated Christians should not aspire to win other people to Christianity.
Campbell is retiring after 14 years as director of religious life at the famed, originally Christian retreat center, which she celebrated has become more interfaith under her direction. Chautauqua originally began as a Sunday school training camp for Methodists.
“Most compassionate congregations in the world are Muslim,” Campbell said, touting the interfaith “Charter of Compassion” organized by British religion historian and syncretist Karen Armstrong. Campbell urged: “We are called to a compassionate Christianity,” that embodies “Jesus’ dangerous dream” that “we all might be one.”
Campbell was citing the Gospel of John 17:21, which says: “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.”
In Campbell’s reinterpretation, this scripture is not Christ’s call for the church’s unity under His Lordship but for global unity because it “relates to all of humankind.” She urged a “Jesus not owned by Christians but Who cares for all. An embracing Jesus.”