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Three rules of religious understanding

Having options and opposition is important in life, including the diversity and freedom of religious worship. Stendahl here summarize how we can best approach others with understanding.

Stendahl is credited with creating Stendahl’s three rules of religious understanding, which he presented in a 1985 press conference in Stockholm, Sweden, in response to vocal opposition to the building of a temple there by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. His rules are as follows:

1. When you are trying to understand another religion, you should ask the adherents of that religion and not its enemies.

2. Don’t compare your best to their worst.

3. Leave room for “holy envy.” (By this Stendahl meant that you should be willing to recognize elements in the other religious tradition or faith that you admire and wish could, in some way, be reflected in your own religious tradition or faith.)

Through his interest in the Jewish context of the New Testament, Stendahl developed an interest in Jewish Studies and was active in Jewish–Christian dialogue.

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