Kelly Bean on Plurality 2.0

This piece is part of an on-going blog series called Plurality 2.0 (watch video here). Full schedule of guest authors throughout April and May is available here.

Kelly Bean is community cultivator/pastor of Third Saturday Community, co-Coordinator and founder of Convergence, local and international networker and activist, writer and artist. Kelly’s most remarkable endeavor is learning from her three children: Elliot the ace guitarist (age 13), Kate the adventurer (age 19) and Emilie the kind hearted (age 23), and gorgeous grandson Gabriel (age three), along with Kelly’s marvelous Harley riding husband, Ken. More info can be found at

Close Encounters of the Real Kind

kellyWords as varied as diversity, strident, tolerant, mission statement, idealism, hope, fear and peace come to mind as I consider the topic of “Plurality.” It brings to mind dark-skinned friends; friends of varied sexual orientation; distinct houses of worship; multicultural kid scenes from Sesame Street as well as recollection of painful theological battles

Thank goodness for The Pluralism Project work developed by Diane Eck of Harvard University. Eck’s work has been my excellent guide to the “real thing” when the waters of plurality get murky. (A nod to fellow Plurality 2.0 blogger Eboo Patel for his May 5th citation of Eck’s work too.) Eck writes:

“Pluralism is…active engagement with plurality. Pluralism and plurality are sometimes used as if they were synonymous. But plurality is just diversity, plain and simple — splendid, colorful, maybe even threatening. Such diversity does not, however, have to affect me. I can observe diversity. I can even celebrate diversity, as the cliche goes. But I have to participate in pluralism….Pluralism requires the cultivation of public space where we all encounter one another.

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John Franke on Plurality 2.0

This piece is part of an on-going blog series called Plurality 2.0 (watch video here). Full schedule of guest authors throughout April and May is available here.

John R. Franke is the Lester and Kay Clemens Professor of Missional Theology at Biblical Seminary in Hatfield, PA. He holds the DPhil degree from the University of Oxford and is particularly interested in engaging postmodern thought and culture from the perspective of missional Christian faith in order to explore the opportunities and challenges presented for the witness and ministry of the gospel in the contemporary setting. He is the coauthor of Beyond Foundationalism: Shaping Theology in a Postmodern Context (Westminster John Knox Press), the author of The Character of Theology (Baker Academic) and Barth for Armchair Theologians (Westminster John Knox). His most recent book, Manifold Witness: The Plurality of Truth, is forthcoming from Abingdon Press.

franke2I believe one of the most significant challenges facing the church is the sheer, existential reality of Christian plurality. While we often speak glibly of the Christian tradition, even a cursory glance at the history of the church should make us aware that at the end of the day we can speak only of the multiplicity of Christian traditions that make up what we refer to as the Christian tradition. The fact is that Christians disagree with each other on a host of significant theological questions that are accompanied by a dizzying array of answers.

What are we to make of this plurality in light of the witness of scripture to the one faith that was delivered once for all to the saints? How do we account for it theologically? What do we think of other Christian communities that live and practice the faith in ways different from ours? How do we relate the concern for the unity of the church with the concern for truth? Must we really choose between a pragmatic unity that seems to give up on truth and an approach to truth that appears to mandate a divisive and sectarian understanding of the church?

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Erin Williams on Plurality 2.0

This piece is part of an on-going blog series called Plurality 2.0 (watch video here). Full schedule of guest authors throughout April and May is available here.

Erin Williams is the Media Coordinator at the Interfaith Youth Core, a Chicago-based international non-profit that builds mutual respect and pluralism among people from different religious and moral traditions by empowering them to work together to serve others. Erin has lived and worked in documentary, media, research, and outreach capacities in Chicago, Barcelona, Boston, D.C., and Johannesburg.

We will not forget, and we will not forgive…


If you don’t know the kind of person I am
and I don’t know the kind of person you are
a pattern that others made may prevail in the world
and following the wrong god home we may miss our star…

And so I appeal to a voice, to something shadowy,
a remote important region in all who talk:
though we could fool each other, we should consider—
lest the parade of our mutual life get lost in the dark.
For it is important that awake people be awake,
or a breaking line may discourage them back to sleep;
the signals we give – yes or no, or maybe—
should be clear: the darkness around us is deep.

– William Stafford, A Ritual to Read to Each Other

“We will not forget, and we will not forgive,” read the t-shirt of a man who walked into the Chicago subway car where I was sitting one morning. The words were boldly printed in slanted black cursive over an image of the burning Twin Towers, with a large Bald Eagle flying in front of the collapsing buildings.

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