How Can I Be Committed to my Religion and Open to Others?

The Big Questions (Templeton)

The way I read the Hebrew Bible, in Genesis 9 God makes a covenant with Noah and, through him, with all of humanity. In Genesis 17, He makes a covenant with Abraham and his descendants, and that is not the whole of humanity. And I was wrestling with this. If God has already made the covenant with everyone, why does He need to make another covenant with Abraham?

And I think the short answer is this: that just as God creates biodiversity, He creates cultural diversity and indeed religious diversity.

I think we need both. We need a covenant of shared humanity, and then we need a covenant of what I call the dignity of difference.

And that corresponds to the two fundamental principles of the moral and spiritual life: the universality of justice and the particularity of love. Justice has to be done equally; love is always particular.

I love each of my children for what makes them different and unique. And if I fail to value that uniqueness, I would be failing to show them the deepest form of love.

So God is the God of justice and of love. He is the God of universality and particularity. He is the God of all humanity in our ‘sameness’, but He is also the God of each section of humanity in our uniqueness.