While attending church services the Sunday after Easter, also known as the Second Easter Sunday, I heard what was common for such on occasion and that was a sermon rooted in the New Testament story of doubting Thomas. My pastor stated in his sermon that Thomas was the only one to whom Jesus revealed himself individually. When he took his seat, our co-pastor whispered to him, after the service my pastor made an announcement to the congregation that he had been corrected by our co-pastor, that Jesus first revealed himself to Mary following the Resurrection. In my own mind, I immediately went to the Virgin Mary thinking Jesus revealed himself to his mother. I went to the Scriptures and read, and it was Mary Magdalene. Both held graduate degrees from Union Theological Seminary and Princeton Theological Seminary, respectively; however, it was the woman, and Princeton alumna, that did not overlook the significance of Mary Magdalene in the story of Jesus Christ. Inclusion and diverse perspectives did not rewrite the Gospel but highlighted passages important to their own experience which gave us a fuller meaning to the Gospel. This I believe, that pluralism and religious literacy have a symbiotic relationship, to which inclusion and allowing diverse perspectives enriches our understanding our own beliefs and those of others and encourages a more accepting, pluralistic society.
What would cause such a faux pas to occur? Both ministers were clearly well-educated individuals, so it was not a matter of ignorance. Each had related to the Gospel in their way by that which moved them. Gender differences aside, as it can only be an assumption this was the key factor, and maybe it was, one pastor was moved by the skepticism of Thomas whose faith was reaffirmed with a qualified revelation of the truth; whereas, the other pastor was moved by the woman whose embattled soul had been freed by Jesus Christ when he cast out seven demons, also a qualified revelation of faith based on seeing. The human experience of faith is a relative experience, even among clerics as this example demonstrates.Seemingly, we would think this is where the conversation begins but often this is where the conversation ends.