Hanna de Jong-Markus

172 a relationship with Him) could not be attributed to other gods. Therefore, most of the teachers rejected the idea that Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists worshipped the same God as Christians. Within the third category of beliefs, the teachers referred to the doctrine of the Trinity (i.e., the unity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit as three persons in one Godhead) and paid special attention to the divinity of Jesus and his role as Saviour. The belief that Jesus is the Saviour and that people must acknowledge this was decisive for many teachers, which makes the distinctiveness of Christian faith a very serious issue. However, at the same time, reluctance regarding decisive statements like this one was seen, especially triggered by encounters with religious others. Teachers expressed counter-voices and showed that their beliefs were part of a searching process. Their reluctance was also generated by the belief that it is God’s work to realise that the religious other acknowledges Him and that it is not Biblical to judge someone’s eternal destination. In these moments of reluctance, some ambivalence between what the teachers said from one moment to another was observed. Thirdly, how teachers perceive religious others was examined. How the non-religious other was defined by the teachers was considerably varied. At various points in the interviews, the teachers demonstrated what they believed about religious others. Their beliefs could be distinguished into three categories with several subcategories: distinction (Dutch: afstand nemen), identification (Dutch: herkenning) and recognition (Dutch: erkenning). When distinction between themselves and religious others was highlighted, teachers expressed beliefs about anxiety for the religious other; about feeling sorry for the religious other who did not know God and, therefore, would not live with God in eternity; about the importance of clarity about the differences between the Christian faith and other religions; and about a duty to spread the Biblical message of salvation. When teachers spoke about identification, they referred to shared or desirable norms and values of the religious other, or to having a shared position in contemporary society, because the religious other is also part of a religious minority. Recognition is related to descriptions of the religious other as a human being who deserves their own position, such as about freedom of choice; about God seeing their hearts (which means that the relationship between the religious other and God cannot and should not be judged); about all humans being valuable and created by God; and beliefs about love and kindness toward religious others. Teachers often referred explicitly or implicitly to God and to society as a third party in their relationshipwith religious others. Teachers then described whether they experience connection to or distance from God and/or the religious other, and whether there is a link between God and the religious other. Society was especially mentioned when teachers identified themselves with religious others as, based on having certain norms and values or being part of a religious minority, they felt a shared distance from society.