Wednesday, August 24, 2016
Religions and non-religions
Jim Jones of ‘People’s Temple’ is one recent example, whose cult came to a tragic ending in Guyana.
Whether we recognize them as valid religions or not, even in the non-Christian faiths — Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Confucianism, Taoism, native American spirituality — we can sense that there is real truth there, even if only partial, and that what constitutes these faiths is not something that was ‘religiously engineered’ but, instead, the deposit of a gradual realisation by a culture of what, and even Who, the Truth is. This is why all ‘real religions’ anticipate the revelation of Jesus Christ the God-Man, and can be ‘old testaments’ leading into the New and Everlasting Covenant.
Since the Church started in the Hebrew world, the Hebrew religion became the first of these ‘old testaments’ and was canonized by the Church. But as the Word of God Jesus Christ goes forth to meet all cultures, lands and times, the Evangelion can be built on the supple and expectant spiritual traditions, or religions, of almost all people, to greater or lesser degrees.
In the case of Islam, this cannot be done, because it is a man-made religion borrowing selectively from the real religion of Judaism and from the faith of Christ, willfully changing what it has borrowed, sometimes inverting it, so that all that remains are just names and words, while the Truth content is discarded. The same can be said of some of the new religions invented in the United States, and for exactly the same reasons.
I testify, that I can witness to a Hindu, for example, whose religion I am very familiar with, and show how the myths that are taken as true by them really are true and in fact are made fully comprehensible only when one meets Christ in them. How is this possible? Because Christ is, was, and will be, that is, always was, the Truth that underlay their myths, those stories awaiting His literal coming and their meeting Him in space and time to be fulfilled.
Yes, Jesus Christ ‘the same yesterday, today, and forever,’ can be found even when well-hidden in the real religions. As for those that are not real religions, but mere human constructs for the subjugation and conquest and annihilation of human souls, Nicolaitans, these have no meeting with Christ in this or any world, except when they are flung forever into the fiery lake.
The witness of the Church to people under subjection to Islam and modern cultic religions, for example, must be undertaken in a similar way as the witness to atheists, and to all people who are religionless to begin with.
As C. S. Lewis wrote in his allegory The Pilgrim’s Regress, ‘the definition of a Pagan [is] a man so travelling that if all goes well he arrives at Mother Kirk’s chair [at the Church] and is carried over this gorge [the sin of the world]…’
Cultists are not Christians, and Muslims are not pagans, by creedal criteria. They are subjects of a form of pseudo-religious nihilism, of anti-humanism. Their conversion is only possible, I think, by meeting the Lord in person (in the person of His servants) and not by reference to their religious heritage, for they have none.
This is probably true, even universally, precisely because ‘religious’ conversion is not a matter of exchanging one set of ideas or beliefs for another, but of meeting the Lord in person, and this usually happens by meeting one of His true servants. Could this be what He is telling us here?
The one who hears you hears Me, and the one who rejects you rejects Me, and the one who rejects Me rejects Him who sent Me.
at 8:34 PM