Monday, August 22, 2016

Things human, and things Divine

There is a persistent problem in encounters between two kinds of religions. Those that are based on reliable historical testimony, and those which depend on fabrications based on, but not consistent with, historical testimony. In the first group are to be placed: Most varieties of Judaism and Christianity. In the second group: Islam and Mormonism, and a host of insignificant cults derived primarily from all four religions.

Scholars continue to study the historical sources of Judaic and Christian scriptures, because they have left a physical trail. Scholars study Islamic scriptures only within the closed context of these scriptures themselves, since historical and fictional elements are intermixed. No serious scholars study the Mormon scriptures, which are acknowledged by all impartial authorities to be entirely fabricated.

There can never be serious dialog between the members of the first group of religions and the second, because it always resolves itself into accusations of lying on both sides: The first group asserts that the scriptures of the second group are fabrications; the second group asserts that those of the first group have been corrupted and are therefore inadequate. In plain language, the other group is lying.

Between Judaism and Christianity, something similar happens in such encounters, because these two religions are essentially the same, yet different, based on a single fact asserted by Christians but denied by Jews: the resurrection of Jesus Christ. His historicity is rarely doubted by Jews, only the content of the historic record challenged. On the Christian side, nothing can be asserted against Judaism, except its denial of Christ.

This is why we think, 'They must be joking' at best, when we encounter the pronouncements of the ayatollahs and other Islamic teachers, or hear about Muslim beliefs about Jesus, for example. We are here meeting a fabrication of something we consider fundamentally true and incontestable. The boldness of the Muslim (and Mormon) assertions is designed to unnerve and destabilise us.

But God is God, and though we mock each other, He cannot be mocked. Aside from all religions true or false, He is; and all those who have had experience of Him, whether Christian or not, know more about Him than the belief systems of all religions combined. Only those who have had this experience are in a position to distinguish 'the stale from the fresh' in things human, and things Divine.

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