Uniting Religions

Are you a sincere seeker who has questions about Christianity, or a Christian with doubts about your faith? Post them here to receive a thoughtful response.
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Atticus Finch
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Uniting Religions

#1

Post by Atticus Finch » Sun Dec 17, 2006 12:20 pm

Is there a practical way to unite people of all religious faiths throughout the world?

I can't help but feel that all religions produce intolerance towards people of other faiths. It's a very simple thing which can be observed among people in matters outside those of religion. It's doubtful whether there's a single person in the world who doesn't believe with a strong degree of sincerity that his opinion is the true one. Some religions more openly express their intolerance by means of viewing other faiths in a contemptible light and thusly the followers can't help but act in a similar manner.

It's quite obvious that religion is dearer to mankind than our own hearts, but can we ever have a world united in purpose and ideals while still having different religions abound through the planet? It seems strange to me that we are on a planet spinning through space, lost in contrast to billions of other stars and planets, and we argue over our vain opinions on theology and the subsequent religious practises.

Can we know God? If we are to believe in the concept of prophetic messengers of and from God then the answer will be a triumphant wash of affirmative responses. Personally, I love dearly the concept of prophets. Most of us are not equipped to face the world alone and without clear guidance; such is the job of prophets who come to bring people into belief and urge them toward good behavior. The amount of religious figures from history is startling and points two two contradictory things:

1) The prophets in whose message is similar and in accordance with the preceding prophets may in all truth represent a united purpose which may be from God.

2) They were simply reformers of their day who sought to unite people with the most effective means at the time, which was always religion. This means they were at best self-deceived and at worst frauds and liars who have brought much strife to the world.

I've found a lot of good in every religion that I've studied up to now. The practical notion that 'the more of something one comes to know, the more of everything one will subsequently understand' works well with religion. Yet, I can't help but feel as my study goes onward that all were simply great men (as most religious founders were men) who had greatness of potential in their hearts and set out for it with their opinions on God and life.

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#2

Post by Judah » Sun Dec 17, 2006 2:57 pm

It would seem like a great thing to be able to do - find a way to overcome the barriers that separate believers in different religions and bring them all together in one united set of beliefs. The New Agers and Universalists seem to be trying to do just that, but logically it simply isn't possible.

Why is it not possible? Because there is such a thing as objective truth which is distinct from non-truth. Something is either true - or it isn't true. The fact is, different religions disagree with each other therefore they cannot all be true. And trying to pull out parts from one, parts from another, and creating a new blend of what seems to be true just produces another human belief system that is no more true than all those that are false.

Here is a response from The CHRISTIAN APOLOGETICS & RESEARCH MINISTRY which outlines a fundamental difficulty in trying to unite everyone in one religion that is a blend of all, or parts of all:
There are many religions in the world. They do not all teach the same thing. In fact, many of them contradict each other. So, they can't all be true and it cannot be said that each is a different path to God. What are we to say about all those other religions compared to Christianity? To get to the point, all other religions besides Christianity are false.

If Jesus is who He said He was, God in flesh, then whatever He says is authoritative and true. He said that He was the way the truth in the life and that nobody comes to the Father except through Him (John 14:6). Right there, we see that any other way, according to Jesus, is not true.

Christianity bases its truth and its doctrine on the word of God, the Bible. In the word of God, Jesus claims to be the only way. Since He performed many miracles, raised people from the dead, commanded a storm to be still and it obeyed, healed diseases, and rose from the dead Himself, then we are forced to face the reality of His words. Is what He said true or not? Either Jesus is a liar, a lunatic, or He is Lord. No one else in history, except Jesus, has fulfilled detailed prophecies, performed many miracles before eyewitnesses, and risen from the dead. Jesus is unique.

For those of us who are Christians, we have trusted what Christ has said. We believe in what He said and did. Like it or not, Jesus is the one who said He was the only way. It is not the Christians who are being "narrow-minded." It is Jesus. Therefore, to say that other religions can be true means that Jesus is false. To say that there are other ways to God, also means that Jesus is false. This is what it comes down to. Either Jesus is who He said He was and what He said is true, or He is false. This is a choice you must make. To trust what He said or reject His words.
To repeat: Either Jesus is a liar, a lunatic, or He is Lord. No one else in history, except Jesus, has fulfilled detailed prophecies, performed many miracles before eyewitnesses, and risen from the dead. Jesus is unique.
You cannot escape making a decision about Jesus. He does not give you the option of saying He is just a good teacher or one of a number of prophets. Good teachers, good moral people, do not tell lies and lead you up the garden path with false beliefs. Is He delusional, believing Himself to be God? Or is He exactly who He said He is - the ONLY way to the Father?

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#3

Post by Judah » Sun Dec 17, 2006 3:05 pm

Actually, I would suggest that all other religions besides Christianity are already united... in that they are all false.

I can say that from the position of my decision on Jesus which is that I believe He is telling the truth - the real objective truth.

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#4

Post by Atticus Finch » Sun Dec 17, 2006 3:44 pm

Judah wrote:
To repeat: Either Jesus is a liar, a lunatic, or He is Lord.
In all respect, Judah, I have to disagree with the main point in your argument. When I first read "Mere Christianity" I too was flawed by that brilliant phrase. I thought, "Wow, this is it! He was either a fraud, a madman, or he was God!" yet I feel that it's a simplified argument which doesn't hold much light for me.

The question automatically presumes that the Bible is true down to every word and thought. It doesn't allow the possibility that:

1) Jesus didn't exist historically.
2) If he (He?) did then he may have been somewhat different to how the writings describe him (Him?).
3) The scribes and their church leaders and their intents in writing.
4) Slight theological differences between the Gospels, and the general letters of the New Testament.

This is why I consider C.S Lewis' most famous argument to fall flat on its face. On its exterior it is a powerful statement, and one which I'm sure has ensured many people their faith in Christianity. I could explain fulfilled prophecy (although I consider this fairly subjective and vague in understanding) by my statement # 1 of the above; if Jesus was merely a sort of mythical figure, then it would be easy as pie to attribute fulfilled prophecy to him as the writers progressed.

Please let us continue this, I enjoy learning about this stuff and being able to talk to others about it.
Last edited by Atticus Finch on Sun Dec 17, 2006 3:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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#5

Post by Atticus Finch » Sun Dec 17, 2006 3:47 pm

Judah wrote:Actually, I would suggest that all other religions besides Christianity are already united... in that they are all false.
You don't find the bias in that statement to be very unattractive to people of other religious faiths?

I would suggest that ALL religions are united in the sublime fact that it is all a mass of opinions and that none can be objectively proved as true. This is the greatest aid to atheists when they consider their stance. Every people had a religion of some sort. Some were similar (in holding monotheistic or polytheistic beliefs, etc) and some were very different and odd. Each one of those people believed they had truth.

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#6

Post by Judah » Sun Dec 17, 2006 5:15 pm

Atticus, there is a great deal of validated evidence around to answer all four of your points in your post above. It can be found by perusing various Christian Apologia sites, a great many to which I have listed links on the side-bar of my own website. And the books by Lee Strobel and Josh McDowell also provide a great deal of relevant material.

Yes, I believe that the claim Jesus has made (John 14:6) and that Christians assert, is indeed quite offensive to those who choose not to believe it. Should that concern me? It concerns me that they often do not explore those claims diligently enough in many cases to consider the truth of those claims, but it concerns me far more that God Himself is the one who finds our sin to be even more offensive and that in the end, it is His judgement (not ours) that will matter most.

Christianity is an exclusive religion - it excludes all others in their claims for the truth. That has to offend non-Christians. You are quite right about that. But should I apologize for what I believe to be the truth? I also had to make a decision.

My time is limited here just at present, but I shall try to call in as much as possible and respond where I can.

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Re: Uniting Religions

#7

Post by puritan lad » Sun Dec 17, 2006 6:24 pm

Atticus Finch wrote:Is there a practical way to unite people of all religious faiths throughout the world?
Yes. Preach the gospel of Jesus Christ until all others abandon their demon-inspired false religions and "the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea." (Habakkuk 2:14).

Turgonian, a little postmillennialism there :wink:
"To suppose that whatever God requireth of us that we have power of ourselves to do, is to make the cross and grace of Jesus Christ of none effect." - JOHN OWEN

//covenant-theology.blogspot.com
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#8

Post by Turgonian » Mon Dec 18, 2006 3:42 pm

Atticus Finch wrote:1) Jesus didn't exist historically.
Nonsense (that's a link) -- would you give up your family, your wealth, everything you had, and become an outcast, even to the point of dying a most painful death, for a mythical person you invented?
Besides, this fails to take into account significant historical factors that make it very implausible (to say the least) that Jesus was invented. See The Impossible Faith.
Atticus Finch wrote:2) If he (He?) did then he may have been somewhat different to how the writings describe him (Him?).
3) The scribes and their church leaders and their intents in writing.
See Profiles of Key Issues Concerning the Four Gospels. The genre of the Gospels is the bios (no, not 'bias' :lol:), biography. The first Christians were integer people, in part eyewitnesses, who communicated with each other and had a zeal for the truth. Gospel material does not reflect the creativity of a community.
Atticus Finch wrote:4) Slight theological differences between the Gospels, and the general letters of the New Testament.
What theological differences?
Atticus Finch wrote:This is why I consider C.S Lewis' most famous argument to fall flat on its face.
See On the Trail of the Trilemma.
Atticus Finch wrote:I could explain fulfilled prophecy (although I consider this fairly subjective and vague in understanding) by my statement # 1 of the above; if Jesus was merely a sort of mythical figure, then it would be easy as pie to attribute fulfilled prophecy to him as the writers progressed.
No, it's midrash... The Gospel writers took prophetic texts that probably had already had a fulfilment and saw them as relevant for the life of Jesus. You're right that fulfilled prophecy isn't a very reliable argument.
puritan lad wrote:Turgonian, a little postmillennialism there ;)
I spotted it. ;)
The Bible says they were "willingly ignorant". In the Greek, this means "be dumb on purpose". (Kent Hovind)

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Re: Uniting Religions

#9

Post by Gman » Mon Dec 18, 2006 10:24 pm

Atticus Finch wrote:Is there a practical way to unite people of all religious faiths throughout the world?
Atticus, plain and simple, the answer to your question is a resounding NO.. All the other religions are in complete contrast to Christianity..

Here are some examples... First Buddah, Allah or Brahman did not die for you.. God expresses his love for us through his death.. No other deity has ever made this claim.. They would never sacrifice themselves for you.. That is who much God loves you..

Second, Christianity's claim is that salvation is NOT by works.. You CANNOT work or achieve God's grace by being good or earning it.. No other religion has ever made a claim like this..

These are just a few examples... There are many many more like them if you want to go further into this...
The heart cannot rejoice in what the mind rejects as false - Galileo

We learn from history that we do not learn from history - Georg Friedrich Wilhelm Hegel

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things. -Philippians 4:8

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exclusive

#10

Post by bluesman » Tue Dec 19, 2006 10:26 am

Prove to me that other beliefs are not exclusive too.
Islam is exclusive too.

We can tolerate people of other beliefs, like being at peace, friendly and understanding toward them. We can't embrace their teaching though.
They might all have some truth to them, but only Christianity has the whole truth.

Christianity is first grace then works.
The other are works then grace. The backwards order in my opinion.

As far as Christian denominations we can have better unity. By that I don't mean one denomination, just a unitied front on common issues.
Most denominations share core beliefs, but differ in some pet doctrines.
Some are outside that like Jehovah Witness, Mormon,etc.
If you believe Jesus was the Son of God and died for our sins then we have something common. Amen.


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Re: exclusive

#11

Post by Byblos » Tue Dec 19, 2006 12:56 pm

bluesman wrote:If you believe Jesus was the Son of God and died for our sins then we have something common. Amen.


I would also add the fact that he was raised from the dead. Without the resurrection there's no christianity, in any form.
Let us proclaim the mystery of our faith: Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.

Lord I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.

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