Friday, September 28, 2012

The Great BOTH/AND (Day 25)

Recently, I have befriended some neighbors from Saudi Arabia. I'm not typically the most outgoing person when it comes to approaching strangers, but I'm trying to practice acts of charity. So my wife and I took a shot, and we welcomed some Muslim newcomers into our home. Our hospitality to them has made them open to talk about Christianity. We even found them a New Testament in Arabic- they were excited to read it. They are refreshing to be around. They are not tainted by American relativism- which makes for straight forward conversations about life and especially about religion. We live in a Western society where there is not an objective truth. But instead a motto of, "What’s good for you might not be good for me." We live in a culture where moral relativism is the law of the land. This relativism has crept into Christianity as well. My Muslim friends are not jaded by this political correctness. I, like them, see it as illogical for us to say, "Well, we both can be right." No, no we can't. And while we totally disagree and least we know where the other stands: I believe in extra Ecclesiam nulla salus. It is a Latin phrase that means: "outside the church there is no salvation." The most recent Catholic Catechism interpreted this to mean that "all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his Body." Sound arrogant? Well that is because salvation is a very touchy subject for most. What does 'No salvation outside the Church' really mean?

The majority of Christians consider that a person who believes in Jesus to the extent of giving up everything, who literally "loses his life" for the sake of the Kingdom of God, and who perseveres in his call to the end of his life, is assured salvation . All Christians are called to believe and spread the good news of the gospels to those who do not know about or believe in Jesus Christ. But what about the salvation of those who belong to other religions? Most are quick to judge damnation upon them, but the Bible makes no firm judgment about their salvation.

The truth is God has not told us what his arrangements about other people are. We do know that no man can be saved except through Christ and His Church; we do not know that only those who know Him can be saved though him.We do not know that only those that are visibly connected with His Church can be saved through His Church. The Bible leaves open the possibility that God may save some persons who, though no fault of their own, have not accepted the gospel of Jesus Christ. Belief in Jesus is not mentioned in Matthew 25, but yet salvation is granted to the "nations" because of their charity. Romans 2:12-16 says that "gentiles without the law" will be judged according God's law "written in their hearts" or "conscience". Remember, judgment comes from God alone. Paul warns about judging others many times in his letters. In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul goes to the extent of warning about the judging of ones own soul. I do not even judge myself. I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am no thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things hidden in darkness and disclose the purposes of the heart. Then every man will receive his commendation from God (1 Cor. 4:3-5). Knowledge of the bible leads to better evangelization, but it also helps to have a general knowledge of other religions. Most Christians are willingly uneducated in regards to "other" Christian denominations, and other religions of the world. This ignorance causes misunderstandings, which leads to fear, which turns into hate. If you are a Christian, you do not have to believe that all the other religions are simply wrong. You are free to think that all those religions, even the queerest ones, contain at least some hint of the truth. Many prophecies from other religions foretold the coming of Christ. Confucius said he was expecting some great wise man from the east. Buddha said he was not the wise man, someone else was to come. Plato said a just man was to come who would tell us how we are to conduct ourselves before God and men. In the genealogy of Jesus, a reader will find saints, but will also find sinners. Gentile women like Ruth or a public sinner like Rahab were typical examples of the humanity Christ assumed into himself when he became incarnate. Every single human being that would ever be born until the end of time was incorporated into this humanity. Therefore, there is not a Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, communist, sinner, or saint who is not in this human nature of Christ. We are all in it. Our neighbor next door is in it. Every persecutor of Christianity is too. When we are puzzled about how other people are saved, we need only realize that implicitly, all salvation, all men, are in Christ. They may not recognize their incorporation in Christ, but in a certain sense every person in the world is implicitly a Christian in his human nature.

It’s not about one way of "worshiping God" being better than another; it’s about one giving a clearer picture of God-the truth. It’s an objective fact: if one religion claims one thing about Jesus and another religion claims the opposite, one of them has to be right and the other wrong. Why does this matter? It matters because we shape our lives on how we view the truth. We live our lives based on the way that we view Jesus. How we live our lives determines our eternity. "Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life’" (John 14:6). Jesus said that he is the truth. THE TRUTH.

The best thing Christian's can do for people of other religions, (and themselves) is to pray for them, and to live moral lives that reflect Christian teaching. Christians need to start practicing what they preach in order to draw people to Christianity. People from other religions do not get "saved" by bombarding strangers asking questions, "Do you know Jesus Christ as you personal savior? Do you know Jesus Christ as you personal savior? Do you know Jesus Christ as you personal savior?" Handing people pamphlets through drive-thru windows is not fulfilling any call of evangelization. I am not saying that every person in the world is granted heaven regardless of what they believe, but change starts with commonalities, charity, and logical conversation.

I’m convinced that through intellectually truthful dialogue there is hope for unity. My hope is based most fundamentally on the fact that the most passionate truthful dialoguing ecumenist in all of existence is Jesus Christ. "That they may be one even as Thou the Father art in me and I in Thee, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe" (John 17:22-23 ). I think that better knowledge leads to better evangelization. Most Christians are willingly uneducated in regards to "other" Christian denominations, and other religions of the world. This ignorance causes misunderstandings, which leads to fear, which turns into hate. Only with knowledge can people make up their own opinions and truly shake off all preconceived notions. Ignorance is the worst feature a person can acquire. If a person really looks at things, it is evident that all hatred comes from ignorance. People are more prone to hate what they do not comprehend.

Jesus asked the disciples, "Who do you say that I am?" This question applies to us today, "Who do we say Jesus is?" That is the most fundamental question and there can only be one right answer- BUT we have to keep in mind that God is God and is not bound to our limited conclusions.The Holy Spirit blows where He wills. The great Catholic: BOTH/AND.

SOOOO if you have read this far, you may be wondering how this applies to your battle with pornography? It's this: Don't judge. Don't judge others battle. Don't judge your own. Let Paul be your example. Surrender to God's Will. Get the facts, fight but be open minded. God is bigger than your battle and preconceived notions- about purity- and other religions.

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