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Featured Supersessionism and beyond - Can Christianity meaningfully address religious pluralism?

Discussion in 'Biblical Debates' started by adrian009, May 17, 2020.

  1. adrian009

    adrian009 Well-Known Member
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    In this thread I’d like to explore Christianity’s capacity to adapt to modernity generally and religious pluralism in particular. The heart of the problem for Christianity and a Bible based theology is the existence of other religious and non-religious world views whose adherents live outstanding lives worthy of admiration.

    At one end of the spectrum are theological narratives that view a particular framework within Christianity as being the exclusive truth and THE only true path to God. All other paths are considered false including many other paths under the umbrella of Christianity itself.

    At the other end of the spectrum are theological approaches the employ historical-critical methods that more readily accept the validity of approaches to life outside a Christian framework. A Baha’i approach is an example I’m most familiar with along with Post-Vatican II Catholicism and more liberal and modern Protestant Churches.

    A critical turning point in Christianity’s move towards more pluralistic theologies arose after WW II in the aftermath of the holocaust. Theological approaches moved away from long held doctrines such as supersessionism.

    Supersessionism - Wikipedia

    However it is apparent with the rise of fundamentalism in most mainstream religions that a vocal minority of Christians insist on the exclusive nature of Christianity for salvation.

    1/ So can Christianity meaningfully embrace religious pluralism?

    2/ To what extent do doctrines such as supersessionism prevent this movement.

    3/ If you are a Christian what direction would you like to see Christianity move and why? If you are not a Christian does it matter to you whether Christianity retains its traditional exclusivity or moves towards embracing religious pluralism? Why?


    Any questions or constructive comments welcome? If you’ve made it this far, thanks for dropping by.
     
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  2. KAT-KAT

    KAT-KAT Well-Known Member

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    Christian Fundamentalism seems to come in waves. Right now in the US, there is a huge push for it. Before Trump got elected, his majority of voters were said to be largely men. But women seem to have accepted him now too, though I’m not sure the ratios now. And they stand behind him for religious reasons. People in my country don’t really like me much since I adopted Hinduism. There’s a certain knee-jerk reaction. I can talk to foreign people who had to learn English, better than I can Americans.
     
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  3. Aupmanyav

    Aupmanyav Be your own guru

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    Why have you picked up on Christianity and not included Judaism or Islam in your topic? True, they deny even the existence of other religions. But I think Bahai religion is most insideous of all. It seems to accept all religions but at the same time rejects all in reality. At least Christianity and Islam accept to be adversaris. Bahais knife other religions even when claiming to be friends.

    Christianity is meaningfully accepting all other religions wherever it exists, take for example your own country. Are there not people of religions other than Christianity? Are they discriminated against? Are they suppressed? Does New Zealand not have citizens belonging to faiths other than Christianity? Are they not allowed to vote? Can they not apply for government positions? Are they taxed more than the Christian citizens? Tell me how can New Zealand accept other religions 'more meaningfully'? I am surprised that of all religions, you pick Christianity to blame!

    And what do you mean by your last sentence? That is very subjective. What would you consider to be 'a constructive comment' and which one you would reject as being not? Let me see whether you take my post as constructive or destructive! I know Bahais are very fun-loving people. :D
     
    #3 Aupmanyav, May 17, 2020
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  4. adrian009

    adrian009 Well-Known Member
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    I see many amongst the Christian Right supporting the current administration in the USA because of the Republicans views on issues such as abortion. I’m aware too of policies restricting immigration from some Muslim countries and the Mexican border. The Vice President is a conservative Christian. However I’m not aware of the president having any strong Christian identity. Are there new discriminatory government policies towards peoples of a non-Christian Faith?

    The USA does have significant well established religious minorities including Jews, Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists. Presumably there are laws that prevent discrimination?
     
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  5. KAT-KAT

    KAT-KAT Well-Known Member

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    Regarding Trump, he appeared on the 700 Club, a religious program, during his campaign. Some say it helped him win election. He isn’t as devout as Pence for sure, but it’s almost like the Protestants were longing for a leader similar to the Pope and now stand behind Trump, admitting he isn’t perfect, but still getting behind him.

    Regarding discrimination, I see it as more at an individual level. Tell someone you’re Hindu or a Democrat, and they’ll likely stop talking to you. I saw this less before politics went a little crazy 4 years ago.

    As for the laws, they are complicated. I feel less safe as a non-binary than I might have under the Obama administration, but I’m not sure regarding religious tolerance.
     
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  6. Sunstone

    Sunstone De Diablo Del Fora
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    I grew up in a small Midwestern town with a population of about 2,300 people plus perhaps a coupe thousand more people (mostly farmers) in the surrounding countryside.

    That was my 'community' growing up. And if the community had been asked to adopt an official motto, it would surely have been, "Go Along to Get Along".

    The social pressure to conform to the expectations, standards, norms, and behaviors of the community's social leaders was nothing less than fierce. The community had a lot of nice things going for it -- and especially a lot of nice people. But growing up, the uniformity was stifling and suffocating. I felt it like a physical weight and burden. I felt it like 100% humidity and 100 degrees F in the sun. I felt it like a lack of air and oxygen. I felt it like 1984.

    To this day, I think anyone -- or any group -- that intentionally seeks to crush diversity and impose uniformity is bat balls crazy. You just cannot want to do that sort of thing if you have any clue at all what doing it is going to cost you, cost everyone you like and love, cost your whole community.

    Then again, who said anything about humans being wise -- or even sane? Lots of folks are scared to death of differences of opinion, norms, and values. And lots of folks find emotional security in everyone being like them. There are tons of people who would not for a moment consider marrying someone with significantly different political or religious views as them, or even just marrying people who love different sport teams and entertainments than they do. Yeah, such people are sometimes the butt of jokes, but they are also a thing. They are actually real.

    To me, Christian ideologies along the lines of supersessionism are not only (possibly) rooted in some Biblical passages, but even more importantly, are deeply rooted in fears, insecurities, longings for belongingness, and naive, idealistic hopes of improving the world in ways that go against human nature and violate the sacred intentions of both God and Darwin that humanity be a free and diverse species.
     
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  7. adrian009

    adrian009 Well-Known Member
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    I spent my adolescence in a cosmopolitan city Wellington, the capital of New Zealand with a population of over 200,000. One high school I attended had over 30 ethnic groups. The university was liberal, secular and ethnically diverse. I played the guitar and was a wannabe musician. With my first degree I made it into medical school so headed 500 miles away from my home to a more conservative part of the country. Still in medicine there was still many from an Asian or Indian background.

    Away from home for the first time I had a hard time initially and reconnected with my Christian roots but came across fundamentalist Christianity for the first time. I was torn between fundamentalism and my more scientific and multicultural experiences. So I went from the Baptist Church to the Baha’i Faith to the horror of the Christians I knew. That was thirty years ago but I like to maintain connections with my Christian roots.

    Lately I’ve been trying to better understand the rapidly changing Church here and abroad. I agree there is a clinging to the past within some parts of Christendom and profound dissonance with the modern world.

    Thanks for dropping by.:)
     
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  8. adrian009

    adrian009 Well-Known Member
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    Well Aup, I think you’ve answered your own question in regards the last sentence.

    Christianity is the main religion (37% of the population) where I live though we have a small Muslim community (1.1%). Its the faith I grew up with and continue to have the most dealings with.

    Otherwise I recommend you reread the OP and answer the questions rather than launch an off topic tirade against the Baha’i Faith.
     
  9. Ray Warren

    Ray Warren Always Learning

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    I'll have to think on this to get back to you but I am reminded of people who mix paganism and Christianity together like I first tried to do when I started following paganism. Like Trinitarian Wicca.Christians tend to be really mad at people who do that.Note: I might decide not to get back to ou after thinking.
     
  10. osgart

    osgart Nothing my eye, Something for sure

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    Maybe it's the Kjv 1611 but I don't know how you can separate the salvation/ condemnation message throughout the NT from Christianity.

    Are the other Bible versions so drastically different?

    I don't know how people can be more accepting and universal to all religions and still be Christian. When the Bible says, 'Broad is the path to destruction, and narrow is the gate to life, and few who enter into it' , that is a far cry from a unified humanity.

    I may have a language impediment with the Bible. If you take just the sweet words, and leave out the demanding parts of it, you might end up with something totally different.

    Then again, if I am correct, Baha'i religion only takes the inclusive statements out of all other religions, and they take only the most inspiring verses out of them.

    Am I missing something?

    If Baha'i considers all religions fallible or only pertinent to the times they lived in, then maybe they glean something totally different then what I am thinking.
     
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  11. Harel13

    Harel13 Well-Known Member

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    You raise a good point. Should Christianity be tolerable? I'll leave the final answer to the actual Christians. I think, however, some religions expect some form of tolerance from Christianity, simply because 'love' and 'loving thy neighbor' are major themes in Christianity.
    And I guess the Vatican realized that Christian intolerance had taken things way too far, in particular during the Holocaust. It seems the Vatican, at least, figured that there are boundaries to intolerance, hence Vatican II. Maybe other denominations don't think so.
     
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  12. Terry Sampson

    Terry Sampson ζει

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    The title of this thread should be: "How can Baha'i supercede the intolerant superceders and remain peaceful and loving?"
    Perhaps they should take lessons from the Jehovah's Witnesses and the Latter-day-Saints of Jesus Christ. The JWs and the LDS seem to have it down to a fine art.

     
    #12 Terry Sampson, May 17, 2020
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  13. osgart

    osgart Nothing my eye, Something for sure

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    Well the Bible command is to ' be ye separate from the world' , and that God can save to the uttermost. So if they follow the NT at all, then tolerance, and separateness is how they are supposed to do it. They are to walk in the light!

    But I have had some fundamentalists corner me, and confront me about my non belief. And they really are not supposed to do that.

    I have even had fundamentalist family members. Conflicts would arise. Pressure to conform was there. But the church itself down the street, was tolerant, and separate.
     
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  14. Vouthon

    Vouthon In varietate concordia
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    Good set of questions @adrian009

    Phil Cunningham of Saint Joseph's University in Philadelphia has summed up the deeper impact of the Second Vatican Council's famous decree, Nostra Aetate (1965) in transforming Catholicism into an explicitly pluralist expression of Christianity, in the following terms:


    In 50 years since 'Nostra Aetate,' church has built strong interreligious ties


    St. Joseph's Cunningham said he hopes the 50th anniversary of "Nostra Aetate" serves to "re-energize and recommit ourselves to this venture" building interreligious relations.

    "One thing that we see more and more of is a spirit of genuine humility," Cunningham said. "Once you have a visceral encounter in another religious tradition, it becomes more obvious that we all pale in significance to God.

    "I think that religious communities and, speaking for myself as a Christian, there's a tendency to think we've got it all figured out and we've got the fullness of truth. We have to remember God is bigger than our ability to conceive of God, and interreligious relations bring that out."

    The scene in Foundation Hall of the National September 11 Memorial and Museum during Pope Francis' visit spoke volumes about the Catholic Church and interreligious relations.

    On the platform with Pope Francis Sept. 25 were representatives of the Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, Jewish, Muslim religions as well as Christian religions. All equal. All offering prayers for peace and words of inspiration from their sacred texts.

    The event symbolized the strengthening relations and solidarity that the Catholic Church has with non-Christian religions as envisioned by "Nostra Aetate" ("In Our Time"), the Vatican II declaration that addressed the relations of the Catholic Church with other religions, said Father John W. Crossin, executive director of the Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

    In the 50 years since "Nostra Aetate" was released on Oct. 28, 1965, each pope since has promoted interreligious understanding in numerous outreach efforts. What was originally proposed by St. John XXIII as a statement related to Jews eventually evolved to encompass non-Christian religions and ended up being a stand-alone message emerging from the Second Vatican Council.

    The declaration begins by acknowledging that humanity "is being drawn closer together and the ties between different people are becoming stronger." In subsequent paragraphs, it specifically addresses Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam and Judaism. The key observation about other faiths comes in paragraph 2, according to retired Archbishop Michael L. Fitzgerald, an expert on Islam, who was president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue from 2002 to 2006.

    Specifically the passage reads: "The Catholic Church rejects nothing that is true and holy in these religions. She regards with sincere reverence those ways of conduct and of life, those precepts and teachings, which through different in many aspects from the ones she holds and sets forth, nonetheless often reflect a ray of truth which enlightens all men."

    For Archbishop Fitzgerald, that recognition is what has led the Catholic Church to initiate dialogues to create greater interreligious understanding and respect.

    "It's very strong words," he told CNS. "It means that there's truth there. That doesn't mean that we've got all the truth. No, no, not at all."

    Philip Cunningham, co-director of the Institute of Jewish-Catholic Relations of St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia, told CNS that lectures and classes help students and the wider community appreciate their own faith more because they are learning about other religions.

    "The possibility of Jews and Catholics learning about God together is far more exciting and has the greatest long-term consequence," Cunningham said.


    I was interested to read both your own and @Sunstone's accounts of being raised in quite divergent Christian backgrounds: one relatively cosmopolitan-inclusive and the other rather conformist-hivemind.

    My own experiece is much closer to yours, inasmuch as I'm a 'big city' boy from a more secular generation, who has always lived within a pluralist social landscape in which diversity of confession, political persuasion and culture is the norm. Even though the UK is still notionally 'Christian' in culture (59.5% according to 2011 census), we are a highly secularised and irreligious society. Outward displays of religiosity are frowned upon and socially proscribed. Famously, British politics "does not do God" in the immortal words of Tony Blair's spin-doctor Alistair Campbell:

    Campbell interrupted Blair as he spoke of his faith: 'We don't do God'

    Last year's British Social Attitudes Survey found that more than half (52%) no longer see themselves as belonging to any religion, which either indicates a drop in affiliation from the 2011 census or (more likely) a considerable 'cultural Christianity' (i.e. belief in some vague Christian moral matrix / identity or social ethic but not in the supernatural / dogmatic side of the equation, hence a significant minority who - in addition to 'religious' Christians - are 'Christian (sort of) but not religious'). Of the 52% non-religious, most were simply not brought up with a religion according to the stats. Second-third generation irreligion is becoming increasingly normative outside of the Islamic, Catholic and non-denominational/Pentencostal Christian communities, as a result of the decline in mainline Anglicanism and Presbyterianism.

    According to the aforementioned Social Attitudes Survey, the highest levels of religiosity in Britain are found among those with non-Christian faiths (23% “extremely/very” religious, 50% “somewhat”) and Roman Catholics (18% “extremely/very”, 52% “somewhat”). 33% of Anglicans are “neither religious nor non-religious”. So, Muslims and Catholics are the most 'religious' people in British society, in terms of actual 'belief'. There's an old joke to the effect that: "we're not religious, we're Church of England", which nicely epitomises UK cultural skepticism regarding religiosity.

    Growing up in post-Second Vatican II British Catholicism I attended three 'Catholic' schools and each one had substantial Muslim, Hindu, Sikh and non-religious minorities - indeed, my old primary school has since become roughly 20%-30% Muslim in make-up:


    Muslim families pick Catholic schools


    She says that non-Catholic parents choose the school because of the ethos and "value system", as well as Catholic schools' reputation for a "good standard of education".

    In Catholic primary schools, 37% of pupils are from ethnic minorities, higher than the national average.

    I vividly recall pupils at my old secondary school joking about feeling like they "knew Muhammad personally" because our RE lessons devoted so much time to the study of Islam after catechical instruction in Catholicism, given the high percentage of Muslims in Catholic schools here. So, I'm very comfortable with religious pluralism and have no experience of living in a "monocultural" environment where Christianity is this big, hegemonic social-conformist edifice as in the United States.

    (continued...)
     
    #14 Vouthon, May 17, 2020
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  15. Vouthon

    Vouthon In varietate concordia
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    Onto your questions proper:

    (Q1.) Absolutely.

    The New Testament affirms that “the Word is the true light that enlightens every man coming into the world” (John 1:9). This concept is echoed in the parable of the sower in Matthew 13: 3−9, where the divinely scattered seeds of divine truth are dispensed indiscriminately, to all and sundry. St. Paul likewise informs us of pagans being able to access the 'natural law' of God inhering in every conscience and thus attaining salvation in Christ: "Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the Law, do by nature what the Law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the Law, since they show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness" (Romans 2:14).

    St. John Chrysostom (347-407), Archbishop of Constantinople and an important early church father, addressed this doctrine in his Homily 8 on the Gospel of John, in the context of an exegetical commentary on John 1:9:


    CHURCH FATHERS: Homily 8 on the Gospel of John (Chrysostom)


    "How then does He light every man? He lights all as far as in Him lies [...] For the grace is shed forth upon all, turning itself back neither from Jew, nor Greek, nor Barbarian, nor Scythian, nor free, nor bond, nor male, nor female, nor old, nor young, but admitting all alike, and inviting with an equal regard."​


    I believe Christianity can and more pointedly should be embracive of religious pluralism, not least since many of us live today (post-1960s) in globalised multi-faith societies (a bit like the Roman Empire period) where no one creed - or even 'religion' itself - dominates the scene. New Zealand and Britain are cases in point. Much of the Western world is in the throes of seismic social change in the direction of ever-increasing secularism and relative decline in Christian affiliation, while parts of Asia and Africa are witnessing exponential growth in Christianity and Islam. At the same time, Christianity is holding strong in Latin America but with increasing inter-denominational diversity (i.e. growing Evangelical and Pentecostal minorities in traditionally Catholic turf). The United States is in a strange grey zone between the trends discernible in the rest of the Western world and those in Latin America.

    The result - world-over - is a planet in a state of 'flux', becoming ever more plural and multi-faith all round, less monolithic by the day. This is both our present and our future.

    In spite of our belief that Jesus is the salvation of the world - the one and only Mediator between the transcendent and phenomenal worlds, the heavenly and material (which is dogmatic and cannot be altered) - Christianity is not innately 'exclusivist'.

    Our Church Fathers of the first five centuries (during which time Christianity had not yet become, or was on the long road to becoming, the new 'cultural norm') had to articulate the doctrines now foundational to the faith in an extraordinarily diverse religious landscape, characterised by a great number of competing cults (i.e. Judaism, Hellenic polytheism, Roman polytheism, Mithraism, the Mystery religions) and philosophies (i.e. Platonism, Pythagorianism, Aristotelianism, Stoicism, Epicureanism). This was the intelletual milieu of the early church. Christianity emerged from within this rich religio-cultural matrix and first spread to become the universal religion of that enormous empire, in an antique society every bit as pluralistic as our own today.

    The early Christians had to co-exist with their Jewish and pagan neighbours (for the first few centuries the latter being in the majority, with Christianity a foreign minority middle-eastern cult). Despite enlightenment-era historical revisionism to the contrary, for the most part, Christians and pagans dwelt in relative peaceful dialogue for long stretches of time - periods of state persecution from both ends notwithstanding.

    If we turn to the writings of these early Christian hierarchs, whom Catholics and Orthodox revere as the 'Patristics' (witnesses to our sacred tradition, which for us comprises a body of divine revelation alongside and equal in authority to the Bible, like the Oral Torah in Judaism or Hadith in Islam), one discovers many traces of an originally universalist-pluralist impulse, in tandem with - and not in opposition to - the belief in the exclusivity of salvation in Christ.

    In his encyclical Letter, Redemptoris missio (1990), Pope St. John Paul II, insisting on the dialogue between Christian faith and non Christian religions, states that that: “through dialogue, the Church seeks to uncover the seeds of the Word (semina verbi), a ray of that Truth which enlightens all men; these are found in individuals and in their religious traditions of mankind.

    Semina verbi is a very ancient expression, coined by the church father St. Justin Martyr circa 150 A.D., which resurfaced in the documents of the Second Vatican Council to designate whatever is “true and holy" and divinely inspired in other religions.

    It is sometimes said that at Vatican II, the Catholic Church 'entered' the modern pluralist world and embraced interfaith dialogue unfailingly for the first time. What is often forgetten is that conciliar theology was defined by two governing principles: (1) ressourcement ("return to the sources"):


    resourcement - Wiktionary


    Ressourcement and Vatican II - Oxford Scholarship


    This chapter opens by showing how six documents from Vatican II emphasize a creative return to the biblical, patristic, liturgical, and other sources that will revitalize the church's teaching and practice.

    From the period 1935 to 1960 several French and German theologians proposed going back to before scholasticism, with what was called a "ressourcement" approach, looking for inspiration in the early church and in the Church Fathers as interpreters of the New Testament. There was wide support for ressourcement at Vatican II.


    and (2) Aggiornamento ("bringing up-to-date"):


    Aggiornamento - Wikipedia


    Aggiornamento (Italian pronunciation: [addʒornaˈmento], plural: aggiornamenti), "bringing up to date", was one of the key words used during the Second Vatican Council both by bishops and the clergy attending the sessions, and by the media and Vaticanologists covering it. It was used to mean throwing open the doors of the Church in a desire to dialogue with the outside world. It was the name given to the pontifical program of John XXIII in a speech he gave on January 25, 1959.

    In June 1961, in an address to a group of Blessed Sacrament Fathers, Pope John XXIII said


    The ecumenical council will reach out and embrace under the widespread wings of the Catholic Church the entire heredity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Its principal task will be concerned with the condition and modernization (in Italian: aggiornamento) of the Church after 20 centuries of life.
    Paul VI went on to adopt Pope John's motto for himself, as he stated in Ecclesiam suam : We cannot forget Pope John XXIII's word aggiornamento which We have adopted as expressing the aim and object of Our own pontificate. Besides ratifying it and confirming it as the guiding principle of the Ecumenical Council, We want to bring it to the notice of the whole Church. It should prove a stimulus to the Church to increase its ever growing vitality and its ability to take stock of itself and give careful consideration to the signs of the times, always and everywhere "proving all things and holding fast that which is good" with the enthusiasm of youth.
    To my mind, pluralistic Christianity did not need to be 'invented' or 'pionereed' at Vatican II. The rudiments of it already preexisted from the beginning, on the 'statutebooks' so to speak, in the foundational literature of the Church Fathers themselves. If one returned to the original sources which Catholics already regarded as authoritative (written witnesses to oral divine revelation equivalent in authority to Sacred Scripture), 'before' Christianity became the dominant hegemonic ideology of the later middle ages, theological pluralism and interreligious theology was right there at the origins of the religion.

    (continued....)
     
    #15 Vouthon, May 17, 2020
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  16. Vouthon

    Vouthon In varietate concordia
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    The overriding 'mantra' when approaching other faiths and philosophies was the one formulated first by St. Justin Martyr in the early second century A.D:

    CHURCH FATHERS: The First Apology (St. Justin Martyr)


    "...All truth, wherever it is found, belongs to us as Christians and is Christian truth..."

    (Saint Justin Martyr (AD 100–165), Early Catholic Church Father)​



    We have been taught that Christ is the First-born of God, and…that he is the logos of whom every race of men and women were partakers. And they who lived with the logos are Christians, even though they have been thought atheists; as, among the Greeks, Socrates and Heraclitus, and people like them; and among the barbarians, Abraham, and Ananias, and Asarias, and Misael, and Elias.

    (Justin Martyr 1997, First Apology, l.46)

    CHURCH FATHERS: The Second Apology (St. Justin Martyr)


    For whatever either lawgivers or philosophers uttered well, they elaborated by finding and contemplating some part of the Word...

    And those of the Stoic school — since, so far as their moral teaching went, they were admirable, as were also the poets in some particulars, on account of the seed of reason [the Logos] implanted in every race of men — were, we know, hated and put to death — Heraclitus for instance, and, among those of our own time, Musonius and others...



    (Justin Martyr 1997, Second Apology, l.10)​



    Again Justin says, “For he [the Logos] exhibits among every race of men the things that are righteous at all times and in all places ... it was well said by our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, that all righteousness and piety are fulfilled in two commandments.”

    Other early Christian Fathers who embraced the existence of goodness and elements of divinely inspired truth in other religions include St. Clement of Alexandria (c.150–c.215), Origen (c.184–c.253), St. Basil the Great (329–379), St. Gregory Nazianzus (329–390) and St. Augustine of Hippo (354–430).

    It was very effectively explained by St. Clement of Alexandria (c. 150 - c. 220), another early Greek Father in his Stromata book I:


    CHURCH FATHERS: The Stromata (Clement of Alexandria)


    "The way of truth is one. But into it, as into a perennial river, streams flow from all sides...

    God is the Teacher, who instructs the enlightened Christian by mysteries, and the faithful labourer by cheerful hopes, and the hard of heart with His keen corrective discipline; so that His providence is particular, public, and universal... for He is the Saviour not of these or those, but of all...

    Should it be said that the Greeks discovered philosophy by human wisdom, I reply, that I find the Scriptures declare all wisdom to be a divine gift...

    Thus philosophy, a thing of the highest utility, flourished in antiquity among the barbarians, shedding its light over the nations. And afterwards it came to Greece. First in its ranks were the prophets of the Egyptians; and the Chaldeans among the Assyrians; and the Druids among the Gauls; and the Sramanas among the Bactrians; and the philosophers of the Celts; and the Magi of the Persians, who foretold the Saviour's birth, and came into the land of Judaea guided by a star. The Indian gymnosophists are also in the number, and the other barbarian philosophers. And of these there are two classes, some of them called Sramanas, and others Brahmins
    "

    To the early Christians of the Patristic era, the Logos - the Divine Word and Wisdom of God - incarnate in Christ, is universally active and present in the highest goodness and reason, wherever these are to be found in human culture and creeds, both throughout the world and at all times. Plato, Socrates, Pythagoras, Gautama Buddha and countless others all had a seminal element of the Divine Logos (logos spermatikos), according to this theology of history espoused by Sts. Justin Martyr, Irenaeus of Lyons, and Clement of Alexandria among other Fathers.

    (continued...)

     
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  17. Vouthon

    Vouthon In varietate concordia
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    Nostra Aetate (1965), the Second Vatican Council's Declaration on the Relation of the Church with Non-Christian Religions, adopted the vision and terminology of these early Church Fathers, and thus spoke - like they did millennia ago - of the presence in these religious traditions "of a ray of that Truth which enlightens all":

    Nostra aetate

    DECLARATION ON
    THE RELATION OF THE CHURCH TO NON-CHRISTIAN RELIGIONS

    NOSTRA AETATE

    PROCLAIMED BY HIS HOLINESS
    POPE PAUL VI

    ON OCTOBER 28, 1965


    In our time, when day by day mankind is being drawn closer together, and the ties between different peoples are becoming stronger, the Church examines more closely her relationship to non-Christian religions. In her task of promoting unity and love among men, indeed among nations, she considers above all in this declaration what men have in common and what draws them to fellowship.

    One is the community of all peoples, one their origin, for God made the whole human race to live over the face of the earth.(1) One also is their final goal, God. His providence, His manifestations of goodness, His saving design extend to all men,(2) until that time when the elect will be united in the Holy City, the city ablaze with the glory of God, where the nations will walk in His light.(3)

    Men expect from the various religions answers to the unsolved riddles of the human condition, which today, even as in former times, deeply stir the hearts of men: What is man? What is the meaning, the aim of our life? What is moral good, what is sin? Whence suffering and what purpose does it serve? Which is the road to true happiness? What are death, judgment and retribution after death? What, finally, is that ultimate inexpressible mystery which encompasses our existence: whence do we come, and where are we going?

    2. From ancient times down to the present, there is found among various peoples a certain perception of that hidden power which hovers over the course of things and over the events of human history; at times some indeed have come to the recognition of a Supreme Being, or even of a Father. This perception and recognition penetrates their lives with a profound religious sense.

    Religions, however, that are bound up with an advanced culture have struggled to answer the same questions by means of more refined concepts and a more developed language. Thus in Hinduism, men contemplate the divine mystery and express it through an inexhaustible abundance of myths and through searching philosophical inquiry. They seek freedom from the anguish of our human condition either through ascetical practices or profound meditation or a flight to God with love and trust. Again, Buddhism, in its various forms, realizes the radical insufficiency of this changeable world; it teaches a way by which men, in a devout and confident spirit, may be able either to acquire the state of perfect liberation, or attain, by their own efforts or through higher help, supreme illumination. Likewise, other religions found everywhere try to counter the restlessness of the human heart, each in its own manner, by proposing "ways," comprising teachings, rules of life, and sacred rites. The Catholic Church rejects nothing that is true and holy in these religions. She regards with sincere reverence those ways of conduct and of life, those precepts and teachings which, though differing in many aspects from the ones she holds and sets forth, nonetheless often reflect a ray of that Truth which enlightens all men.

    The Church, therefore, exhorts her sons, that through dialogue and collaboration with the followers of other religions, carried out with prudence and love and in witness to the Christian faith and life, they recognize, preserve and promote the good things, spiritual and moral, as well as the socio-cultural values found among these men.

    3. The Church regards with esteem also the Moslems. They adore the one God, living and subsisting in Himself; merciful and all- powerful, the Creator of heaven and earth,(5) who has spoken to men; they take pains to submit wholeheartedly to even His inscrutable decrees, just as Abraham, with whom the faith of Islam takes pleasure in linking itself, submitted to God. Though they do not acknowledge Jesus as God, they revere Him as a prophet. They also honor Mary, His virgin Mother; at times they even call on her with devotion. In addition, they await the day of judgment when God will render their deserts to all those who have been raised up from the dead. Finally, they value the moral life and worship God especially through prayer, almsgiving and fasting.

    Since in the course of centuries not a few quarrels and hostilities have arisen between Christians and Moslems, this sacred synod urges all to forget the past and to work sincerely for mutual understanding and to preserve as well as to promote together for the benefit of all mankind social justice and moral welfare, as well as peace and freedom.

    4. As the sacred synod searches into the mystery of the Church, it remembers the bond that spiritually ties the people of the New Covenant to Abraham's stock.

    Thus the Church of Christ acknowledges that, according to God's saving design, the beginnings of her faith and her election are found already among the Patriarchs, Moses and the prophets. She professes that all who believe in Christ-Abraham's sons according to faith (6)-are included in the same Patriarch's call, and likewise that the salvation of the Church is mysteriously foreshadowed by the chosen people's exodus from the land of bondage. The Church, therefore, cannot forget that she received the revelation of the Old Testament through the people with whom God in His inexpressible mercy concluded the Ancient Covenant. Nor can she forget that she draws sustenance from the root of that well-cultivated olive tree onto which have been grafted the wild shoots, the Gentiles.(7) Indeed, the Church believes that by His cross Christ, Our Peace, reconciled Jews and Gentiles. making both one in Himself.(8)

    The Church keeps ever in mind the words of the Apostle about his kinsmen: "theirs is the sonship and the glory and the covenants and the law and the worship and the promises; theirs are the fathers and from them is the Christ according to the flesh" (Rom. 9:4-5), the Son of the Virgin Mary. She also recalls that the Apostles, the Church's main-stay and pillars, as well as most of the early disciples who proclaimed Christ's Gospel to the world, sprang from the Jewish people....

    God holds the Jews most dear for the sake of their Fathers; He does not repent of the gifts He makes or of the calls He issues-such is the witness of the Apostle.(11) In company with the Prophets and the same Apostle, the Church awaits that day, known to God alone, on which all peoples will address the Lord in a single voice and "serve him shoulder to shoulder" (Soph. 3:9).(12)

    Since the spiritual patrimony common to Christians and Jews is thus so great, this sacred synod wants to foster and recommend that mutual understanding and respect which is the fruit, above all, of biblical and theological studies as well as of fraternal dialogues.


    We cannot truly call on God, the Father of all, if we refuse to treat in a brotherly way any man, created as he is in the image of God. Man's relation to God the Father and his relation to men his brothers are so linked together that Scripture says: "He who does not love does not know God" (1 John 4:8).

    No foundation therefore remains for any theory or practice that leads to discrimination between man and man or people and people, so far as their human dignity and the rights flowing from it are concerned.

    The Church reproves, as foreign to the mind of Christ, any discrimination against men or harassment of them because of their race, color, condition of life, or religion. On the contrary, following in the footsteps of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, this sacred synod ardently implores the Christian faithful to "maintain good fellowship among the nations" (1 Peter 2:12), and, if possible, to live for their part in peace with all men,(14) so that they may truly be sons of the Father who is in heaven.(15)

    The Council likewise extended dialogue and its inclusive vision to atheists as well, for the first time, and recognised that their criticisms of religious hypocrisy often had merit:


    Gaudium et spes

    GAUDIUM ET SPES

    PROMULGATED BY
    HIS HOLINESS, POPE PAUL VI
    ON DECEMBER 7, 1965


    "The word atheism is applied to phenomena which are quite distinct from one another. For while God is expressly denied by some, others believe that man can assert absolutely nothing about Him....Many....contend that everything can be explained by this kind of scientific reasoning alone, or by contrast, they altogether disallow that there is any absolute truth...

    Moreover, atheism results not rarely from a violent protest against the evil in this world, or from the absolute character with which certain human values are unduly invested, and which thereby already accords them the stature of God....

    ...yet believers themselves frequently bear some responsibility for this situation. For, taken as a whole, atheism is not a spontaneous development but stems from a variety of causes, including a critical reaction against religious beliefs, and in some places against the Christian religion in particular. Hence believers can have more than a little to do with the birth of atheism. To the extent that they neglect their own training in the faith, or teach erroneous doctrine, or are deficient in their religious, moral, or social life, they must be said to conceal rather than reveal the authentic face of God and religion."
     
    #17 Vouthon, May 17, 2020
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  18. Vouthon

    Vouthon In varietate concordia
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    As intimated in the preceding posts, 'supersessionism' inhibited Christians from engaging in a meaningful and mutually enriching diaogue (absent any hint of proselytising or concerted evangelism on our side) with Jews as 'co-learners' - from different perspectives - in a process of biblical study and exchange of knowledge.

    It fostered in Christendom an ugly 'superiority complex' relative to Judaism, which the fathers of the Second Vatican Council were rightly ashamed of in the aftermath of the Holocaust.

    The Shoah motivated Christian theologians to critically scrutinise our history in a quest to discern what contributions Christians, historically, had made to the devastating and pernicious evil of Anti-Semitism which had been highlighted so starkly by Nazism.

    In doing so, the conciliar fathers found themselves humbled and desirous to improve relations with the Jewish community - and by extension, all religions from Muslims onward. The soul-searching provoked by wrestling with Christian mistreatment, down the centuries, of Jews propelled a fresh approach to other religions in general which - despite being an "up-dating" in one sense - was as much a return to the sources of Patristic thought.

    Today, the Catholic Church rejects replacement theology as a heresy.

    More than that, it also denounces all proselytism directed towards Jews (attempts to convert them to Christianity) which have poisoned our relationship for centuries. As reiterated by the previous pontiff, Pope Benedict XVI in 2011, inspired by the teachings of the medieval Catholic abbess and Doctor of the Church St. Hildegard of Bingen (1098 – 1179) and St. Bernard of Clairvaux.

    Since Vatican II, the church has come to recognise that there can be no true dialogue with Judaism unless it is conducted free of any missionary impulse on the part of the church:


    Church should not pursue conversion of Jews, pope says


    After excerpts from the second volume of the pope’s book on Jesus made the rounds last week, featuring his rejection of the idea that “the Jews” killed Christ, the full text adds another point with important implications for Christian/Jewish relations -- in effect, that Christianity “must not concern herself with the conversion of the Jews.”

    “Israel is in the hands of God, who will save it ‘as a whole’ at the proper time, when the number of Gentiles is full,” the pope writes. The historical duration of this “proper time,” Benedict says, cannot be calculated.

    In terms of the proper Christian attitude in the meantime, Benedict approvingly quotes Cistercian abbess and Biblical writer Hildegard of Bingen: “The church must not concern herself with the conversion of the Jews, since she must wait for the time fixed for this by God.”

    Benedict XVI acknowledges that the question of “Israel’s mission” in God’s plan has a painful past.

    “We realize today with horror how many misunderstandings with grave consequences have weighed down our history,” he writes. Yet, the pope says, “the beginnings of a correct understanding have always been there, waiting to be rediscovered, however deep the shadows.”

    The key to that correct understanding, Benedict writes, lies in the Biblical notion of the “times of the Gentiles.” Benedict says that in the early church, the urgency of evangelization wasn’t based so much on the idea that every human being had to know Christ in order to be saved, but rather on a “grand conception of history,” according to which the Gospel had to reach all the nations in order for the world to fulfill its destiny.
     
    #18 Vouthon, May 17, 2020
    Last edited: May 17, 2020
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  19. CG Didymus

    CG Didymus Well-Known Member

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    "Hate" crimes keep happening, so policies don't stop them. Especially if the people doing them believe they are doing the will of God.

    Adrain... as you know I tend to agree with Aupmanyav. Conservative Christianity wants nothing to do with the other religions. To say that as far as they are concerned, all the other religions can go to hell? Wouldn't be accurate. They believe all the other religions will be sent to hell. They worship false Gods. They follow false prophets. And anyone that doesn't leave them and convert to Christianity will also be sent to hell. No matter how "good" they are.

    In this day and age that's a sucky attitude to have. But, it's easily backed up by what the Bible says. Christianity tortured Jews during the Inquisition (and before and after it). The European Christians banned the religious practices of the people in every country they went. Finally, in the U.S. they restored the rights of Native people to practice their religions. But, if Conservative Christians had their way, would such a law ever get passed? If they had their way would any religion, they believed to be false, be allowed to practice their beliefs? They probably don't like it, but they have to live with it, because it's the law of the land. Those Christians will never give up their beliefs, because it is what they believe is taught by the Bible.

    So first, the Bible has to be brought down to something less than totally inerrant, infallible and true. Science does that. Liberal Christians have done that. And Baha'is have done that. But, Baha'is have also done that with the Scriptures of all religions. And, they usually talk of the "major" "revealed" religions. So even Baha'is do not agree with everything believed by the other religions. So can they honestly talk of the "oneness" of all religions? Can some believe in reincarnation? Can some believe in multiple Gods? Can some believe in evil spirit beings tempting people? Baha'is don't believe those things, but like the Conservative Christians, they have to tolerate and live with it.

    So just like the Bible has to be brought down to something less than totally true that must be followed and believed literally, so too all religions, including the Baha'is, have to accept and respect the beliefs, as they are, in all religions. Anything less is just tolerating each other and is not a true "oneness". But, can that really happen? I doubt it, because there will always be some religions that have way too extreme beliefs and practices and must be stopped. And who's going to decide that? Conservative Christians use the Bible to make that judgment against all the other religions and many of the other Christians groups too. I wonder, can Baha'is, just like some Christians, become liberal enough to not push their beliefs that contradict the beliefs of the other religions?
     
  20. CG Didymus

    CG Didymus Well-Known Member

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    I grew up in a coastal town of Los Angeles. We had about a zillion people. But our high school had zero Blacks and maybe a quarter Hispanics. And I don't remember one Asian. There must have been some, but I don't remember any. This was the early 60's and there was still segregation. Each group had its area of Los Angeles. Our high school had one English teacher that was Black. And that was it. Nobody knew how to act around her.

    The late 60's brought all that down. Music had a lot to do with it. It's still happening today. I work in construction and the young guys, White, Brown, or Black, listen to rap and hip hop. They have a special handshake and language and all kind of dress alike.
     
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