Wednesday, October 18, 2017

A Note About Respect For Other Religions

I have yet to read a statement to the world’s Hindus from the Vatican, but upon seeing that it existed, and that it distinguishes between “tolerance”—regarded as necessary but insufficient—and “respect” that it commends, a few thoughts:

Every person, to the measure of their ability, has the natural desire and capacity to see God. That is, we’re made for fellowship with God. The natural religions of the world represent man’s search for God, in accord with that natural desire. The Catholic Church affirms and teaches that a great many things can be known about God through reason alone. Therefore, we are respecting precisely those things that are true about God, or about ourselves, that can be known by reason alone, in other religions. That’s potentially a lot of stuff, especially regarding the existence of God, and most of His attributes.

Christianity is a revealed religion. We call it “supernatural revelation,” when God reveals Himself and His attributes to man, especially beyond man’s capacity to know Him by reason. God is in fact so loving that things we could know have been repeated! The supreme act of God’s love is of course the death of Jesus Christ on the cross, and His victorious resurrection. But more basically, and prior, is the fact that God became a man. This is God searching for man! When you read the Bible, you are reading the story of God seeking man, to restore us to the friendship we had lost. He doesn’t need us, but we need Him.

One reason that the Catholic Church dialogues with non-Christians is because we believe that man’s search for God is a noble one. It is better still to realize, through heeding miracles, prophecy, and the Church, that God is seeking me!

If someone is coming from a Protestant tradition, where by definition, there is a skepticism regarding the utility of natural reason, this dialogue seems like capitulation. But it need not be. We needn’t fear, because the fullness of truth is Christ. We reach out in love, precisely because we want people to know Jesus Our Lord and Savior. Truth, literally personified.

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