The Authenticity of Christianity Versus Other Religions


A few nights ago in conversation with my good friend in the Faith, Matthew Jones, I sent him this link seeking to see what his opinion is on it:

http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2011/januaryweb-only/muslimsevangelical.html

Now, if you are not wanting to read that article, basically what it is about is Churches letting people of other religions use their buildings to worship in. One church allowed the local Islamic community to use their church to worship in.

He responded saying:

“Hmmm, interesting article. I’m a little torn on how I should feel about it. On the one hand I remember the example of JPII reaching out to other faiths (he himself kissing a Qur’an inside a mosque). On the other hand he made clear, as does the Catechism, that other faiths bare some universal truths but are errant and lack the fullness of faith as we believe was deposited by Christ to the Apostles and into the Church.

It’s tricky, the RCC has a complex understanding of the discussion this type of article raises. To lifelong Muslims who have never known any better, it’s basically looked at in the same way Native Americans are viewed pre-Columbus (meaning they had know way to be exposed to the Gospels). Where it’s still believed Christ died for him as did he you or I, it’s completely up to the mercy of God to determine their salvation either in their ignorance or rejection of his son.”

I can’t speak for those ministers allowing Muslims to worship in their church, but for Matthew and me our churches are consecrated to the Lord. Matthew is Catholic and I am an Anglican. We are both under the authority of bishops and archbishops and for Matt, the Pope. Our churches are ordained and consecrated to the SERVICE of the Lord Jesus Christ and no other deity! I would not, as a future priest one day Lord willing, be opening the doors to our church and the alter of the Lord Christ to pagan sacrifices. That is just unacceptable.

I am all for reaching out and not being rude and not being jerks to other religions, but how many of those religions would open doors to Christianity? And I wouldn’t expect them to do so. But I for one would not be willing to let the consecrated church be used for worship of another deity that we know is a false god.

But it is important that I do not condemn those ministers. I admire they had the strength to do that. But I would not accept their actions for to me all is Sacramental in the church, but there are some who are not Sacramental Christians.

My good friend and fellow Anglican Isaac Rehberg commented on this note before I came back to add this about the non-Sacramental/Sacramental part. Isaac’s explanation of this part is very thorough:

“I think one thing that may make a big difference on how a particular Christian tradition approaches this issue is whether its religious worldview is sacramental or not. For some (especially Catholics, Anglicans, and Orthodox), the sacramental mindset means that there are some items, places, etc. that literally become holy when they are consecrated. The altar is not just a table, it has been set apart for a particular religious purpose. The chalice is not just a cup, it has been set apart for a particular religious purpose. The church and its grounds is not just real estate, it is holy ground set aside for Christian worship. To misuse those consecrated things for other purposes would be sacrilege in the mind of the sacramental Christian.

To other Christian traditions, places, items, etc. cannot be intrinsically holy (with the possible exception of the Bible). A Church is only holy ground when it is used for holy purposes. The bread and wine used in the Lord’s Supper are only holy when being used in the Lord’s Supper. The same loaf of or same bottle of wine may theoretically be used for other things.

For the sacramental Christian, allowing other faiths to worship in their consecrated buildings would be a sacrilege. The nature of a consecrated church building eliminates the possibility of allowing its use for non-Christian worship. Shoot, for some sacramental Christians, other Christian denominations wouldn’t even be welcome to borrow the church for a service. For the non-sacramental Christian, the issue wouldn’t be so cut and dry. It would ultimately boil down to the pastors’ discretion.”

Isaac continued: “All that said, I don’t think my conscience would allow me to permit other faiths to use my church for worship services. I’m by no means hostile to other faiths or their adherents. But I do see the church building as being consecrated for worship of the Triune God. If one cannot confess ‘Jesus is Lord’ in the service, it ought not be held in a consecrated Christian church.”

I think Matthew and I would agree with what I had to say and Isaac’s thoughts on that. He wrote, ” I don’t think a Muslim would ever be able to celebrate in a Catholic holy site. There’s a difference between showing respect and goodwill towards another religion and actually endorsing it.”

Agreed.

So he went on to say this:

“Jon, you also reminded me of a topic that I’ve been theorizing on myself here recently, if you care to share your thoughts. Basically, it’s the question of how does a Christian articulate the certainty that Christianity is the truth faith vs. the other options: Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Zoroastrianism, etc. What makes it more authentic when some of those religions predate it? I have my own theories but I’m curious what you think.”

I went on to write a little bit about what I think we should do, but my reply is no where as thoughtful and expressive as Matt’s laid out thorough theory.

I did say this:

“What makes us more authentic? I think history very fully validates Christ’s existence, death, burial, and resurrection. No other religion has that. And history would also prove the Judaic side of our religion as well. It’s validated through history if you ask me. And continues to strive and grew.”

And here is Matt’s concise, but extremely thorough reply:

“1.) In my own opinion, Christianity is the least most exclusive religion. By that I mean, in the very Gospels Christ compelled his Apostles to make disciples of all nations make them very aware that his message wasn’t suppose to be reserved for 1 or 2 groups of people alone as some exclusive window to knowing the truth. So, from Christianity’s infancy it was intended to reach all corners of the earth. When you compare this to say, Judaism, well the very name first of all centers around a certain group of people. There is also the aspect of other world faiths being almost entirely concentrated to certain geographic regions. For example, apart from a few African nations Islam is almost entirely concentrated in the Middle East. Hinduism belongs almost completely to India. Shintoism belongs almost exclusively to Japan. Buddhism to India and some east-Asian countries. You see where I’m going with this? Christianity is just the opposite. Especially when looking at the greater picture. The RCC has literally a diocese for every scrap of land that maps this planet. The Eastern Orthodox Church spans a huge swath of the world’s landmass in Russia and all it’s satellite nations. The Protestant Churches are spread throughout Europe and the New World. However, the point is all the churches are intimately tied to a belief in Jesus as the Messiah and we literally wrap the globe (being the largest religion still as you yourself mentioned.) We’re made up of every race, social class, and ethnic background.

2.) Fr. Barron raised an interesting aspect about the faith to my attention in one of his videos too. Christ, like no other religious founder, compels a choice. All other religious/philosophical founders present a teaching their trying to promote: Muhammad, Confucius, the Buddha, etc. However, none make the claim that Christ did in that he was literally God manifested in the flesh. This begs the question: ‘If what he’s claiming is right, than we have to believe in him…because is he not God?’ No other religious founder puts forth this claim and presents us that choice. This also makes the case for Christianity that it is the most seemingly revealing religion, at least that being it’s intent, because God himself walked among us and spoke to the first members of his Church and how to guide it.

3.) If you examine what Christianity has achieved apart from all it’s evangelical aims, it’s accomplishments are incredibly significant. The Church, for one, helped Western Society hold together after the Roman Empire fell apart. The RCC was the first to introduce universities, developed the scientific method, and educates more children than any other institution in the world (private schools and universities all inclusive). That doesn’t even include all the other Christian churches with that, with untold thousands of orphanages, hospitals opened, food banks, schools, etc.

So the point is, one can make an interesting case to support the claim that Christ has a hand in literally ever facet of life. Based upon our size, our appeal, our charitable aims, all of it…He is revealed.

Again, these are just some of my thoughts but conclusions I drew based upon some independent research and observation. I’m aware people of other faiths could offer their own opinions on why ‘they got it right’ but nonetheless I think we have a strong case :)”

I believe Matt’s response to be a very intelligent, short case for the authenticity of our Faith over the other religions of the world. I enjoy talking with Matt on these things because he knows history quite well.

One thing for sure is Christ is Lord and we all, least some, claim to profess that! I agree with Matt that we have a pretty strong case for that and the Church.

There will always be those who seek to destroy the Church and to destroy Christ’s message. Christ told St. Peter that He would build His Holy Bride the Church and that the gates of Hell shall not prevail against Her. I think we can rest assured in that promise.

Christ our High Priest shall continue to lead and guide us, protect and guard us!

Gracious Father, we pray for they holy Catholic Church. Fill it with all truth, in all truth with all peace. Where it is corrupt, purify it; where it is in error, direct it; where in any thing it is amiss, reform it. Where it is right, strengthen it; where it is in want, provide for it; where it is divided, reunite it; for the sake of Jesus Christ thy Son our Savior.

Amen.

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About Joel

Joel is a 32 year old currently residing in the southeastern United States. His interests lay in philosophy and theology. He is a writer for The Christian Watershed.

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