Thursday, January 24, 2013

All Religions Are NOT the Same – part 3

Scripture John 18:38

Pilate said to him, "What is truth?" ……

Comment

What do you say to people who say "all religions are equal" or "one is not any more true than the other"?
"all religions are equal and all that matters is are you spiritual"

This is how I approach it.

I respond by asking "do you agree there is a difference between 2+2=4 and 2+2=6?"
Do you agree there is a difference there?
Yes, one is right and one is wrong
Or at least you gotta acknowledge that they both can't be right.

Put it real simple .

If you look at Islam, in Sura (or Surah) 5 of the Koran, it says Jesus Christ is not the Son of God
We go to the Bible and the Bible says "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son."

They both can't be right and they both can't be wrong.
One of them has got to be right.
Either He is or He isn't.

The point is "It is absurd to say that faiths that present absolute polar opposites (to each other) concerning the truth (can both be right).

Buddhism says there is no God, there is no (atma) soul.
We say there is a God and there is a soul.
Hindu's also believe there is a soul and the Buddhists don't
Guess what - they both can't be right.

We can go down the list.
Judaism denies Jesus Christ is the Messiah.
We acknowledge He is

What we have to do is get beyond the nonsense like that, using simple terms and then what I like to do is turn the discussion to Jesus.

Because if you are going to be a serious student of religion you cannot avoid Jesus Christ.
(Even if someone makes a flippand comment like "all religions are the same - my comment)

Think about it.
The Hindus acknowledge Him as one of the 125,000 avatars.
Muslims acknowledge Him as number 4 of the 5 Great Prophets
Jews acknowledge that He claimed to be the Messiah. In the Talmud they even acknowledge He performed miracles.
They acknowledge Jesus as a historical person.

In Christianity of course, we claim Him to be God.
We need to examine this man Jesus Christ who changed the world.

He is literally the centre of time for us in the West.
You need to examine this man.

and when you do, as CS Lewis said it in his great book Mere Christianity, although I don't agree with the concept of mere Christianity, he makes a lot of great points.

And the thing about Jesus Christ is this, from a historical perspective Jesus Christ really did live.
The life death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is a matter of history. It is a historical fact.

We have more evidence of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ than any other event in all of antiquity. In fact, I argue all other events of antiquity combined.

It is attested to not just in the Gospels but by extra-biblical non Christian sources.
Read Pliny the Younger and Tacitus - both Roman historians
Josephus, a Jewish historian.
Suetonius.
You have so many different examples of non Christians.

I mentioned the Talmud.
Even the Jewish folk who didn't believe in Him acknowledge that he did miracles.
They claim He did it by the power of the devil both in the Biblical text and in the Talmud.
But folks when you examine the miracles of what Jesus did they can't be explained.

Source: Tim Staples - Are all religions equal,  Catholic Answers - www.catholic.com

All Religions Are NOT the Same – part 2

Scripture Colossians 1:15-17

[15] He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation;
[16] for in him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities -- all things were created through him and for him.
[17] He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

Comment

Unless we talk about God, the spiritual life doesn’t make a lick of sense.

I addressed in my talk last week especially the critiques of God that are going on now in the popular culture and I offered three classical arguments for God’s existence.

Ok.
In the wake of that talk you might say “Well good, I think there’s a God, I believe in God”.

Now what is the next step?
“So what?”

At the heart of our tradition is the deep conviction that God did not remain in aloof transcendence but rather God spoke a Word.

He did it first by forming a people, Israel.
To the priests, prophets, kings and patriarchs of Israel God spoke in varied and fragmentary ways, His Word.

And then, as the author of the Letter to the Hebrews puts it, in the fullness of time God gathered His whole word and spoke it entirely in this one Israelite, Yeshua from Nazareth. By the way, there is all the poetry, all the strangeness and drama of Christianity in that little phrase – God, the ground of being, the necessary reality, God who is the source of all the intelligibility of the world, the God I spoke of last week became one of us in this very particular first century Israelite - Yeshua from Nazareth.

There’s the Christian faith – the Word became flesh. St Paul says Jesus is the icon of the invisible God.
What’s God like?
What does God want?
How does God speak?
Look to Jesus.

Jesus is a portrait of Yahweh sprung to life (N T Wright)
That is why he is indispensible and central to spirituality.

How do we live in relation to God?
How do we respond to God’s word?
What is God’s word?
What is God’s intention?
The answer to all those questions is - Yeshua from Nazareth, this icon of the invisible God.
(to be continued)

Scripture Matt 7:28-29
[28] And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching,
[29] for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.

Comment - All Religions Are NOT the Same – pt 2

A lot of scholarship in the last 200 years has domesticated Jesus and rendered him relatively easy to understand.

You know:
“He is one philosopher among many”,
“He is like many of the other religious founders”
“He is a religious genius”
”Ethical example”

Ok, that makes him easier to understand, I’ll grant you, but it misses the heart of the Gospel.
At the heart of the Gospel is the presentation of a very strange figure.
Connected to this is the “re- Judaizing” of Jesus.
I want to Re-Judaizer Jesus and put him against that very rich, very Jewish background.

How did Paul describe him?
Yeshua Meshiach – Jesus the Messiah, in Paul’s Greek that becomes Iesous Christos – Jesus Christ
Jesus is the anointed one, the long awaited Messiah.

What did that mean for a first century Jew?
What did Peter and Paul and James and John, Jews all, what did they mean when they said he is the Messiah?
What do you find at the heart of all four Gospels?
What do you find implicit or explicit in the whole of the New Testament?

That Jesus spoke and acted in the very person of God.

That is what’s distinctive about him.
That is what’s strange and disturbing about him.

We think at times “that people way back then they believed that God becomes human. I guess they could understand that, we find it very hard.”
No. They found it just as hard as we do.

But the Gospels insist upon it over and over again.

Some examples chosen almost at random.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said:
“You have heard it said love your friends and hate your enemies, but I say love your enemies”.

Ok, the content of that statement is breathtaking enough, but that’s not what they found most disturbing.
It is what he said first.
“You have heard it said …”
You have heard it said, where?
In the Torah.
Well the Torah, that is the Word of God.
That is the Word God spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai.
There was no higher authority for a first century Jew than the Torah.

Rabbi’s, if they claimed authority, they took it from the Rabbi that taught them and the Rabbi who taught him etc going all the way back to Moses and the Torah. There was no higher authority.

And so when this Rabbi from Nazareth who says “You have heard it said in the Torah, but I say”, he is claiming authority over the Torah.
Who could do that except the one who is himself the author of the Torah.

Jesus said:
“You have greater than the Temple here”
That would have thrown them for a loop.

For Jews of Jesus time that was the greatest place they could possibly imagine and the best thing they had ever seen.
It was the dwelling place of God.
It was the centre and focus of the entire Israelite nation.
Here is this nobody Rabbi from Nazareth who says “you have got greater than the Temple here”
What is he saying?
“I am the privileged dwelling place of Yahweh”
He is declaring a lordship over the Temple.
(to be continued)

Scripture Matt 16:15

He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?"

Comment

Jesus didn’t ask “What do people think of my teaching?” or “What impression am I making?”.
Reasonable enough questions.

He asked “Who do people say that I am?”

It would be hard to imagine another great religious founder asking such a question.

• The Buddha wouldn’t focus on himself, and I say it to his credit. He would say “There is a way I’ve discovered and I want you to know it”.
• Mohammed wouldn’t focus on himself, he would say “There is a revelation I have received and I want you to know it”.
• Confucious wouldn’t say it’s about me, he would say “There is a path that I’ve found and I want you to know it”.

Then there is Jesus who asks “Who do you say that I am?”

The whole Gospel really hinges on this point.

Jesus identity personally is what it is about, because throughout the Gospels He consistently speaks and acts in the very person of God.

In the Gospel of Matthew (10:37), Jesus says “Unless you love me more than your father or mother you are not worthy of me”.

You might imagine a religious teacher or religious founder saying unless you love God more than your mother and father, more than your very life or maybe unless you love my teaching more than your mother and father, but to say unless you love me than the highest goods in the world?

What if I were to say to you today “Unless you love me more than your mother and father, more than your very life, you are not worthy of me.” Well you would have me removed from the room wouldn’t you. You would call security.

Who could say that except the one who is in his own person the highest good.

How about this?

“Heaven and earth will pass away but my words will never pass away”.

Suppose I grab one of my books on display and held it up and said “Heaven and earth will pass away but my words will never pass away”. Well you would think I had lost my mind and gone right around the bend.

Who could say it consistently and coherently except the one who is himself the eternal word of God.

Here is another one.
“They stand looking up at the Temple” For Jews of Jesus time that was the greatest place they could possibly imagine and the best thing they had ever seen. It was the dwelling place of God.

Jesus says “You have greater than the Temple here”
That would have thrown them for a loop.
The Temple was the footstool of God. It was where God dwelt on Earth.
It was the centre and focus of the entire Israelite nation.
Here is this nobody Rabbi from Nazareth who says “you have got greater than the Temple here”
What is he saying?
“I am the privileged dwelling place of Yahweh”

Jesus says to the paralyzed man “My son, your sins are forgiven” Right away the bystanders say “who does this man think he is, only God can forgive sins”

Now here’s the point.

Jesus compels a choice the way no other religious founder does.
Either you are with me or you are against me.
You see why, if he is who he say he is then we have to give our whole life to him.

If he is God then he must be the centre of our lives!

If he is not who he says he is then he is not a good man, he is a dangerous misguided fanatic.

Jesus, more than any other figure, more than any other religious founder, compels us to make a choice.

Source: Fr Robert Barron
“Who is Jesus and what makes him unique”
And Spirituality2of5 -Who is Jesus Christ and How Do We Find Life in Him.mp3

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

All Religions Are NOT the Same - Part 1

Scripture John 14:16-20


[16] And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, to be with you forever,
[17] even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him; you know him, for he dwells with you, and will be in you.
[18] "I will not leave you desolate; I will come to you.
[19] Yet a little while, and the world will see me no more, but you will see me; because I live, you will live also.
[20] In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.


Comment – All Religions Are NOT the Same – pt 1

Christianity Is Christ

The founder of no other religion is absolutely essential for that religion in the same way the Christ is essential for Christianity.

It is true that the founder was necessary for the founding, but the believer in a particular religion does not enter into the same kind of an encounter that a Christian enters into with Christ.

It is the personal relationship to him which is decisive.

Christ therefore occupies a different place in Christian than Buddha does in Buddhism, than Confucius in Confucianism, Muhammad in Islam, and even Moses in Judaism.

When you come to Christ, Christianity demands the personal intimate bond.

We have to be one with him, one with him in such a way that we cannot in any way claim to be Christian unless we reflect the person, the mind, the will, the heart, and the humanity of Christ.

Source: Through The Year With Fulton Sheen