Church and Religious Tolerance
- Church and Religious Tolerance
by Thomas Mor Themotheos Metropolitan
We live in a strife-ridden society with innumerable problems that destroy peace and harmony. India was known for her tolerance of all kinds of faiths, practices and beliefs. But the India of today has become acrimonious in many regions.
In this context the questions "what is our responsibility as Christians?" and "what should be our attitude as a church?" become vexed.
To read more: http://www.socdigest.org/articles/01jun08.html
- Thanks for posting the link to the whole article. I read it carefully. It is well-written, but without any concrete suggestions as to how wecan make the monotheistic faiths become less aggressive in their missions to proselytize.
The recent experience of the Iraqi Christians is an excellent case study. Here is a community that has lived in amity with their Muslimneighbors for 1400 years without any problem, prior to Saddam and during Saddam's reign. And, yet as soon as the American invasion tookplace, some of the first "do-gooders" who descended on Iraq were the same groups that sponsors the Joshua Project in India which hascreated immense concern among the Hindu fundamentalists in India. Now, the Iraqi Christians are fleeing in droves, many are killed and maimedwith thousands of others leading a miserable existence as refugees in Jordan and Syria. The estimate is that nearly a million Christians inIraq are affected by the thoughtless actions of the evangelists which inflamed the passions of the Muslim Jehadis.
The same dynamics holds good for India. The Metropolitan talked about education as a possible mitigator against religious fundamentalismleading to decreased inter-faith conflicts and violence. If so, how is it that in Kerala with its high literacy rate, Hindu-Muslim andHindu-Christian animosity has increased, not decreased?
The Christian fundamentalists and Muslim Jehadis have to accept that in newly emerging countries like India which have shaken off the yokeof Western imperialism (with which Christianity is closely linked) has spawned a new generation of Hindus who are well-educated and sensitiveto the politics of "vote-bank" mentalities of all faith and caste groups. So, naturally the VHP, BJP, RSS, Siva Sena etc are exercisedabout the forays that Christian missionaries and the bank-rollers of Islamic countries (mostly Gulf nations)are making by building mosquesand madrassas all over India. They have seen the havoc that western missionaries have created in the Nagaland, Mizoram and elsewhere byspawning rivalries between the converted Christian tribals and those who did not, with the former now controlling the political power!
In India, with the emergence of the Gulf influence on India's Islam, the Mullahs are also imposing the codes of strict Islamization ontheir followers with the result that on my recent visit to Kerala I saw so many women wearing head scarves which I had never seen before.Even some of my classmates (women) whom I had never seen wearing head scarves, now donning them!
This is where the Orthodox Churches can set an eminent example by not proselytizing (which is not done anywhere in the world, be it Greek,Armenian, Russian, Ethiopian, Syrian Orthodox Churches etc)but rather live the lives of true Christians, showing the power of loving one'sneighbor without regard to the neighbor's faith.
The best way to witness one's faith in my humble opinion is to live it and not parade it or preach it in order to convert others to your owncreed. The new Millennium will not tolerate it, not just in developing countries, but even in developed countries.
Greece has now a law on its books proscribing proselytization by any faith group. So, does Russia. In both countries, their respectiveorthodox faiths are the official religions. There is not a whimper in the western press about that. But, when some of India's stateslegislated forbidding proselytization by overt or covert enticements, the western press and Indian Christians went ballistic.
I am hoping that the UN Declaration of Human Rights will aver that one's faith is a deeply personal matter and any attempt by a state oran individual or organization to convert another's faith by enticements or intimidations is a violation of one's human rights.
I would also like to see a day when the UN restricts its full membership to nations which declare that they are secular. All othersmust be given a less than full membership until they become secular. Otherwise, this religious fanaticism that is spreading all over theworld will become just as lethal to humanity as a nuclear catastrophe can.
Bishop Osthathios had the right approach to this issue. Here is a link to his article.
C. Alex Alexander, M.D.
--- In SOCM-FORUM@yahoogroups.com, H.E Thomas Mor Themotheos wrote:
> Church and Religious Tolerance
> by Thomas Mor Themotheos Metropolitan
> We live in a strife-ridden society with innumerable problems that destroy peace and harmony. India was known for her tolerance of all kinds of faiths, practices and beliefs. But the India of today has become acrimonious in many regions.
> In this context the questions "what is our responsibility as Christians?" and "what should be our attitude as a church?" become vexed.
> To read more: http://www.socdigest.org/articles/01jun08.html
- I have read the articles written by Thomas Mor Themotheos Metropolitan, Geevarughese Mar Ostathios and the response by C. Alex Alexander. As per Thomas Mor Themotheos Metropolitan Tolerance, attitude, and responsibilities are some of the characteristics expected by the followers ofChrist. According to Geevarughese Mar Ostathios, Christianity preaches only one God for all people. Mr. C. Alex Alexander's observation about the religiousfanaticism reminds us that we are heading towards a great and sudden calamity.
First we have to have a hypothetical approach to one God for all humanity principal. I don't think there will be much quarrel among us to agreethat each religion was established by their founding fathers in search of one God who created this universe and it's beauty . These teachers were verysincere in their search and imparting their knowledge to humankind. There was no power struggle or any drive to confine God in their fist. Whatever theyfound was spoken loud for the benefit of humanity. We must learn about other religion and understand their doctrines. The major religions Hinduism,Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Islam, Judaism, and Christianity don't exclude fellow beings and nature from their teaching. If all these teachers gettogether in one place, I don't think they are going to kill each other rather they will embrace each other. But what about the modern leaders and theirteachings? Muslims have there own mudresas to teach their children; Christians have their own schools; Hindus have their own colleges; Jews have their own andyou name it, every religions has it's own schools and colleges. What is the outcome of all these exclusive teachings? We divide society further and asThomas Mor Themotheos Metropolitan said, tolerance, attitude, and responsibilities become a problem. People become fanatics and kill each otherto protect their religion(Reference C. Alex Alexander).
There is a great responsibility for the leaders to bring the humanity together and make the living in this universe a greater experience foreveryone. We are 'spiritual beings with human experience' not human beings struggling to have a spiritual experience. If we examine christ's teachings,this is very evident. He was empowering his followers to tap into their own great spiritual power and use it for the benefit of humanity. Love others asyou love yourself; Kingdom of Heaven is among you; Kingdom of Heaven is at hand; worship in truth and spirit; you can do what I can do; are some of the powerfulwords attracted me and many more can be added into this list.
Divine power must be redefined by the leaders. Many leaders are a failure in defining divine power and stand in conflict with Christ or theirteachers. There are two types of power; finite power and infinite power. Finite power is material power and infinite power is divine power. Finite poweris more visible and controlling whereas infinite power is invisible and loving. The leaderships of churches are trapped in this finite power and its glory andstruggling to maintain it. Unless and until the leadership realizes that, "There is a reality beyond the visible world of our ordinary experience and thatreality is charged with power. The ultimate characteristics of that power is compassion." and come out of it, there is no hope for humanity. "Yembran ithirykattu bhujichal ambala vasikal okke kakkum"- if the leader steals and eat what is intended for the divine or the subjects then the followers will do the same.We must learn about other religion and what they are trying to tell the world. Once we learn about other religion we understand that we are all headingto the same destination and then there is no compulsion on us to convert any one. We will also be able to deal with Ram, Tom, and Mohamed. "Let your lightso shine before men so that others will see your good work and glorify the father in heaven."Suggested readings.
1. Your sacred self -Making the decision to be free-by Dr. Wayne W. Dyer
2. Jesus A New Vision by Dr. Marcus j. Borg
3. World's Religions- a guide to our wisdom traditions by Huston Smith
4. Kunjan Nambiar kavithakal
5. The seven spiritual laws of success by Dr. Deepak Chopra
- I feel that a clarification is in order regarding my posting on this subject after it first appeared on The Gregorian Study Circle. It is being re-posted on your site by Mr. Thomas Daniel with my permission.
Should there be any responses to it, I would appreciate Mr. Daniel posting the reply(ies) on the The Gregorian Study Circle site so that I may be able to respond. Since I am not a member of SOCM-FORUM, I may not get to see your correspondents' responses if you do not post them there. Hence this request. I am using someone else's email to post this request.
I am happy to note that there is an equally vigorous and intellectually challenging site such as this one in addition to the ICON. I saw this site for the first time after Mr. Daniel posted the link to the above article on the Gregorian Study Circle.
Regards and best wishes,
C. Alex Alexander, M.D
Hi . By the way did you check all �the comments of the Bishop�with the scriptures�?
A] COMMENT -
"Christianity preaches only one God for all people. This God is Advaitha, Compassionate Allah, Triune God and Sachidananda. He is the father of all people; therefore, humanity is one family. Christ brought in the theology of love and so if you are converted to love, which is infinite, our enemies and friends alike, that is Christianity".
* Yes that is true there is only one God for all people. However Jesus stressed in Luke 10:22 ... NO MAN CAN KNOW THE FATHER (THIS ONE GOD) BUT THE SON AND HE TO WHOM THE SON WILL REVEAL HIM.
* 1st John 5:3 - THIS IS LOVE THAT WE KEEP HIS COMMANDMENTS.
* Acts 8;19-23
�Then Saul (who is also called Paul) filled with the HOLY GHOST set his eyes on him and said � O Full of all subtility and all mischief, THOU CHILD OF THE DEVIL, THOU ENEMY OF ALL RIGHTEOUSNESS, WILT THOU NOT CEASE TO PERVERT THE RIGHT WAYS OF THE LORD?�
���������� Was the Apostle Paul's response in agreement with the Bishops beliefs of love��?
* Jesus the personification of Love said these words in John 8: 44 - YE ARE OF YOUR FATHER THE DEVIL AND THE LUSTS OF YOUR FATHER YE WILL DO..." What would be the response of the Bishop�if a carpenter said this to him personally ? Would this carpenter then be judged as possessing the Love of God or not?
" All fundamental preachers are on the side of the Devil".
Moses in the Old Testament was very fundamental
Paul in Galatians 3:16 �� Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. HE SAITH NOT � AND TO SEEDS, AS OF MANY; BUT AS OF ONE, AND TO THY SEED, WHICH IS CHRIST.
Is Paul who is stressing on the singular and plural use of the word - being fundamental here and is he (according to the above comment ) on the side of the Devil?
C] COMMENT ...
" Christ never sold any miracle to convert anybody".
What about the marriage at Cana John 2: 1- 12 especially vs 12 � This beginning of miracles did Jesus in CANA of Galilee and manifested forth His Glory and his disciples believed on Him�
�DID Jesus sell�Himself here with the miracle�or no �?
" My church is an Indian Church. My church is founded by St Thomas, the Apostle.He had no foreign aid and no foreign missionary".
St Thomas himself WAS�a Foreign Missionary !
Biblical christianity is different from what we see around us. It is important to test everything we hear with the scriptures.
Isaiah 8:20 discerns people who come in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and God in this manner and It is applicable to�all men.
To the law and to the testimony... if they speak not according to this WORD it is because there is no LIGHT in them...
The desire for peace and harmony is commendable�and should be pursued. We dont need to enforce biblical�christianity on anybody. The direction of the Spirit of God is "HE who has an ear let HIM�hear". �The christians duty is to first live the christian life so that others become thirsty to know it��and then inform the public about God's plan of salvation through Jesus Christ . We have enough directions in the scriptures to live in Peace with all men - But not at the cost of witholding the truth from them - as GOD and His CHRIST has given it to us.
Sincerly & best regards,
Regie Zacheriah Koshy
Posting ID #� 4039