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All truth is Christ, no matter where it's found


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#1 Speros

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Posted 30 December 2010 - 11:35 AM

I've been wondering if a Christian can learn from spiritual truth outside his own faith tradition or even outside the Christian faith, and this article gives an interesting perspective:

St. Justin on Truth

I really like St. Justin Martyr.

He's not in the top twenty popular saints. Maybe not in the top fifty. All I can offer in the way of statistical evidence is that anytime I find a display of patron saint merchandise - statues, medals, prayer cards, you name it - if there are fewer than, say, fifty saints available, I know Justin will not be among them. That's going to really bug my son. I named him Justin after the great early saint, and while perhaps there's a little underdog empathy there, my main reason is a love of how Justin spoke. He's unabashedly supportive of the Church. (In fact, he died for it.)

"All truth wherever it is found belongs to us as Christians." - Saint Justin Martyr

I really like St. Justin Martyr. That's not a timid, wishy-washy sentence; its got some grit. (And, of course, the problem with grit is that it sometimes rubs the wrong way.)

At first glance, this may seem pigheaded of Justin. Can't other people be right too? Of course. Justin is not saying that no one else has any truth at all; in other words, he's not saying that other religions have only lies. This is easy to prove. Consider three points:
Islamic law holds that abortion is wrong.
Only Christians have truth; all other religions have only lies.
This must be a lie, so Christian's believe that abortion is acceptable.
Clearly, something is wrong here. Point 1 is correct, so if the conclusion is false, there must be a fault with point 2. "The truth belongs to Christians" is not the same as saying "only Christians have the truth"; similarly, saying "I own the house" is not the same as saying "only I live in the house". That might be the right analogy, in fact: truth is a house where many people can live, many more can stop in to visit, but on which only one person pays the mortgage.

What does it mean to say that truth belongs to Christians? Clearly, not that we have it and no one else can (nyah, nyah!). Its ours to share and ours to spread. That's not just our priveledge, its our mandate.

But the rest of the religous world is not without truth. Jesus says that "every one who is of the truth hears my voice." (John 18:37) A muslim that hears truth from Islam, hears Jesus. A hindu that hears truth, hears Jesus. A pagan that hears the truth, hears Jesus. They just don'trecognize the voice.

What is truth? What is this thing we claim to have in its fullest form? Pilate asked that question of Christ, and Jesus stood in silence. To many, it seemed like He didn't answer, but He did. He presented His answer without speaking - "I am". Truth was standing right before Pilate, a living answer to the question.

Thomas asked Jesus a similar question - how can we know the way? Christ's answer is well known: "I am the way, the truth, and the life..." (John 14:5) If it's not too great a pun, you could call the Catholic Church "the house that Truth built".

All truth, wherever it is found, belongs to Christians because all truth is Christ. Christ founded one Church, one way through Him. Anyone that seeks eternal life, that seeks the truth of this world and the next, seeks Christ. Many just don't know that it is Him they seek. Anyone that hears truth, that has truth, has Christ. Many just don't recognize what they have. Jesus is that Truth that each person has, however little or however much they possess. He is that truth calling to them: "You have something, now seek more. Seek truth. Find Me."
http://www.hokaipaul...n-on-truth.html


While Christ is the one truth, his love shines on everyone, whether they know it or not. Church fathers studied Greek philosophers because in their writings, they saw Christ. Where can we see Christ today in churches outside the Orthodox faith? Where can we see Christ today, outside the halls of Christian religion?

#2 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 30 December 2010 - 12:49 PM

Personally I think it more appropriate to say Christ is all Truth. Beyond that: caveat emptor. Not all "truths" are created equal. Many of us have been "out there" before we found the refuge and solace of Holy Orthodoxy. While there is some truth "out there", it is often mixed with a lot of untruth, that is what "heresy" is--a little bit of truth twisted or mixed with untruth. If you want to sort through the rubble of post-modernism and neo-religions, then God be with you.

But we are less concerned about finding some abstract "truth" and more concerned with having a relationship with a concrete Christ. Christ is here. I've met Him. Where else He may be is His business and less mine.

Herman the abstract Pooh

#3 Evan

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Posted 30 December 2010 - 01:31 PM

Speros,

It is the Church's understanding that insofar as humans are made in the image of God and called to grow in His likeness, there is a certain amount of truth that they can appreciate, even without the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. In Romans, St. Paul urges that the very structure of creation should enable one to appreciate that God exists. The Fathers, in their apologetic works, constantly appeal to shared ethical and metaphysical convictions. Thus, St. Paul quotes Menander, St. Justin Martyr quotes Plato and appeals to Roman civic religion, St. Ambrose appeals to Cicero and Virgil and St. Gregory of Nyssa regards the immortality of the soul as "pious offspring" of Greek philosophy (although not its transmigration), to name a few examples.

But none of these Fathers were satisfied with this common ground. The fruits of pagan learning were and are not salvific. St. Paul was quite insistent on Mars Hill that God has fixed a day in which He will judge the living and the dead, and he called the philosophers whom he was addressing to repent and be converted to Christ.

I've always been particularly impressed by the "final verdict" of the Bible on the greatest political and military genius who ever lived, a man incalculably more intelligent and humane than any of his contemporaries, a man who was tutored by Aristotle, arguably the greatest of Greek minds, and who conquered the known world in roughly a decade:

"And after these things, he fell down upon his bed, and knew that he should die. And he called his servants, the nobles that were brought up with him from his youth: and he divided his kingdom among them, while he was yet alive. And Alexander reigned twelve years, and he died."

So, I think what's crucial is that we not believe that anyone can be saved without Christ (not in the sense that if a Muslim youth is killed by a roadside bomb at the age of 9, never having heard the name of Jesus, he's going to Hell, but that if he is saved, it is because Christ has mercy on him), or that there is any Truth that He does not reveal. I'm all for learning about Cicero and Plato, because I believe it to be important that we understand how the Fathers appealed to certain precepts and principles that non-believers can appreciate in order to draw them in. But where these authors depart from the living God of Israel, there's no independent truth source that we can validate them by reference to. They're wrong. There's no Truth "out there" to which God's people have no access.


In Christ,
Evan

Edited by Evan, 30 December 2010 - 02:24 PM.


#4 Speros

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Posted 30 December 2010 - 03:42 PM

So, I think what's crucial is that we not believe that anyone can be saved without Christ (not in the sense that if a Muslim youth is killed by a roadside bomb at the age of 9, never having heard the name of Jesus, he's going to Hell, but that if he is saved, it is because Christ has mercy on him), or that there is any Truth that He does not reveal. I'm all for learning about Cicero and Plato, because I believe it to be important that we understand how the Fathers appealed to certain precepts and principles that non-believers can appreciate in order to draw them in. But where these authors depart from the living God of Israel, there's no independent truth source that we can validate them by reference to. They're wrong. There's no Truth "out there" to which God's people have no access.


Acceptance of non-Christians into Heaven: An often preached message by conservative Protestants is that the only way to be saved and attain Heaven after death is to repent of one's sins and trust Jesus as Lord and Savior. One corollary of this view is that only those persons who hear the Gospel and accept it will spend eternity in Heaven. However Romans 2:14-16 delivers a different and contrasting message. Paul writes:

"For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another; In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel."

Paul is here discussing those individuals who have not heard Jewish and Christian teachings. They were in the majority of the world's population in Paul's time and remain so today. Paul said that God has given them the knowledge of right and wrong. Their response to God's moral implanting will be reviewed on Judgment Day. They may be saved and attain heaven if they responded morally while living on Earth.
www.religioustolerance.org%2Ftol_bibl.htm&h=ae4b1


We can find Christ in Jewish literature:

The Angel Metatron

In the article on the Trinity, we have seen that there are several passages in the OT which indicate that the One God reveals Himself as a communion of (three) persons. The medieval Zohar and other mystical writers speak even more explicitly of this "mystery of three" in the godhead, where the "Middle Spirit" is the eternal Word of God who already existed before creation, the Angel of God and mediator between heaven and earth called "Metatron," who emanated from God - yet is none other than YHWH Himself!

"The middle pillar is 'Metatron.'" (Zohar, vol. 3, p. 227)

"The great and exalted name speaks to Moses and tells him to come up to YHWH, He is Metatron, sometimes called by the name YHWH." (Rabbi Menahem of Rekanati, p. 145)

"Who is the way to the tree of life? It is Metatron… Metatron is called "the Angel of God"… every petition and plea brought before the King must go through Metatron… Metatron is the emissary responsible for everything that is sent from heaven to this world, or from this world to heaven…" (Tamtsit haZohar, vol. 2, Ex., col. 51)

The garment of El Shaddai is Metatron. (Zohar, vol. 3, p. 231)

"There is a man who is angel and Metatron. He is a man in the image of the Holy One, blessed be He. And He is the emanation from Him, for He is YHWH, and about Him it cannot be said that He was created, formed, or made, but that He emanated from God." (Tikunei haZohar, chap. 67, p. 130)

The Son of God

The kabbalists called the second sphere by the name 'Metatron,' who is the name down below of the Son of YHWH. (Sefer Yetsirah, p. 85). This reminds us Psalm 2, which explicitly speaks of God's Son who is the Lord's "Anointed One" or Messiah:

Why do the nations rage, and the people plot a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against His Messiah... I will proclaim the decree of the LORD: He said to me, "You are my Son; today I have become your Father. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession..." Serve the LORD with fear and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry and you be destroyed in your way, for his wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in him. (Ps 2:7-9, 12)

As seen in the article on the Messiah in the Tanakh, the midrash, Rashi, Ibn Ezra, and the Talmud (Sukka 52a) associate this "Son" with the Messiah:

"Serve the Lord, about the Lord… and kiss the Son, about the Messiah." (Ibn Ezra on Ps 2)

The Zohar even appends to the description of the Son ("bar") a trinitarian statement mentioning the Holy One, His Son, and the Divine Presence (the Shekhinah):

"You are the good shepherd; of you it is said, 'Kiss the Son.' You are great here below, the teacher of Israel, the Lord of the serving angels, the son of the Most High, the son of the Holy One, blessed is He, and his Shekhinah." (Zohar, part III, p. 307, Amsterdam edition)

"For He is the middle pillar in the Godhead, and He is the Son of God." (Zohar, Genesis, p. 16)

God said: "Faithful shepherd! You are truly my Son, the Shekhinah. Great dignitaries and angels, kiss the Son! Rise, all of you, kiss Him and welcome Him as King and Lord!" (Zohar, vol. 3, p. 281)
http://www.israelcat...95/1/3/lang,en/


Furthermore, there are interesting similarities between Christ and Krishna, including their names:

Despite their differences, Hinduism and Christianity have great similarities. And this is particularly prominent in the case of the life and teachings of the two central figures of these world religions — Christ and Krishna.
Similarities in just the names of 'Christ' and 'Krishna' have enough fuel for the curious mind to prod into the proposition that they were indeed one and the same person. Although there is little historical evidence, it is hard to ignore a host of likenesses between Jesus Christ and Lord Krishna. Analyze this!
Both are believed to be sons of God, since they were divinely conceived
The birth of both Jesus of Nazareth and Krishna of Dwarka and their God-designed missions were foretold
Both were born at unusual places — Christ in a lowly manger and Krishna in a prison cell
Both were divinely saved from death pronouncements
Evil forces pursued both Christ and Krishna in vain
Christ is often depicted as a shepherd; Krishna was a cowherd
Both appeared at a critical time when their respective countries were in a torpid state
Both died of wounds caused by sharp weapons — Christ by nails and Krishna by an arrow
The teachings of both are very similar — both emphasize love and peace
Krishna was often shown as having a dark blue complexion — a color close to that of Christ Consciousness
Similarity in Names
Christ comes from the Greek word 'Christos', which means "the anointed one". Again, the word 'Krishna' in Greek is the same as 'Christos'. A colloquial Bengali rendering of Krishna is 'Kristo', which is the same as the Spanish for Christ — 'Cristo'.

The father of the Krishna Consciousness Movement AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupadaonce remarked: "When an Indian person calls on Krishna, he often says, Krsta. Krsta is a Sanskrit word meaning attraction. So when we address God as Christ, Krsta, or Krishna we indicate the same all-attractive Supreme Personality of Godhead. When Jesus said, 'Our Father who art in heaven hallowed be Thy name', the name of God was Krsta or Krishna."

Prabhupada further says: "'Christ' is another way of saying Krsta and Krsta is another way of pronouncing Krishna, the name of God…the general name of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, whose specific name is Krishna. Therefore whether you call God 'Christ', 'Krsta', or 'Krishna', ultimately you are addressing the same Supreme Personality of Godhead…Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu said: namnam akari bahu-dha nija-sarva-saktis. (God has millions of names, and because there is no difference between God's name and Himself, each one of these names has the same potency as God.)"

God or Man?
According to Hindu mythology, Krishna was born on earth so that the balance of good in the world could be restored. But, there are many conflicting theories regarding his Godhood. Although, Krishna's story depicts him as the ultimate Lord of the Universe, whether Krishna himself is God or man is still a contentious matter in Hinduism.
Hindus believe that Jesus, like Lord Krishna, is just another avatar of the Divine, who came down to show humanity in the righteous way of life. This is another point where Krishna resembles Christ, a figure who is both "fully human and fully divine."

Krishna and Jesus were both saviors of mankind and avatars of God who have returned to earth at an especially critical time in the lives of their people. They were the incarnates of the Divine Being Himself in human form to teach human beings divine love, divine power, divine wisdom, and lead the benighted world towards the light of God.

Similarity in Teachings
These two most admired of religious icons also claim to hold the completeness of their religions by themselves. It's interesting to note how alike each one spoke in the Bhagavad Gita and the Holy Bible about the righteous way of life.
Lord Krishna says in the Gita: "Whenever, O Arjuna, righteousness declines and unrighteousness prevails, my body assumes human form and lives as a human being." He also says, "In order to protect the righteousness and also to punish the wicked, I incarnate myself on this earth from time to time." Similarly, Jesus said: "If God were your Father, ye would love me; for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of Myself but He sent me."

At many places in the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna said about His oneness with God: "I am the way, come to Me…Neither the multitude of gods, nor great sages know my origin, for I am the source of all the gods and great sages." In the Holy Bible, Jesus also utters the same in his Gospels: "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well…"

Krishna advises all men to continue working for the welfare of the state all through the life: "That man attains peace who lives devoid of longing, free from all desires and without the feeling of 'I' and 'mine'. This is the Brahman state…" Jesus too ensures man, "Him that overcometh 'I' will make a pillar in the temple of my God and he shall go no more out."
Lord Krishna urged his disciples to follow the art of scientific control of the senses. An expert yogi can withdraw his mind from old temptations of the material world and can unite his mental energy with the joy of inner ecstasy or samadhi. "When the yogi like a tortoise withdrawing its limbs, can fully retire its senses from the objects of perception, his wisdom manifests steadiness". Christ too delivered a similar directive: "But though, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thy shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly."

Krishna stressed the idea of the grace of God in the Gita: "I am the origin of everything, and everything arises out of Me…". Similarly, Jesus said: "I am the bread of life; he that cometh to me shall never hunger and he that believeth in me shall never thirst."
http://hinduism.abou...ist_krishna.htm



#5 Speros

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Posted 30 December 2010 - 04:18 PM

In the judgment scenarios of the New Testament, including the sheep and the goats, it's based on the works that you did, not the beliefs in your head. This suggests that all people will be judged according to the same standard, regardless of their religion persuasion.

#6 Jeremy Troy

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Posted 30 December 2010 - 04:38 PM

If there is truth in pre-Christian religions, then that truth is of a similar type with the truth of the Old Testament prophecies; it is a prefiguration, or a hinting at what was to come. Now Christ, who is Truth, has fulfilled these prefigurations, so that now we see not the image but its archetype. Post-Christians religions, on the other hand, are a different matter. In all cases we prefer Truth itself, which is revealed in Christ, over its approximation.

#7 Joseph A.

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Posted 30 December 2010 - 04:49 PM

This is a quote from St. Seraphim of Sarov in the beginning of Christ the Eternal Tao by Hieromonk Damascene:

Though not with the same power as in the people of God, nevertheless the presence of the Spirit of God also acted in the pagans who did not know the true God, because even among them, God found the chosen people. For instance, there were the virgin-prophetesses called Sibyls who vowed virginity to an unknown God, but to God, the Creator of the universe, the all-powerful ruler of the world, as He was conceived by the pagans. Though the pagan philosophers also wandered in the darkness of ignorance of God, yet they sought the truth which is beloved by God. Because of this, God-pleasing seeking, they could partake of the Spirit of God. It is said, that nations who do not know God, practice by nature the demands of the law and do what is pleasing to God (cf. Rom. 2:14)…

So you see, your Godliness, both in the holy Hebrew people, a people beloved by God, and in the pagans who did not know God, there was preserved a knowledge of God - thus, my son, a clear and rational comprehension of how our Lord God the Holy Spirit acts in man, and by means of our inner and outer feelings, one can be sure that this is really the action of our Lord God the Holy Spirit, and not a delusion of the enemy. That is how it was, from Adam's fall, until the coming into the world of the Lord Jesus Christ, in the flesh.


Edited by Herman Blaydoe, 30 December 2010 - 10:33 PM.
Extraneous formatting removed.


#8 Jason H.

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Posted 30 December 2010 - 04:59 PM

All truth wherever it is found belongs to us as Christians." - Saint Justin Martyr


Well, first off, St. Justin the Martyr was born a pagan and then converted to Christianity. So naturally, what St. Justin is saying is that the pagan religions are not the TRUTH.

"Where can we see Christ today, outside the halls of Christian religion?"--Speros


I like to turn to St. Justin Popovich when it comes to this:

“Life in the one true God and Lord Jesus Christ is really our only true life because it is wholly eternal and completely stronger than death.”

"All of pseudo-Christianity, all of those pseudo-Churches, are nothing more than one heresy after another."

"We must not be mistaken. Western Christian humanistic maximalism, i.e., the papacy, is fundamentally protestantism since it removed the foundation of Christianity from [Christ] and placed it in finite man claiming this to be the measure and criterion of all."


-Ignatios

#9 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 30 December 2010 - 10:42 PM

Speros,

There are several ancient myths that come close to the Truth of Christ, they were attempts to explain glimpses of Divine Truth guessed at, while Christ is Truth REVEALED. See the difference?

What we do matters, yes, but that is not the whole story. You are leaving a few "inconvenient" things out. But Christ never intends to be "convenient".

#10 Anna Stickles

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Posted 31 December 2010 - 02:19 AM

In the judgment scenarios of the New Testament, including the sheep and the goats, it's based on the works that you did, not the beliefs in your head. This suggests that all people will be judged according to the same standard, regardless of their religion persuasion.


Speros,

It is very true that all people will be judged according to the same standard regardless of their religious persuasion.

Here is a further quote from the same book, and the same section that Joseph mentions above.

"Elsewhere Justin went so far as to call the pre-Christian sages by the name of Christian: 'Those who lived in accordance with the Logos are Christians, even though they were called godless, such as, among the Greeks, Socrates, and Heraclitus, and others like them... So also those who lived before Christ and did not live by the Logos were ungracious and enemies of Christ, and murderers of those who lived by the Logos. But those who lived by the Logos, and those who so live now, are Christians, fearless and unperturbed.'"

One thing to note though, is the clear teaching of Christ that we will be judged not only by our deeds but that we will be judged according to our very thoughts, desires and intentions, whether or not these reflect the likeness of the One Who is Love.

St Gregory of Nyssa in discussion of our relationship with and union with God says, ""Now it is necessary for anyone desiring to be closely united with another to take on the ways of that person through imitation." St Gregory of Nyssa

Just as it says in I Cor 15:49 "And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the Man from heaven."

Therefore Christ tells us that even those with lustful thoughts, not just those who fornicate will be judged. He tells us that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgement, not just those who commit murder. St Paul tells us that the greedy, not just those who cheated their neighbor, will not inherit the kingdom of God.

In view of this, although all religions have some truth, not all religions are equal. Certainly there was much good moral instruction among the pagans, and yet there were various "blind spots" that those societies had. And there is much good moral instruction in the Bible and therefore those who read this and attempt to put it into action are often growing in their likeness to Christ, but again if the Bible is all one reads, there are blind spots left. Much modern Christian instruction outside Orthodoxy concentrates only on the externals - what we do, and really doesn't get into the subtler sins of heart and mind. Not all, but again as we are discussing there is truth everywhere.

For myself I will admit that nowhere have I come across the same depth of teaching on what it means to love each other as Christ has loved us as I have in the Orthodox spiritual teachers. Here I have found not just instructions concerning good works, but instructions on how to bring our very mind and heart back to a place where they reflect the image of God. There are instructions on how to examine ourselves in order to catch the hidden sins that we so often overlook and justify, and instructions on how to be healed of those sins through bringing ourselves to the place where we can receive more fully the grace of God.

#11 Anna Stickles

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Posted 31 December 2010 - 02:36 AM

BTW, for those not familiar with Christ the Eternal Tao, Hieromonk Damascene has taken Lao Tzu's teaching showing how Christ fulfilled this. In fact his claim is that no other pagan sage came so close to true Christianity. It's an excellent book. The author has sections where he parallels Lao Tzu's and Christ's teaching showing how they parallel and how Christ fulfills the Sage's. Beautifully done!

Here is a one more quote from the section we have been quoting from called Modern Syncretism vs Ancient Apologetics

This book's comparison of the Tao Teh Ching with Christian Scriptures opens it up to the accustaion of being merely another attempt at religious syncretism. A serious reading of the text however, will bear out that this is not the case. Religious syncretism, in its modern form, regards all paths as possessing equal truth simultaneously, and in doing so is forced to overlook certain basic distinctions, or to offer complicated explanations in order to rationalize these distinctions away. The ancient Christian teachers, on the other hand, took a more honest and discerning approach, which in the end proved to be more simple, natural and organic. Rather than mixing all religions together liek the moderns do, these ancients understood that there was an unfolding of wisdom throughout the ages. ... If we concede that the pre-Christian philosophers did seek the truth, and that they did catch glimpses of it, it only stands to reason that their teachings should bear some similarities, like a broken reflection of the moon in water to the fullness of Truth in Jesus Christ. Therefore these similarities need not appear as a threat to Christianity; instead they offer one more proof of Christ as universal Truth.

I would say it is the same in the Christian religious traditions we have today. The fact that the truth exists there, albeit in fragments and in broken reflections, is not something to fear, but rather it is simply that as we find the picture - of our belief, our practice and our worship, unifying into a beautiful whole, then we can know that we are indeed approaching the fullness of Truth.

#12 Speros

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Posted 31 December 2010 - 09:20 PM

If there is truth in pre-Christian religions, then that truth is of a similar type with the truth of the Old Testament prophecies; it is a prefiguration, or a hinting at what was to come. Now Christ, who is Truth, has fulfilled these prefigurations, so that now we see not the image but its archetype. Post-Christians religions, on the other hand, are a different matter. In all cases we prefer Truth itself, which is revealed in Christ, over its approximation.


It is not necessary to deny truth in other religions to recognize Christ as the truth found in all religions. There is no reason why I'd rather follow Muhammad than Jesus, yet when I read Sufi literature, I see a profound love for God.

#13 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 31 December 2010 - 09:52 PM

Nobody is denying anything, but we are saying what we trust over what we don't trust so much. Is there a problem with this?

#14 Speros

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Posted 31 December 2010 - 10:57 PM

Nobody is denying anything, but we are saying what we trust over what we don't trust so much. Is there a problem with this?


What I see a problem in is judgmentalism and intolerance. Only God can judge people's hearts and where they are in their relationship to him. I think we can say that Jesus is the truth and how I find God without judging whether or not others outside our own church tradition know God as well.

#15 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 31 December 2010 - 11:03 PM

Oh please. What "intolerance"? I believe you are making an unjustified accusation, and being very judgemental. I think you need to review or perhaps research what constitutes "intolerance" or even "tolerance" for that matter. Personally, I find the most intolerance amongst them who cry loudest for "tolerance". "Tolerance" does not demand that we have to accept everything as equally valid, sorry.

#16 Jason H.

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Posted 01 January 2011 - 02:36 AM

What I see a problem in is judgmentalism and intolerance. Only God can judge people's hearts and where they are in their relationship to him. I think we can say that Jesus is the truth and how I find God without judging whether or not others outside our own church tradition know God as well.


Is not calling out "judgment" and "intolerance" itself an act of those same natures?

Speros, you are free believe as you wish. But remember, you are in an Orthodox Forum, made up of Orthodox believers. You keep posting heterodox statements. Who are you trying to convince? Us? Or You?

-Ignatios

#17 Archimandrite Irenei

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Posted 04 January 2011 - 07:40 PM

It is always interesting to see St Justin the Philosopher and Martyr quoted to support ideas of religious syncretism or 'pan-truth', etc. There is evidence in this of a foundational misunderstanding of St Justin's writings on the Logos and Logos spermatikos, that requires a much deeper entry into his writings and life.

St Justin's point is explicitly that all truth is Christian, since truth itself (logos) is always indivisible from Christ (the Logos). But in making this point, he is emphatically not saying that 'therefore everyone has a bit of the truth, so all religions are the same'; rather, he is saying that any philosophical system or 'religion' that attains any portion of the truth, attains some small engagement with the 'seed' of the Word - i.e. in that approach, they come close to Christ and Christianity and in this way point toward the Church, which is the Body of Truth Himself. This means, for St Justin, that any religion which in any degree has attained some portion of the truth, intrinsically points to that which is beyond itself: the true Christian Church; but at one and the same time, it identifies its deficiency, since it is not the fullness of the truth, and thus in part in error.

To give an example: this would mean that if a Buddhist in some degree attains right understanding and truth on a given matter, he has, in this attainment, approached Christianity. The truth he experiences is Christian, since, as St Justin says, all truth is Christian. That which he has attained, which reveals and points toward the full Truth found in the Church, is thus true; that which is retained of Buddhist doctrine which is apart from Christian truth, is wrong.

The same could be said of heterodox 'Christianities'. Inasmuch as any confession might attain an element of the truth, in that regard they approach the full Truth of the one Body of the undivided Church. If a confession, for example, proclaims that the Theotokos is rightly Mother of God, in this regard they approach true Christianity, the truth of the Church; if, however, they proclaim nonetheless that she is not ever-virgin, in this regard they deny the truth and remain in error. Their approach of the truth in one regard shows the way out of remaining error.

The only response, for St Justin, is to come into the fold of the one Church. Attempts to make him sound as if he is supporting the idea that 'all Churches are okay, because they all have a degree of the same truth', fail squarely on grounds that this is just the opposite of what St Justin is saying. His point is that the seed of truth in many places, reveals the abiding and sole truth of the one Church.

I once had to turn down a candidate who wished to do a doctorate with me on precisely this question. I told him then, as I tell people now, that I cannot think of a worse candidate amongst the holy Fathers to support a concept of 'ecumenism', as St Justin speaks emphatically against the whole idea!

INXC, Fr Irenei

#18 Anna Stickles

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Posted 04 January 2011 - 08:45 PM

We often talk about the Royal Road and avoiding the extremes. I found this quote very appropo.

"Religious fundamentalism (believing that traditions outside one's own are all wrong) is intellectually satisfying to narrow minds, while religious syncretism (believing that all traditions are equal) is satisfying to broad minds. In avoiding both extremes, Fr Seraphim (Rose) followed a path that was not intellectually satisfying at all, for such is the path of Truth." from Christ the Eternal Tao

Another wonderful quote I came across - "Above all judgemental thoughts block us from God, since in the very act of harboring them we are arrogating the place of God, Who alone is judge. We may feel an exhilaration by seeming to get on top of someone through judgement, but sooner or later this will lead to inward conflict."

Noting differences, preferring one point to another, and saying that one point is better then another are all different then the thrill of latching on to an idea/thought that we believe is "right" and defending it against all comers, or feeling superior or exhilarated because "we are right" or in the stronger position. Most of us probably still wrestle with what it means not to judge, at least I do, but maybe noting the emotional content is a place to start.

#19 Sacha

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Posted 05 January 2011 - 02:58 AM

Speros,

The author of this video debunks the whole Krishna and Christ parallel, as well as the other usual suspects, Attis, Dionysus, Horus etc.



There are serious irrational logical leaps one has to make to maintain the parallels; it might make for good cheap conspiracy theories, but I'm afraid there isn't a shred of historical truth to the claimed parallels, popularized in the movie 'Zeitgeist', which the above YT video refutes quite soundly.

Regards
S.

#20 Rick H.

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Posted 05 January 2011 - 03:19 PM

We often talk about the Royal Road and avoiding the extremes. I found this quote very appropo.

"Religious fundamentalism (believing that traditions outside one's own are all wrong) is intellectually satisfying to narrow minds, while religious syncretism (believing that all traditions are equal) is satisfying to broad minds. In avoiding both extremes, Fr Seraphim (Rose) followed a path that was not intellectually satisfying at all, for such is the path of Truth." from Christ the Eternal Tao


This is very good Anna. Thanks!

My daughter came in the door the other day with a copy of "Our Thoughts Determine Our Lives" under her arm. It has been my privilege to read this book by Elder Thaddeus. I have read a quote in this book in two spots by St. Isaac the Syrian which is "Make peace with yourself, and both heaven and earth will make peace with you." Somehow I think this applies to the recent turn in this discussion as it relates to the inward conflict and emotional content referenced in you post.

I'm not sure that I am really grasping what Elder Thaddeus is teaching in this book as a whole; but, it is abundantly clear that he teaches that "when our attention is turned to the circumstances in which we live, we are drawn into a whirlpool of thoughts" and in this state of monkey mind how can there be anything other than inner conflict? How can one be anything other than a walking civil war completely void of inner peace or tranquility?

The Elder also shares that "One of the Holy Fathers said, 'The mind is a great wanderer. It is always traveling. It cannot rest until the only One Who can lay it to rest appears.' " In this I think of the quote you supplied above about the one who finds satisfaction in Fundamentalism and the one who finds satisfaction in Syncretism as these are defined above. And, assuming that we agree that both of these views are immature and ignorant views . . . I wonder if it is possible that to actually walk the Royal Path on this issue and to truly overcome such questions as we have here in this thread (in a way that is not satisfying at all) is to have received a gift from above? Do you see what I mean?

As far as all questions like this one are concerned (and the question behind the question here), in the end, I seem to always find my exit in the words of Fr. Raphael from a few years ago who used the expression repeatedly "lay it all aside." And, from there in an effort to abide in a place of peace on this issue I retreat to my place of letting go which is one of simply overcoming all of this by means of transcending all of this viz. rising above or going beyond the limits of this and truly overcoming the negative or restrictive aspects of such things as Fundamentalism or Syncretism.

And, I know that some folks are uncomfortable with the word transcending and some think that is does not have a place in Eastern Orthodoxy . . . but whether we consider the Royal Road and the Path of Truth along with overcoming such things and avoiding extremes I wonder this morning what is the difference between the one who has found rest and inner peace and truly transcends/overcomes such questions as this and the one who has passively had his mind laid to rest by the One Who can lay it to rest?

The Elder also teaches clearly that "Our thoughts become reality." Our thoughts become our reality. For the Fundamentalist his reality and path of Truth is Fundamentalism, the same for the Syncretist his reality is Syncretism. It is not uncommon for representatives of both groups to fight at the drop of a hat over their realities. But, this is not the case for the one who has laid it all aside is it?

I guess we could consider, of the three above, who is the master of the great escape and who is the one with his head stuck in the sand. And, we could run around in a big circle . . . but, in the end I seem to keep coming back to a view that I see characterized and taught by Elder Thaddeus. This view speaks of the one's who radiate peace and love and the one's who radiate destruction and evil. The former breeds harmony, kindness, and stillness, the latter breeds negative thoughts and is a destroyer of stillness within. This is so easy to differentiate/discern.

If there is a conclusion here, to this bear of little brain it would seem to be that lest we passively experience a healing touch on this issue we cannot not spend our lives (at best) struggling as a walking civil war with our beings modeling our monkey minds, or (at worst) authoritative, zealous, and confindent champions of either Fundamentalism or Syncretism.

Edited by Rick H., 05 January 2011 - 03:58 PM.





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