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On the nature of non-Christian religions.


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#1 Matthew M.

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Posted 05 February 2012 - 05:52 AM

In respect to religions other than Christianity, what do the Church Fathers say? Would they say Hinduism, Buddhism, Shintoism, Islam, etc., are the work of man or the Devil?

Just to clarify, I'm not saying the adherents of the religion are evil, I'm just wondering what the Church Fathers think of other religions themselves.


In Christ,

Reader Matthew

#2 Kosta

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Posted 05 February 2012 - 07:02 AM

The Fathers have been critical of Islam. If you google St John of Damascus and Islam, his critique of Islam can be found.

As the others it would depend on the Father, not many have written on them. The pre-Nicene Fathers in their critique of the greek pagan religion, tended to demonstrate why the christian gospel and revelation was superior to the pagan religion. In other instances they would utilize the famous non-christian pagan philosophers to show that they predicted the coming of christianity. Fr Seraphim Rose used this tactic in a book on Taoism.

This latter tactic seems the most beneficial in evangelizing in areas of a foreign religion. Christ said to the jews, "You search the scruptures for in them you think you have life, but they are whuch speak of me." Scripture is simply a latin word for any writing. Everyone of these major pre-christian religions have prophecies of Christ, its not just limited to the OT.

#3 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 05 February 2012 - 01:50 PM

Does it really matter? We humans are perfectly capable of messing things up on our own, but we know that satan is waiting to take every advantage we allow him to. Whose fault is that?

Many religions are man's best guess at Divine Truths, but obviously fall short of the Revelation that is Christ as witnessed to by His Church. I would agree with Kosta that going around telling people they are of the devil is not really going to win many over. I wouldn't worry too much about what THEY believe or why. Best to concentrate on defending the hope within you and making that hope evident to others that they should choose to inquire about it. When you have something that they don't, and they can see that, that is when true witness happens.

Or so it seems to this bear of little brain.

Herman the Pooh

#4 George Kalajdzic

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Posted 29 March 2012 - 11:41 AM

Probably the best answer is in the scriptures itself

1 Corinthians 10:20 - 22

20 But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils.
21 Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord's table, and of the table of devils.
22 Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? are we stronger than he?


Even Islam which is very Monotheistic has some very very murky origins, for an example, when Muhammad first encountered 'Angel Gabriel' in a cave - he thought the cave was haunted, Muhammad thought this entity he encountered to be a Jinn (demon) as he was being physically attacked by it, by the entity which presented himself as an 'Angel', Muhammad was in an actual panic, in physical pain and trying to hiding away from this entity, but he couldn't it was all around him.

He thought he encountered a demon until his wife didn't convince him that quote "It is an auspicious sign, O my husband. Pull yourself together, I swear by Allah that you are a Messenger for this nation." Apparently his wifes cousin (Waraqah) who was a Christian and apparently 'knew the bible' also confirmed to Muhammad that indeed he had a vision of Angel Gabriel and reassured him not to be afraid.

Muhammad then went ahead to listen to the teachings of this 'angel' which taught him that Christ was not a son god etc, which then followed by the spread his word via sword from Medina into Mecca and onwords, initially to support his war against Mecca Muhammad would raid Christian and Jewish trade caravans.

Knowing the above, if Muhammad was initially a Christian he would have known not to trust any spirit which appears to you and declares that Jesus Christ is not god (as below).
[h=4]1 John 4[/h] 1 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.
2 Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:
3 And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.


I always find it ironic how many similarities Muhammad has with Joseph Smith, they both had a 'direct word of god' from a source only they can know, they had many wives, where heads of armies, participated in wars, claimed that the bible has been corrupted etc.

that's my 2 cents anyway.

Hope this helps.

God bless

George K

#5 Daniel Olav Mikaelson

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Posted 29 March 2012 - 05:34 PM

Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Protestantism, and the rest are just bad, and wrong. Let's just lead people to Orthodoxy like the Apostles, k?

#6 Owen Jones

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Posted 03 April 2012 - 01:05 PM

And yet there is good everywhere. Instead of positing a good god vs. a bad god, Christianity says that there is only one God and His Creation is good, and that it is our disobedience that messes things up, not magical forces or fights among the gods that we are unwittingly caught up in and can do nothing about (fatalism). Christianity in a sense is the power to take charge of your own destiny, but in a paradoxical way, not in the typical, conventional way of the world. So in a world that is filled with conspiracy theories, anxieties about the future, anger at this and that, and promises that if you just had more power to dominate your world you would be happy, Christianity offers a therapeutic way out of that cul de sac. Plato actually defined philosophy as therapy for the soul, but in a sense philosophy is a failed religion because very, very few people can aspire to the rigors of philosophy. And yet all people philosophize. We all ask questions about what life is all about, but in the vain expectation that we can overcome our anxieties we tend to come up with some theory about how the world ought to be organized differently, thinking that that will make us happy. But Christianity offers a distinctly different path between those who are just fatalistic about their lives and those who see the answers in having more power and control. It is, therefore, in my opinion, the therapeutic benefits of Christianity that are sadly understated and under represented. I do not think that saying that their religion is bad and ours is good is particularly enlightening or helpful, to us or them. And by the way, being a Christian is not about being a good person. No man is good, no not one.

#7 Bryan J. Maloney

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Posted 07 April 2012 - 03:05 PM

What does the nature of "non-Christian" religions matter other than they are not the Church? Ultimately, they are not fundamentally different from the non-Orthodox "Christian religions"--none of them are the Church. All of them are the product of demonic deception, both "non-Christian" and "Christian", are they not?

#8 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 07 April 2012 - 09:24 PM

I think that is putting it much too strongly; we should not put the Roman Catholic Church on the same level as primitive animism. To be Orthodox is a great responsibility: 'It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God'. For us, there are no excuses. Let us attend to ourselves - and let us not tell God whom He may have as His friends.

#9 Bryan J. Maloney

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Posted 07 April 2012 - 11:23 PM

Why make excuses for heretics? Does God teach heresy?

#10 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 08 April 2012 - 08:33 AM

God teaches love, and on this day of all days, read Matthew chapter 21, especially verse 31.

#11 Bryan J. Maloney

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Posted 14 April 2012 - 04:15 PM

Well and good, but why create "ranks", where we sit back and say the Baptists and Catholics are almost good enough but the Muslims are just plain bad and evil?

#12 Steve Orr

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Posted 14 April 2012 - 06:24 PM

In other instances they would utilize the famous non-christian pagan philosophers to show that they predicted the coming of christianity. Fr Seraphim Rose used this tactic in a book on Taoism.


Small correction: Hieromonk Damascene (not Fr. Seraphim Rose) used this tactic in a book he wrote called Christ the Eternal Tao.

#13 Steve Orr

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Posted 14 April 2012 - 06:29 PM

Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Protestantism, and the rest are just bad, and wrong. Let's just lead people to Orthodoxy like the Apostles, k?


Your second sentence is admirable. But your overall approach to addressing other religions in the first sentence will not readily win over any converts or make dialogue the least bit interesting for anyone else. "Just bad, and wrong" generalizes and trivializes things just a little bit, don't you think?

#14 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 14 April 2012 - 06:58 PM

Well and good, but why create "ranks", where we sit back and say the Baptists and Catholics are almost good enough but the Muslims are just plain bad and evil?


Because the Church recognises that some are close to the Truth and others are further away from it. One cannot place Oriental Orthodox Christians on the same level as, say, Hindus.

It is, of course, wrong to call Muslims 'bad and evil'; what we think of Islam is one thing but we must not call individual Moslems - or Jews, or Sikhs, or Buddhists, or anyone - 'bad and evil'. The badge of a religion is not determinative of the character of any individual.

#15 Steve Roche

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Posted 14 April 2012 - 08:47 PM

In respect to religions other than Christianity, what do the Church Fathers say?


Heresies were discussed as early as Clement of Rome and Justin Martyr in the 1st and 2nd centuries. Justin’s Against all Heresies is now lost; but it set the stage for many fathers to write histories of beliefs. Justin also wrote concerning myths and legends of the Roman and Greek traditions. He wrote on Homer, Hesiod and Plato. He wrote on the original atomic theories and the original evolution theories. He wrote on dozens of different historical people, and how they influenced the world and thought. Clement of Rome was the secretary of Peter, and he discusses the origin of christian gnostics, and how they were attacking the church through introduced doctrines. He writes of the disciples of John the Baptist, and how they were conquered and supplanted by Simon Magus. Hegesippus discusses the origin of the “Seven Secret Sects” and how the Jewish sects had conspired against Christians. Irenaeus, Tertullian and Origen all wrote Against Heresies. Cyprian wrote to ‘Pope Stephen’ concerning heretics in the churches. From Pope Stephen heresy became “allowed” without censorship.

In short, heresies were a great consideration of early Christians. They wanted to know how and when they originated, and how they had been leading people astray under the influence of devils. Christians today are no match to the care and research they had applied in the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD. After that time, during Augustine and Jerome’s guardianship, the church backslid terribly. Jerome, who translated the bible into Latin, accused the Apostles of being liars, and the bible and church was treated with contempt. Heresy had won a battle against the church. This was foreshadowed in Revelation chapters 2 & 3 of the seven churches of Asia minor. Each church had distinct doctrines and distinct errors and heresies. A knowledge of these things helps us to see how error had developed, and what we need to do to return to the wholesome faith. "Unless you repent..."

Steve

Edited by Steve Roche, 14 April 2012 - 09:07 PM.


#16 Mike L

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Posted 14 April 2012 - 10:04 PM

Because the Church recognises that some are close to the Truth and others are further away from it. One cannot place Oriental Orthodox Christians on the same level as, say, Hindus.

It is, of course, wrong to call Muslims 'bad and evil'; what we think of Islam is one thing but we must not call individual Moslems - or Jews, or Sikhs, or Buddhists, or anyone - 'bad and evil'. The badge of a religion is not determinative of the character of any individual.



So would Satanism be bad, but an adherent of it of 'good character ' not be bad? ;) Because to me, some of these religions at least border on Satanism, although they probably do not see it that way.

#17 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 15 April 2012 - 11:05 AM

Christ is Risen!

My point was that there are Hindus, Muslims etc who are decent people. Many doctors in England are Indians and therefore Hindus. My Hindu doctor where I used to live was a great doctor and clearly a thoroughly good man. I have encountered Muslims who were not rabid fanatics but just wanted quietly to get on with their lives like everyone else. One Muslim shopkeeper near where an elderly widow I knew lived used to deliver her groceries to her out of kindness. I think it is wrong to generalise and tar all people of a certain religion with the same brush just because of a minority of fanatics. I once asked Archimandrite Zacharias how he felt about his village in northern Cyprus being seized by the Turks in 1974; he replied that he was not troubled, and he added: 'The earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof, the world, and all that dwell therein.'

The argument becomes distorted by referring to Satanism which is obviously off the scale.

#18 Mike L

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 06:11 AM

Truly He is Risen!

I was merely posting from strictly a theological perspective. God is Sovereign. He created all things. Of course, mankind fell, and we have corrupted all things. As human beings, we can say "So-&-so is a decent guy" etc., but we have our own understanding, then there is God's understanding. That was simply my point. There are so many Biblical admonitions about such things, such as 2 Cor. 6:14, for instance. Also, is our God, although merciful and loving of all His Creation, not also a jealous God? Wouldn't one think that worshipping false gods would not please Him much? Anybody can be a "good guy" by our standards, but we also need to be very aware of God's standards as well. And I am not excluding myself in this as well, as far as missing the mark goes! "Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.."

A Sinner

#19 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 10:51 AM

Christ is Risen!

All people are created in the image of God and so each person is our brother and our sister (Metropolitan Anastasios (Yiannoulatos)). God desires all people to be saved (cf 1 Timothy 2:4). Most people are not Orthodox Christians. Being Orthodox is no guarantee of salvation. Being created in His image, God has planted in every person a conscience, a basic sense of right and wrong which we call natural law (cf St John Chrysostom, Homily VII on Romans). It is common that certain things are wrong: see 1 Cor 6:9-10, II Cor 5:10, Gal 5:19-21. Those who do not know the One God, the Father Almighty, and His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit, may yet lead their lives according to God's natural law, and God is not a 'respecter of persons' (Acts 10:35, Romans 2:11). A person may be 'accepted' by God (cf Acts 10:35) if his deeds are in accord with God's law: see Romans 2:10-14. How those of the various religions, or of none, may be saved or acceptable to God is, as I suggested before, a matter for God: 'O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor?' (Romans 11:33-34). Who now will be His counsellor in His judgments?

#20 Mike L

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 05:45 PM

I understand..but then why bother even being Orthodox at all in that case? Can you see where I'm coming from? I'm not criticizing at all, but it is a legitimate question, and one I think about from time to time. If we have the Truth, then it is implied that others only have a part of the Truth, or none of it at all. If one was to never know the Gospel, or Christ, then yes; I would wholeheartedly agree with you, and I believe that was the spirit of your quoted Scriptures. I've read much of the Church Fathers..St. John Chrysostom was very influential on me in particular..in fact, it was they that basically led me to Orthodoxy, and, although they were quite loving, they werent beyond understanding "tough love" & discernment either.

PS: Kudos on quoting Romans 11:33, 34-- excellent scriptures!




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