Attitudes towards world religions
Religious prejudice is the belief that one person’s religion, or denomination, is the “one, true religion”. They have the correct view of God. Their religion is “the only way to salvation”. Other religions might be partly right, but do not lead to God.
Religions sometimes clash in their aim to convert others to their religion (usually Christianity and Islam – the others do not try to convert). They point out defects in other people’s deeply-held beliefs, and this can be very offensive. Atheists (people who do not believe in God) are equally guilty of religious prejudice when they say a religious view is less valuable than their own.
Anti-Semitism is an extreme form of religious prejudice. It has been going on in Europe for 1000 years:
The belief that other religions are wrong. Christianity is the only way to God. Most Christians still believe this, especially the R.C. Church, and evangelical churches.
“I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No-one comes to the Father except through me.”
Jesus, John’s Gospel 14:6
Christians believe the Bible is the word of God, so the Bible must be TRUE. If it says Jesus is the ONLY was to salvation, then it must be true. They believe people can only be saved by hearing about, and responding to, Jesus. Jesus’ final words to the disciples seem to reinforce this:
“Go into all the world and make disciples of all nations, baptising them…..teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”
Missionaries: For centuries, missionaries have been sent all over the world to convert people to Christianity.
Pope John Paul II recently said all non-Roman Catholic religions were “defects”. Even after years of inter-faith dialogue, many Christians at heart believe that their religion is still the only true one.
‘ The Catholic Church rejects nothing of what is true and holy in [non-Christian] religions. She has a high regard for (them……Yet she is duty bound to proclaim without fail, Christ who is the only way, the truth and the life (John 14:6). In him… [people] find the fullness of their religious life.’
'The Declaration of the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions'
Some Christians are inclusivist, i.e. other religions worship the Christian God, were created by the Christian God and will be saved by the Christian God – without knowing it! People in other religions will be saved because they are still seeking truth. They believe that God’s mercy is based on love.
Inclusivist theology was adopted by the Roman Catholic Church at the Second Vatican Council (1962).
“He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
2 Peter 3:9
Christianity should have a positive attitude to people of other religions. St. Paul said:
“There is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised……but Christ is all, and is in all.”
“There is no difference between Jews and Gentiles… you are all one in union with Christ Jesus.”
Christians believe all people are made in the image of God and are loved by God. Jesus taught all people are welcome in the Kingdom of God, especially those excluded by society.
Jesus has a positive attitude towards people of other religions:
In the 20th Century, the Ecumenical Movement began (Greek oikoumene - 'one world'). It tries to bring different Churches together. “Unity” does not mean “sameness”. Ecumenism recognises differences between Christians, but asks them to “co-operate in worship and service… and grow in understanding of each other.”
1948: World Council of Churches (WCC) was founded by representatives from Orthodox and Protestant Churches. The WCC leads and promotes united Christian action throughout the world in spiritual and practical matters. The WCC works in 3 main areas:
The Roman Catholic Church has not joined the WCC, but the Second Vatican Council (1962) recognised the need for mutual understanding and now sends observers to WCC meetings.
However, on a local level, many Catholic and Protestant Church have united to form Anglo-Catholic groups. Local churches now co-operate and work together.