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Christian Missionary Dialogue With Other Faiths and Religions

Christian Missionary Dialogue With Other Faiths and Religions

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Published by Ifechukwu U. Ibeme
How is the Christian Faith or the Gospel of Christ’s Kingdom related to other faiths, religions and cultures? This is a fundamental question the Church must answer for effective evangelism, dialogue (for peaceful coexistence and community collaboration) and presence in a pluralistic heathen world. This calls for a broad grasp of what religion basically is and what types of religion (primal, philosophical and prophetic) there are in the world.
How is the Christian Faith or the Gospel of Christ’s Kingdom related to other faiths, religions and cultures? This is a fundamental question the Church must answer for effective evangelism, dialogue (for peaceful coexistence and community collaboration) and presence in a pluralistic heathen world. This calls for a broad grasp of what religion basically is and what types of religion (primal, philosophical and prophetic) there are in the world.

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Published by: Ifechukwu U. Ibeme on Aug 06, 2013
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1
CHRISTIAN MISSIONARY DIALOGUE WITH OTHER FAITHS AND RELIGIONS
By Venerable Dr Ifechukwu Ibeme
Comment on The Chapel of Grace Blog: 
The purpose of Gospel mission is to bring all humanity to know and do God’s will, to worship God
in spirit and truth and to be saved from depravity, demonism and damnation into
God’s
 eternal Kingdom through Christ (Act 26:15-18).
Missionary dialogue recognizes the power of the Holy Spirit by which God “
is constantly at work in ways that pass human understanding and in places that to us are least expected
”. Interfaith Dialogue
is not only of theological or doctrinal exchange, for there are also dialogue of tolerance for mutual coexistence, dialogue of common cause for social action, and even dialogue of shared
“pray to your
God
/gods”
religious experience for common good
as on Jonah’s
tempest-tossed ship of Tarshish (Jonah 1:5-6).
How is the Christian Faith or the Gospel of Christ’s Kingdom related to other faiths, religions and
cultures? This is a fundamental question the Church must answer for effective
evangelism
,
dialogue
 (for peaceful coexistence and community collaboration) and
presence
 in a pluralistic heathen world. This calls for a broad grasp of what religion basically is and what types of religion (
primal
,
philosophical
 and
prophetic
) there are in the world.
The word RELIGION (
which refers to human response in relation to any superstition, supposition, speculation or human reverence in relation to redemptive revelation
) is derived from Latin
RELIGIO
 = supernaturally
constrained 
 attitudes, beliefs, experiences, powers and practices or
RELIGARE 
 = scrupulously
restrained 
 
attitudes, beliefs, experiences, powers and practices. Today’s
liberalism with its antireligious, irreverent, rebellious, and self-willed philosophies have given religion a bad name as faiths and forms that are antisocial, intolerant and deceptive because of religious rules and regulations
 –
 often designating RELIGION to mean religious organisations or regulations; but prefer SPIRITUALITY which is designated to mean unregulated spontaneous spiritual worship and lifestyle or personal
“salvation” experience. Hence many in the Church and other religions are averse to the word “religion” or “religious” and claim they are not rel
igious: they would prefer to describe themselves as spirituals, spiritualists, using spiritual powers or living in spiritual relationship. Religions and Spiritualities in the world today offer or seek different concepts of SALVATION (e.g. Christian redemption-ransom, rescue-release, regeneration-restoration, Non-Christian self-realisation) from bondage (e.g. Christian
sinful nature, divine wrath, demonic deceit, damnable death, error-ignorance
, Non-Christian
karma, reincarnation and matter
) which may not satisfy the salvation concepts of the others. RELIGION can be defined as the human spiritual relationship or human ritual response or human rational response of faith in, fear of, fervour for, experience of and reverence for God, gods and numinous powers. Religions have belief systems about the divine, the spiritual and the sacred, expressed in behaviour systems of ritual forms, religious community, numinous experiences, ethical values and mystical practices.
Note that both the religious and the irreligiou
s have their kinds of “God” and “gods” such as:
 
the Monotheists’ ALMIGHTY CREATOR God,
 
the Mystics’ UNIVERSAL MIND/FORCE god,
 
2
 
the Evolutionists' RANDOM SELECTOR god,
 
the Scientists’ “NATURAL LAW” god,
 
the Secularists’ “AS YOU LIKE IT” god,
 
the
Polytheists’ specialised or tension gods and goddesses
, and spirits of beasts, masters, heroes, heroines and ancestors. Common elements and concepts shared by most religions are
repercussions of morals
 and
 powers of rituals
. Religions are of two main classes but three broad types:
1.
 
Nature Religion
:
PRIMAL
, polytheistic, pantheistic, idolatrous, deistic and cyclical religions
 –
 e.g. animistic and monist religions, totemic and nature worship religions, ancestral worship religions, and Hinduism.
2.
 
Founder Religion
: (i)
PHILOSOPHICAL
: atheistic, agnostic, polytheistic, pantheistic, idolatrous, deistic and cyclical religions
 –
 e.g. mystic religions, Buddhism, Shinto, Tao, Bon, Confucianism, Gnosticism, Jainism and Sikhism (Sikhism
is Islamic Buddhism = monotheistic and cyclical 
) (ii)
PROPHETIC 
: monotheistic and eschatological religions
 –
 e.g. God-seeking (
theoreunatic
) religions, Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Zoroastrianism and Baha’ism.
 
In contradistinction to THEISM, the belief in an immanent God who actively intervenes in the affairs of men, the word DEISM is used to represent the view of those who reduced the role of God to a mere act of creation in accordance with rational laws discoverable by man and held that, after the original act, God virtually withdrew and refrained from interfering in the processes of nature and involvement in the ways of man. The Deist God has left nature to forces of natural properties and left humanity to personal and popular preferences. In the deistic treatises of Lord Herbert of Cherbury, five religious ideas were recognized as God-given and innate in the mind of man from the beginning of time: the belief in a supreme being, in the need for his worship, in the pursuit of a pious and virtuous life as the most desirable form of worship, in the need of repentance for sins, and in rewards and punishments in the next world. Herbert held that these are fundamental religious beliefs that had been the possession of the first man, and they were basic to all the worthy positive institutionalized religions of later times. Thus, differences among sects and cults all over the world were usually benign, mere modifications of universally accepted truths; they were corruptions only when they led to barbarous practices such as the immolation of human victims and the slaughter of religious rivals. Polytheism and idolatry turn every want and wonder into god or goddess based on one legend, myth superstition or another. For instance, WANTS such as health and wealth are met with GOD(DESSE)S of health and wealth, while WONDERS like thunder and sun are met with GOD(DESSE)S of thunder and sun.
The Christ came down to graciously grant us the blessed experience of ETERNAL SALVATION as heavenly spiritual blessing that by far outweighs and outlasts all blessedness humanity may think, imagine, ask or ever know (Eph 1:3-4, 17-23; 3:16-21): whether by all HUMAN ACTUALISATION and all HUMAN SPECULATION or even by PROPHETIC REVELATION. Every human is responsible for the level of blessedness one chooses to seek because every level of blessedness has its eternal consequence after death.
 
3 From
Christ’s dialogue with the Samaritan woman in John 4:19
-
26 and St Paul’s introduction to his
Epistle to the Romans 1:18-32 and his sermon at the Athenian Areopagus in Acts 17:18-34, we learn that through Spirituality or Religion, humans instinctively seek to RELATE WITH AND REVERENCE GOD but to succeed, need HELP by the TRUTH of Divine Revelation and GRACE of Eternal Salvation through Christ. Otherwise, humanity being HINDERED by the ERROR of human mystical supposition and syncretism and being HOODWINKED by the FRAUD of demonic manipulation, ends up seeking to
RELATE WITH AND REVERENCE THE “GODS” (
e.g.
mistaken “God”, demonic spirits, dead ancestors,
natural object and forces). Without God reaching us, humans cannot succeed to reach God (Mat 11:27; John 6:44; 14:6-7). These other PRIMAL, PHILOSOPHICAL and PROPHETIC non-Christian Faiths/Religions and cultures unaided by Divine Revelation and the Redeeming Grace of the Divine Christ may have their few merits despite their gross demerits and limitations. However, ONLY CHRIST EFFECTUALLY SAVES US ETERNALLY FROM EVERY BONDAGE TO
ORDINANCES
 (sinful repercussions and evil powers) AGAINST US, whether of
Jewish Law and regulations
 or of
Gentile Rudiments and manipulations
 (Gal 3:22-26; 4:1-10; Col 2:9-17). Only the Divine Christ has the ultimate
POWER
 that saves from every bondage to dark territorial PRINCIPALITIES of spiritual error and from every bondage to wicked celestial POWERS of spiritual evil (Eph 6:10-12; 1John 4:1-6). Only Christ has made or could ever have made the valid ATONEMENT/
PROPITIATION
 that saves from human DEPRAVITY, demonic DOMINATION and divine DAMNATION (Col 1:12-23). In summary,
 RELIGION
and
 SPIRITUALITY
 involve the loving reverential submission to either divinely revealed invitation or curious pursuit of mystical exploration for human RELATIONSHIP WITH THE CREATOR, THE SUPERNATURAL AND THE NATURAL.

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