Thursday, April 20, 2006

On Truth in Faith and Dialogue

Okay, I agree with Edmund Chia that the argument “Christianity is the only religion with a savior who rose from the dead [;therefore] it obviously is the only true religion” is problematic. He says:

“First, how does one arrive at the conclusion that just because of a raised messiah Christianity must be the true religion? Second, is that conclusion suggesting that other religions must be false or at least less true?”

The problem, however, is a simple lack of logic. The fact of the resurrection certainly proves that Christianity is true; it does not necessarily prove that only Christianity is true or that Christianity is the only religion that has any truth.

Nevertheless, if the resurrection of Jesus is true, then any religion that denies the resurrection of Jesus must—at least on that point—not be true.

Furthermore, if Christ really rose from the dead, then that simple fact must surely have some consequence for all human beings, and not just for Christians.

I’m not quite sure if Chia is ready to acknowledge this point.

Nor do I think Reverend W. Neil Wilkinson (Uniting Church minister, Mont Albert) is ready to concede this point. He likes Waleed Aly’s piece in yesterday’s edition of The Age, but he isn’t so sure about the idea that it is

“emphatically unremarkable that a cardinal would make an exclusive claim to truth on behalf of Christianity, which by definition implies deficiencies in other theologies. Indeed, as much is claimed by proponents of most great religious traditions.” (It certainly is of Islam!)

In today’s Letters to the Editor, Rev. Neil says:

“While friendly bridge-building is important, religious leaders need to get beyond the footy supporters' position of "my team right, your team wrong". Though all major religious traditions are important, no tradition has a monopoly on truth. The sooner we humbly admit this and learn to value the spiritual insights and understandings of each other, the sooner serious dialogue will begin and people learn the sacredness of peace. God, by whatever name, will surely then smile upon us.”

The resurrection of Jesus, however, is not a “spiritual insight” among other spiritual insights. It has a quality which Papa Benny called (in his Easter Vigil Homily):

“the greatest ‘mutation’, absolutely the most crucial leap into a totally new dimension that there has ever been in the long history of life and its development: a leap into a completely new order which does concern us, and concerns the whole of history.”

Surely such a “new order” does call into question the spiritual insights of the old order, even in the context of “friendly bridge-building”?

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