Monday, March 30, 2015

Is Christianity Just Another Religion of the World?

Orthodox Christianity fulfills the search of all peoples for meaning in life. It is based on the revelation of God and His truth. As Bishop Augoustinos says, it is the end all of all religions as human constructions. We do not follow the creation or teachings of any human being, but God Himself. This is the essence of the Gospel. Orthodox Christianity is not just another religion.

Bishop Augoustinos writes,
“In the Orthodox view, Christian Faith is not a “religion” (except in the conventional everyday use of the word). It is the fulfillment of all religions in their search for divine truth and human meaning as inspired by God’s law written on human hearts. In this understanding, God’s Gospel in Jesus is the end of all religions as human constructions, however good and inevitable they are in their desire to deal with life’s mysteries and to comprehend the ways of God (or the gods) and creatures in a demon-riddled, death-bound world.”
Our faith is not in conflict with reason and nature but is beyond. It is about the mystery that is behind all reason and nature. Bishop Augoustinos writes,
“Christian faith and life, as witnessed in apostolic Scripture and the lives and teachings of the saints, belongs to a “new creation” (Gal 6:15 ; 2 Cor 6:17). It does not belong to “this age” whose “form is passing away” (1 Cor 7:31). It is “from above” and leads always to what is “beyond.” It is not from human beings, and it transcends human history. It is not contrary to nature and reason, but surpasses their limitations. It discloses the original nature and purposes of things, reveals their ultimate destiny, and illumines human minds and hearts to “the knowledge of the truth” about God and all things in Him. As such, Christian faith and life is God’s gift of divine truth, light, wisdom, and power given to creatures as completely and perfectly as is now possible within the conditions of the corrupted cosmos.”
To think of the Gospel as no more than one of many books or many religions destroys the truth of the Gospel. It is the recording of the revelation of God's Son who came to earth taking on flesh from a virgin whom God prepared and who voluntarily accepted her role. It is not a story book or a myth. It is about the revelation of God in history.

Fr. Thomas Hopko writes,
“When Christians understand Christ’s Gospel to be but one of humankind’s many religions, even the first, best, and greatest, the Gospel ceases to be what it is. It becomes but another product of sinful humanity in its fallen form: good, true, and beautiful in many ways, yet incomplete and dangerously deceptive. As such, it is inevitably deformed into an ideological mythology, or mythological ideology, employed to promote and defend the “merely human” and, inevitable, sinful persons and societies that use it for this deplorable purpose. This is so whether this Christian religion is fundamentalist and sectarian, or whether it is relativistic and inclusive, seeing itself as no better or worse, and essentially no different from any other.”
Christians are blessed with the record of God's revelation to His chosen people.  It has been revealed not to compete with other religions, but to lead people to unity with God, to show them the way to Paradise. The Son of God had no political power yet He had all the power of the world and more. He lived as a human being and was able to show us the life that is possible if we follow His example and unite our will with His. The Gospel and the events recorded in it are unique in human history. They point us towards the truth that underlies all life.

Reference: Follow Me by Bishop Augoustinos of Florina, Gr.  pp 46-47

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