Interfaith as a Faith

Discussion in 'Modern Religions' started by DrFree, Dec 19, 2005.

  1. Dream

    Dream New Member

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    I think we've just hit a semantic obstacle, but we can leap over it.

    I think I see what you mean, Netti: I must have some truth, and I must embrace truth. That is also close to the sense in which the synoptic gospels treat truth and light, but it is not the way that John uses light in his writing. He uses light to emphasize a completely different point about humans and truth. I agree with you that truth has to be important to individuals. I also think John agrees with your intent, however his choice of words is different. To read his verse, 'Light' means something not human.

    In the three synoptic gospels, the disciples are a light, according to Jesus, when they do good works. Conversely in John's writings we walk in light rather than being a light source, and the light judges our works. To him, our good work is our walk, and light is something else. It is not a problem: there are just two different uses for light going on. John is not saying that men cannot have any truth but that they can not claim to be a source of it. James also emphasizes this. They both go to some trouble to explain that we should make it clear that we are not the light source, because we are imperfect.

    John's books share some singular usages and ideas apart from the 3 synoptic Gospels of Mathew Mark, and Luke. John's usage of the work 'Light' is the most noticeable difference. In the synoptic gospels Jesus says things like "You are the light of the world." In John, Jesus does not say this; and usage of the word 'Light' is specially reserved for the Son. (A similar preference is detectable in James.) John's light is a light which judges the world. John emphasizes the error in men, contrasting their words against the perfect light that judges men. In James we get the same emphasis. Here light is what gives men power to become sons of God -- the pure truth from God, and it gives life.

    John 1:8 He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.

    John 2:8 Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining.

    James 1:17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
     
  2. Netti-Netti

    Netti-Netti New Member

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    The foundation of all truth is Jesus Christ, who is Truth (1 John 14:6).

    This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all (1 John 1)
    Hi Dream, I wanted to do a little more with this theme. Let's look at the context for the passage you quoted in your Post #177. The passage deals with divine fellowship and embodying the Christ-like nature:
    If we say, "We have fellowship with him," while we continue to walk in darkness, we lie and do not act in truth. But if we walk in the light as he is in the light, then we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of his Son Jesus cleanses us from all sin. If we say, "We are without sin," we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we acknowledge our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from every wrongdoing.

    It seems the issue here is self-deception as something that's being incompatible with authenticity and spiritual growth. It's saying we need to accept personal failings in order to overcome those failings. Which makes sense. I won't take steps to implement correction through remedial action unless I acknowledge an error to be remedied. This is a matter of choice and it is a turning point for becoming increasingly responsible toward G-d. The right decision is the decision to accept the light. But we would not even be able to see the need to make that decision unless we had some truth in us.

    I have to accept the past in order to include it in my frame of reference and give it a chance to offer a directive for my future. From a previous discussion on Grace: "You can grow in the Spirit from this point by continuing to walk in the Spirit" (SG). That is, divine essence can complete your existence through that continuous growth. The directives for growth become apparent through faith, which allows me to recognize the blessings of Grace. It's true that faith is a gift, as is Grace. But again, I wouldn't even see the need to receive these gifts - nor would I choose to receive them - unless I had some truth in me.

    Likewise, the decision to "grow and walk in the Spirit" would not be an option for me unless I had some truth in me. I become more complete as a person by gaining access to the divine essence that allows me to move beyond the past into an authentic future. I gain access through a decision that I can make with an attitude of faith. As we're told by St John of the Cross, we are reluctant to seek forgiveness is because we doubt G-d's willingness to forgive. From that perspective, refusing to confess sin and refusing to harmonize one's possibilities with divine essence) indicates a lack of faith.

    Out of pride or vanity, we also don't like to be confronted with our inadequacies. This would also seem to indicate a lack of faith since pride and vanity are afflicted emotions that would be replaced by a genuine self-acceptance through Grace.

    When I refuse to deal with my past, I end up complicating its hold on me. This is incompatible with what G.B. Paulien calls "our sacred duty to live up to the divine light." As John has described it (choosing darkness versus choosing light), the moment of decision is dualistic: "If we close our eyes to the light for fear that we'll see our wrongs, which we won't let go of, such willful ignorance is a sin against our true nature. On the other hand, if you cherish the divine light, you can be sanctified through the truth and fitted for immortality."

    I think it helps to note here that when I seek forgiveness, it's not just to get down on myself or reject myself on account of my failings. If that's all it was, then repentance would get to be too aversive/negative an experience and I probably wouldn't want to confront my sins. So I think it's fair to say that Confession as a sacrament it not supposed to make people feel bad. Rather, it can help me come to terms with my past through acceptance. It can also help empower me to take responsibility for my future once I've confronted the past and made a decision to learn from it.

    Not to learn from the past and not moving beyond the past is in effect to be limited by it. If I did not have some truth in us, I would not know to use that knowledge as a source of guidance. If I didn't have some truth in me, I would not know that I can become unified as a person through a genuine acceptance of my past, so that I can keep growing in the Spirit.
     
  3. Greydog

    Greydog New Member

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    In parts of Chiapas communities have actually arrived at violence due to some of the religious groups which have entered there. Yes I agree it will have other causes too but some of these groups need to be aware of the impact they have on small rural communities. Any group which proclaims we are right and everyone else is wrong to the point where you should avoid the wrong ones is in my mind a blight on society and in no way a possitive force in this world. That is why for me discussions like these are vital.
     
  4. Dream

    Dream New Member

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    First Netti-Netti, I continue to be grateful for your opposition that one time when I was saying some offensive things in a thread about Islam. I was terribly embarrassed, and it would have been much worse if you hadn't had the heart to say something.

    Now I'll try to summarize what we are talking about, so that I don't get lost when I try reading this again. I summarize only because reading comprehension is difficult for me sometimes, and its a sign of respect for you not an insult. I'm attempting to do the near-impossible, which is to connect with another person on a deep level, part of the reason that I cannot accept you as light but only the original source. This near-impossibility is the foundation of the idea I wished to convey in post 177.

    *Summary*
    We were and still are talking about whether the secular can be considered an interfaith member, and I suggested that interfaith is admitting that we can be wrong. I felt that this was foundational to Christianity. I based it upon limited readings of John, I,II,IIIJohn, James, and Revelation. I did not mention that I think this idea is even more broadly rooted in Christian and Jewish literature, but I do think so. Very big and very foundational.

    If I get your meaning, you object by saying that you have to have at least some truth in you in order to grow and 'walk in the spirit'. You point out the 1John 1:8 is about fellowship by walking in the light. You also said "I become more complete as a person by gaining access to the divine essence that allows me to move beyond the past into an authentic future. I gain access through a decision that I can make with an attitude of faith." You see 'Walking in the light' as confession, willingness to deal with our weaknesses. You say its acknowledging past deeds, too, so that you can become morally fitted for immortality. *End of summary*

    Also Netti, so you can decide how best you'd like to reply you must know that I consider Jesus the man to represent an amalgam of crucified men. It isn't the way I used to believe, but now it is. I come by that belief not from an affiliation with a church, but separately; and I think it is the truth. I don't demand that you believe the same thing, and its not the topic but unless you know that about me a real conversation in depth cannot take place.

    Truth is important and John of the Cross talks about it: 3John 1:3 "For I greatly rejoiced when some of the brethren arrived and testified to the truth of your life, as indeed you do follow the truth." But John and his brother James, the Sons of Thunder, also honor the fundamental truth that truth is from heaven, as is the seed of truth planted in you, which cannot come from another person.
    • "1 John 4:19 We love him, because he first loved us."
    • "James 1:5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him."
    In all of the gospels, that is what really riles up the religious leaders -- the preaching that God's truth does not come through religious leaders anymore. That is why they really, really hate Jesus' ministry! Starting with John the Baptist, the leaders persecute Jesus message and call it demonic, which can be interpreted to mean 'Crazy'. They mistreat the prophets who preach that the high places were being made low and the low places brought up.(Isa 40:4) Jesus says the same thing in a different way to Nicodemus "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." and "The wind blows where it wills, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know whence it comes or whither it goes; so it is with every one who is born of the Spirit."

    Underlying all of these things is that Christians of all kinds must accept the roots of our faith in Jeremiah 31:34 "And no longer shall each man teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, `Know the LORD,' for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the LORD; for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more." In Gospel language, this is "The stone the builders rejected, which became the capstone." It is also, Peter, upon which the church is built. The extremely free and radical nature of the Christian faith is unacceptible to human sentiment, because our minds are small. We reject it very easily, and it is something only a childlike mind can accept. I am talking about an interfaith mind.

    Now what is the light in John? To John it is the ever-radiant source of light, which a human cannot grasp and which barely passes through his hand, and even then is darkened to red. It represents the fact that our fellowship is not based upon what Apollos or Paul say, but upon something higher of which you and I are not the judges.
     
  5. Netti-Netti

    Netti-Netti New Member

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    Dream, I think what I'm getting at is that there is a path of transformation that involves free will and a personal knowledge of Truth. In order to not derail this thread further, I would need to link that to the idea of Interfaith.

    Maybe we should start of with a good working definition of what "Interfaith" is. Contrary to the OP, I don't think it's finding common ground in ethical commitments.
     
  6. Dream

    Dream New Member

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    That is a really good point. It would be nice, by-the-way, if those missionaries could learn in Mexico what you are talking about. Then when the missionaries returned you would be exporting tolerance to the hot-spots in the 'states.

    No, we should not derail the thread. Good point.

    Interaction is where you might start defining a concept of interfaith-as-a-faith. You're saying in order for it to be 'a faith', then personal transformation would need to be based upon interaction. A path of transformation involving free will and personal knowledge is important, but it seems personal instead of inter-personal. Maybe the question is what way does faith depend upon other persons? That would be where interfaith began perhaps. So maybe you are talking about a faith that begins with concepts of inner child - world, inner child + world.
     
  7. Netti-Netti

    Netti-Netti New Member

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    To me the person would seem the most real until real goals of inter-personal has been clarified. The Koran has a interfaith orientation: "O people! Behold, we have ... made you into nations and tribes so that you might come to know one another. (Koran 49:13) I think overcoming defensiveness would be a step in the right direction.
     
  8. Dream

    Dream New Member

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    Seems like stating the obvious. I do not just drop in on people I don't know, because I expect some defensiveness. Defensiveness is part of the whole experience of being separate, like two atoms. Zero defensiveness is zero separate. Why not just merge everyone together, taking away all of their differences? You cannot do that and still have 'Inter'.

    I will allow that translation of a Quranic line may be related to interfaith but probably not. You need to hear some respected holy clerics to rule on that verse before you can be sure what it is about. One verse does not say anything by itself in the Koran, because the verses may not contradict each other. It is a nice thought though.
     
  9. Netti-Netti

    Netti-Netti New Member

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    The remark about defensiveness is obvious, yet a fair amount of online interaction seems intended to maintain it (which is why I mentioned it :)).


    I have no way to attest to someone's holiness. But we are aware that "38 Islamic authorities and scholars from around the world, representing all denominations and schools of thought" prepared and sent Pope Benedict XVI an open Interfaith letter.

    On October 13th 2006, shortly after making his Regensburg address of September 13th 2006, the Pope received the "Common Word Between Us and You" letter that had been prepared by these "Muslim scholars from every branch of Islam" who sought to speak "with one voice about the true teachings of Islam." The Official Website of A Common Word

    The "Common Word" letter now has 552 endorsements from Islamic scholars from all over the world.
    The Official Website of The Amman Message - grand list of endorsements of the amman message and its three points
    “Muslims and Christians together make up well over half of the world’s population. Without peace and justice between these two religious communities, there can be no meaningful peace in the world. The future of the world depends on peace between Muslims and Christians.”

    “The basis for this peace and understanding already exists. It is part of the very foundational principles of both faiths: love of the One God, and love of the neighbour. These principles are found over and over again in the sacred texts of Islam and Christianity.”

    ““Of God’s Unity, God says in the Holy Qu’ran: “Say, He is God, the One! God, the Self Sufficient Besought of all! (Al – Ikhlas 112:1-2).” Of the necessity of love for God, God says in the Holy Qu’ran: “So invoke the Name of thy Lord and devote thyself to him with a complete devotion (Al-Muzzammil 73:8).” Of the necessity of love for the neighbour; the prophet Muhammad said: “None of you has faith until you love for your neighbour what you love for yourself.”

    “In the New Testament, Jesus Christ said: “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One./ And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” This is the first commandment. / And the second, like it, is this: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12: 29-31)

    “In obedience to the Holy Qu’ran, we as Muslims invite Christians to come together with us on the basis of what is common to us, which is also what is most essential to our faith and practice: the Two Commandments.”

    (In Islam)...”the call to be totally devoted and attached to God, heart and soul, far from being a call for a mere emotion or for a mood, is in fact an injunction requiring all-embracing, constant and active love of God. It demands a love in which the innermost spiritual heart and the whole of the soul-with its intelligence, will and feeling – participate through devotion.”

    “The Shema in the book of Deuteronomy (6:4-5), a centrepiece of the Old Testament and of Jewish Liturgy, says: “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!/You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength.””

    “In the New Testament, when Jesus Christ, the Messiah, is asked about the Greatest Commandment, he answers: “But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, the gathered together./Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying,/”Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the law?”/Jesus said to him, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.”/This is the first and greatest commandment./And the second is like it: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” /On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:34-40).”

    “The commandment to love God fully is (thus) the First and Greatest Commandment of the Bible.”

    “There are numerous injunctions in Islam about the necessity and paramount importance of love for – and mercy towards – the neighbour. Love of the neighbour is an essential and integral part of faith in God and love of God because in Islam without love of the neighbour there is no true faith in God and no righteousness. The Prophet Muhammad said: “None of you has faith until you love for your brother what you love for yourself.” And: “None of you has faith until you love for your neighbour what you love for yourself.””

    “Whilst Islam and Christianity are obviously different religions – and whilst there is no minimising some of their formal differences – it is clear that the Two Greatest Commandments are an area of common ground and a link between the Qu’ran, the Torah and the New Testament.”

    “In the Holy Qu’ran, God Most High tells Muslims to issue the following call to Christians (and Jews-the People of the Scripture): “Say: O people of the Scripture! Come to a common word between us and you: that we shall worship none but God, and that we shall ascribe no partner unto him, and that none of us shall take others for lords beside God. And if they turn away, then say: Bear witness that we are they who have surrendered (unto Him).” (Aal’Imran 3:64)”

    “As Muslims, we say to Christians that we are not against them and that Islam is not against them – so long as they do not wage war against Muslims on account of their religion, oppress them and drive them out of their homes (in accordance with the verse of the Holy Qu’ran (Al-Mumtahinah, 60:8)”

    “Muslims recognise Jesus Christ as the Messiah, not in the same way Christians do (but Christians themselves anyway have never all agreed with each other on Jesus Christ’s nature), but in the following way: ...the Messiah Jesus son of Mary is a Messenger of God and His Word which He cast unto Mary and a Spirit from Him..(Al – Nisa 4: 171). We therefore invite Christians to consider Muslims not against and thus with them, in accordance with Jesus Christ’s words here.”

    “Finding common ground between Muslims and Christians is not simply a matter for polite ecumenical dialogue between selected religious leaders. Christianity and Islam are the largest and second largest religions in the world and in history. Christians and Muslims reportedly make up over a third and over a fifth of humanity respectively. Together they make up more than 55% of the world’s population, making the relationship between these two communities the most important factor in contributing to meaningful peace around the world. With the terrible weaponry of the modern world; with Muslims and Christians intertwined everywhere as never before, no side can unilaterally win a conflict between more than half of the world’s inhabitants. Thus our common future is at stake. The very survival of the world itself is perhaps at stake.”

    “Let us respect each other, be fair, just and kind to one another and live in sincere peace, harmony and mutual good will.”

    The complete document here:
    http://ammanmessage.com/media/openLetter/english.pdf
     
  10. Dream

    Dream New Member

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    It really is interesting, Netti Netti. I am wagering a guess that the process required to obtain that document has been in progress many years. It represents an impressive joint effort from the Muslims. Perhaps interfaith really is only for believers. At least this particular effort is an effort by believers to interact with believers of another faith. If interfaith is a successful interaction between groups of different faith, then the secular can not claim to have been a part of it. That is a big win for the religions during a time when the secular is offering everyone unity and peace. So that makes a good argument for defining interfaith to be nonsecular, since it gives less room for the secular to claim responsibility for various successes of civilization and peace.
     
  11. Joedjr

    Joedjr A Sometimes Member

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    Hi Dream,
    For the sake of keeping this here, then interfaith of religions is a key idea. But in the interest of all folks getting it together, I don't see the point of one group (nonsecular) claiming some kind of win over another group (secular). Looking to move forward in some way, trying to squeeze in win into the interaction most likely will cause failure.

    Joe
     
  12. Dream

    Dream New Member

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    Joedjr,

    A more clear way of expressing the win for the religions is that if interfaith succeeds in helping bring peace then everybody wins but interfaith most of all as religion then becomes a peace broker again. The secular typically describes religions as war mongers, so interfaith would offer a counter to that argument if it succeeds. It is still just getting started, but the above letter is interfaith 0.1, a model to start from. It is a slow process because people want to be at peace, but they always have lots of trouble with details. Sometimes misunderstandings halt things momentarily, and everybody involved has to guard their emotions when tempers are stimulated. You don't have to be involved in the process to know that.
     
  13. Netti-Netti

    Netti-Netti New Member

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    What is the unity based on? This question parallels the one I was asking before: what is the ethics based on. I think the basis makes all the difference. In Martin Buber's terms, our challenge is to become more responsible to the divine. Ethical action may be an expression of that.
     
  14. Dream

    Dream New Member

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    Like with anything, you cannot really have just one basis, because people always have multiple motivations. We even get confused about our true reasons for doing things. Politics cannot be avoided for that reason when you're talking about such large shepherded religious groups.

    According to the letter you quoted, the basis is love of God and of your neighbor. Those are terrific faith-based candidates for a basis. Where interfaith is strictly about faith, those are probably it.
     
  15. Dean_Fox

    Dean_Fox New Member

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    Interface is certainly useful in trying to promote tolerance and understanding of other religious views.

    My personal opinion is that if there is a deity that a just one will be more concerned about how one lived one's life rather than how one worshipped them. Of course I could be wrong and then I am in trouble.
     
  16. Mike Maybury

    Mike Maybury New Member

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    I wonder whether there is a better word than Interfaith?
    When studying most of the non-Abrahamic religions I have not found that belief or faith is necessarily part of them. It seems to me that those who depend on one holy book or one founder may require 'faith' to believe.
    The practice of meditation, of which I have more experience, does not require 'faith'.
    The Vedas or Vedanta does not require faith. You read, think, perhaps meditate etc. Perhaps a little guidance from a teacher or book may help. As a humanist or atheist I do not regard these as 'faiths'- perhaps others will differ.
    Have any others ideas for alternatives?
    Multi-cultural?
    Humanity?
    World Views?
    One World- many ideas?
     
  17. Greydog

    Greydog New Member

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    I completely understand what you are saying. I am a polytheistic pagan and our religion is not really based on belief. No one would ever ask you what you believe at the door to see if you could come in. We operate more on what you do. We all follow the same rituals which then bind us together as a group. Much like in the Hindu traditions.
     
  18. Dean_Fox

    Dean_Fox New Member

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    Interesting, I had a debate with a scientologist who was adamant that scientology does not have beliefs, they know. He also said that because they know they don't have faith either.

    Surely we all have a view on the world, be you pagan, atheist, Christian, Hindu, etc which are based on your beliefs. Beliefs cannot be proven and so require faith. A Christian once pointed out that atheists must have faith in the none existence of God; annoyingly for the atheists they don't get to say "I told you so" though.

    Maybe I am getting too bogged down in semantics. :confused:
     
  19. Greydog

    Greydog New Member

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    When I say that our religion is not based on faith maybe I should explain a wee bit. What binds us together is not some idea of orthodoxy ie right beliefs. You must believe this or you can't be in our gang. What hold us together is Orthopraxy - what we do. The act of ritual is the centre of our belief system. We do not really care as to what you believe about the Gods as how can we dare say you are wrong. So what we do id focus our religious response on the ritual work. That is why most Pagans will never ask what you believe but they may be very interested in how you worship your God.
     
  20. InterfaithMonk

    InterfaithMonk Interfaith Cleric

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    Hello, the word is "interspirituality" as articulated by Brother Dr. Wayne Teasdale in his book, The Mystic Heart. There are now spiritual organizations with seminaries claiming that title and moving ahead:

    World Council of Interfaith Congregations,
    Order of Universal Interfaith,
    Universal Order of Sannyasa

    Blessings,
    Rev. Tim
     

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