Thursday, October 11, 2012

Together in the New Jerusalem (4 of 4)

We often hear that we were once a violent race that killed people who believed in other gods. Then we made a great compromise. Some great peacemaker suggested Pluralism, “If you just say that your all-powerful god isn’t all-powerful, we’ll do the same; our gods can share the sky.” And so, by compromising on God’s power, we achieved a cease-fire. And some would advocate that we again accept it. But the advocates are often humanists, and as it is said in business, beware the naked man who offers you his shirt; so now, beware the atheist who offers you his god. Pluralism was a reasonable compromise for two monotheists, but not for an atheist and a monotheist. But what can we compromise on? How can we have peace?

The unique solution to our dilemma is to put our faith in Peace embodied. Jesus came and was the Prince of Peace, and he founded a religion with just the structure to meet the need of our species. The one place where Christianity cannot compromise is where everyone else can (doctrine). Where everyone else cannot compromise, Christianity can. So my dear reader, if your heart is to reconcile all religions, you have the heart of Christ. And if you seek a path that can satisfy all people, you can find it in Christ. And if you seek to bind together all the diversity of humanity in a wonderful unity, your desire can be satisfied by the Church.

Muhammad desired that men might learn humility before God. Christ humbled Himself unto death and bids His disciples do likewise. Confucius was looking for social order. Christ founded His Kingdom on Love to bring perfect order. The Buddha sought an escape from suffering. Christ bore our suffering on Himself, and promised a Resurrection unto joy. Hinduism sought an escape from the unending circle of reincarnation. Christ adjures us to take the straight and narrow path to the Holy City. Yoruba religion sought reconnection with God, others, nature and destiny. Christ tears the curtain of separation between God and man, and demonstrated how love can tie us intimately with all around us. Judaism seeks a Messiah to bring Israel back from Exile. Christ is that Messiah. Laozi was searching for the Way. Christ said “I am the way.”

Many visions of the afterlife, though beautiful in many ways, turn out to be narrow. The blissful unity of Nirvana is wonderful, but it would certainly exclude a man as passionate as Jesus. Buddhist ideas of inner peace are profound, but Muhammad was far too aggressive to find it. The pleasures of Muslim Paradise are easy to yearn for, but the Buddha wouldn’t know what to do with virgins and wine. The freedom and formlessness of the Dao is beautiful, but not a beauty that Confucius with his focus on about cities and politics would appreciate. The structure of Muslim Sharia establishes a firm public order, but not one that Laozi would ever have submitted himself to. There are strange truths present in the words of the mystics, but Rabbi Hillel would much rather know by reasoning. We have all felt the bottomless despair of death so well captured by Greek Hades, but Socrates could never accept an afterlife absent of ultimate justice. But the New Jerusalem is big enough to fit all these men.

In a Christian Heaven we might see, standing at great gates of pearl, Plato and Augustine discussing the City of God. In Heaven, the Buddha may sit silently with St. Benedict and the Desert Fathers under the Tree of Life. In Heaven, Hippocrates may gather leaves of healing with Maimonides and Dr. Livingston. In Heaven, Hector may wrestle with Joshua and Arjuna. In Heaven, Gandhi may join Moses and Dr. King on a freedom march down streets of gold. In Heaven, Solomon, standing in the court of the Final Temple, may explicate the finer points of his administration to Muhammad and Confucius. In Heaven, Laozi may wander with St. Francis and Adam, following the Dao through wondrous Eden.

<== Back to The Universal Church (3 of 4)

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