In a taped interview in early April, Pope Francis II stated his belief that ALL religions are a path to God. This is a revolutionary concept from the standpoint of the Roman Catholic church, who previously espoused that Catholicism was the only way to God.
The Pope’s statement, at last, opens the door for all the world’s religions to become more interactive, interreligious and ecumenical. Given the many problems and conflicts facing the world today, all people of faith need to work, live and pray together to reduce injustice and forge cooperative relationships to address the world’s problems.
Of course, there was immediate resistance from some of the more conservative, evangelical denominations speaking doom and gloom that this was the beginning of the ‘one world religion’, which would bring about the downfall of the world. Their contention is that there is only one religion, Christianity, and that all others are heretical. They use the John 14:6 Scripture:
- Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Many of the other world religions see the use of this particular scripture (and others like it), to denigrate their beliefs and justify alienation and violence against them. We need to be reminded that
- So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them (Genesis 1:27)
This Genesis text (or a slight variation of it) exists in all religions. All faiths recognize that we are all created in the image of a supreme being, no matter what the creator is called (God, YHWH, Father, Almighty, Creator, Great Spirit, Supreme All-Powerful Gigantic One, perfect being, All Merciful One).
The world’s religions may think of the creator differently, feel differently about his position in their lives, and seek the creator in different ways. But it is universal that we are all related to each other and are brothers and sisters, loving and loved by the Creator.
It is our responsibility, as children of God, to work together to alleviate the suffering in the world, and to love each other. All of us, regardless of our professed religion (or non-faith tradition), are children of our Creator. If we acknowledge foundation of love for one another as creations of God, we can then begin to actively seek dialogue to create peace and restore justice for all people.
It is time for all of us to step beyond our safety zone and get to know people of other religious and faith backgrounds. We need to participate in interreligious activities what will introduce us to the beauty and inspiration of other faith traditions, just as we share our own with others.
It is time to get out of the pews and into the streets to spread the wonderful news that we are all God’s children, and that we are all loved by God, no matter what we call him, and that only together can we being harmony to our earthly home.
I challenge each and every one of you to meet and talk to someone who has different religious and cultural beliefs and seek the common ground we all share.
We are all children of the same Creator – brothers and sisters of the world!
Written for The Crossroads, Saint John’s Episcopal Church in Worthington and Parts Adjacent, Worthington, OH; 17 April 2016