What religions believe in Christ

Christian Faith and Non-Christian Religions

3. The religions in the light of Christian-theological key differentiations

God encounters in the Christian experience of faith as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. That is why, with the evangelical understanding of religion, there are also three dimensions of differentiation between what God does and what people do. They are here as constantly abandoned key differentiations understood, which are applied to the relationship of the Christian religion to the other religions. It works

  • to the theological Basic differentiation between God and man or between God and his creationwhich stands in the way of all attempts by man to "be like God",

  • to the christological Concretization of this basic differentiation, in which the gracious God accepts sinful people, although they are guilty of the presumption of "being like God" through excessive, quasi-divine and inhumane acts,

  • and about the pneumatological Concretization of this basic differentiation, in which the Holy Ghost Empowers people Gospel To give the first word of the gracious grace of God in all contexts of life and to understand all human expressions from this.

In carrying out these key differentiations, Christians become self-evident in their lives. In this way they also encounter people who follow another religion and the religious beliefs that are effective in this religion. What this means for the encounter of the Christian faith with other religions, with the people who live in them, for the orientation of Christian communities and for dealing with people of other religions in society, should now be addressed in the problem areas of the Relationship of the Christian faith to other religions will be clarified to some extent.

3.1 The religions and the creature of God

According to the Christian understanding, the fact that all human beings are God's creatures establishes an original solidarity between human beings.

There are, however, anthropological theories that suggest that people are incapable of this solidarity with all people. Their affection for others is limited to a certain circle of people, race, the region of the earth in which they live, and even social status. For such theories, inter alia to speak that people exclude other people, drive them out of their environment and impose strange living conditions on them with political and economic power.

Wherever people make the best of it, globalization helps universal solidarity to break through. Its dark sides, however, which have their origins in a ruthless economic expansion without sufficient political framework conditions, conflict with solidarity and cause an ever-increasing imbalance between the rich and poor in this world. In addition to Christians, people of other religions are also affected. In no case should one underestimate what this means for the religious sentiment of the poor on earth, which has grown over a long period of time. The fact that many of them seek refuge in the rich countries of this earth in the face of hardship and misery and the conflicts that this triggers is not least the reason why so many people in our society live with a different religion.

In view of this, the Christian belief in the Creator who is close to all human beings is challenged to a self-critical perception of a development that leads to the progressive impoverishment of most of humanity and threatens to destroy the natural foundations of life for all human beings on this earth. He advocates that global processes are designed and controlled in such a way that they benefit God's creatures and his creation. For his relationship to people who follow another religion, this means: He emphasizes that every person has an undisputable right to be there and to lead a life worthy of his creature nature. He welcomed the existence of every creature of God and thus also the existence of every human being of a different religion. That's the cantus firmus of the Spirit that proceeds from the Gospel and by which the Christian communities must allow themselves to be determined with regard to the legal and political dealings with people of other religions in our society.

The Christian understanding of every human being as a creature of God justifies the inviolability of human dignity and prompts Christians to come to an understanding with other religions as to whether their religion does not also contain impulses that coincide with the intention of Christian belief in creation and can therefore be brought to bear together. Christians will ask members of other religions whether and how they are able to affirm or at least recognize human dignity and human rights based on their requirements. In relation to Judaism, on whose biblical foundations the Christian belief in creation is based, Christians can even be certain of a great deal of agreement in this respect to God as the Creator of all human beings lead to statements that tend to agree, as the Muslim criticism of terrorist Islamic fundamentalism has just shown. It is true that there are profound differences in the understanding of the Creator of the world, which have an impact on the assessment of reality and the conduct of human life. Nevertheless, this basis of Muslim faith will continue to have an important role in understanding the dignity and rights of every human being.

Conversation about belief in creation, on the other hand, is more difficult with Buddhism and Hinduism, which either do not have such a belief at all or only in a strongly relativized way. As a result, on the one hand, they are surprisingly able to open themselves to the evolutionary understanding of reality, as it is promoted by the more recent natural sciences, but cannot understand human life as a life in responsibility to the one creator of the world. Nevertheless, in the rich texts and above all in the piety of these religions, testimonies of humanity according to creation and respect for creation in general are encountered. In the light of the Christian faith, they can be considered as character the creative presence of God. Such signs can even deepen or expand the Christian understanding of God's creature and the Creator. Because this understanding always knows to be different from the reality of the Creator himself. That is why it is open to the fact that its closeness to all people can also be found in an abundance of concrete executions of human life - including human spiritual life! - reflects.

The theological interest in God's creature, as encountered in religions with and without an explicit belief in creation, is also with a critical attention to the Self-disfigurement connected to man who contradict his creature nature. People abuse their freedom to religion by assuming a quasi-divine authority over other people or by falling short of the rich possibilities of their creature. With regard to such distortions of the human being, which are first perceived in one's own Christian religion, but then also in the other religions, the Christian faith persistently brings the Creation theological guiding differentiation to validity, which aims equally at the creatural dependence of man on God as well as his independence and his dignity. People should not become violent idols to other people! Rather, they should flourish in the rich possibilities of their creatureliness and help each other to develop more intensely.

3.2. The religions and the truth

In the understanding of the Christian faith, truth is not primarily a correctness formulated in sentences. Truth is an event in which what one can absolutely rely on happens. According to the Christian understanding, the truth occurs in the revelation of the living God who saves from sin in Jesus Christ, who through the work of the Holy Spirit creates the liberating faith: the truth saves and heals. The Christian Church testifies to this truth, even when it refers to other religions. Christians stand up for them when they meet people of other religions. If the Church and Christians were to do without it, they would basically have ceased to be Church or Christians. For the testimony of this truth is an indispensable part of Christian faith itself. Only through the testimony of faith can the history of Christ be made known in the world. It is only through the testimony of faith that saving truth becomes present in such a way that faith arises anew.

There is not only a difference, but also a contrast to other religions. It becomes visible in the fact that other religions, because of other religious experiences, Jesus Christ not as an event of truth able to recognize in which the salvation of the whole world has taken place and is taking place. The persistently painful original form of this opposition is the rejection of Jesus Christ as a decisive, saving event of truth in the human being Judaism. The fact that there are other religions, even religions that arose and are emerging in the time after Christ, is also not just an expression of welcome religious diversity. Rather, it is decidedly disputed here that Christian faith emerges from the experience of truth, which is decisive for the whole world. In spite of all efforts to reach an understanding between the Christian faith and the religions, one should not hide this. But if Jesus Christ is really about truth, then Christian faith cannot react to this situation in such a way that it reduces the truth of the Christ event to a partial truth. A little truth is no truth at all. So how does the Christian faith deal with the contradiction of the religions to the truth experience of the Christian faith?

The Christological concretization of the guiding differentiation here shows the way that relieves the Church and Christians of opposing the religions with a so-called “absolute claim” to the truth. That would be a claim that believers have at their disposal in their subjective appropriation of the truth and that they turn against other religions and the people who follow them with the use of worldly means. Unfortunately, the history of Christian mission is rich in events in which the truth of the Christian faith has been represented in this way. This is rightly held up against Christianity to this day. Judged from the theological point of view, such processes are a matter of truth possessed and put into practice by people and thus the work of sinners. Truth as an event, however, never becomes a human possession. It concerns people in the free self-presentment of God in the Holy Spirit. One “has” it only because and insofar as one is gripped by it, that is, through it is made free for God and true before God. It cannot be forced or demanded, but only realized in freedom. And only by learning to differentiate your own opinion, wanting, wishing, feeling and doing from this liberating truth of God through faith, you can orient your life towards it, shape it from it and represent this truth towards other people.

In this regard, Christians are in the same position as people with other basic religious experiences. You are yourself dependent on the event of truththat they testify. You will have to make this as clear as possible in your encounter with other religions. Their teaching, their way of life and their orders are not the true religion. They are the attempt to humanly correspond to the experience of God's truth. Accordingly, Christians cannot and do not want to use their religion to force the "arrival" of this truth among people who believe differently in religion. With their religion they do not want to erect a wall between themselves and people of other religions. By speaking of this truth, they indicate that it can only occur in the freedom of God. Yes, they encounter other religions in the expectation that there will also be experiences with this truth in some way.

This expectation in turn also implies the critical question of the specific manifestations of other religions, whether their particular religious experiences actually contribute to them openness for the event the truth, rightly God To be called truth deserves to empower. There are religious currents where this may well be the case. But there are also other religious currents that have definitely tied their experience of truth to doctrinal, cultic and ethical determinations. With regard to the latter, it is certainly necessary to assert the insight that the claim that we have experienced God in truth cannot mean that God has placed himself at the disposal of people. This affects the event character of God's truth, without which the use of the word “God” is basically meaningless. Precisely because all religions relate to one in some way epiphany Called to God, the divine or an ultimate, nameless reality, the problem of such a call can be made clear by its "channeling" in the lived religion and its convictions. In such “channeling” - as the wrong ways of Christianity show - it is in danger of missing the event character of truth.

The openness for truth to happen, however, cannot mean that it is only understood in a contourless indeterminacy that repels everything that is historically concrete. Every religion lives from the fact that it traces the mysterious, inaccessible, chaotic or senselessly experienced dimensions of reality back to an understandable and in this sense concrete reason, which it has discovered in a certain historical situation. Only then enables her to live from the truth she has experienced or recognized. This applies to all religions. With their concrete understanding of the truth, they relate to basic historical situations, from which their understanding of God or the basic religious understanding of reality is formed and which shape the way of life of each particular religion. In this respect, the Christian religion does not differ formally from other religions. But it differs in its basic historical situation, in which the event of truth is identical with the story of Jesus Christ. Even if the people who assert this truth abstain from all control over it, this inevitably leads to the aforementioned contradiction in relation to other religions.

After this contradiction has led to terrible clashes and wars between the religions for far too long, the Christian Church in particular must learn anew today to deal with it in a spirit that corresponds to the historical peculiarity of Jesus Christ. That means: Jesus Christ is to be asserted by her in such a way that he under no circumstances incites enmity or fatal arguments. He is the person who makes God's gracious, unavailable closeness to all people historically effective, despite their religious divisions. According to the main christological differentiation, its historical peculiarity must therefore not be degraded to a mere pass-through station on the way to the formation of some kind of human-religious wisdom. It cannot be overtaken because it places the whole of humanity, which is religiously and non-religiously divided, into the reconciling light of closeness to God and gives it a common horizon.

It is not up to Christianity to eliminate the contradiction between religions and the thus understood witness to the truth. According to the evangelical understanding, when it comes to interreligious dialogue, the truth, the justifiability of one's own religious insight and that of other religious opinions, must be freely contested. However, that such dialogues lead to religious dedifferentiation through some methodology is neither to be expected nor to be meaningfully aimed at. It is, however, about breaking down misconceptions about the other religion, trying to understand the particular profile of its foundations and practice, and perhaps discovering dimensions of commonality.

The same applies to encounters between Christians and people who live in the certainties and practical habits of another religion. On the basis of the Christian faith, it will take place in a spirit of openness ready to understand and of courting for an understanding of the Christian faith.Both in this encounter and in those dialogues, however, the actual implementation of the Christological key differentiation in the speeches and behavior of the Church and Christians will then have such an effect that they will not come to terms with any contrast to other religions as the ultimate contrast and with no separator as an absolute limit . Because Jesus Christ does not cease to surpass such contrasts and boundaries in the midst of the sinful divided world with God's forgiving closeness to every human being, he gives him the lasting encouragement to do what humanly possible so that they do not become fatally divided opposites and Growing boundaries.

3.3 The religions and the gospel

The creation theological and the christological guiding differentiations with regard to the relationship of the Christian faith to the religions, because of their trinitarian togetherness, already implicitly bring out the guiding differentiation that is evident in the Christian experience of the working of the Holy Spirit given is. Its importance should be emphasized especially when it comes to questions of the immediate coexistence of Christians, but also of those who are not religiously bound with people of other religions in our society goes. The Holy Spirit is at work here and now. This is why its power of distinction benefits the spirit in which the Church and Christians shape that coexistence in their own circle and in society. You shape it with that Gospel and Not with the law.

This means fundamentally: They do not make the Christian religion a norm in the world for people of other religions to which they must be assigned or even subordinate. They do not qualify them as problematic cases because they do not simply fit in with the culture shaped by Christianity. They do not propagate Christianity to them as a “better”, more enlightened religion that has left the archaic patterns of other religious practices behind. Rather, they see them in the light of the gospel; H. in the clarity of God's lovethat doesn't force people to do anything, but rather freedom creates for the gathering of affirmed creatures. Only in this way can Christian missions be responsible, which would be meaningless if they did not consider the truth of the gospel liberating truth would bring up. Ultimately, this way of meeting people of other religions is based on the Christian knowledge of God.

In Jesus Christ God does not have a dark, incomprehensible and cruel side in which he repels people, and a bright, understandable, loving side in which he turns to them. He has on the cross of Jesus Christ shared the situationin which people have experienced it as dark, incomprehensible and cruel since time immemorial. He also shared the turmoil in which people in different religions try to trace their experiences of the senseless and incomprehensible back to an understandable otherworldly reason. From the point of view of the Christian faith, God who humbles himself always meets at the side of people: with them and there for them. As a result, people of other religions cease to be strangers to Christians, no matter how strange they appear. God is already among them in the form of Human brother, the religion of all people with the basic act of love of God courteous. God does not let his loved ones be taken away by human religions. That is the reason why Christianity does not turn its belief in God against it as a law, but perceives it in the atmosphere of the gospel, in which God, who paves the way for all religions, is already with them.

Of course, this does not mean that the concrete forms of practical piety of people of other religions thereby become insignificant externalities for the view of the Christian faith. They are in fact an expression of a different experience of God and a different comprehensive understanding of reality. They have also become associated with cultural contexts, traditions and institutions in which the other religious belief has taken on such a solidified secular form that the question arises as to what extent the religious practice of the various religions really deserves to be called worship of God.

Respect for people of other religious beliefs also includes contradicting their beliefs if there is reason not to share them and there is reason to express them. But even if similarities are discovered and similarities are perceived, it is not advisable to abstract them from the respective religious conviction context and to pass them off as theoretical or practical transitions between the religions. Even in these commonalities, the specific peculiarities of each religion prevail so that symmetry of the religions with the Christian religion can hardly be achieved in this way. For this reason, Christians cannot participate in the religious practice of another religion with a clear conscience (e.g. perform sacrificial rites, invoke spirits and ancestors, pray to gods and dance in front of them, etc.) in order to have other religious experiences in this way gather or demonstrate the obliging love of God. In this way they would try to treat them religiously and bring them into the twilight. The idea of ​​an “ecumenism of religions” comparable to Christian ecumenism is therefore to be seen as a wrong path.

But also the serious question of whether and under what conditions Christians can pray together with representatives of other religions must be decided in the specific case based on the criterion whether such common prayer gives honor to the liberating truth of the Gospel of God's creative closeness in sinful people or whether it stabs this truth in the back. The considerations in the handout for Living together with Muslims in Germany on the relationship between Christian and Islamic prayer (pp. 41 - 45). There it says: “The differences in the understanding of prayer, which are based on the different image of God and man, cannot be ignored, but must be respected. Because these differences must not be blurred, we have to be humble and accept the limits that prevent us from uniting with Muslims before God in common prayer. But in the sense of human connectedness in a multi-religious situation we can pray side by side with inner sympathy "(p. 44). (3)