This is just to follow on from my earlier posting, because I am a priest belonging to an orthodox (little “o”) Christian Church, and have responsibility in regard to my Bishop and the faithful in our Diocese who read my blog. It may seem tempting to let everything go and repudiate Christianity entirely on account of those who misinterpret it and abuse it. Many do.
I invite the reader to consult two pages on Wikipedia, which can point our way to some more serious theological reading. The first is the notion of anonymous Christianity and Karl Rahner, one of the leading influences at Vatican II. The second is the more general notion of Inclusivism. The word is highly controversial, so I will qualify it for the purpose of this posting. It is often used to promote feminism, transsexualism and homosexuality. This is not my purpose. I quote the article on two types of inclusivism:
Traditional Inclusivism, which asserts that the believer’s own views are absolutely true, and believers of other religions are correct insofar as they agree with that believer.
Relativistic Inclusivism, which asserts that an unknown set of assertions are Absolutely True, that no human being currently living has yet ascertained Absolute Truth, but that all human beings have partially ascertained Absolute Truth.
I think that we Christians cannot escape the notion that Christ’s Gospel message and the Mystery of his divine incarnation, passion, resurrection, ascension and the Parousia are absolute truths. Otherwise, what’s the point? I would go along with the notion that people who are not Christians (or who have left Christianity under the influence of bad experience) or who belong to other religious traditions participate to some extent in the one truth of Christ in spite of being Hindus, Muslims or whatever.
The consequence of such a view would be to continue our Christian witness through the virtue and holiness to which we aspire and make sincere efforts to attain with the help of divine grace. We would allow non-Christians to see and sense what we believe and do, and respect them if they do not convert to the Christian way. We would no longer consider their faith as bogus or evil, nor would we feel we have the right to treat them as sub-human or subject them to constraint.
We need to think a lot about these matters and refine and develop the theories of men like Rahner and others, integrating them into a traditional notion of liturgical and sacramental Christianity. I certainly intend to do more reading on this subject.