The main danger, however, of living in our multi-faith and multi-cultural environment is syncretism. This can be defined as “the tendency to reconcile differing religious beliefs in order to create a universal religion.” Such mentality appears to be spreading in both Europe and America. A few years ago there was the famous case of an Anglican vicar who, having returned from a trip to India, happily announced that he was also a Hindu. He was eventually defrocked.
Words such as “globalisation” and “global village” describe our world as being closely inter-connected, due to great mixing of populations and fast means of communication. In our country now most of the world’s religions are well represented and an inter-faith dialogue continues to take place, which is both good and necessary. It’s through dialogue that participants listen, talk and try to understand one another, resulting, hopefully, in mutual respect, cooperation and peaceful coexistence.
The Need for Dialogue
The Second Vatican Council encouraged us to dialogue not just with other Christians but also with non-Christian believers. For dialogue to be genuine, however, it needs to take place in an atmosphere of frankness, respect and acceptance of differences. But courtesy and respect do not mean we have to agree with other religious views by downgrading our own.
Traps to be avoided
Such relativism can be a trap in dialogue, when one thinks: “It doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you’re sincere about it.” You can be sincere and wrong at the same time. Perhaps by thinking this way, one is ducking out of frank religious discussions because one feels it is impossible to achieve any certainty in religion.
Another trap is thinking: “All religions are basically the same and they all lead to God.” Such truism sounds attractive but is too simplistic. One may feel that only by minimising differences and practising tolerance can we prevent prejudice. But while religions do have many elements in common, to ignore crucial differences is to lead to confusion, loss of identity, loss of faith and even serious conflict.
Sadly many Christians today present Jesus primarily as a moral teacher, at the expense of his mystical and divine attributes. This is giving too much into liberal thinking and the pressure by atheistic scientists who accuse Christianity of not being “reasonable” enough. Thus Jesus is deprived of any uniqueness and is regularly and mistakenly compared to other “prophets”.
(© JS, 2012, article previously published in Catholic Today, 12 February 2010, reproduced here with permission)
Jihad - Qital - Holy War: Part 1 Introduction
Jihad - Qital - Holy War: Part 2 Jihad, Meaning and Forms
Jihad - Qital - Holy War: Part 3 The Qur'an"
Jihad - Qital - Holy War: Part 4 The Hadith
Jihad - Qital - Holy War: Part 5 From Mecca to Medina
Jihad - Qital - Holy War: Part 6 Muhammad and the Jews of Medina
Jihad - Qital - Holy War: Part 7 Muhammad and the Jews Banu Qaynuqa
Jihad - Qital - Holy War: Part 8 Muhammad and the Jews Banu Al-Nadir
Jihad - Qital - Holy War: Part 9 Muhammad and the Jews Banu Qurayza
Jihad - Qital - Holy War: Part 10 Jesus Christ and Muhammad: Opposition, Mockery and rejection
Jihad - Qital - Holy War: Part 11 Jihad of the Sword, the Lesser or Greater Jihad
Jihad - Qital - Holy War: Part 12 The importance of Jihad available soon
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