Monday, June 02, 2008

Tony Blair's new mission to unite the religions of the world

This Telegraph article details former British Prime Minister Tony Blair's new mission to unite the religions of the world. Mr. Blair is quoted as saying:

In an interview with Time magazine, Mr Blair said faith could be “a civilising force in globalisation”, bringing different peoples together to solve the world’s problems.

The disturbing phrase there is "globalization." Religion is often seen as a dividing force in societies and the world at large. We should not be disturbed by this fact since this world is made up of those who believe and who do not, those who are of the Church and those who are outside of the Church (even though God knows those who truly as of the Church, as St. Augustine notes in the City of God). Jesus Himself stated that we ought not think He came to bring peace but rather a sword. A sword divides and cuts. Those who claim that Jesus is concerned with unity to the detriment of truth are in grave error.

Jesus is concerned with unity but the unity He gives us of belief and of faith. Those who believe in Him and who follow Him are united in His mystical Body, His Church. They are one, which is why they share of the Most Blessed Sacrament of His Body and Blood. The Sacrament is one of unity. Those who dissent from Church teaching, those who reject Christ, those who reject Christ's Church, cannot partake of this glorious Bread of Heaven because they have chosen to remain outside of that unified Body of Christ. That is the sword. Some find Jesus as a stumbling block, or as a scandal, and hence He becomes a cause for division in this world.

What is Christ's will for us all in the world? His will is unity in faith in Him. His desire is that all would come to Him, find new life in Him, and thus be born anew into His Church. He desires those who believe in Him to listen to His Apostles and their successors. That is where unity is found.

However, the idea of uniting the religions of the world is extremely dangerous and problematic. What of those who reject Christ and those who believe in Him? Ought they be united? Should darkness and light be brought together? What happens to truth? In this scenario truth is sacrificed to the god of earthly unity.

The article notes:

He added: “The purpose of it is so that we achieve a greater understanding between the different religious faiths, so that we make platforms for action by those faiths and deal with some of the biggest issues in the world — for example the millennium development goals and so on — it should be an interfaith encounter through action."

Is there anything wrong with people of different religions working together to help those in need? Not necessarily. The question is how does this contribute, or detract, from how we view those religions? Is it leading to indifference about what these religions believe? The idea of achieving "a greater understanding between the different religious faiths" most often means downplaying the tenets of each one. I think it is safe to say in a world with such a profound dissemination of information that we understand a lot of what each other believes. The real issue underlying this idea, I believe, is the division of religions. Liberal politicans and those who do not hold the true Faith often think that since we all believe in the same God, or so they think, then there is no reason we should be so divided. That idea begs the question, however, if we do serve the same God. What we believe is based on the One we serve. If our beliefs differ then we have a different understanding of God.

One striking quote near the end of the article is the following:

“What faith can do is not tell you what is right but give you the strength to do it.”

This statement betrays the problem. He is saying, basically, that God doesn't lead us into truth but rather just helps us do whatever we seem to think is good. Truth isn't paramount. There is no obedience to God, Who is Truth. Absolutely Mr. Blair errs here because God does tell us what is right and wrong. The true Faith does inform us of the truth, since it brings us into deep communion with the One Who is Truth. His words betray the fact that "greater understanding between the different religious faiths" really means a unity that disregards and forsakes truth since faith cannot tell is what is right. If faith cannot help us know what is right then the true religion cannot know the truth either. That is a grave error.

Mr. Blair's vision would "show the importance of co-operation between faiths, and it would show what faith can do for progress.” Progress. Globalization. Faith unable to tell us what is right. Greater understanding between faiths. Where do these ideas lead us? Honestly, it is not a very long leap to a one world religion in a globalized world that does not tolerate the true Faith and does not accept those who claim that their Faith - the true Catholic Faith - does in fact lead them to know the truth and to truly know God.

May Our Lord lead all souls to Himself so that they may know the fullness of faith in the Catholic Church, that they may know the truth and enjoy the true unity that comes in the true faith.

Pax Christi tecum.

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