On January 13, 2014, close to 100 young adults from the Western Region gathered at West 50 Pourhouse and Grille in Mississauga for Theology on Tap West. Fr. Damian McPherson explored the question “Christianity and World Religions: Complimentary or Contradictory?”
To begin, Fr. Damian outlined that the Church does not reject anything that is holy in other religions; it respects the “ray of Truth” that is found within them for “there are seeds of God’s Word sown in other nations.” As such, in following our faith, we must respect those who are following theirs in good moral conscience. Many Christians, self included, get caught up worrying about the salvation of the people we love, so we eagerly seek to help them find Jesus. As we know, all salvation comes from Christ alone and, since all things are possible through Him, even those who believe otherwise are saved through Him (including Pilate, who condemned Him to death!). It is only one who recognizes Jesus Christ as Saviour of the world and explicitly chooses to ignore Him that puts their salvation at risk.
But how does this fit into the call we’ve received from Jesus to “go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19)? One would think that doing this while respecting the beliefs of others is impossible – but, again, all things through Christ! Fr. Damian made it clear that “making disciples” does not require us to force our faith on others; conversion is not our mission. We are called to evangelize by witnessing the Gospel and then allowing the Holy Spirit to work on the hearts of those that are open to receiving Him. Conversion, then, is the work of the Lord.
Fr. Damian left it to us that night to determine whether our faith and world religions are complimentary or contradictory. He explained to us that interfaith dialogue can enrich our understanding of others and of ourselves.
While I can’t claim to have effectively worked out whether our faith compliments or contradicts world religions, what I do know is this: As a Catholic I am called to reflect on why I follow Christ when I could believe anything else. This is what I must share with others. I am called to bring Jesus to everyone I meet by allowing Him to affect them though me. …May we all give God permission.
- Alycia J. Rodrigues