Saturday, July 14, 2012
TRUE RELIGION AND FALSE RELIGION, HOW CAREFUL SHOULD WE BE WITH THESE DESIGNATIONS?
There is something about using the term false religion that I find offensive especially when it was directed to me as a young person growing up in the south and from my Protestant friends. Couldn't they have been a bit more sensitive and "politically correct" about what they believed to be the case about Catholicism?
Yet, we as Catholics rightly believe that our Faith is the true faith, the fullness of faith. We believe that outside the Church there is no salvation. For example in heaven is the Church Triumphant, and if there are Buddhists there they are former Buddhists who have been saved through Jesus Christ and His ministry through the Church He founded, especially the Church's ministry of the Word and evangelization, but more importantly of prayer and sacrifice for the living and the dead.
But are Protestant denominations false religions? Is Judaism a false religion? Is Buddhism a false religion and the like?
The Second Vatican Council couched this discussion in Christian, Catholic charity. For Protestants we acknowledge now that if they have a valid Baptism, they are a part of the Catholic Church in so far as that Sacrament and what they hold in common with the Catholic Church as it concerns their beliefs and ministry. We would not call them a false religion, but a religion that needs to be purified and brought into the full communion of the true Church, the true religion.
As it concerns Judaism we would not call them a false religion since Jews are our elder brothers and sisters in the faith and from their many covenants, the new and eternal Covenant was established by Jesus Christ and in and through His ministry and most importantly is sacrificial passion, death and resurrection. Catholicism is the fulfillment of Judaism and Judaism in light of Jesus Christ prefigures Christianity and foretells the coming of the Messiah.
But are there false religions? Certainly and we can name them as Mormons, Church of Scientology,Jehovah's Witnesses and the whole array of neo-pagan religions of the past and present.
But even some of these have a kernel of God's truth in them that could lead their followers to the true faith. Do we have to insult them and push them away by calling the religion a false religion or do we simply say, we are the true religion and let sleeping dogs lie?