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Compromising the Commandments?

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Sermon for the Third Sunday in Advent (Mattins)

“That which you hate to be done to you, do not do to another.”

Do you agree with that?

Of course you do. Our Lord Jesus commands it, does He not?

What about this?

“My command is thus, that ye shall return all violence and hatred with peacefulness and love, for my Law is love unto all things. Only through love shall ye have peace; yea and verily, only peace and love will cure the world, and subdue all evil.”

That seems right in context, doesn’t it? But there’s something a bit off with the phrasing, isn’t there?

In fact neither is a quote from Holy Scripture. The first was taken from an Ancient Egyptian Papyrus.

The second comes from a Wiccan book.

You’re shocked, aren’t you? And you should be. But why?

[PAUSE]

We know the Ancient Egyptians and the Wiccan religions to be “false religions”. Both are pagan and deny the Truth that Jesus Christ is God and Lord, the He is God Incarnate, born of the Blessed Virgin, was crucified and rose again from the Dead on our behalf. Yet, these pagan religions contain true statements of morality.  God’s command is that we love our neighbour as ourselves.

However, bring in that first commandment, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind,” and other religions might start to struggle. Some, like the Buddhists, will deny the existence of a personal deity. Yet, others might interpret “God” as Ra, Allah, Gaia, or “The Universe.” If we are to be true to this first, most important commandment, then just loving our neighbour as ourselves is not enough. To be a Christian, we must keep both commandments because Our Lord Jesus says so.

This means we need to know Who the Lord our God is.

Who is the Lord our God?

[PAUSE]

You can hear some people in this day and age saying things like, “Oh it doesn’t matter. Some people call Him Allah, others call Him Jupiter. Still others think He is she and call her Gaia. It’s just different names for the same God.”

No.

Big fat no!

If we all really worship the same God, there would not be this confusion about how to worship Him. There would be no doubting the historical person of Our Lord Jesus Christ. There would be no denial of the Holy Trinity. If God reveals Himself to us as the Father, and to others as Allah and still others as Gaia because He is utterly transcendent, then He is a god of confusion. Further, the Incarnation of Our Lord Jesus Christ would mean nothing! The Cross would be utterly in vain.

St Paul is very clear to all Christians.

I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.

That commandment to love God is a commandment to get to know Him as He has shown Himself to be. This is why the Creeds are of vital importance. If we believe Our Lord’s teaching, then we must believe that He is the only true way to God. Other religions certainly can say true and good things especially about how we are to behave, but behaving rightly is not enough. We know that the Israelites are not saved by the Law of the Old Testament that we share with them. We know that we must believe in God before we set about doing the business of doing what He says out of love for Him. Faith must influence what we do, not the other way around.

[PAUSE]

These days we hear of the Q’ran and the Islamic Call to Prayer being permitted in Cathedrals on the grounds of being inclusive and recognising the truth that resides in Islam. But Islam denies the Divinity of Our Lord Jesus, so any truth that it possesses as a religion does not chime with the truth that we Christians believe. If the Call to Prayer acknowledges that Muhammed is the Prophet of God and that Ali is God’s friend, then to accept this in a place of Christian Worship denies the Holy Trinity because Muhammed also rejects Him.

The Cathedral staff have committed heresy and effectively perjured themselves before God in the interests of interfaith relations.

[PAUSE]

Either we believe in God as He reveals Himself in Holy Scripture and the Faith of the Undivided Church, or we don’t. There is no middle ground. Either we commit ourselves to the Catholic Religion or we don’t. Not all religions are the same and they certainly do not point to the same truth about God.

How, then, should we behave with people of different religions? We love them: Christ commanded that. We accept their freedom to choose to believe what they wish to believe, but we keep ourselves firm in the Faith that we have received in Christ Jesus. We allow people to be wrong in their choice, but we do not reject our own choice to be friends with them. We do not try to coerce them into our faith, but we do not compromise one part of our belief for them. We permit the building of their places of worship but we do not enter them if it means rejecting our love for God. We trade with them and talk with them and have them as our best friends but, in the words of St Luke and St Paul, we do not “consume food sacrificed to idols” i.e. we do not join in activities which are contrary to our belief as to Who God is.

However, what we definitely do is preach what the Church has always believed to be true, without skimping, bending, breaking or hiding the Truth. We preach the Gospel, nothing more and nothing less.

This will not offend anyone except those who believe that to love people means giving up our religious beliefs to make a world of peace. They believe this because they cannot understand what “love” means. If other religions believe that we should love our neighbour as ourselves, then they will be happy to allow us to worship God as He commands us in His love. If we wish to convince them of the Truth of the Christian religion, then we must show them Christ Himself living in us, not compromising in His worship of His Father, but seeking to share in the sufferings of others so that He, and He alone, might bring everyone to Eternal Life. Christ wants that for everyone, even those who don’t believe in Him – yet.

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