From time to time, I have the opportunity to attend formal receptions, where there are Christians, representatives of other religions, and figures from the different denominations in our country. Good-sounding speeches resonate at such gatherings. What actually puzzles me every time I participate is the dominant speech given by Christian leaders or Christian clergymen at such meetings.
Such speeches are characterized by sublime talks about fraternity and co-existence among people of the same country despite their different religions; nothing is wrong with that. On the contrary, religious polarization prevails in our community more than any other time in history. Isolation and insularity of people of the same religion is common and disturbing. These speeches that are calling for love, respect, and friendliness seek to fight the general fragmentation atmospheres.
However, these speeches are also characterized by a dangerous diminution of Christian faith; aiming at appeasement of other religions and making the differences between those religions and Christianity seem foggy or even invisible. Those leaders and clergymen aim at sycophancy of believers of other religions, so they deny their faith and creed by presenting only what is common between religions. They even dare to produce a modified copy of our faith that does not match our intact faith.
At such occasions and on hearing such speeches, I recall what the Apostle Paul said: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile”. (Romans 1: 16)
This phenomenon is not limited to speeches in such parties but it reaches out to public space – the ultimate flattery yard.
Mentioning the name of Jesus and quotes from the Bible are rarely heard in such meetings while believers of other religions often have more courage and are not ashamed to explicitly recite and quote from their holy books. The same applies to prayer even at receptions celebrating Christian feasts.
This shy shaky approach suits more the mentality of Dhimmis (non-Muslims living in an Islamic state with legal protection) by which Christians and Jews had lived in Islamic countries for 14 centuries, and it served the purpose of minority flattering majority. Tolerance was very limited under many Caliphs, so Christians had to bow their heads, walk fearfully and continually asking for God’s protection. Unfortunately, the Dhimmis atmosphere still prevails all over our East.
I do not claim that in such occasions, we are required to highlight differences and argue with others, or that we should turn such meetings to focus on challenging and provoking others. Yet, they should not target hiding the truth of our faith just to cope with those who do not have the same faith, in the name of false fraternity built on semi-truths. It is necessary to highlight values and beliefs that form a common ground but this should only happen after believers of other religions come to know the basics of creed and beliefs of others without fear and with respect to those who are different from us.
However, this approach that portrays Christianity as close theologically to Islam, Judaism, or Druze is not genuine and it deceives non-Christians making believe false doctrine. This is usually clear in underestimating Jesus as others call him a “prophet”, or “lord”, though He is much more than that – He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords; He is the Savior of humanity, The Creator and The Redeemer. Some other times this approach is shown when the Bible is put at the same level with the books of other religions.
This distortion of the truth of our faith directly relates to how others view the identity of our faith and this distortion presents it falsely. Thus, our Christian identity can seem incomplete, amputated and not respected in the eyes of others. It is a kind of “blended” Christianity, where the waters of the river of Jordan is mixed with waters of the rivers of Abana and Pharpar ; or where an alien fire creeps into the fire of the Holy Spirit. This amputated presentation of our Christian faith is also a betrayal of the faith we got from the Saints who got it from The Lord Himself and His apostles. It is also a reason for confusion of misled Christians as the truth and core of our faith are not clear before their eyes; they do not know what is common with other religions and what is unique to Christianity. The same applies to non-Christians. It is a great message of God that offered salvation to humanity, and we should keep it pure.