Fr. Neo's White Rabbit
You might call it 'Mere Christianity' with an edge
An even bigger question–is Islam part of the Matrix?
The ultimate message of ‘the Matrix’ is that there is a ‘transcendent unity’ of religions that offer salvation. This is a lie, the lie. This is what we must escape from. The effects of the fall can only be reversed in Christ. I’ve been reading “Fr. Seraphim Rose: His Life and Works” by Hieromonk Damascene and I think that Fr. Seraphim (at the time of this quote, still Eugene Rose) answers this more concisely than I can. I quote:
“The truth revealed to the non-Christian religions is various—each tradition possesses truth, beyond doubt, but in varying measure. The truth of no one tradition can be said to be precisely equal to that of another, and the truth of none may be compared with that of Christianity, which in this respect is unique—a fact which non non-Christian tradition has been able fully to accept. The ‘equality’ and ‘transcendent unity’ of religions is a notion from the modernistic ‘simplistic’ mentality which is incapable equally of understanding the essential differences between religions and of appreciating the uniqueness among them of Christianity, which by comparison with them may, from a certain—and than an essential—point of view, not even be called a ‘religion’ at all.” (p.132)
The blending of traditions, so prevalent today, especially by some in denominations ending in USA, of Islam and parts of Christianity and Pagan tradition are one small example of this syncretic viewpoint. Compared to this sort of blendering, at least Islam is a ‘parent tradition’, and in so being, I regard that it likely contains greater shards of truth within it than modern relativistic syncretism This, however, does not keep it from being one of the perhaps more substantial shadows in the Matrix.
“What is truth?”, asked Pilate. (Jn 18:38) Not in the same conversation, Jesus said, “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (Jn 14:6). We need to agree that the distance from the truth is important. But the distance is not geographic, it is spiritual. Pilate didn’t have the ticket, or like the apostles, he would have “seen” who Jesus was. Our blessing is the location that we have been given to the gospel of Christ. We were born and reared, in my case, embedded in it, as expressed in the Mass. I believe that the issue is election. I’m certain that other parishioners at All Saints in Des Moines, did not “see” what I saw, though they had the identical geographic propinquity to the gospel.
I believe Islam could be another flock, as in “I have other flocks”. I believe that meeting Christ COULD be unavoidable for all, and that “interview” could also include Muslims and Buddhists and Animists and Pagans. With no great certainty can I say that Islam is NOT part of the shadows of the Matrix. My spiritual sense is that there are some Muslims who are ardently following the person they believe to be God. I just don’t know what to do with that.
In our world today, it is apparent that Islam seems to harbor a lot of evil. We are to know the truth presence of the Spirit by its fruits. Looking closely at Islam seems to be a fruitless exercise, so I do not pursue it. For some reason, known only to Him, he has blessed me with propinquity and eyes to see. Praise Him.
Kevin, you say, “I believe Islam could be another flock, as in ‘I have other flocks’.”
But John 10:16 says: “And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice: and they shall become one flock, one shepherd. “
The point being is that there is but one flock, and the one shepard if the One, Christ Himself. I agree that Islamists are potential sheep of another fold, but unless they join the one flock, all is lost.
I am certain that meeting Christ is unavoidable for all, for the day of judgement is coming.
You also mention “With no great certainty can I say that Islam is NOT part of the shadows of the Matrix.”
Islam as a system is but a shadow of full membership in the flock of the one shepard. I called it a more substantial shadow because it does have some elements of truth in it contained in the full life in the flock, such as pious living and even a tradition of askesis, as well as teachings that do reflect some of the true attrivbutes of God. The problem is that without the fullness of membership in the one flock, it may be impossible on that last day to really know the shepard at the gate.
When we move from the ‘system’ of Islam, which I see as a false shadow, a part of the ‘Matrix’, to the individual persons in Islam, is where things become more interesting. Some may have come to know the one shepard in part. I cannot say what God will do on the last days with persons of other faiths, for He is the Almighty Ineffable God.
I can, however, rely with confidence on the truth He has revealed to His church through His Apostles and the Holy Fathers. Any system that conflicts with this ‘narrow way’ puts a follower at risk of eternal loss — and I say this without “looking closely at Islam” because it is not very hard to see conflicts with the Way of the One. Indeed, even some who call Him Lord will realize they did not really know Him on that last day — recognition of the shepard is not enough, we also must do His will. (cf. Mathew 7:21-23).
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