The following is a commentary by CBS News Chief Washington Correspondent Bob Schieffer.
If I wished you a merry Christmas, some would say, `Well, how improper. He’s throwing his religion in my face.’ But I hope I’m not, because to me the Christmas story is a message of love and forgiveness. To me, that means tolerance and respect for others. These are wonderful thoughts but no more admirable than Judaism’s emphasis on values or Islam’s command to help the poor, which to me are just different ways of saying the same thing.
I have come to believe that all the great religions are basically true, all part of the same peace, a conclusion I neither ask nor expect anyone to share. If it matters to you, I am a believer but, like Kirkegaard, I am suspicious of all organized religion because too often it professes to know the mind of God and who could know that?
Well one way would be for God to become incarnate and to tell us. The other way is through scriptural revelation. The whole process of divine revelation is specifically to reveal to us what is on God’s mind. He inspired all the prophets up to and including John the Baptist to preach his revelation. Then he cut out the middleman and told us himself. While it is true that all religions have some aspect of truth, it is also true that different religions have contradictory beliefs. Thus either all religions are wrong or one conforms more to the hierarchy of truths than the others and some contain little truth.
To me, the greatest misunderstanding of religion is held by those who try to impose their beliefs on others and teach their children they are somehow superior to those who do not believe as they believe, which would seem to miss the point of all religion.
I agree with this statement to an extent, but probably not the extent to which he implies. He more than likely has a definition of impose different then mine. Obviously forced conversions are deeply wrong, but many people take this to the extreme where they will not even teach their children what they believe since they should just decide for themselves only. Some people also seem to define impose as any public display of religious beliefs. I would also agree that we should never have a superior attitude over religious beliefs.To be Catholic should be to be deeply humble. That sinners such as us should be allowed under his roof should invoke nothing but thankful praise and to in return pray for all to have the fullness of truth.
Rather than arguing over the details, wouldn’t we all be better off to focus on the values that all great religions share? We’ll find out later who got the details right. The one sure thing I know about all this is that the Christmas story helps me. It reminds me that I am happier when I try to be forgiving rather than revengeful, when I try to be helpful instead of judgmental.
It is also good to see what we share, but to ignore serious differences is to live in a church with rose colored stained glass windows. To find out later who got the details right is a little too late. This ridiculous attitude puts the faith of a suicide bomber on a equal footing with someone transformed by God’s grace. The Christmas story should remind us that we are sinners requiring Jesus death on a cross. The Christmas story starts out in a cradle and ends on a cross and that we should give forgiveness for others because Christ first forgave us. The Christmas story also reminds us that all religions are not the same for some see Jesus as only a man, or s prophet though not a messiah, or an enlightened guru, and Christianity as God incarnate.
So I do wish you a merry Christmas, if you know what I mean.
This would make a perfect secular Christmas card "Merry Christmas, if you know what I mean. (wink, wink)"