Sunday, June 17, 2012

Is Mother Teresa Less Of A Christian Because She Respected Other Religions?

I have no interest in Christian theology, but I'll explain the relevance of this below.

Christian blogger Tom Challies blogs about what he considers The Myth Of Mother Teresa, that though Mother Teresa's "legacy will doubtless be as one of history’s great humanitarians," nevertheless:
Upon examination, though, the Mother Teresa portrayed by the media and popularized in our culture is glorified (soon to be beatified) and almost deified. A close examination of her beliefs and the work she did shows that her legacy may be little more than fiction.

...While she worked with the poor, Mother Teresa was adamant that any type of evangelism was unnecessary. In her book, Life in the Spirit: Reflections, Meditations and Prayers, she says:
We never try to convert those who receive [aid from Missionaries of Charity] to Christianity but in our work we bear witness to the love of God’s presence and if Catholics, Protestants, Buddhists, or agnostics become for this better men — simply better — we will be satisfied.
It matters to the individual what church he belongs to. If that individual thinks and believes that this is the only way to God for her or him, this is the way God comes into their life — his life. If he does not know any other way and if he has no doubt so that he does not need to search then this is his way to salvation.” [emphasis added]
With such a statement we can only be left believing that she was more than a Catholic, but was a Universalist, believing essentially that all religion leads to the same God. Time and again we see her expounding such universalist beliefs.
Although Challies accepts that she was a Catholic, the fact that Mother Teresa accepted the validity of other religions outside of Christianity is an issue:
Consider also the following quote from another source, “I love all religions. … If people become better Hindus, better Muslims, better Buddhists by our acts of love, then there is something else growing there.” Or in another place, “All is God — Buddhists, Hindus, Christians, etc., all have access to the same God.”

We see, then, that Mother Teresa held beliefs that contradict many Biblical principles. [emphasis added]
Obviously, the Biblical principles referred to here are Christian Biblical principles.

It should be mentioned that Challies also claims that despite "tens of millions" of dollars donated to her charities each year, Mother Teresa's facilities were very rudimentary and no real health care.

Yet Challies is in no way accusing Mother Teresa of theft, and in his conclusion Challies' issue is theology:
she [Mother Teresa] provides us with an example not of a Christian responding to God’s call, but an example of deeds of charity and compassion completely separated from the Truth.
This truth, according to Challies, should have driven Mother Teresa to convert those she helped--much in the way that evangelists believe they are required to convert others to Christianity, especially Jews.

I blogged last week about the Southern Baptist Convention Resolution On Jewish Evangelism, according to which:
Whereas our evangelistic efforts have largely neglected the Jewish people, both at home and abroad, and there is evidence of a growing responsiveness among the Jewish people in some areas of our nation and our world; now, therefore…be it finally resolve, that we direct our energies and resources toward the proclamation of the gospel to the Jewish people.
This resolution is used to justify the attempt by Southern Baptists to convert a 12 year old Jewish boy, as reported back in 2006 in a segment on ABC's 20/20:

The approach by the ministers in the video, which included the admission by one minister that he had no problem with using deception in order to convert other, apparently struck a chord with viewers.

A positive, approving  chord.

According to an article in The Baptist Standard (misdated May 2000), '20/20' focuses on Texas church, SBC:
ABC News posted a synopsis of the program on its website following the program's airing and included a reader poll asking if it is "acceptable for evangelicals to try to convert children under the age of 13." By mid-day Monday, May 15, 60 percent of more than 5,300 respondents said yes, and 40 percent answered no.[emphasis added]

The bottom line is that ministers such as those in the video are accepted, while there is opposition to Mother Teresa because she not only did not proselytize, but she openly stated her respect for other religions.

Such chutzpah on her part apparently does not bode well for the reputation of Mother Teresa.

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