Creating a World of Peace - The Thought and Works of Sun Myung Moon by Joon Ho Seuk

Volume 7 - The World Religions and Peace - World of Peace [Part 5 of 9]

4. Unity and Diversity

Most textbooks on world religions treat each as a distinct entity and emphasize its uniqueness. The relativism that pervades Western education distrusts universal patterns, and scholars focus on the expressions of truth that are unique to each religion. Yet, there are points of convergence, especially in values. Certain themes characterize the common ground which religions share.

In World Scripture: A Comparative Anthology of Sacred Texts, passages from the scriptures of the various world religions are arranged by theme, providing an endless source of comparative material, with introductory overviews and comments to illuminate the meaning of difficult passages. World Scripture, which was commissioned by Reverend Moon, creates a common ground of religious understanding, which people from each religion can recognize for themselves and on their own terms. Editor Andrew Wilson observes a remarkable amount of convergence. He calls these commonalties Ten Points of Unity (see below). These include the belief that the universe is moral and purposeful, that human beings are subject to spiritual laws, and that each person reaps the fruit of his or her deeds. Most fundamentally, all share the conviction that there exists an Ultimate Reality or transcendent God that defines the purpose and meaning of life, and to which human beings are related.

Writing in the Introduction to World Scripture, Andrew Wilson notes that it is significant for the believer of one faith to find in other faiths common teachings and common attitudes towards life, death, and ultimate ends.

Ten Points of Unity among the Worlds Religions

From World Scripture: A Comparative Anthology of Sacred Texts. New York, NY: Paragon House, 1991.

1. There exists an Ultimate Reality, or transcendent God, which defines the purpose and meaning of life, and to which human beings are related.

2. The universe is moral and purposeful, human beings are subject to spiritual laws, and each person reaps the fruit of his or her deeds.

3. Each person has an eternal destiny, a life hereafter; the cosmos includes various spiritual realms.

4. There is a highest goal (salvation, enlightenment, liberation, wholeness) which is potentially within the reach of every person.

5. Human beings are tarnished by an evil condition that prevents people from reaching the highest goal unaided.

6. Each person is free and responsible for his or her personal growth, yet can never fully realize that freedom unless the aforementioned condition of evil is dealt with.

7. Each person has ethical obligations in the contexts of family, society, and the natural world.

8. To become a moral person, one should train oneself to control the body and practice self-denial.

9. The way of goodness includes an ethic of love and self-sacrifice. The fullness of spiritual truth goes beyond this common ground and includes the teachings of the historical religions.

10. Knowledge of Ultimate Reality and the path to salvation comes to us through the unique founders of religion, who were given insights and revelations transcending ordinary knowledge attainable through reason alone.

It is notable that these points of unity focus on personal morality, especially self-denial, goodness, love, ethical obligations, purposeful living and obedience to spiritual laws. For thousands of years, the moral exhortations of the worlds religions have been clearly and prominently proclaimed.

The move toward genuine religious dialog and cooperation began relatively recently but has moved forward. The Roman Catholic Church, for example, first blessed tolerance as a civic virtue only in 1965, at the close of the Second Vatican Council. Each of the great religions has created, almost from its inception, a colorful spectrum of voices that range from pacifist to terrorist. But each religion holds within it the potential for development and adaptation. These developments have many digressions, but they run almost inevitably from exclusive militancy to inclusive peace. With occasional steps sideways and backwards, each religion has been learning over the ages that it must find a way to live with its heretical offshoots and with other religions. It cannot engage the whole world except in love.

But what should be the focus of such inter-religious dialog? What is the practical basis for a common focus? Islamic scholar Muzammil Siddiqi argues that that goal should be nothing less than a global ethic

"I believe that religious dialog is a supremely ethical enterprise. The objective of such dialog is not only to learn the facts about other people, their faiths and traditions but also to clear the world community of prejudice and misunderstanding and to establish human fellowship based on fairness, justice, and goodwill. Religious dialog should help us take practical steps toward establishing a global ethics that will bring about social, economic, and political justice as well as ecological balance and responsibility."
(Muzammil Siddiqi, "Global Ethics and dialog Among World Religions: An Islamic Viewpoint," Ethics Religion and the Good Society: New Directions in a Pluralistic World, Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1992, p. 178.

A Global Ethic

From Chung Hwan Kwak Chairmans Address, Universal Peace Federation, Seoul, Korea, February 2006.

At this juncture in world history, we need to develop a global ethic, centering on core, universal values. One such value, which is at the heart of every religion and all the great philosophies, is the principle of unselfish love, living for the sake of others. 

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