World Scripture, A Comparative Anthology Of Sacred Texts

Editor, Andrew Wilson


The People Of God

Any good society, whether a church or a polity, is united with the Absolute and guided by the truth. Many religions, therefore, regard themselves as the unique people of God, bound corporately in a special, covenanted relationship with the Lord. Indeed, not one but several religions--Judaism, Islam, Christianity, Shinto, and Sikhism, among them--have understood themselves to be 'chosen' by God and uniquely qualified to establish a godly society. Likewise, in Buddhism the Sangha is a special community, distinguished by its discipline and devotion to the Dhamma and blessed by people who have attained the highest goal. A people that recognizes itself to be the focus of God's special concern, or that devotes itself to the exemplary life called for by the truth, also recognizes that it is responsible to manifest the highest standards of faith and behavior. If it does so, it will be the recipient of great blessings.

Happy is the unity of the Sangha. Happy is the discipline of the united ones.

Buddhism. Dhammapada 194

All jealousies have vanished in the company of the saints. All are my friends now, there being no enemy or stranger.

Sikhism. Adi Granth, Kanara, M.5, p. 1299

You are the best community that has been raised up for mankind. You enjoin right conduct and forbid indecency; and you believe in God.

Islam. Qur'an 3.110

Kanara, M.5: On the Pangat, the Sikh communal meal, see note to Asa, M.1 and Sri-ki-Var Mahalla, M.1, p. 280. Qur'an 3.110: The `ummah, the community of all Muslims, is the foundation of the Islamic state and the ideal of a pan-Islamic world state. Cf. Qur'an 3.103-5, pp. 271f.

If you will obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my own possession among all peoples; for all the earth is mine, and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.

Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Exodus 19.5-6

"Many waters cannot quench love" (Song of Solomon 8.7). If the idolatrous nations of the world were to unite to destroy the love between God and Israel, they would be unable to do so.

Judaism. Midrash, Exodus Rabbah

The land of great Japan is the divine land. Through the divine protection of the gods, the country is at peace. And through the reverence of the nation, the divine dignity is increased.

Shinto. Records of Princess Yamatohime

"And you are My witnesses, says the Lord, and I am God" (Isaiah 43.12). Rabbi Simeon ben Yohai taught, "If you are 'my witnesses,' I am the Lord, and if you are not my witnesses, I am not, as it were, the Lord."

Judaism. Midrash, Pesikta de Rab Kahana 102b

You are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built into it for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

Christianity. Bible, Ephesians 2.19-22

Jesus... said to them, "Who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter replied, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." And Jesus answered him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."

Christianity. Bible, Matthew 16.15-19

Exodus 19.5-6: Cf. Deuteronomy 6.80-8.20, p. 1084; Sanhedrin 11.1, p. 580; Sifra 93d, p. 963. Exodus Rabbah: See Song of Solomon 8.6-7, p. 254. Cf. Canticles Rabbah 2.14, p. 764; compare Ephesians 5.32-33, p. 261. Records of Princess Yamatohime: This stresses the interdependence of the kami and humanity. Peskita de Rab Kahana 102b: The people of God have the vocation to witness to the divine Reality. The honor and purposes of God Himself depends upon them. Compare John 17.20-21, p. 271. Matthew 16.15-19: This passage founds the Christian church on the apostleship of Peter, the first disciple. Thus all Christians are first of all, like Peter, disciples of Christ. For Roman Catholics, the authority of Peter is the basis for the primacy of the Pope, who as the Bishop of Rome stands as a successor to Peter who founded the Roman church. The authority of Peter is symbolized by the 'Keys;' it is the power to 'bind' and 'loose,' meaning the authority to decide on questions of religious law. Pearl of Great Price, Moses 7.18: Cf. Book of Mormon, 3 Nephi 21, pp. 1119f; Isaiah 51.11, p. 543. Suhi Chhant, M.5: Guru Arjan Dev, the fifth Sikh Guru who composed this passage, built the Golden Temple at Amritsar in the Punjab which has become the central Sikh shrine and place of pilgrimage. It is regarded here as the substantiation of the ideal of the City of God--cf. Gauri, Ravidas, p. 1118. The Sikhs regard themselves as a holy people, the khalsa, the Pure. Sun Myung Moon, 8-26-86: This speaks of the coming Kingdom of Heaven on earth, which will embrace people of all races and nations.

And the Lord called his people Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them.

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Pearl of Great Price, Moses 7.18

Immutable is the city of the Divine Master, Wherein those contemplating the Name attain joy. In this city founded by the Creator Himself Are fulfilled desires of the heart: The Lord Himself has founded it; all joys are obtained herein. To our progeny, brothers and disciples has come the bloom of joy. As they sing praise of the Lord, perfection incarnate, Their objectives are fulfilled.

Sikhism. Adi Granth, Suhi Chhant, M.5, p. 783

Whoever associates with pure love, and those whose love resembles God's, are received joyfully into the Kingdom of Heaven.

Unification Church. Sun Myung Moon, 8-26-86

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