The St Andrews Declaration on a Shared Humanity
So what exactly is the Church of Scotland committed to in the signing of the St. Andrews Declaration on a Shared Humanity? They herald it on their web site as a great inter-faith step to be celebrated, but do not actually publish the statement itself, although there is a link to it.
Some of it cannot be objected to – after all we do share a common humanity. All humans are made in the image of God, fallen in Adam and invited in the Gospel to embrace Christ as Saviour and Lord. There is a need for “respect” between religions, and the denunciation of violence and intolerance are appropriate.
However, what is meant by:
“We share a common path towards the Absolute and as such we recognize the diversity of paths, texts and traditions that we intend to respect and foster their respect in others.”
Respect, non-violence and tolerance are one thing, but to say that we are on a common journey to God, but taking different yet equally valid paths is to deny the exclusivity of Christ as the Way the Truth and the Life, apart from whom no man comes to the Father.
One of the points of the statement is simply a quote from Hindu scripture:
“OM. This eternal Word is all: what was, what is and what shall be, and what beyond is in eternity. All is OM” (Mandukya Upanishad).”
But Hinduism is in its essence pantheistic. For the Christian “all” is certainly not “OM”. Is the Church of Scotland by implication denying the Creator – Creature distinction and the basics of the Trinity?
But the statement does quote the bible:
“May they all be one, just as, Father, you are in me and I am in you, so that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe it was you who sent me” (John 17:21).”
Are we to understand that the oneness Jesus spoke of is a shared oneness of humanity in general and embraces those of all religions and those of no religion? But the text speaks of “the world” which stand outside this oneness and can be brought to faith, in part, through the display of true Christian unity expressed in the Church.
Evangelicals remaining within this liberal church need to make it very clear that they stand against this statement of inter-faith unity which eradicates the uniqueness of the Lord Jesus Christ and the exclusiveness of salvation in him alone. They need to make it clear in the courts of the church that we are not on shared paths to the Absolute, and that the unity of a fallen race requires a common Saviour who came to give his life for the world of lost sinners.
The St. Andrews Declaration on a Shared Humanity
1. We declare that human beings are born equal and that they all share hopes and aspirations, paths of fulfilment, paths of suffering, and dreams within a common journey as human beings.
2. We declare that human beings share the freedom to follow particular paths of life within the rights and obligations shared by all and contributing to the common good of humanity.
3. We declare our respect and good-will towards all religious traditions that follow a path towards peace, common cooperation, and goodness.
4. We share a common path towards the Absolute and as such we recognize the diversity of paths, texts and traditions that we intend to respect and foster their respect in others.
5. “For sentient beings, poor and destitute, may I become a treasure ever plentiful, and lie before them closely in their reach, a varied source of all that they might need” (Shantideva, The Way of the Bodhisattva III, 10).
6. “OM. This eternal Word is all: what was, what is and what shall be, and what beyond is in eternity. All is OM” (Mandukya Upanishad).
7. “Shema Yisrael, Adonai eloheinu, Adonai echad – barukh shem kevod malkhuto le’olam va’ed” (Deuteronomy 6:4-9).
8. “In the name of God, the Gracious, the Merciful, Praise be to God, Lord of the Worlds, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful’ (al-Fatihah).
9. “May they all be one, just as, Father, you are in me and I am in you, so that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe it was you who sent me” (John 17:21).
10. We declare that as brothers and sisters we can share our joy, peace and happiness with all human beings through our daily prayer and meditation.