A world religion that forcibly prevents a person from embracing another religion and compels a person to remain in a religion unwillingly is inconsistent. When Christians punished apostates and heretics, as they did for much of Christianity’s history, the Christian faith itself was divided. When Muslims insist, as many still do, that “once a person accepts Islam out of his free will he is not allowed to leave it,” Islam, too, at is at odds with itself.
If religion is to be embraced freely, that free choice must obtain throughout the religious life of a person, not just at its beginning.
Miroslav Volf, Flourishing : Why we need religion in a globalized world
A very beautiful analogy on the world as cosmos and the world as creation, a picture that made me smile and pounder in Miroslav Volf’s new book, Flourishing: Why we need religion in a globalized world.
Consider first the nature of the world. Christians, to stay with the example of my own faith, believe that God is the Creator: “I believe that God has made me and all the creatures,” wrote the Protestant reformer Martin Luther (1483–1546) in his Small Catechism. To claim that God made “all creatures” isn’t to dismiss on the authority of an ancient holy book the findings of modern physical cosmology and evolutionary biology; it is to relate to oneself and to the world in a certain way, as a gift, for instance, rather than merely as a particular form of matter and energy. Imagine an object you very much like, say, a well-designed and skillfully crafted fine leather wallet with a texture you can’t resist touching. Think of yourself, first, in a store examining it as you contemplate whether to purchase it and, second, holding it in your hands after receiving it as a gift from a lover to commemorate your first date. It is the same object, and yet it isn’t: the love between you and your lover is part of how you experience the object, enhancing your appreciation and enjoyment of it. The first is world as cosmos; the second is world as creation.
Miroslav Volf, Flourishing: Why we need religion in a globalized world