Many theories about spirituality and religion are stated, with those that feel that spirituality is different than religion, and is a much better way of having closeness with God. This is a separate issue that I will address in the future, but in the below discourse, I am staying with the word religion, and hit on a few items regarding this word.
Religion Issues 2015-13
“Most Americans – roughly four out of five – consider themselves to be Christians. For that majority, the past two decades have been a time of substantial religious change. Just as American society itself is in a state of substantial upheaval, so are those who declare themselves to be Christian redefining the core practices and beliefs of Christianity in America.” Barna Group (2011) See at end
I was told one time that “Religion is the problem with society today!” I did not argue with this person, because I somewhat felt that he was personally, one of the problems, because of his beliefs (or non-beliefs) and attitudes with others around him. I believe he is somewhat of a believer, but one that believes in a different way than others.
I do not feel that I am judgmental about him, but instead, just stating a fact that even he admits is true. He is what he is, and according to him is not going to change to make someone happy or have them look at him in a different way. So be it.
I think many people of various religions look at their religion as “the true religion” and exclude those of other religions as not being correct. I know of one individual who thinks this way and will not change his belief in this thought. I am an outsider to him, and as such, am not adhering to the religion he follows, therefore am not following the true thoughts that he adheres to daily. This man is a believer in Jesus Christ, but since I do not do what he thinks I should do, I am wrong and will probably go to Hell in the process; in his mind.
Instead of a meaningful relationship with each other, there is a bridge, a chasm, or divide between us that is unspoken, but there. We continue to exist with one another, but rather than discussing our differences of belief, we ignore the subject and continue as outsiders. I would love to have a talk with him and discuss things, but we cannot be part of a larger whole and remain apart. We are like tribal, clannish people that exist, but with distrust and without a feeling of true friendship.
When I think of the Christian beliefs and various denominations, I think of man-made rules, dogma and ways of following Jesus that make us Christians in name, but not true followers in a way that Jesus would want us to be. Think of any two Christian religions and you will find differences that make them unique from each other. A person is a Methodist because of the beliefs that religion follows, and a Catholic or Lutheran, or others, that have the same type of believers in their midst. I cannot say any is wrong, just stating that they believe in differences. Of course, I also believe that some people in the religion I follow do not believe all the rules and dictates of this religion, including me. Quoting someone that I respect, “On the other hand, a commitment to rules to the detriment of a person’s relationship with Christ is also not helpful.”
The religion I follow has begun to have contact with other religions to form ecumenical agreements with them. This states that, even though we have differences, we can still get along and be true to the religion we follow. The Pastor/Priest can perform services at their church and vice-versus with the others. Both Pastors/Priests can give communion at either church when we can all partake of the bread and wine of remembrance. We can look at ourselves as friends and not as enemies of the other religion, not that we would do so anyhow. The other church is an Episcopalian one and does have a Priest.
When did it happen that differences began to occur in religions? Over time, people began to see their religion the way they liked it and a trend began. The various sacred writings decreed some of the beliefs that go back in time to when they were written. God Himself was written as sanctifying slavery, warfare, and those that wanted an excuse or a reason, had what they needed for their religion, as they read in the written word. They did not have to change or make up anything, because it was written down and part of their belief. Men abused their women and children because it was told that they were their possessions, and therefore the men could do anything they wanted. Man could have slaves, because it said so in their holy book. They could kill others, because it was shown to them that God was on their side. The list goes on and on as to how God can be used as an excuse to do things that are against common decency. The holy scriptures of many religions are used as weapons for man’s desires.
What was written so very, very long ago does not mean that what was believed then, is now.
We, in a civilized society, do not condone having slaves today, but it was a normal process in the past. To use religion as an excuse for doing things that are looked at as barbaric today, is in itself barbaric. Even today, some religious leaders, evangelists, preachers, etc., use the writings in the Bible to give credence to their way of thinking, or at least, their way of sharing the message in scripture. Many use the Bible and recite passages from the Old Testament to expand on their thought processes. They don’t really stress the New Testament and the teachings of Jesus Christ and His way of expounding on the way that love is the answer.
- The notion that the Bible is completely accurate in all of the principles it teaches is less popular among Protestants today (2011) . In 1991, 61% strongly believed that notion; today, 56% hold that belief. Barna Group (2011), see Sources at end
How many times have people of religious eminence or rank, stated that believing in God is a moral excellence or virtue of high importance? Of course it sounds great and coming from a person of importance it is considered, at times, just so. Having faith and believing that God works in mysterious ways and we should accept dire happenings as coming from God, does not sit too well with some. Crap happens and sometimes we have to just accept that which does, even though we do not like it. Saying that Aunt so in so, who died, is in a better place does not make sense when the common thought is she was doing well, where she was before she died. We should try not to deceive ourselves into believing that those religious leaders or any people, who state things like that, know what they are talking about. It would be very much better to pray to God and tell Him you do not understand why something happened, but still believe He is with us, and allow Him to comfort us in our despair.
Give till it hurts?
Another issue is where some religions want you to give $$$$ till it hurts. OK, not quite, but the feeling of some churches that we should give to the church and it will help the church maintain itself in all ITS glory. Then, try to find out where it goes! My church does not do this, but it is seen on TV with some churches and is perpetuated by their leaders. The church NEEDS money to exist, but the church does not need their parishioners to give, just to increase the coffers of the church or leaders of the church.
The church I attend had a fund rising to pay down the mortgage. It was very successful and we are in the middle of doing so. But, the main reason for doing this is to get out from under the payments to the mortgage holder and have money to spend on places and things that need it. One example is where we pay for a delivery of food each month to give to the needy and that is money worth spending. What is really exacting is the fact that the parishioners are continuing to pay their weekly amounts to support the church, per the budget forecast. Even though it would be terrific to see everyone, tithing 10%, I would think that is NOT going to happen. I would love to see the people give just a little more than they have been and that would be outstanding. We try to go out of our way to show just where their money ends up and I believe it is a positive way of showing generosity towards our fellow mankind.
Religions are man-made as well as those denominations that make up many of the religions today. As such, they have to survive and in the trying, come the failings at times. What was, in the past, is not how it is today. The founder of a religion had good intentions on how he wanted his way to be. Over time, things happen and his way is not THE way now. I would think that certain religions are prone to change, because of this fact. Who would have thought that a certain religion has morphed into what it is today and its beliefs are so different now. How a man thought way back when, is not how the church today thinks. Maybe, somewhat, but not exactly.
I have read, possibly from a Barna Report, an article about the Catholic religion regarding some members as becoming unchurched or as de-churched members. Many are leaving the religion for good, going to a Protestant one that does not have the rules and regulations, which upset those that leave. I am not picking on the Catholics, but do wonder how much their core ways will keep members. All religions must be aware of how they think and act, which will decide on their membership. The one problem is where members of any religion leave and do not go to another one, but instead just don’t worship at a church anymore. They become un-churched by default for the reasons they believe are correct for them to not involve themselves in any religion.
After all that I have said, I believe that there is NOT really a problem with religion itself, but instead, a problem with the people that follow the various religions that have their beliefs foremost and the religion they follow as a far distant second.
Source for some of the facts presented.
Barna Group –
About Barna Group Barna Group (which includes its research division, the Barna Research Group) is a private, non-partisan, for-profit organization under the umbrella of the Issachar Companies. It conducts primary research, produces media resources pertaining to spiritual development, and facilitates the healthy spiritual growth of leaders, children, families and Christian ministries. Data based on an August 4, 2011 report