Friday, December 02, 2005

"True" Religion?

People who adhere to the three major religions--Christianity, Islam, and Judaism--all believe that their religion is the "correct" one, that their religion is the most direct path to God or that it has the most correct revelation from God, or whatever.

How can everyone be "right"? When God looks down on the world and sees all these people who sincerely believe that their religion is the one that God favors, he must laugh and shake his head. How arrogant we are to think that one particular religious adherence brings us closer to God than another!

Pure and lasting
religion in the sight of God our Father means that we must care for orphans and widows in their troubles, and refuse to let the world corrupt us (James 1.27).


Tony Arnold said...

JMG, how do we get around the issue of Christ?

I have found nothing in my search that eliminates the need for a belief in Christ. I am anxious to hear your take on this as you work so hard to find Truth and your personal study seems to have complete integrity.

I know this raises the immediate question, "What about those who never had an opportunity to hear or know about Christ?" My answer is an uneqivocal I do not know nor have an answer, but it is a valid and tough question. My only solace is that God relieved me of any responsibility of deciding the fate of anyone. He also told me not to worry about the fate of those in the question above (read 1 Cor. 5:12).

What He does hold me responsible for is spreading His word and being the hands and feet of Christ (see James 1:27) And let me be clear, I see little, if any, room for judgment in that mission. I have to trust that Christ is enough, that if I can let Christ shine through me, then that will be enough to change people. I cannot change people. If I could, I would in my humanity just change them for the worst.

I love the James scripture you quoted. Note that in the next verse, 2:1, James says, "My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ..."

Christ is not left out of James's testimony. Now keeping with your sentiment, the 1:27 sentiment, and tying it in with my statements of personal mission, James says in 2:13, "...because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment!"

And Christ is perfect mercy.


JMG said...

I have no answer. I just got to thinking about what if I had been raised Muslim or Jewish and had been taught to show love and mercy to others (because of course, Christians don't have a lock on love and mercy), and what if I'd never had any reason to question the validity and correctness of my religion. What if I'd grown up believing that my Islamic or Jewish religion was the "correct" one, just like I really did grow up believing in Jesus (I have always believed ever since I can remember) and believing in the "correctness" of Christianity.

I can't imagine not believing in Jesus as the Christ, who reconciles us with God through his death on the cross. So I just got to thinking about the Jews and Muslims who can't imagine being Christian, who sincerely don't see a need to become Christian, just as I don't see a need to become Muslim or Jewish. Why am I right and they aren't?

I really like James. In 2.12 he says, "Whenever you speak, or whatever you do, remember that you will be judged by the law of love, the law that set you free." I think this applies to all who love, all who choose to act mercifully toward others, regardless of whether they choose to adhere to the Christian religion.

JMG said...

BTW, that was a nice compliment--that about integrity.

Tony Arnold said...

It shows in your posts.


jettybetty said...

I've been thinking not exactly, but close to something along this line today, too. Who knows, perhaps I will get my thoughts in a post before the day is over.

I would like to prove this by telling you in Acts, the Bible says Jesus is the only way. However, for your purposes here--I am not sure you would use the Bible as the sole source of authority?

As far as Jews are concerned, I really don't get why they don't get Jesus, but obviously they don't. They believe a part of *my* Bible, but not all of it. Just using secular history however, I think Jesus is pretty real. And yes, I know if I were raised a Jew, it would not at all be easy. In speaking with Jews, I usually hit one of two attitudes--pride in their heritage or a *comfort* in their persecution. As much as I personally would love them to be okay, if I believe in Jesus, I just can't. Like Tony says, I take much comfort in the fact that I don't have to make the decision.

Islam is easier (not easy) for me. When I study it, it just seems man-contrived to me. It does have some excellent tenants--but of lot of it sounds like stuff I could make up. Again, if I grew up a Muslim--Christianity would look wierd probably.

What about Buddists, Hindus and some of the other world religions?

You ask some good questions--perhaps I will sit here and get my thoughts together and pound something out--and you will go "how does she think those 2 topics even come close to relating"??? LOL

JMG said...

However, for your purposes here--I am not sure you would use the Bible as the sole source of authority?

That's just it. I take the bible as my source of authority, but other groups take different books as their source of authority. My whole point is that we all believe we're right, so if somebody is right, then the others must be wrong.

The weird thing is that--from what I understand--Muslims believe in Jesus as a son of God, but for them, Mohammed, who came later, is the most revered. Jews, I guess, believe that their messiah has not shown up yet, but they take Jesus to be a real person who had good teachings and exemplified a Godly life. All of these people are just as convinced in their minds as you and I are.

As for other religions, I didn't really think about them because Christianity, Islam, and Judaism all share a heritage from Abraham who worshipped one God, and others seem to have a different basis, but I don't know enough about them to speak without using stereotypes.

jettybetty said...

"That's just it. I take the bible as my source of authority, but other groups take different books as their source of authority. My whole point is that we all believe we're right, so if somebody is right, then the others must be wrong."

Yes, if I believe Jesus is Who He says He is, then someone is right and someone is wrong. I understand the Muslim, Jew believe I am the one that is wrong. I can't figure it all out. I don't think it's even fair. It does bother me--a lot!

I will let God sort it out--and trust Him.

I did write a new post--it may make absolutely no sense, but it's my attempt to deal with a part of this.

Ayatollah Mugsy said...

JMG, I think you make an excellent point about people being raised in a particular religion and having no reason to question it. Although I found Allah in the pound, that is not the norm. The vast majority of adherents to the three great monotheistic faiths are taught from an early age and know of nothing else until their beliefs have already been forged.

It is important to remember that if the prevailing view in Europe 800 years ago were that pugs were divine creatures that should be worshipped as gods, our currency today might very well say, "In Pugs We Trust." For most of us, our religious tradition is handed down from our parents.

To me, the most important thing is not which religion we adhere to. It is whether that religion leaves a positive imprint on our hearts. Just one ayatollah's opinion.

Jana said...

I love this verse, JMG. When I think of what I should be doing with my short life here on earth, I think about this scripture.