Religions and Beliefs Part 1

I have been receiving emails from people calling me bigoted and self-absorbed because I follow a faith that claims there is just one God and one God alone. The emails are fine; I truly take no offense. I even don’t mind the claims that people can believe whatever they want in regards to religion. Constitutionally speaking, that’s true. Heck, even God Himself gives people the freedom to believe what they want, so I will not try to pry you from your religion, whatever it may be. In fact, I’m all about laying all the facts down on the table and examining each one from various angles. That way, people can decide for themselves what religion they want to put stock into, and those who don’t know about other religions may be informed.

I don’t think anyone would have a problem with me doing that. But there probably will be people who will resent me being bias with my own faith as I present each religion. To that I say that it’s a very difficult task to view anything through a bipartisan lens, because our beliefs color our world view. Besides, I have no problem with that since it is my duty to share my faith, and quite honestly, it is a joy and a pleasure for me to do so, so I will do so happily.

Before we begin, let me just state very clearly that I am no scholar, nor do I claim to have any more knowledge than anyone reading this post. I have a long way to go in that department. I am simply doing my homework on the topic of different religions and belief systems, and I’m inviting you along. If I make an incorrect statement about any religion, to which I will take full responsibility for my lack of research, please correct me in a comment or send me an email at adoptingjames@aol.com. To that, I say, let us begin by defining a few terms that we’ll run into throughout this discussion for the next several weeks.

Naturalism – To align with this belief system is to say that God does not exist and that physical matter is all that there is. Charles Colson believed that this is the dominant world view today and has shaped the post-modern Christian influence.

Pantheistic monism – Almost sounds like the Musketeers: “All is one, one is all, and all is God.” This is found in a lot of Eastern religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism. The Western version? New Age. While Christianity, Judaism and Roman Catholicism believe that history is linear, having a beginning and an end, Eastern Pantheism believes that history happens in cycles and has no end, going round and round.

Polytheism – There are many gods, goddesses and spirits we must appease to have a good life. This type of belief system is found in Hinduism, New Age, and though they deny this, Mormanism. Polytheistic stories are of gods and men having babies, and its believers think that the virgin birth of Christ is copied and that Jesus is half man and half God.

Christianity has had to fight a lot of battles over the years. It seems as though each generation of Christians has a new set of beliefs and values it must fight. At least in the West, it seems we are having to fight secular-humanism, postmodernism and New Age sects. These systems agree on a slogan that is probably the most dangerous belief anyone can ever subscribe to: “Whatever works for you.”

Christians adamantly do not hold to that view. We claim that there is one God and one God only. He is transcendent (above and beyond us), and immanent (right here among us) at the same time. The chair I’m sitting on is not part of God, it is a man’s creation created from material provided by God. At the same time, am not a part of God. I am made in His image, as a separate being, united to Him only by adoption through the death and resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ.

Remember, as we discuss the various world religions, that Christians are not to fight man, but the evil spirits that seduce and deceive. And as I’m sure the comments will be rolling in, let me remind my brothers and sisters in Christ of Proverbs 15:1, that “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

My main source of research is from the book found on the right side of this page, So What’s the Difference by Fritz Ridenour. Support our sponsor and help us adopt James by purchasing it from the link on the right.

Next week: Roman Catholicism: The one true chruch?

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About Andrew Toy
I'm in the beginning stages of starting my own publishing company that's unlike anything you've ever heard of in the industry. The direction of AdoptingJames is taking a 90-degree turn and will be more writing/publishing-focused. Stay tuned for huge updates and exciting news!

20 Responses to Religions and Beliefs Part 1

  1. rich says:

    what’s the difference between naturalism and atheism?

    i don’t mind anyone having any views or beliefs. i don’t care if you worship pennies or have sex with a watermelon as part of your communion. however, once you start telling ME i’m wrong for being different from YOU, then i’m done with you. and you’re not doing that, i know. just saying.

    • Mike@UsneakydevilU says:

      Rich, do you not mind others beliefs or simply don’t care? Just asking. When you were saying the “pennies and watermelon” thing it just seems like you don’t really care. We shouldn’t mind differing beliefs but I hope that we care. But I understand you are doing you. I just hope we don’t become so non-caring for our fellow man that we don’t deliver something we believe is good news(i.e. Christianity).

      • Joshua says:

        I do not believe “whatever works for you is true,” but I do believe human understanding of truth grows throughout the ages. So, if I were to liken the dawn of humanity from ages ago to a person, I would see that person grow from childhood to adolescence, from adolescence to teenager, from teenager to young adult, from young adult to adult, from adult to old age. During this entire process, our perception of the truth changes and grows. Conservative Christians, however, believe truth is static, unchanging. Could we teach a chimp–a distant cousin of ours–to understand God concepts? No, because the chimp wouldn’t have the brain capacity to understand it. Similarly, as our human anscestors took a different branch in the tree of life, as thousands of years passed over time, our capacity for truth enlarged. This is why we have so many different religions; this is why we will continue to have different understanding of truth; this is why one size of truth does not fit all for all time. That’s my view.

  2. Monica says:

    You are right, we have free choice. I would just add to your comment on “our duty to share”. We train our teens to share the Gospel message with unbelievers. We feel a sense of urgency that time is drawing short and the Lord would have not one soul lost. My heart breaks when I think of those foolishly putting their faith in false gods (little g) or many gods. I long for everyone to know the Jesus that I have come to know and how He works in our lives. He doesn’t just sit there and laugh or crack a joke when we mess up. He weeps! But He uses it for our good, if we allow Him. Oh that we could win more souls! Thank you for bringing these other religions to light. I am trying to learn more about them so that I might better convince folks that Jesus is the only way to heaven. Have a blessed day and I will pray for those emails!

  3. encouragementbyruss says:

    As a Christian I too understand the dilemma and challenge you face when presenting the Gospel to an unsaved generation. I truly believe that when unbelievers are faced with the truth about Jesus Christ the Holy Spirit makes them very uncomfortable. I think way down deep inside all of us is a mark of ownership that God leaves on us when creating us. It is only through the love of this world and it’s evil offerings that people try to scrub this mark from their personhood and eventually turn their back on our most loving Father. Scrubbing God’s mark of ownership causes the affected individual to become deaf and blind to the true love that God offers through His son Jesus. Just this morning I read in Matthew that each one of us will give an account for how we lived our lives. I do not envy the accounting that the unsaved will go through.

  4. Tim A. says:

    Very good post. We must present the message of Jesus Christ. It is up to God’s Spirit to convict and convince those in bondage to come out through faith in Him.
    T.A.

  5. jasonandwill says:

    Thanks for the post. I know there is a higher power and it is One. How familiar are you with Jewish customs & beliefs? I feel there is far more going on in the Tanakh than we will ever know, particular when examined in Hebrew. What, if anything, does it mean that Judaism, Christianity and Islam all have a Jewish foundation… that Jesus and his apostles and Paul were all Isrealites / Jewish?

  6. qathy says:

    jasonandwill, if you really want the answer to the questions you asked, you need to read the writings of Paul in the New Testament. Anything anybody else tells you will be rooted in those texts, so you might as well go to the source. Paul could speak with authority on the issue of Judaism and Christianity — similarities, differences, relationship, and so forth — because he was a Pharisee, the most deeply scholarly group within Judaism at the time of Christ. He was a witness to the first Christian stoned by Jews, consenting and approving, and he engaged in ferocious assaults on those he considered to be the enemies of his faith. Then he met Jesus. And everything changed. The New Testament book of Acts devotes the largest portion of its material to him, and the books of Romans through Philemon are all attributed to him. Some scholars will dispute that he actually authored all those books, but if he didn’t, the authors were claimed his name and followed his teachings. That is the authoritative resource to answer your question.

  7. The Hobbler says:

    You, as one of my followers, are cordially invited to my darker and a little more personal blog: http://nothobblingnow.wordpress.com/

  8. Awa says:

    I’m heathen (polytheist) and there is definitely not a “what feels right” mindset. It’s actually based on the philosophy that every single choice I make affects the creation of the future. For example, the way I raise my children influences the way they raise their children and so on and so forth– forever. I am literally responsible, at this moment, for the quality of life of my descendants two thousand years from now. My actions today affect them, any anyone I come in contact with. Accepting the knowledge of that responsibility and choosing to build the best for the world far outweighs any concerns I have about going to heaven and hell.

  9. I will look forward to your observations. The study of the various spiritual walks (religions) is a good idea, for sooner or later someone will challenge the Christian “How can you follow Jesus if you have not checked out the other religions.” My stronger studies have been into Hinduism and Buddhism.

  10. Noel Williams (prhayz) www.prhayz.com says:

    I like your post. However, I feel it is my duty to point out that as Christians our job is to preach and teach the gospel of Jesus Christ.

  11. Everyone is exclusive in their belief. It’s okay, everyone has a choice. World religions for the greater part are exclusive. Everyone thinks they are right. If you say you are Christian, however, you are no longer acceptable. If you say you believe the Bible, you are now a back-woods Bible thumper, intolerant, and ignorant. “Intelligencia,” fueled by secular “higher” education, and the media, have convinced American society that Christian is bad, and all other religions that are exclusive, okay. The “tolerant” are intolerant of Christians, and point out their inadequacies to prove they are intellectually superior, with speculation of how things are as their guide. There is no fight or proof on either side, it is faith. It takes as much faith to disbelieve as believe, both are religions. I can’t ask the universe for help, I can ask God. I did ask, and He freed me from alcoholism. I asked for new life through Christ, he did that for me too. How do I know? Inside I do, something I didn’t have when I felt as they did.

    • qathy says:

      I agree that for a human being to stand in judgment of another human being over a matter of faith doesn’t make sense. However, if a person does not stand firm in his own faith, then that so-called faith may be only wishful thinking. I believed God before I knew him, but over many years my faith has been nourished by my relationship with Him. I stand firm in my conviction that not only does God exist, but God also loves me and interacts with me. When I assert that this is so, I don’t think of it as casting aspersions on people who do not believe. Rather, I see myself as holding a light aloft so people can see it better and find their way to God. If I were in a group of people trying to survive in a wilderness, hungry and lost, and I found food and a pathway out, I would feel compelled to share the food and lead people on the path. I feel the same way about the importance of sharing what I know about God and leading other people to know him, too.

      • Good words and thoughts. my purpose is to walk in love, and be merciful, praying always. My aggitation can turn into scorn in seconds. None of that is neccessary, but I tend to challenge the belief of others, knowing their foundation is based on thoughts, undocumented, and normally the belief of another they admire. I cannot be the Holy Spirit and open everyone’s spiritual understanding, I was dead spiritually as well at one time. I also realize the disdain the secular world has toward the believer is mainly from the believer’s lifestyles and the inability to present Christ as freedom, not rules impossible to follow. My job, as you eloquently state is to be the light, show the gospel more than tell it, and battle evil not people…thanks!

  12. bhaktarory says:

    Jehova, Allah, Eweh, Krishna, it’s all the same person. God has unlimited names. How could he be absolute if He only had one name or if there was only one perspective that he could be seen in? The ancient yoga text describe the Supreme as being “achintya-beda-beda-tattva”, “inconceivable oneness and difference”. God is all and everything, but at the same time exists separate from everything and is independent from it, but at the same time is present in everything as the Supersoul or more commonly known as the Holy Spirit. It is also said that we are parts and parcels of the Supreme Person. Like the atoms in a bar of gold, each atom has the same quality as the whole bar, but it is minute in size. So it is understood that, being parts and parcels of the Supreme, we (the soul, which is different from the body and mind) have the same quality as God, but we are minutely finite in size, whereas God is unlimited. But these qualities, due to conditioned life, has become covered and distorted. A tip when studying Hinduism: the Hindu’s don’t even know what Hinduism is! It is an umbrella term that was used by the Europeans under which a very large group of different cultures and people’s were thrown. The original word was actually “Sindhu” which meant, “people that live on the that side of the Sindhu river”. Due to dialectic error, it became “gindhu” (like a russian may pronounce “H”) and then Hindu. It included Shaivites (Shiva), Mayavadi’s (impersonalists), mystic-yogi’s, demi-god worshipers (there are so many different ones), Vaishnava’s and more. I am not a Hindu by the way. I hope this helps you in your inspiring study.

  13. Everybody has to believe in something , but no one has the right to judge someone because of there beliefs.
    At times I am not sure where I stand on religion , I know there is someone greater , a higher being .
    It is funny most of the wars are over religion , we are right you are wrong .

    I follow Buddhist beliefs , but I do not worship Buddha , the ways are what I live by.

    No one has the right to judge you.

  14. irishsignora says:

    I’m so glad you wrote this. A recent commenter on my blog chastised me for praying (and teaching my children to pray) that all hearts would be opened to the King and His Kingdom. I haven’t replied yet (although I will), but it occurred to me that it would be a deep and ripping act of hatred for me to NOT pray for hearts to accept Christ.

  15. Maggie Clark says:

    Hi there!

    I see you’ve recently added my blog–quite possibly because of recent posts about a course on Evangelical Lit I’m taking as part of my English M.A.? The work we’re covering certainly gives me a lens with which to view your belief in the existence of “evil spirits” in the world, and I definitely understand how a complex world with no easy answers would be tough for some folks to navigate.

    To that end, I was quite surprised to see your willingness to explore and evaluate other belief sets. I look forward to seeing how these posts progress, and wish you all the best in your writing therein.

    That said, as one of those pesky secular humanists you see yourself in combat with, I’d like to offer a few clarifications of the way you’ve identified secular humanism in the above post. For all I know, you might chalk up my comment to the work of an “evil spirit”, but I try to operate from best intentions, so I might as well give it a shot.

    Specifically, while secular humanism disagrees with the existence of absolute morality, it absolutely holds to the existence of objective standards. These standards are measured by the consequences of one’s actions–what will reduce harm; what will maximize good–and not by the appeal to an absolute moral authority. That’s it. That’s the whole difference between our positions where morality is concerned.

    (And interestingly enough, one’s sense of divine morality has been found to match startlingly well with the pre-existing moral sense of individual believers–so much so that when an individual believer’s position changes, their sense of their god’s position changes in lock-step. “Believers’ estimates of God’s beliefs are more egocentric than estimates of other people’s beliefs”: http://www.pnas.org/content/106/51/21533)

    Secular humanists absolutely believe in moral agency; it’s just derived from individuals within community contexts over time. As such, while there may be many different specific ways to live a good life, you’ll find a tremendous amount of agreement over what are very harmful, inappropriate ways to live one’s life, and of course, a strong fealty to the golden rule.

    The other key to the term “secular humanism” is that the very use of the modifier, “secular”, implies that there are other kinds of humanism that aren’t secular. When the Dalai Lama writes, for instance, “Developing love and compassion and reducing anger and spite is a universal activity which requires no faith in any religion whatsoever,” he’s speaking out of a kind of Buddhist humanism.

    I know Christian humanists, Jewish humanists, Muslim humanists, Baha’i humanists, Hindu humanists, and New Age humanists. For all of us, it matters far less what gods one does or does not believe in, and far more what we all do with our beliefs or non-beliefs in the existence of such gods. Do we value human life and seek to alleviate pain and suffering? Do we strive to minimize the harm we do in our one and precious lives, and to maximize the good? Do we see the natural world as a reliable site of inquiry when we pursue this social betterment? Do we recognize the magnitude and age of the cosmos, and through it, recognize the fragility and fleeting nature of human life?

    Then–humanist. And the only ones we see ourselves at war with are those who do not seek in their one and precious life to mitigate pain, alleviate suffering, and overall improve the common good by seeking a reliable, demonstrable understanding of the world and making ethical decisions on the basis of those findings.

    I hope that clarifies matters a bit for you. I can certainly see how your belief in the existence of one true god and one true path to an eternal life would stand in opposition to certain claims of humanism, but hopefully you’ll at least understand that “whatever works for you” is a complete distortion of the humanist position.

    That said, again, best wishes for your future exploratory posts.

    Cheers,

    Maggie

  16. Well written! Especially, “our beliefs color our world view.” This is a truth that I wish people would open their eyes to. Thanks for following!!!

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