Religion today seems more about interfaith competition than “love your neighbor”. It seems to be “love your neighbor as long as he is a Lutheran/Baptist/etc.
Spiritual but not Religious
The above words (I failed to capture the source) and the graphic are perhaps the primary reasons I now claim to be “spiritual but not religious”. I just see too much politics and interfaith competition to make me want to stay part of any particular religious organization of today. Each religion and each religious denomination seems to be at battle with everyone else for the mantle of God’s people. I am going to use the famous but utterly simple words of Rodney King “Why can’t we just get along?”
I think God intended us to get along with each other. He told us as much via prophet after prophet in so many religious documents. I want to especially emphasize the word “THEIR” in the pic above. It is more their religion than it is God’s. I spent ten plus years studying theology and religion and with the following give you a VERY few examples of what I have personally discovered.
Roman Catholics – Of course RCs claim to be the first but then again the Eastern versions say they were the first. To me the whole thing got started off on the wrong path. We supposedly have a reliable source of the words of Jesus the founder but for some reason soon after his death and resurrection the founding of religion is turned over to a converted Jewish scholar. If you study all the words of Paul, who makes up probably half of the New Testament text, it becomes obvious that he very rarely wrote anything about Jesus’ actual teachings. He just seemed to know very little about them or just didn’t think it was necessary to use them in his teachings. Instead he went about deciding what rules this new religion was going to be live by. This isn’t too surprising given that he came from a strict rules obedient religion himself. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t think Paul had some devious scheme to steal Christianity away from Jesus. He was just making a bunch of rules because that was his nature.
The Reformation – Skipping ahead fifteen hundred years or so we come to the Reformation. Martin Luther who was a Roman Catholic monk had a very low-level of self-worth. He just couldn’t accept the idea that God loved him. It worried him very very deeply. But then he came upon a few words from the Apostle Paul (yeah the same one cited above) in the Catholic Bible that gave him an “aha” moment. “You are saved by faith alone, not by works…” He latched onto these words and threw almost everything else aside especially the epistle of James. He concluded that it didn’t matter what you do on this earth, God doesn’t really care, it only matters that you have the right kind of faith. Of course Luther would then go on to define what that “right faith” was.
Behind Luther came a deluge of many other views of religion. Most would split off from each other based on a particular quote they “discovered”. The result of all this is that we now have thousands of versions of Christianity each claiming to be the keepers of the true faith.
Quakers (Society of Friends) – Although I was never a Quaker I did read extensively on that religious sect. Of all the religions I have investigated Quakers seem to have it the most together. I particularly loved the books by Philip Gulley. He says many things that I totally align with. But even Quakers put rules and opinions as conditions for joining their version of Christianity. For instance, even though Jesus’ first miracle was to make an alcoholic beverage, they decided that you must not drink if you want to be a Quaker.. rules, rules, rules…
I choose to take my relationship with God on a very personal, rather than an organizational level.
With the controversial words above I am going to close down this current Sunday series on religion and move on to other things next Sunday.