Thoughts regarding being "Religious"

Below are some viewpoints on religion by many in our culture today along with some of my thoughts and responses.

Definition of Religion

Some definitions of religion or of being religious is observing religious duties or ritual practices; doing an act or action just to do it out of religiousness; acting to be religious.

What many miss is often what appears to be a religious act for some may be an action is done out of a relationship with the Lord or is done out of one’s sense of gratitude or obligation for God’s grace. Those who label others as religious often miss some underlying spiritual currents that are understood by practitioners. Such underlying currents are the result of the Spirit of God motivating and empowering individuals to follow Christ’s teachings. The “religious” do good not necessarily out of empty ritual duty, but out of spiritual, emotional, and conscience urgings from within similarly as one would do something good to another because of something that person did to them in the past.

The Religious say religion doesn’t hurt anything, but it does…

Typical examples: It leads to or has led to most wars, crusades, inquisition, 911, arranged marriages to minors, blowing up girl schools, the suppression of women, [anti] homosexuals, ethnic cleansing, human sacrifice, burning witches, suicide bombings, condoning slavery, systematic sexual abuse of children.

While it is true that this appears to be the case, it is not religion per se but rather individual persons, people, who have used religion for their own purposes. Thus it is people, specifically one’s selfishness, that are the problem and not religion itself. Religion is a means to an end. An individual will use Religion, Politics, or other People to get what they want. The motivation could entail typical human characteristics such as a desire for control, desire for position or stature, desire for others to conform to their ways, desire for gain of natural resources or monetary wealth, desire to enforce one’s interpretation of what they perceive to be God’s will upon others, etc.. So to blame such behaviors on religion is a form of stereotyping.

Although people use religion for their own destructive purposes, there are also good things that follow religion: helping the poor with food, clothing, and shelter; providing in areas benevolence when individuals or families are going through hard financial or personal times; teaching good citizenship; and such. Similar to every other aspect of life, religion can be both good and bad. And to toss out all religion because of the bad is inconsistent and shows subjective biasness against religion along with a lack of discernment.

And speaking of wars and death, Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution and atheism has caused significant deaths. Karl Marx, for example, was an avid adherent of Darwin. He combined his social and economic idea with evolutionary principles. Marx wrote that Darwin’s book ‘contains the basis in natural history for our views.’ His disciple Lenin applied utter ruthlessness and terror in Russia—the term ‘rivers of blood’ has commonly been applied in describing his reign.

Consider also Leon Trotsky. He was a fanatic follower of Darwinism and Marxism and was brutal against the Christian church. Leon’s atheism and Darwinism intoxicated him and he stated, ‘Darwin stood for me like a mighty doorkeeper at the entrance to the temple of the universe.’ His atheism and Darwinism removed all morals and the justification of Darwin’s survival of the fittest, allowed him to use any means to attain power and political ends.

After Joseph Stalin understood that evolution and atheism provided no basis for conscience or morals, he felt free to torture and murder to whatever extent he chose to achieve his communist goals.

Adolf Hitler, the great terror of World War II, Formed his racial and social policies on the evolutionary ideas of survival of the fittest and the superiority of certain ‘favored races’ as Charles Darwin also held. As a result, such atheism resulted in the murder of six million Jews as well as many blacks, gypsies, the retarded, and other groups deemed unfit to live. Darwin’s evolutionary ‘science’ of eugenics provided him with justification for his decrees.

As a last example of how atheism and evolution promote evil in their moral relativism, Pol Pot of Cambodia was inspired by Stalin and Mao Zedong. Mao is known to have regarded Darwin and his disciple Huxley as his two favorite authors. In 1975 he lead the Khmer Rouge to genocide against his own people in a bloodthirsty regime that was inspired by the atheism beliefs of Stain and Mao.

Although Christianity has been misused by some for their own advances and evil deeds, atheism and evolution-all the more-have lead individuals on campaigns of murder, torture, and brutal wickedness.

Some insist that religion does do harm; for example, the Pope goes to Africa and insists that AIDS people don’t use contraception. [Reworded: Pope goes to Africa and does not help in the spread of the AIDS virus.]

What is missing from this statement and thought is that the Pope would encourage people to abstain from sexual promiscuity for one’s benefit of not contracting or spreading the AIDS virus. The audience to which the Pope teaches would probably be individuals within a church, but even if the Pope speaks to people in general, to indicate that the Pope was telling promiscuous individuals to not use contraception is skewing the issue as the Catholic church teaches sex is reserved for those whom are married. While it is true that the Pope does not condone the use of contraception, he also encourages abstinence and teaches against promiscuity--both of which can help prevent the spread of the AIDS virus.

Some respond negatively to poll results that 61% of Americans indicating that religion solves most or all of my problems. For example, you can’t pray away global warming.

Religion does not solve most or all of people’s problems? Are you certain? Have you researched and inquired of multiple Religious Institutions as to whether or not they have documented evidence of answered prayers—or at least the appearance of answered prayers?

Prayer is not always answered immediately or within the short periods of time which we expect. King David prayed to be able to build the Temple but such a prayer was not answered until King David had died and thereafter his son Solomon built the temple. Other large issues such as global warming, likewise, could also take time to answer. For one to simply say that prayer does not answer or deal with problems is arbitrary.

A survey indicates that one out of four Americans believes that Jesus will return in their lifetime. Some view such religious views as ego masquerading as humility--of course Jesus is going to want to meet me.

Although there is plenty of ego amongst confessing Christians, it is stereotyping to indicate that all who believe in His return within their lifetime are egotistical. There are many, many people who see this as hope for their redemption along with the redemption of others as well. It is viewed as a happy, joyous event that will be shared collectively with gratitude and thanksgiving by God’s children. It is more of an eagerness to meet one’s Creator than it is human ego.

The stupidest part of the Bible, in some people’s view: God sending Christ as his Son. He is all powerful and beyond time and space yet He has kids [a kid]? And the kid was sent to earth on a suicide mission. One of the silliest stories some have ever heard. The story has somehow survived 2000 years.

Why is it silly? What better way for the Almighty to prove His love for His Creation by sending a part of Himself on a “suicide mission” to show the depth and the reality of His love for and of His mercy to us? For one to say that it is a suicide event does not understand the underlying doctrine of Grace. Doing some reading on this Doctrine can provide a better understanding of why God would do such a thing.

The aspect of God having kids is a metaphor for our understanding of His incarnation from deity to flesh. Rather than God simply appearing in human form, he came as a child born like an ordinary human. Jesus was supernaturally conceived by God’s power; thus, He is the son of God.

Since, as some admit, it has been around for 2000 years, there appears to be some merit to the story as an historical event for it to endure such a long period of time.

In answering the question ‘What’s the harm with religion?’ some insist that it’s mass delusion. Any time there is mass delusion, bad things do follow.

This is a purely subjective opinion. In this context the term “delusion” typically means a persistent false belief held in the face of strong contradictory evidence. However, to indicate that there is strong, contrary evidence that there is no supreme being, who is the centerpiece for religion, is a logical fallacy. Many claim there is no Supreme Being on the grounds that such a Being cannot be seen, tasted, heard, or touched. Yet it is equally arguable that one cannot disprove the existence of a supreme deity who may chose not to be seen in the physical realm or in our space-time continuum as we understand it. It is a circular argument that cannot be proven or disproven; either way, it is a matter of belief or of disbelief.

Although people use religion for their own destructive purposes, there are also good things that follow religion: helping the poor with food, clothing, and shelter; providing in areas benevolence when individuals or families are going through hard financial or personal times; teaching good citizenship; and such. Similar to every other aspect of life, religion can be both good and bad. And to toss out all religion because of the bad is inconsistent and shows subjective biasness against religion.

Christians talk about love and God’s acceptance yet they are hypocritical.

This is another stereotype. Although it is easy to blame all religion for bad behavior, it is not religion itself that is to blame. The blame falls upon the individuals themselves. Such a stereotype also fails to recognize the philosophical argument that “to err is human” and it fails to understand that claiming to be religious does not mean a claim to human perfection. Many religions teach followers to strive for a higher cause or for perfection while understanding that perfection is not fully obtainable. Since perfection is not fully obtainable, failures or setbacks along the way are typically expected.

Often times some use the hypocrisy of another to justify or to hold onto their own rebelliousness against authority. This is common among people who do not attend church or who choose not to follow God because they see others claiming to be Christian but not following through in their actions. The core of the problem is not the hypocrisy of another but rather an excuse to not own-up to the fact of one’s willing rebelliousness against the Almighty. It is parallel to Adam blaming Eve for his own action in disobeying God’s command to not eat the forbidden fruit rather than confessing he has broken God’s command. The only difference is that rather than blaming Eve, one is blaming the hypocrisy of another, but the underlying issue is the same: passing the buck and not taking responsibility for one’s own mistake.

Some may argue that people not born into Christian house are out of luck. Or people born in Countries that are less Christian or less religious are also out of luck (born in the USA vs. born in China/USSR).

This is typically addressed as a dislike against Christianity, specifically. It comes out of the thought that if someone does not hear from another person of the Gospel of Christ, then that person “goes to Hell” because they die in their unforgiven sinfulness. This thought follows the typical understanding of the Gospel being told, heard, and received by individuals; however, it does not take into account that the Gospel can be told to an individual directly by the Holy Spirit without a human messenger. Although some like to think that God needs humans to deliver a message, in reality, He does not. God has written His law upon the hearts, souls, and beings of humans and it is in His power to awaken the soul within whomever He shall choose. Although it would appear that someone in the US would be more likely to hear the salvation message than someone in a less religious Country, this is not completely accurate as it does not consider the work of the Holy Spirit alone for the hearing of the gospel.

A Country that appears to be less religious or to be hostile to religion does not mean or prove that religious beliefs or practices are not present. One can falsely conclude or misconceive that if religion is not tolerated in a Country, then there is no religious belief at all or there is very limited belief within that Country. However, perceived absence does not prove absence.

Some believe in God, but give Him more credit than “these” foolish things. You can’t know God. Our imagination in imagining anything other than us is so limited. Anything that is not exactly like us we make like us like aliens that have been drawn to look like us. In the Bible it tells us in the very first story that you can’t know him.

It is definitely true that we cannot completely know God. He is indeed beyond anything that we will ever be able to understand. The very first story of Adam and Eve does teach us that we cannot know Him. But the catch is that God can choose to bridge that gap and make the impossible possible by his initiative to reveal a portion of himself to us. We cannot know or have any understanding of God unless He shows himself to us. The complexity and the vastness of thoughts within religion shows, and even helps to prove, that there is no way for man to understand or to know God. Thus, it is God who would need to take an initiative to help humans know Him. And the Bible shows how God has done this: despite human blundering, He willingly was born a human and offered himself as an atoning sacrifice so that humankind may know of God’s great love for all His Creation.

Many said that Jesus is great and there is no better role model. But it’s religion and the people who get in between. It’s the bureaucracy. And it’s the way that people abuse Jesus. He is a victim of name dropping such as winning awards and sports games…he doesn’t care who wins the game.

This is completely true. And the central problem is not religion. It is people who are the core problem. People get in between God and us all. We ourselves get in between ourselves and God at the individual level such that our actual self is the problem. Our self thinks that it has to create rules or codes to follow in order to know God and to please God. Yet these rules and codes do nothing to help us better know God. We know God as he informs us through Himself alone and nothing else.

And although this statement is true, it should not be seen as or used as an excuse to walk away from a journey of knowing God. In spite of the bureaucracy, people, and institutions, strive to continue to better know and understand the Lord.

Many ask: So can we know God without the Bible or outside of the Bible? Why or Why not?

Some do not think that the Bible is true or is full of myth stories. This is often a way to set one’s self away from the need of God or out from under God’s control. So can we know God without the Bible or outside of the Bible?

I would say that yes, we can know God without the Bible. First, God is the initiator in the first place. He comes to us through His Spirit, which speaks to our soul and conscious. Through our conscious we can know what God wants and commands.

Second, God was revealing himself to man before a holy text was written. Within the Biblical text of Genesis, there is no indication of a written “Bible” until Moses wrote the 10 Commandments and then the Mosaic Law. Yet even before such writings God had come into relationship with individuals such as Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the others. So this is an indication that God can reveal himself to individuals without a written text or Bible.

Dealing with those who may claim to be Atheist, angry at God or disgusted with Christians…

It can be very tempting when we find ourselves talking with or hearing from an Atheist or someone is mad at God to try and defend our faith or to defend God. I think it is best to resist this urge.

This type of person often has something or some things that caused them to turn away from God or to be mad at God or at Christianity. What I have found to be helpful is simply asking questions about how they came to that conclusion and questions that can help pinpoint what has caused them to turn from God. Continue to ask questions to get a better understanding of what they are thinking and why they think it along with causes, misconceptions, or misunderstandings that may have led them to their conclusions.

When asking questions and listening to answers, do not attempt to rebuttal, refute, or defend against what is being said. Simply listen. Odds are the person has been preached to enough and anything said without trying to really understand why the person is exasperated. Let the person say their thoughts and reasoning.

Once the person has said most of what they want to say, proceed with caution. Rather than making general statements, ask questions that may lead the person to slowly change their thought process. If you see or sense that the person is closing up or becoming irritated, it is probably best to stop and discuss another day.

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