We often think of the parable of the talents as a lesson in utilizing your gifts, and doing best with what you are given. (Matthew 25:14-30)
What I would like to present is the relationship between different churches in regard to this parable. With so many people born into so many churches, what does God expect of us? Are we to spend our lives comparing every possible religion to try and find the one, correct religion?
Or perhaps he is more concerned with what we do with our knowledge(what we learn from our religion), than what religion we belong to. The servants who used their talents to earn more talents were rewarded. The servant who hid his talent was punished.
The personal truths we care about are what we learn from the influence of religion. By sharing our opinions and discussing with others, we are all able to increase our knowledge and understanding.
This is one of the reasons why I think which religion you belong to isn't as important as how you live your life.
How you live your life is more important than any religion.
Well, I do have some personal reservations about certain truths that can only be found in certain religions, but that's more of an exception than the rule.
We can find great evil in religions, too, and they aren't exceptions to the rule.
I didn't say all religions are correct and good. Or are you saying that all religions contain great evil?
But, we can assume you believe your religion is correct and good?
From what we've observed throughout history, absolutely.
My 'religion', I believe, is perfect. I believe in the pursuit of all truth, and being the best person you can be according to your knowledge.
Because my religion is the pursuit of removing all traces of evil action and thought from myself, I would say my religion doesn't contain any evil.
That's a pretty bold claim. Are you distinguishing 'religion' from 'practitioner'? Certainly ever religion had people in it, and people inherently do bad things. But to say all religions contain great evil... wow.
ephx - that is the way to live. I'm glad you're in the world.
LOL! Yes, that's what believers believe about their religions, it is without a shred of intellectual honesty, rationale and logic that they do so.
A bold claim? LOL!
History is replete with the horrors and atrocities of what religions have committed over the years, not to mention the words written in their scriptures commanding them to commit those acts. I wouldn't suspect a believer to actually acknowledge reality and I see you are no different.
Can you show me what 'great evil' is inherent in the pursuit of eliminating evil from myself?
I would love to see some rationale and logic that would explain it.
I never said there weren't religious battles and what-not. I asked if you distinguish religion from practitioner, and I would like you to back up your claim.
I'm not denying the crusades or the inquisitions or anything like that. I'm asking how you know that EVERY religion contains great evil. Mine, for example.
Who cares about that? What we can show are the many, many verses in Scriptures that are evil and the followers actions based on them.
Another red herring?
Reading Scriptures will show the evil contained within, the very same evil that sparked the Crusades and the Inquisitions.
You care, apparently. You said all religions contain great evil. I'm asking you to back up your claim. Show me the evil in mine.
Nope, not at all. You claim all religions contain great evil, and you attempt to back up your claim by referring to generic historic atrocities. I'm asking you to show how you know that all religions contain great evil.
Ok, show me the evil contained in every book of scripture. At the very least, show me the evil in the Old Testament, New Testament, Quran, Book of Mormon, Buddhist texts, Sruti, and Tao Te Ching. We can start with those, and move on to others if you are still so adamant in your belief that all religious text contain great evil.
Putting aside God's statement that nobody can come to Him except through Him then.....it would seem sensible to discuss and share alternative viewpoints on religious topics. After all 'iron sharpens iron'.
Well, if He gave us our different religions, our different versions of truth, then they could all lead to Him, through Him.
'In your world, I am known by another name' - Aslan in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.
If two religions disagree on a given point, they can't both be true, and therefore cannot both have come from God. It is those difference that we fight over.
Why not? If one religion says you have to come to God through Christ, and another religion provides a different way, couldn't those actually be the same path, but known by different names?
Do you think it is really so black and white?
Some things are black and white, and application of logic will usually shows us the truth.
Would you care to elaborate?
What I'm suggesting as a possibility is that God gave different truths, or different versions of truths, to different groups of people. If each person follows their own truth, then wouldn't they be following the path God gave them?
By definition truth can only mean one thing. If two things are not in agreement they cannot both be true. That is logic. 2+2 always equals 4. Christ was either just a man or He was God in the flesh. Either man was created by a special act of creation or he was evolved. The universe is either about 13,000,000,000 years old or 6000-ish. God either sacrificed Himself for sin or He didn't. There is either one God or many.
Take your pick as to what you want to believe. What you can't do is say that everyone's beliefs are true or true for them. Just because you might think you take take a pick-and-mix approach to religion, it doesn't mean that such a strategy will lead you to the truth.
Nothing is hidden that will not be revealed through study, logic and investigation. The truth will always come to those who put aside any preconceived ideas and search coldly and objectively.
Thank you Disappearinghead, I definitely appreciate your opinion. I'm not trying to make a statement on what is or isn't right... I just like to pose questions that have gotten me to think for others to see.
Neither do I wish to claim that I am right and others wrong. Indeed my beliefs today are quite different from what they were five years ago, and at that time I thought I was right in all that I believed.
The beliefs I have today are the result of objective study and reason, as well as taking on board ideas of others who I recognised where more knowledgeable than I on a given topic.
Out of curiousity, where do your experiences fall into the categories of objective reason?
Which experiences are you referring too?
I don't know. You said your beliefs today are born out of study and reason, so I was asking...what about the experiences you have, do they not ever come in opposition to what you can study or reason?
MzC - this is an excellent question since we are ultimately informed by our experiences including the experience of studying and reasoning by way of what we have studied and experienced. Ha.
Okay, I'll roll with that. But, I don't think that statement is completely relevant in the conversation. There indeed may be only one God (or a billion or none) but there are as many ways to worship him/her/it/they as there are human beings.
I look at it using my children as an example... All of them make me happy/proud but they all do it in different (and sometimes opposite) ways. For example, my middle son joining a band makes me happy because he has trouble socially and creatively but does exceedingly well academically (usually)... My oldest son joining a band made me groan because my house already is overrun with teenagers and guitars when I wish there were a few more books being carried in by him.
The point is each would make me happy by doing seemingly opposite things, yet both are my children. Separate paths to pleasing their creator (in this case, literally me)
Spiritually, I believe that if there is a God(s) that there are many paths to understanding/living for him. To take it further, I believe that the same God is worshiped by every religion(even atheism).
Buddha got revelation from the Creator God; the Buddhists could not record it in the original language that would have reached us.
Same happened with the Hindus; they could not preserve the Word revealed on Krishna in the original laguage.
We see the same phenomenon happening with Zoroaster, with Moses and Jesus.
I thing the message was the same for the Creator God; but it could not be well recoreded by the people; it has been human failing.
Disappearing - they can both be true but the interpreters are wrong/misinterpreting.
I personally always thought this parable was a double edged sword. On the one hand, I have these talents to do with as I choose but I am basically keeping them for another. And, on the other hand, if I lose them all - thats not good, but not using them at all appears to be even worse. And, this is for something I didn't even ask to have to begin with. It's really unfair pressure to put on me and not give me parameters to work with...am I just suppose to use the 'norms' of the time, if the merchant was so bright - didn't he have a responsibility to make sure he positioned his riches accordingly. Oops, I don't think this was actually your question.
You make a leap in the teaching which is to use our talents, of the individual and jump to the tenets of a church (or other institution)...Which, technically, I think the parable (though appearing to be for the individual) can stand for any group...church or otherwise. Then you ask the question - what does God expect of us? Are we to spend our lives comparing every possible religion to try and find the one, correct religion? I think these might be 2 different issues.
I don't think God expects anything actually from anyone. I think the relgions of the world are there to help point a direction if we need to seek one. I think...God already knows who and what it is that all the stories we tell ourselves about why "God" is doing all of this, is really pretty much just that...stories we tell ourselves.
(She repeats herself,) I don't think God expects anything from anyone...I think religions teach that God does...I don't think God, needs. I think God knows. And, in that infinite wisdom, I think many allowances are made for those who walk the "wrong" or the "long" path, I think all paths lead essentially to the same place.
So, do you spend your life trying to find the right religion? Yes, right up until you know that the "religion" - the "spark of light" that was placed inside your heart, was the beacon that lead you all along. Sometimes that beacon took you through religion, sometimes it takes you through science, sometimes it takes you to nature...but it always takes you home. Home is where we always go, in truth, we are never out of it...but sometimes things are not always as they seem. A person doesn't contemplate religion, or science, or money, or birth, or, or, or...anything unless, it reveals something about your nature and a place of growth for the individual....not everyone chooses a path of religious contemplation, it's just one way.
I would actually say that everyone's beliefs are true and true for them. I would say that...but then I believe that. I think Christ can be a man and God in flesh. I don't even see where that is a contradiction in terms. I often wonder if anyone thinks that the struggles we make up for ourselves are really only there to make you ask questions, but when you have already decided what the answer is...you have sort of missed the point of the struggle to begin with. I wonder about alot of things.
I have wondered why there wasn't a servant who lost the talents he was given... I think it's a message that as long as you are really trying, there is no losing. The only way to lose is through inaction.
I appreciate your comments... I too feel like we are all finding our own paths. I know many will say 'Only through Christ' or 'Only through Allah', or even 'Only through truth', but that's why I like the quote from C.S. Lewis so much... known by other names.
I agree that the message is essential one of non-action. The problem is, why should I be required to take an action in regards to something I didn't ask for. I did take an action...I buried it. That was my choice. If my master had said go invest this (which some version do actually tell it that way), then I would have been compelled to invest and possibly lose if I am a lousy investor. In today's market, there aren't many good choices to put anything - would the results have been the same?
What if the same parable happened today and the result were that the man who took the greatest risk lost twice as much and the merchant now had outstanding debts in equal portions. And the man who invested less risky only lost half as much but the merchant was still responsible for that loss...and then poor me who stuck it in my black box handed back the original amount I was given. Am I still the black sheep in this story?
I haven't read the CS Lewis stuff in a very long time and when I had last read it - it was with the mind of a child. I remember wonder of the characters and the land...not much different that what I feel about Hobbit trilogy. I have picked up Alice in Wonderland in the last few years, for fun...You see alot of things the second pass through especially with adult eyes. I might try the other again as a refresher.
MzC - I agree with you when you say 'the struggles we make for ourselves are really there to make you ask questions." It's been said that the seen is for the sake of the seer. I believe that everything that comes through mind is for the distinct recognition of the objective world, as well as for the recognition of the distinct nature of the seer. One's association with Creation becomes greater as our questions are answered, subjectively of course.
I think both are important; like we need knowledge and its application.
Which came first: [your] life or [your] religion?
So [your] life is more important than the beliefs [you] attached to along the way.
The 'Way' is straight for those who perceive it/walk in it.
There is no left or right, no pitfalls, not even a single pebble to cause [you] to stumble.
And that Way, that road has zero to do with beliefs -equational or sensational.
Punishment comes because [you] failed to walk with, to exercise [your] gifts to the best [you] are able.
I agree, but your reference to churches bothers me; it sounds as if you are inclusive of only Christians. I hope you didn't mean it that way. One god, many gods, no god; all who seek are reaching toward the same source. It's our life experience that determines our idea of the best way in which to do that.
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