25 Oct 2011

Which Belief is Right?

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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 Which belief system is the right one?Whether we are religious or not religious, Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, or Atheist, I would assume that we think that we are the ones who have it right. Otherwise, why would we believe the way that we do unless we think that our belief is right? There are many belief systems and religions in the world  (see List of Religion and Spiritual Traditions) Let's take a look at the concept that one belief system is the right one. (I'm going play devil's advocate here. With everyone believing differently, not everyone can be in the right belief system can they? But, wait. Let's examine this common belief, only one belief system can be right. Stop! Is that concept even correct?But, for the sake of argument, let's pretend that it is correct.) Would the correct belief system be a non-religious or a religious belief system? Since religious people are a large part of society, Let's assume that the religious people are the ones who have it right. Now which religion? Since I was raised as a Christian, let's pretend that I am part of the one true belief system. Of course, that would be the Christian belief system. But which one? Protestant or Catholic. OK, since I was raised in the Protestant branch of religion, let's pretend that the Protestants are the ones who have it right.

"As of 1980 David B. Barrett identified 20,800 Christian denominations worldwide . . ." ("Denominationalism," page 351)

The 2001 edition, successor to his 1982 first edition, which took a decade to compile, identifies 10,000 distinct religions, of which 150 have 1 million or more followers. Within Christianity, he counts 33,820 denominations.

OK, now which Protestant group? A denomination or the non-denomination groups. I'm going to pretend that since (I presume that) there many more people in a denomination than who are not in non-denominational groups. So, let's assume that  the people in Christian denominations are the right ones. Now we know that all the denominations don't agree, so they can't all be right. So Which denomination believes the right way? Well, since Baptists make up a large part of the Christian religion, let us assume that the Baptists are the ones who believe correctly. On the Wikipedia page List of Baptist Denominations there are hundreds listed.Now, which Baptist demonimations are the correct one? If I were a Southern Baptist (which I'm not) I would probablly say that "My church is the church that believes the Bible. We are the ones who believe correctly!

 So, are we going to have God send every other belief system to hell because they don't believe the same as we do? Well, OK, let's allow some of the other religious people to also "go to heaven". Now, which other belief systems will we allow God to bring to heaven with us. Certainly not those other people that we disagree with.

Do you get my point. We humans are very prideful. We think that we are the ones who believe correctlly. How arrogant is that?

A More Realistic View

The answer is not to be found in man's view of religion, but in a personal faith.

"To give all religions due respect, but give none the power to control our connection with God, nor allow any middleman to restrict our freedom to articulate personal faith that is divinely ordained with a free will to choose, change or contemplate." No 2 Religion, Yes 2 Faith

Over the past few years I've come to realize that God can be found everywhere and that we can learn many things if we will but open our eyes. Organized religion is not the answer, but we can still learn much from each of them. It has been expressed so well here:

"Nonetheless, fragments of the truth are scattered everywhere, and I like what the reverend Lowell Grisham has to say about learning from other beliefs. Growing up in Mississippi in the days of the Civil Rights struggle, Grisham feels strongly about the need for tolerance in a diverse society and admits he learned the following from other religions:

“From Buddhism I have learned a sense of the interdependence of all life and the non-dual oneness of the contemplative experience.

From Hinduism I have learned the richness of a mythology that is embracing and inclusive of the complexity of human experience, while honouring the divine in the midst of it all.

From Jainism I have learned the ideal of Aahisma—non-harming, that challenges my violent and power-based cultural norms.

From Islam I have learned the power of disciplined prayer and surrender to God through faithful daily acts of devotion.

From Judaism I have learned to delight in vital and living conversations with ancient holy texts interpreted through the centuries.

From Native Religions I have learned the holiness of nature and the revelatory wonder that is the living breath of our mother earth.

From Zen I have learned the limitations of the rational.

From Catholicism I have learned the power of the sacramental presence of the divine within the created. From Protestantism I have learned the passion of a personal relationship with God.

From Science and Humanism I have learned of the exquisite order and relationship of all creation and the responsibility of human beings for the welfare of this fragile earth.” "1

When we put aside our pride and arrogance of being "the one true belief" and put on Christ's humility, we can truly begin learning. Truths about God and his character, and the lessons that He has for us can be found in many places. We have to be open to His leading.

Which is Right?

Now, back to the question: Who is Right About what to believe? What is the right Religion? Does it matter what you believe?

In looking through the many books about theology and religion one can see that many authors have a wide variety of thoughts and opinions In searching the Internet about faith and religion one can find countless websites with differing ideas about faith and religion. Many of the books and websites seem to be written for the express purpose of proving someone's belief as the right one. In contrast, many websites are written to denounce a variety of supposedly heresies or "false beliefs." How is one supposed to make sense of it all?

If it doesn't make sense....

My basic philosophy is:, "If it doesn't make sense, then throw it out. True faith and true religion is logical. It will make sense." For example: Jesus said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another2.”  and again he said, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you3."This doesn't take a theologan to figure this our. Just treat others with love and kindness.

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