Thursday, June 14, 2007

On Religion as a Source of Disunity: Word and Sacrament were never intended to be used as barriers between humanity and God

"Religion bestoweth upon man the most precious of gifts" - Baha'u'llah

“The Changeless Faith of God”
When Bahá'ís say that the various religions are one, they do not mean that the various religious creeds and organizations are the same. Rather, they believe that there is only one religion and all of the Messengers of God have progressively revealed its nature. Together, the world's great religions are expressions of a single unfolding Divine plan.
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"Interfaith Prayer Service: This montage happened by accident when I imported the wrong photos for conversion in to a HDR image." Uploaded on June 27, 2006 by Retinal Fetish on flickr

Baha'u'llah said that if religion is a source of disunity, it is better to have no religion at all, a sentiment that appears to be in keeping with Pastor Doug's post. -gw

This might sound a bit odd coming from someone who makes a living off of religion, but the more I think about this the more I'm convinced that religion, any religion, is not necessary. I have no doubts that religion has done much good in the world. I have no doubts that religion has been a fuel for some of the most horrific scenes of the human drama. I don't see the existence of religion as an issue of good or bad. I question the necessity of having a religion at all.

It could be argued that religion is necessary insofar as it serves as a moral compass for people. That may or may not be true, but most expressions of religion have bogged themselves down in this area through behavior modification and judgmentalism.

Then there's the battle over which religion is "right". Christianity? Islam? Judaism? Buddhism? Hinduism? Shinto? Baha'i? Who's got it right? Each individually would say "we" are right and everyone else is wrong. Christianity is especially good at this, as it has always made that claim. Islam does the same thing. Then along come the atheists who say that none of them are right because there is no god. On the other end of the spectrum are the Universalist Unitarians who say that all of them are right and serve as different pathways to god. Frankly, I think all of these groups are trying to bounce billiard balls.

It doesn't make much difference to me who's right or how many. My question is, "Are they necessary vehicles for God to interact with humanity?" Is it true that God needs a religious system to reveal Himself? IMO, religion has only served as a vehicle for humanity to interact with God. And perhaps humanity may perceive a need for that vehicle, as it gives people a sense of meaning and purpose. But perception doesn't equate with necessity.I know this will never happen, but what would result if every religious organization in the world decided to shut down and liquidate their assets? I know that I would end up seeking employment elsewhere. But would people all of a sudden become lost? They might be sad or angry, but that doesn't mean they are lost. Can I be completely honest here? It would not bother me one bit if every church, synagogue, mosque, diocese, headquarters, temple, meditation center, sangha, etc., etc., all of a sudden closed their doors.

I believe in God. I believe that God was revealed ultimately in the person of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Bible. I even believe that God uses Word and Sacrament to interact with us. But does this mean that I'm therefore obligated to belong to a religious organization, like a church? The argument could be made that a church with ordained clergy is the only place one would have any exposure to Word and Sacrament ministry, and so is therefore necessary. But necessary for what? For salvation? If that's the case, then Word and Sacrament become legalistic requirements instead of signs which point us to God's Kingdom. They were never intended to be used as barriers between humanity and God.

Thoughts on this?

Pastor Doug, "Religiosity," Lutheran Minister Unplugged: What synapse misfirings and cerebellum overloads look like in cyberspace

{Re-posted with permission}

1 comment:

Muslim-Bahai-Rocker? said...

That was a really interesting article.