I have been receiving emails from people calling me bigoted and self-absorbed because I follow a faith that claims there is just one God and one God alone. The emails are fine; I truly take no offense. I even don’t mind the claims that people can believe whatever they want in regards to religion. Constitutionally speaking, that’s true. Heck, even God Himself gives people the freedom to believe what they want, so I will not try to pry you from your religion, whatever it may be. In fact, I’m all about laying all the facts down on the table and examining each one from various angles. That way, people can decide for themselves what religion they want to put stock into, and those who don’t know about other religions may be informed.
I don’t think anyone would have a problem with me doing that. But there probably will be people who will resent me being bias with my own faith as I present each religion. To that I say that it’s a very difficult task to view anything through a bipartisan lens, because our beliefs color our world view. Besides, I have no problem with that since it is my duty to share my faith, and quite honestly, it is a joy and a pleasure for me to do so, so I will do so happily.
Before we begin, let me just state very clearly that I am no scholar, nor do I claim to have any more knowledge than anyone reading this post. I have a long way to go in that department. I am simply doing my homework on the topic of different religions and belief systems, and I’m inviting you along. If I make an incorrect statement about any religion, to which I will take full responsibility for my lack of research, please correct me in a comment or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. To that, I say, let us begin by defining a few terms that we’ll run into throughout this discussion for the next several weeks.
Naturalism – To align with this belief system is to say that God does not exist and that physical matter is all that there is. Charles Colson believed that this is the dominant world view today and has shaped the post-modern Christian influence.
Pantheistic monism – Almost sounds like the Musketeers: “All is one, one is all, and all is God.” This is found in a lot of Eastern religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism. The Western version? New Age. While Christianity, Judaism and Roman Catholicism believe that history is linear, having a beginning and an end, Eastern Pantheism believes that history happens in cycles and has no end, going round and round.
Polytheism – There are many gods, goddesses and spirits we must appease to have a good life. This type of belief system is found in Hinduism, New Age, and though they deny this, Mormanism. Polytheistic stories are of gods and men having babies, and its believers think that the virgin birth of Christ is copied and that Jesus is half man and half God.
Christianity has had to fight a lot of battles over the years. It seems as though each generation of Christians has a new set of beliefs and values it must fight. At least in the West, it seems we are having to fight secular-humanism, postmodernism and New Age sects. These systems agree on a slogan that is probably the most dangerous belief anyone can ever subscribe to: “Whatever works for you.”
Christians adamantly do not hold to that view. We claim that there is one God and one God only. He is transcendent (above and beyond us), and immanent (right here among us) at the same time. The chair I’m sitting on is not part of God, it is a man’s creation created from material provided by God. At the same time, I am not a part of God. I am made in His image, as a separate being, united to Him only by adoption through the death and resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ.
Remember, as we discuss the various world religions, that Christians are not to fight man, but the evil spirits that seduce and deceive. And as I’m sure the comments will be rolling in, let me remind my brothers and sisters in Christ of Proverbs 15:1, that “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
My main source of research is from the book found on the right side of this page, So What’s the Difference by Fritz Ridenour. Support our sponsor and help us adopt James by purchasing it from the link on the right.
Next week: Roman Catholicism: The one true chruch?