Article: 'AUTHENTIC' RELIGION CAN TAKE MANY FORMS

juantoo3

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I believe the best way to live a religious life is also the best way to gain converts for your religion -- by living a life of humility and compassion rather than arrogant triumphalism. I've been blessed to know many Christians and Muslims who live just this way and who don't use their faith as either a hammer or a sword. These pious friends of mine believe that their faith is true, and yet they've found room to embrace a rabbi in an honest and loving way. I don't think they're distorting their faith by embracing mine. Telling others they're wrong does not make you right. What makes you right is when others who watch you live your life say, "I want to live like that."
-Rabbi Marc Gellman

God Squad - Column by - ArcaMax Publishing

I recommend the whole article, which addresses what Rabbi Gellman refers to as the two faith moves; My way or the Highway, and There are many paths up the same mountain, pros and cons of each.
 
Re: Article: follow up article from the G-d Squad

Here is a quote from the follow up to last week's article; same link so I am guessing the link is updated every week. As before the author is Rabbi Gellman, and I think he poses some rather intriguing and thought provoking questions with this article:

My offering to you this week to extend the discussion is two sets of questions you might want to consider. First, some questions for those attracted to My Way or the Highway:

--Why do you believe that quoting passages from the New Testament will convince those who don't believe the New Testament is true, and thus don't believe the passages you're quoting are true?

--If someone has considered Jesus' messianic claims and rejected them, why can't you leave them alone and prayerfully accept their rejection of the gift you believe you've offered them?

--If Jesus is referred to in the Hebrew Bible as the future Messiah, why was the name Jesus never explicitly and repeatedly used in the Hebrew Bible?

--Does your belief in the complete truth of your faith prevent you from working with people of other faiths on the great moral issues of our time?

--Has your belief that holy people of other faiths are doomed to hell survived your experience of actually meeting a holy person of another faith, or reading about their life and good deeds?

--Do you believe that a person can really live a morally corrupt life while at the same time being saved by faith alone?

--How do you think your pronouncements about you having the only way to salvation are heard by those who don't embrace your religion?


For those who believe there are many paths up the same mountain to salvation, I offer these questions to provoke you on your spiritual journey:

--Do you really believe every faith is equally true?

--How do you evaluate the truth claims of different faiths?

--How can religions with contradictory beliefs both be true?

--If there is no absolute truth for salvation, how can there be an absolute truth for morality?

--How are religious preferences different from our preferences for music, food and art?

--Can you have a really strong faith if you believe that all faiths are only partially true?

--Can you respect someone who believes My Way or the Highway, or do you always shut them out because you consider them religious bigots?


I hope these questions help us all find the truth and find each other. God bless us one and all!

Any takers to answer Rabbi Gellman's questions?
 
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Rabbi Gellman said:
Thank you for your considered remarks, which I'm reprinting because this allows me to say a few more things about how we treat people of faith who don't embrace our own faith. There are only two main options, or what I like to call faith moves. Each move has advantages and disadvantages. I'll try to be fair in describing them:

1. "My way or the Highway." This is the belief to which you allude that the only way to be saved is through your religion, because only your religion is true. This faith move is mostly associated with Christianity and Islam. The advantage of this faith move is that it often deeply inspires believers to evangelize the faith so others can be saved.

Another advantage is that it makes religion more than just a personal preference and closer to the truth of things. The disadvantage of this faith move is that it makes interfaith dialogue quite difficult. Finding a gentle, loving way to tell people they're going to Hell is just not that easy.

I believe the best way to live a religious life is also the best way to gain converts for your religion - by living a life of humility and compassion rather than arrogant triumphalism. I've been blessed to know many Christians and Muslims who live just this way and who don't use their faith as either a hammer or a sword. These pious friends of mine believe that their faith is true, and yet they've found room to embrace a rabbi in an honest and loving way. I don't think they're distorting their faith by embracing mine. Telling others they're wrong does not make you right. What makes you right is when others who watch you live your life say, "I want to live like that."

2. "There are many paths up the same mountain." This faith move is associated with Judaism and Buddhism. It affirms that many faiths have created spiritually successful paths to salvation from sin, error, illusion, and all the assorted ways we betray what Lincoln called "the better angels of our nature."

The advantage of this faith move is that it makes interfaith dialogue more a way of learning than a way of selling. We learn from other climbers how they're making their ascent up the same mountain and this gives inspiration, courage and wisdom to all the other climbers. Another advantage of this faith move is that it assumes it's highly unlikely all the spiritual truth in all the world has been given to just one religion.

The main disadvantage of this faith move is the "spiritual cafeteria" problem. If our path is just one of many valid paths, why not mix and match religious practices from many faiths and combine them into a mishmash religion? The result is that the religion left on your plate has no real name.

My own view is that although certain tendencies dominate in each of the great world religions, all faiths have all the faith moves in them, and the parts you lift up tell more about you than about your faith. Christianity, obviously, has the famous Bible verse John 14:6: "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me." However, it also has Romans 9-11 and this from I Corinthians 12:4: "There are different gifts but the same Spirit. There are different ministries but the same Lord. There are different works but the same God who accomplishes all of them in everyone."

Whether you quote John or Corinthians is not a choice compelled by Christianity because both of them are within Christianity, but rather a choice you yourself are making about which parts of your religion you will embrace.

All the great religions have parts that are by turns either embracing or critical of other faiths. The great religious task of our age is for each of us to choose the parts of our faith that help us to find each other.

TMS Features

This link points to an archived set of the first article, but it appears this site only archives for 90 days, so I took the liberty of copying the bulk of the article here because I think it raises some very valid points it would be well for all of us to ask ourselves.

Besides, Rabbi Gellman, along with his now retired partner Monsignor Thomas Hartman, are high on my list of those footsoldiers in the trenches trying to find a way to promote interfaith dialogue. I read their column every week, and I usually learn something every time.
 
--Do you believe that a person can really live a morally corrupt life while at the same time being saved by faith alone?


NO as no one is really ‘saved’ or forgiven by God; as nothing is ever ‘undone’… so what you do; exists.

For those who believe there are many paths up the same mountain to salvation, I offer these questions to provoke you on your spiritual journey:

--Do you really believe every faith is equally true?
The compassionate ‘intent’ is fairly universal.

--How do you evaluate the truth claims of different faiths?
Common sense combined with knowledge.


--How can religions with contradictory beliefs both be true?
Interpretations vary of the many parables, stories, intent.


i.e… women thought to come from man; in life; cells divide; biogenesis.

So in reality each organism came from its previous generation; adam gave up a rib…. Yet we know that is impossible in the literal sense.

--If there is no absolute truth for salvation, how can there be an absolute truth for morality?
nature or the ‘true’ math shares that supporting life to continue; lives longer; ‘good’


And mankind (sentience/consciousness) is the only thing that that isolate the self from natural action (instinct) in which bad even exists; a loss to the common. Whether is be stealing or fibbing; a selfish imposition to existence is a ‘life’ created by a human which will eventually be extinct.

--How are religious preferences different from our preferences for music, food and art?
The last three we ‘experience’ in time. Preferences are often ‘predeterminations’ or like sun glasses; we see what is often culturally imposed as norm. (i.e…. capitalism makes sense to most everyone; look what that corruption of profit of compassion has done)


--Can you have a really strong faith if you believe that all faiths are only partially true?
Yes…. Be honest within your observances. We can see compassion and pain and all the feelings even in a headhunters society (and many may consider an indigenous tribe like Neanderthals; but if they still exist and their environment is not destroyed, maybe we should take a peak at what they literally believe; literally, they’re doing better than we are)

--Can you respect someone who believes My Way or the Highway, or do you always shut them out because you consider them religious bigots?
that one is touchy; as anyone who can fib; breaking every rule even in their own faith, to retain a belief and then get huffy and puffy when cornered; can bend the knees

I hope these questions help us all find the truth and find each other. God bless us one and all!

Sure!

It’s the ‘truth’ or the highway!

Meaning for each person to represent with pure honesty ‘versus’ representing an opinion of another as fact; then there is no reason to argue; just be absolute honest with each ‘witnessing’.

There should be an AUTHENTIC religion every soul born to follow; be honest.

and when each choice is made; weight the affects with absolute integrity.

Easy enough?

ooops on the cap thing
 
Re: Article: follow up article from the G-d Squad

Namaste juantoo3,

thank you for the OP. i'll give it a go if you don't mind.

juantoo3 said:
Any takers to answer Rabbi Gellman's questions?

First, some questions for those attracted to My Way or the Highway:

--Why do you believe that quoting passages from the New Testament will convince those who don't believe the New Testament is true, and thus don't believe the passages you're quoting are true?
[/quote]

i don't believe this though this question is one which i've often posed myself.

--If someone has considered Jesus' messianic claims and rejected them, why can't you leave them alone and prayerfully accept their rejection of the gift you believe you've offered them?

i think this answer is certainly related to ones denomination and individual temperment.

--If Jesus is referred to in the Hebrew Bible as the future Messiah, why was the name Jesus never explicitly and repeatedly used in the Hebrew Bible?

because he's not. by and large Christians and Jews have a very different understanding of who the Messiah is and what this being is supposed to do.

--Does your belief in the complete truth of your faith prevent you from working with people of other faiths on the great moral issues of our time?

no.

--Has your belief that holy people of other faiths are doomed to hell survived your experience of actually meeting a holy person of another faith, or reading about their life and good deeds?

yes, though i don't believe in doomed... each being can change things and how they will experience their death.

--Do you believe that a person can really live a morally corrupt life while at the same time being saved by faith alone?

i don't believe any of those things.

one either lives a moral and ethical life or one does not. there are, of course, many times in our lives when we may tred upon ground which is unethical and immoral. i have the distinct impression that many beings i know tend to self identify with previous negative actions whilst ignoring their past positive actions and being rather negligent regarding their current actions.

--How do you think your pronouncements about you having the only way to salvation are heard by those who don't embrace your religion?

the Dharma rain falls equally upon all and each being responds as it is able.

i cannot say how anyone else understands anything let alone something as broad as a religious paradigm. that said, i think that by and large beings are surprised to hear that regarding my religion.


For those who believe there are many paths up the same mountain to salvation, I offer these questions to provoke you on your spiritual journey:

--Do you really believe every faith is equally true?


no. most of the world religious traditions are valid spiritual refuges but they are not the final refuge.

--How do you evaluate the truth claims of different faiths?

by how consonant they are with the Dharma.

--How can religions with contradictory beliefs both be true?

special relativity. every being has a unique perspective and their observations are true from their perspective even though it may be untrue from another.

--If there is no absolute truth for salvation, how can there be an absolute truth for morality?

there, demonstrably, isn't one and there is no need to postulate such to have beings engage in moral and ethical conduct.

--How are religious preferences different from our preferences for music, food and art?

you can hear music, taste food and view art. you cannot do any of those things for religious belief therefore a very clear difference exists. i think a more apt analogy would be asking how it is that a being can be one sort of artist and not another, how it is that a being can play one sort of instrument but not another.

with this analogy the implication is that the being in question has the aptitude but chooses or can only express it through one medium. it isn't so much a matter of taste or preference it is simply the way that it resonates within the individual being and thus it is the way that the being can express it.

--Can you have a really strong faith if you believe that all faiths are only partially true?

sure, why not?

--Can you respect someone who believes My Way or the Highway, or do you always shut them out because you consider them religious bigots?

it depends on what they are talking about. you can learn something from everyone, even religious bigots. sometimes all you learn is that you've nothing to gain from a dialog with them on a particular subject :)

metta,

~v
 
Re: Article: follow up article from the G-d Squad

The main disadvantage of this faith move is the "spiritual cafeteria" problem. If our path is just one of many valid paths, why not mix and match religious practices from many faiths and combine them into a mishmash religion? The result is that the religion left on your plate has no real name.

Man, if I was eating in a cafeteria, would my friend seriously have a problem with what I am ordering? I can't remember asking anybody, "Hey, instead of getting the steak, you could have got the hamburger or salad! What an idiot!" Yo, both plates are going to be tasty and beneficial to us. To me, take what is beneficial from different religions. The Baha'i Faith takes the universal truths from all religions, however; yes, the theology is different.

--Do you really believe every faith is equally true?

No.

--How do you evaluate the truth claims of different faiths?

Comparing them with the teachings of Baha'u'llah.

--How can religions with contradictory beliefs both be true?

Because they contradict each other, this does not mean that one is false and the other is true. For example, lets say I was new to an area and talked to a person that said a grocery store once stood here, another said that it was not a grocery store but a Walmart, and yet another said that both are wrong and it was a tractor supply center. Who was right? Perhaps all three were true.

--If there is no absolute truth for salvation, how can there be an absolute truth for morality?

There is a list of precepts that works everytime? Show me the formula! To me, the absolute truth for morality would be like saying, "What ideas or steps would a guy need to take in order to fall in love with a girl?" Again, anybody here with something that works everytime?

--How are religious preferences different from our preferences for music, food and art?

I agree with V.

--Can you have a really strong faith if you believe that all faiths are only partially true?

Yes.

--Can you respect someone who believes My Way or the Highway, or do you always shut them out because you consider them religious bigots?

Well, I do not think "always." Sometimes I honestly do shut them out :)p).
 
Thank you to everyone who has posted so far. Since ya'll are willing to participate, I'll chime in with my answers.

My Way or the Highway:

--Why do you believe that quoting passages from the New Testament will convince those who don't believe the New Testament is true, and thus don't believe the passages you're quoting are true?

First, I don't currently follow this paradigm of "my way or the highway" anymore, but there was a time in the past when I did. I think Vajra hit on an important consideration though, which he and I have shared before, in that there *must* be some element within one's faithwalk that makes it seem better to the individual. One's chosen walk must have "better" value over the alternatives, else why walk the path one is on?

It is a fine line though, between believing the path one is on is the best, and berating other paths.

I suppose I do from time to time quote (or at least try to hit what I feel is the essense) from the NT to others who are not so convinced, but I usually do try to take the other's point of view into consideration and stay with overarching themes and generalities, rather than citing chapter and verse. In other words, I like to think I am not using my sacred text as a weapon to bludgeon others, but I do occasionally share what I feel are salient points. I also allow this other to share their points with me, which I feel is only fair and correct in a two way dialogue.

--If someone has considered Jesus' messianic claims and rejected them, why can't you leave them alone and prayerfully accept their rejection of the gift you believe you've offered them?

But I do leave them alone on this issue.

--If Jesus is referred to in the Hebrew Bible as the future Messiah, why was the name Jesus never explicitly and repeatedly used in the Hebrew Bible?

I'm afraid I don't understand the question. Jesus' name *is* repeatedly in the OT, in the form of Joshua, which is what Jesus' name would be if it were properly transliterated.

--Does your belief in the complete truth of your faith prevent you from working with people of other faiths on the great moral issues of our time?

No, why should it?

--Has your belief that holy people of other faiths are doomed to hell survived your experience of actually meeting a holy person of another faith, or reading about their life and good deeds?

Isn't this question presuming an oxymoron to begin with? To wit: Holy and doomed to hell are polar opposites. Therefore one cannot be Holy and doomed at the same time, only one or the other is possible, the two together cannot be true.

What is more, the lesson I take from the parable of the good Samaritan and others is that Holiness, right actions and good deeds are not limited to my faith alone. And since G-d is a just and righteous G-d, I fail to see how He would create others *as He intended* and place them *as He intended* to believe *as He intended* to be good and Holy people, only to destroy them in a lake of fire.

--Do you believe that a person can really live a morally corrupt life while at the same time being saved by faith alone?

No, I see that as a gross misinterpretation not borne out by a deeper search into the scriptures.

--How do you think your pronouncements about you having the only way to salvation are heard by those who don't embrace your religion?

This doesn't apply now, but during the time it did, I really didn't care what others thought.

For those who believe there are many paths up the same mountain to salvation, I offer these questions to provoke you on your spiritual journey:

--Do you really believe every faith is equally true?

Loaded question. *Every* faith, no. I do think there is a core of correctly aimed attempts by humans to reach out to the Divine, but that there are also some deliberate misguides led by less than scrupulous persons with less than honorable intent.

--How do you evaluate the truth claims of different faiths?

As any other student would, I weigh against my understanding of my own faith. What other basis would I possibly have to evaluate from?

--How can religions with contradictory beliefs both be true?

I am not sure I follow the question. Contradictory beliefs seems to me another oxymoron, so there would seem to me to be first a misunderstanding that would require better insight (most likely on my part). If after further study some contradictory belief set showed itself valid, I would suppose it to serve a purpose, a training tool if you will.

--If there is no absolute truth for salvation, how can there be an absolute truth for morality?

Morality and salvation are two different things. How can there be no square apples if there are round oranges?

--How are religious preferences different from our preferences for music, food and art?

Nature and nurture...some element of our preferences is training and indoctrination by family and school (including religious), especially when we are young. Later as we begin to mature we take the reigns of our preferences, taking cues from friends, peers, colleagues and the greater community. That is not to say every element of our preferences is dictated by what others think, but that some substantial part of our preferences is dictated by others.

We have a "comfort zone" in which we are raised. From there we reach out and dabble and experiment until we create a mature preference. I am thinking that other than the material aspect there doesn't seem to be a great deal of difference between our preferences for music, food, art and religion.

--Can you have a really strong faith if you believe that all faiths are only partially true?

Partially. :D

Of course, I'm partial to my faith, but whatever floats yer boat!

--Can you respect someone who believes My Way or the Highway, or do you always shut them out because you consider them religious bigots?

Ah, the crux of the matter, no? Can we justify our own bigotry by levelling an accusation of bigotry on others?

No.

However, I do have a caveat, and it is conditional. The views of others I can respect and tolerate...but how those views are presented is another matter. Respect must be mutual, the other (MWOTH) must at least allow me common human decency. They need not agree, they may feel I am doomed to hell, they may feel it imperitive to save me...but the moment they cross the line of common human decency and lower their own standards to the point of disrespecting me, then all bets (and kid gloves) are off. Do unto others...works both ways. Treat me and mine with disrespect, and that boomerang will surely come right back.

If that is unChristian of me, oh well. I'm not perfect, just forgiven.

My bit more than two cents.

Thanks again everyone.
 
Re: Article: follow up article from the G-d Squad

Thanks, Juan, for posting this. Very interesting... I'll have a go...

I'm sure everyone by now knows which of the two I follow. ;)

That said:

--Why do you believe that quoting passages from the New Testament will convince those who don't believe the New Testament is true, and thus don't believe the passages you're quoting are true?

I don't. I'm not really into convincing people about the validity of any particular sacred text. I think the Spirit of God works in people of all religions- any person who has the intent to learn. "Those who seek, find." Interestingly, if your life is your testimony and you quote the NT gently, at appropriate times when people are open to it, people of other faiths don't have a problem with it. It's only a problem when you're using the text to sell religion.

--If someone has considered Jesus' messianic claims and rejected them, why can't you leave them alone and prayerfully accept their rejection of the gift you believe you've offered them?

I offer the gift of Christ through my life, not through my discussion of messianic claims. To be honest, I'm not sure Jesus claimed to be what Christianity said he claimed. The more I read the Gospels, the more difficult that question becomes. I could take the easy way out and buy into a particular doctrine hook, line, and sinker but it would be intellectually and spiritually lazy of me. (That isn't to say it would be for others-- just for me, because I think God wants me to wrestle with this question.)

At any rate, I find that when you offer Christ through your being the hands of Christ- that is, through your life and compassion- people are curious, not repulsed. I also think people generally tune out when anyone is aggressive (well, or they get defensive). Neither tuning out nor defensiveness is a good space to be in for spiritual growth. So, aggressively promoting anything is a bad way to sell it... ;)

--If Jesus is referred to in the Hebrew Bible as the future Messiah, why was the name Jesus never explicitly and repeatedly used in the Hebrew Bible?

I'm not sure he was. I am a Gentile, so it's a bit of a non-issue to me, to be honest. I follow Christ because I think He was filled with the Spirit of God (however the details were), completely a vessel, and therefore entirely human and divine. To me, He was as divine as a human gets- let me put it that way. I have a personal relationship with Christ; He has guided me and been with me since I was a very small child (possibly from birth, but I can't remember that far back). So, I follow. But I'm not Jewish, so I don't have a burning desire to figure out how He fits (or not) into Judaism.

I follow a new path built on the foundations of my ancestors' earth-based religion, and I follow Christ. I find the two compatible. My ancestors' religion didn't really have a Messiah in the Jewish sense, but it did have a Child of Light. I see Jesus as that Child. Maybe there was more than one, maybe not. Defining God isn't really my thing. I just follow. I see that following Christ has made me grow spiritually over my life and is, each day, bringing me closer to being a pure vessel for the love and light of God in this world. That is sufficient to me.

--Does your belief in the complete truth of your faith prevent you from working with people of other faiths on the great moral issues of our time?

No. Because what is my path isn't necessarily the best/right one for others. What I believe is complete truth is that there is One Divine- One God. All who seek God, find God. I don't think I have the monopoly on what to call that One God, how to think about the One God, or the proper way to engage with the One God.

If someone shows the fruit of the Spirit- if they show a life that emulates Christ... then I believe they are growing in Christ. It doesn't matter if they call it Jesus or where and how they worship. Love reveals itself.

--Has your belief that holy people of other faiths are doomed to hell survived your experience of actually meeting a holy person of another faith, or reading about their life and good deeds?

I don't believe in hell (in this sense), so I suppose that is easy enough. :)

--Do you believe that a person can really live a morally corrupt life while at the same time being saved by faith alone?

No. I guess I should explain. A life is either being lived morally or not. Salvation is evidenced by increasing morality. So, if a person is not growing morally, then it is evidence that they have not yet awakened to salvation. I see it as impossible to be awake in salvation and also be consistently corrupt. Of course, we all make mistakes and fail sometimes, but a saved person will show improvement and a sincere intent to improve.

--How do you think your pronouncements about you having the only way to salvation are heard by those who don't embrace your religion?

I don't do this, but I can tell you how it feels when other people do it to me. I feel they are arrogant. And narrow-minded. And I don't appreciate it. I do appreciate it if I sense from them genuine concern, but oftentimes I do not. So on top of the other feelings, I feel they are insincere.

For those who believe there are many paths up the same mountain to salvation, I offer these questions to provoke you on your spiritual journey:

--Do you really believe every faith is equally true?

No. I believe any faith that provides a practitioner the vehicle to become increasingly compassionate, loving, and good to be useful. There is a difference.

Many faiths are useful, but I doubt any of them have the complete truth, in the sense that they've worked out all the details about God and creation. I think the pursuit of truth is certainly noble and a worthy one, and it is one of the key parts of both Christianity and Druidry. However, I think what is most important is the pursuit of love. We don't have to have all the answers to sincerely love others, to show the light of love of God to the world. It is the love that is the evidence of a valid path, because this is what shows that the path has brought the practitioner into God and therefore manifested God's love in the world.

--How do you evaluate the truth claims of different faiths?

It isn't my primary focus to evaluate the truth of other faiths, I more often evaluate their usefulness in growing love in people (and therefore, morality, etc.). However, when I do set out to evaluate truth, I do so with reason (mind) and with Spirit. I believe God gave us both for a purpose.

--How can religions with contradictory beliefs both be true?

If religions both lead to love, to bettering lives, then it is simply that they are speaking a different language but bringing people to the same place within God. I think there is really only one valid path, but you can be holding the hand of an awful lot of different teachers on that path. The problem is that we often fail to look around us and see who is with us, climbing steadfastly toward that same light at the end of the tunnel.

The truth in all sacred stories (myths) is found in the ways they play out in the lives of the faithful.

Now, if a religion does not lead to love and bettering lives, then I would not find it truthful.

Much of the truth of religions is not inherent in themselves, but rather in the intent of the followers. We can see this clearly in Christianity, for example. Jesus taught non-violence. He taught loving-kindness. He taught poverty and humility and social service. The religion itself is valid- it teaches love and betterment of life. But it can still be used in a way to justify the exact opposite of these teachings. However, in those cases, we can recognize individuals or groups that are counter to the teachings that a religion gives. We can conclude that it is the people involved and not the religion that is the problem. Or more aptly, it is not the teachings that are the problem. The religion, as a social organization, may be the problem if it reinforces beliefs and practices counter to its claimed teachings.

I find that all valid religions have at least some people who claim them as their own, but abuse them. The key is to look and see if there are many others who exhibit love and goodness. If so, then the religion is still truthful.

--If there is no absolute truth for salvation, how can there be an absolute truth for morality?

I believe there is absolute truth for salvation- we all get there by the grace of God, through the Christ. I just don't think someone has to say it that way to be saved.

That which is moral relieves suffering and shows love. Yes, the problem is in how we define this. Yet, I think the fact that we have to go through mental backflips to justify what is obviously counter to this purpose is evidence that actions that purport to do this (but actually don't)... don't. We have the inner light of God in us, and even when we ignore it, it's still there and it is pretty obvious what love is.

--How are religious preferences different from our preferences for music, food and art?

Mmmm... to be honest, I'm not sure that our preferences are all that different. But I think what is different about religion is that people often report the feeling of being called or drawn to a faith that isn't entirely comfortable, easy, comforting, or fun. I don't know of anyone who feels called to listen to bluegrass but really likes heavy metal. Or who feels called to buy a Monet print, but really likes Picasso. However, I do know that sometimes we crave certain foods because our body needs the nutrients in them.

I think sometimes our spirit, which is of God, craves the nutrients it needs from certain paths. So even though our minds might not be entirely comfortable or amused by the spirit's choice, we still feel drawn to the religious practice and belief.

--Can you have a really strong faith if you believe that all faiths are only partially true?

Yes. But not a strong faith in a single religion. I have a strong faith in God, in my journey with Christ, in my experience of the Spirit.

I think my faith is entirely true, in the sense that it is my journey with God, and in God, and toward becoming a better vessel for God to work through in the world.

I just don't think my ideas about all of it are entirely true. They are a work in progress, because they are my mind's attempt at making sense of what my spirit experiences. I figure, if that is what happens to an individual, imagine the difficulty in a whole community of individuals trying to figure out the truth. I think the faithful community (those who really follow and grow in love) in any valid religion have a completely true faith. It doesn't matter that they aren't the same in belief and practice as another community. What matters is that they are the same in love.

--Can you respect someone who believes My Way or the Highway, or do you always shut them out because you consider them religious bigots?

I respect them, but I still think the display of intolerance is counter to loving-kindness and, ironically, to their own goals. I am polite, I listen for a moment. But I am also firm about my boundaries and I insist on a non-abusive discussion- that is, they must not yell, they must not attack, they must not continue on after I have indicated I wish to leave the conversation. This is not shutting them out, but rather being fair to my own needs and teaching them that abusive and aggressive behavior is not OK.

I find that what often works for me with the MWOTH folks is to ask them to read some of their scripture to me and with me, and to share a moment of silent prayer together that we both grow in the grace of God. I haven't yet found scripture I disagree with, or have an issue with. And it's tough for another person to argue about praying for grace. It's a way to experience unity with someone who is in that space without agreeing to their approach.
 
'Authentic' form any religion can appreciate!:eek:






Originally Posted by juantoo3
First, I don't currently follow this paradigm of "my way or the highway" anymore, but there was a time in the past when I did.


right actions and good deeds are not limited to my faith alone.


Contradictory beliefs seems to me another oxymoron


However, I do have a caveat, and it is conditional. The views of others I can respect and tolerate...but how those views are presented is another matter. Respect must be mutual, the other (MWOTH) must at least allow me common human decency. They need not agree, they may feel I am doomed to hell, they may feel it imperitive to save me...but the moment they cross the line of common human decency and lower their own standards to the point of disrespecting me, then all bets (and kid gloves) are off. Do unto others...works both ways. Treat me and mine with disrespect, and that boomerang will surely come right back.

First class education, thx


Originally Posted by path_of_one
I could take the easy way out and buy into a particular doctrine hook, line, and sinker but it would be intellectually and spiritually lazy of me


The truth in all sacred stories (myths) is found in the ways they play out in the lives of the faithful.

Now, if a religion does not lead to love and bettering lives, then I would not find it truthful

Much of the truth of religions is not inherent in themselves, but rather in the intent of the followers

We have the inner light of God in us, and even when we ignore it, it's still there and it is pretty obvious what love is.
I think my faith is entirely true, in the sense that it is my journey with God, and in God, and toward becoming a better vessel for God to work through in the world.

I just don't think my ideas about all of it are entirely true. They are a work in progress, because they are my mind's attempt at making sense of what my spirit experiences.

Thank for the 'post graduate work'…

"the advanced course" ......301 .....
 
OK ... here goes ...

Why do you believe that quoting passages from the New Testament will convince those who don't believe the New Testament is true, and thus don't believe the passages you're quoting are true?
I don't ... but I live in hope that something might spark.

Aquinas said one can have no argument with someone who refuses to allow the idea of Revelation ... but one can answer all their objections. I quote Scripture in reference to an argument, or I argue in reference to Scripture ... but I only argue in response to a question, or when I believe Scripture or doctrine has been misrepresented.

If someone has considered Jesus' messianic claims and rejected them, why can't you leave them alone and prayerfully accept their rejection of the gift you believe you've offered them?
I can and I do. If however, someone chooses to broadcast their rejection — then that objection can be answered. To not answer it might lead one to assume it is right.

If Jesus is referred to in the Hebrew Bible as the future Messiah, why was the name Jesus never explicitly and repeatedly used in the Hebrew Bible?
Revelation doesn't seem to work like that ... then again, others seem to find all manner of references to Jesus throughout Scripture ... and 'Jesus' is a title as well as a name ...

Does your belief in the complete truth of your faith prevent you from working with people of other faiths on the great moral issues of our time?
No. Not at all. It makes it all the more imperative.

Has your belief that holy people of other faiths are doomed to hell survived your experience of actually meeting a holy person of another faith, or reading about their life and good deeds?
We do not believe people, holy or otherwise, of other faiths are necessarily doomed to hell.

Do you believe that a person can really live a morally corrupt life while at the same time being saved by faith alone?
No, on the grounds of the argument 'whilst at the same time' poses a false premise. Living a morally corrupt life implies lip-service to faith and its attendant moral values — and faith is not an insurance policy. If faith is what one believes, then one would act accordingly.

How do you think your pronouncements about you having the only way to salvation are heard by those who don't embrace your religion?
I don't know ... but I am always optimistic.

For those who believe there are many paths up the same mountain to salvation, I offer these questions to provoke you on your spiritual journey:
OK ... but I don't accept the premise unconditionally.

Do you really believe every faith is equally true?
I believe all authentic religion is founded on truth, but not that all religions are therefore equal. There is natural religion, and supernatural religion, for example.

How do you evaluate the truth claims of different faiths?
Against the claims on my own.

How can religions with contradictory beliefs both be true?
They are true according to the manner and method by which they make known their object. The object is not necessarily absolute, and therefore nor is the truth that they express.

If there is no absolute truth for salvation, how can there be an absolute truth for morality?
I believe there are absolutes.

How are religious preferences different from our preferences for music, food and art?
The former are from without, the latter are from within.

Can you have a really strong faith if you believe that all faiths are only partially true?
I don't think so. How can one commit oneself to something about which one holds reservations ... the very fact of the reservation implies a lack of faith. Strong faith then is a matter of will, and requires effort, which is where most of us fall down.

Can you respect someone who believes My Way or the Highway, or do you always shut them out because you consider them religious bigots?
Yes ... even if I do not respect their motives, message, or methods. I am not obliged to admire, endorse or agree with them ... but they are human.

Thomas
 
Question: Why is this in the general Abrahmic Religions section when the poll is apparently of an exclusively Christian flavor?

My Way or the Highway:

--Why do you believe that quoting passages from the New Testament will convince those who don't believe the New Testament is true, and thus don't believe the passages you're quoting are true?

There are those who will quote NT with the belief that "faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17) (Oops, did I just quote a verse?). Meaning that if they fire enough ammo, maybe one will hit the target. I mean, afterall, if the idea is to convince unbelievers to become believers, what else do you use? Maybe one of these times they will believe.

But I don't think that quoting NT is wrong if done in the proper manner. I also think it depends on the situation and how the quote is used. A person may not believe in the NT, however, that doesn't preclude them from trying to understand it if they are interested. There may be misconceptions about what they have heard and through use of scripture it might clear things up.

--If someone has considered Jesus' messianic claims and rejected them, why can't you leave them alone and prayerfully accept their rejection of the gift you believe you've offered them?

Once you've given a gift, it's up to the other person to open it.

--If Jesus is referred to in the Hebrew Bible as the future Messiah, why was the name Jesus never explicitly and repeatedly used in the Hebrew Bible?

As juantoo3 pointed out, the name Jesus is the Greek form of the Hebrew name Joshua, which is mentioned several times in the Hebrew bible. I think the real question here is whether that name (Jesus/Joshua) in the Hebrew is ever in connection with the Messiah. Not explicitly, no. But names in the Bible tend to convey attributes. Joshua means 'salvation', so the idea of the name is to convey God's means of salvation. Interestingly, Jesus was to be called Emmanuel, which means "God with us', in Matthew's nativity account, yet Jesus was never referred to this during his ministry.

--Does your belief in the complete truth of your faith prevent you from working with people of other faiths on the great moral issues of our time?

Not at all.

--Has your belief that holy people of other faiths are doomed to hell survived your experience of actually meeting a holy person of another faith, or reading about their life and good deeds?

I used have the view that anyone outside of Christ was doomed, but now believe that there are those what C.S. Lewis referred to as 'anonymous Christian', those who appear by there 'fruits' to exhibit the Spirit of Christ. Much like Muslims believe that some in other faiths are muslims (small 'm'). I can't see God fault anyone born in another religion. (See Acts 17:26-27)

BTW, I view hell more as separation from God and His Spirit, rather a picture of a place with fire and brimestone. I'm open to the idea that a person separated from God will find as a consequence to be in a state that could be like hell because the absence and withdrawal from God's Spirit will carry the same kind of experience as if it were a real place. In other words, a person will be in outer darkness (outside God's Spirit and Light, loneliness of isolation), the worm will not die (a gnawing sense of guilt and shame), the fire will not be quench (regrets of not coming to God, or possible the light of God's Spirit will seem like fire in opposition). Either way, not a pleasant place to be.


--Do you believe that a person can really live a morally corrupt life while at the same time being saved by faith alone?

I think this is a dangerous position to take. The purpose of Grace (or sacrifice) is for restoration when going astray, a means by which we can come to God. But obedience is better than sacrifice. Anyone merely looking for fire insurance might find their policy expired.

Having said that, the transformation of a person from corruptable to incorruptable is a process that we cannot perform ourselves. We need faith in God to perform it, for God's Spirit is that transforming power (i.e. fruit of the Spirit). But we greatly help the process by cooperating with the Spirit and growing in grace toward that end.

--How do you think your pronouncements about you having the only way to salvation are heard by those who don't embrace your religion?[/b]

Some will take offense, others will believe, still others will be indifferent. Jesus dealt with the same thing.


For those who believe there are many paths up the same mountain to salvation, I offer these questions to provoke you on your spiritual journey:

--Do you really believe every faith is equally true?

No, but the best religion is the one that brings you closest to God.

--How do you evaluate the truth claims of different faiths?

I think there are elements of truth in every religion. Just as there are elements of error in every religion, including Christianity. Most every religion has some form of the Golden Rule, and if followed goes a long way in fulfilling the Law.

--How can religions with contradictory beliefs both be true?

See above.

--If there is no absolute truth for salvation, how can there be an absolute truth for morality?

There is an absolute truth for salvation and morality, but we see in a glass darkly. All will be clear in the end. In the meantime, God expects us to use the light we have.

--How are religious preferences different from our preferences for music, food and art?

Well, our eternal destiny isn't hinged on our love for music, food, and art. But our world view (including religous preferences) are often reflected in our artistic and culinary appetites.

--Can you have a really strong faith if you believe that all faiths are only partially true?

Usually, one will favor a particular religious persuasion, even if open to more than one. It is in this one predominate belief that strong faith resides.

--Can you respect someone who believes My Way or the Highway, or do you always shut them out because you consider them religious bigots?[/b]

Having come from this, strictly speaking from a Christian perspective mind you, I cannot fault their convictions. That is part of their system of beliefs. They may not be tolorant, but I do not think this is religous bigotry. They may have an honest concern and love for souls. They believe they are helping by providing the answer that they are convinced is the way. I do see this as hateful or malicious. Nor conceited, for Christians admit that they are not worthy of heaven, that any praise for salvation is reserved for God.
 
Question: Why is this in the general Abrahmic Religions section when the poll is apparently of an exclusively Christian flavor?

Thank you Dondi, Thomas, Bishadi and Path of One.

To answer your question Dondi, because the questions are not of an exclusively Christian flavor. It was written by a Jewish Rabbi. I am pleased Vajra was kind enough to respond from "his" Buddhist POV. I am hoping to see some Muslim and Jewish participation as well. I even considered posting in the Belief and Spirituality board to get a wider response. So no, I don't believe this is exclusive to Christianity, and that it *is* intended for those seeking a wider interfaith dialogue.

Regardless, I think it is a great exercise for self analysis.
 
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