Monday, July 11, 2016

God: Religious or Systematic

        


      I grew up in a Christian home with a strong belief in God and considered myself religious.  Until recently, I had never considered if God was religious.  I took it for granted that He was.  If God is religious would He be non-denominational?  Growing up my friends would ask me questions regarding my faith and denomination and I was more than happy to respond to them using the bible as reference.  However, when they asked about other Christians from different denominations along with other religious groups and the claim of serving the same God referring to Him by different names I would simply point them to scripture, "And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice: and there shall be one fold and one shepherd." John 10:16.  However, the Apostle Paul states, "For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints," 1 Corinthians 14:33.
     One key thing to scripture is its reference in context.  Miss the context of a verse and you open yourself to misinterpretations.  Now to get back the question of 'God's denomination' or lack thereof.   To answer that question let's examine the meaning and the origination of the word religion. It consists of a broad definition which is simplified to mean 'the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods."  Some argue if this is the case where would others such as Buddhism, Hinduism fit in.  A humorous case appears in the novel 'Tom Jones' by Henry Fieldings, confusing as what you thought was where he has one character say: "By religion I mean Christianity, by Christianity I mean Protestantism, by Protestantism I mean the Church of England as established by law."  By these definitions, religion can be said to be exclusively Christian.
     To make religion more inclusive, Kile Jones, a Ph.D. student at the University of Glasgow, Scotland wrote the following in an essay as a possible definition; "It is apparent that religion can be seen as a theological, philosophical, anthropological, sociological and psychological phenomenon of human-kind.  To limit religion to only one of these categories is to miss its multifaceted nature and lose out on the complete definition."
     Further confusion is rendered by religion's further separation into denominations - 'a recognized autonomous branch of the Christian church.'  This further strengthens the claim that Christianity is the only form of religion.
     Interestingly, when we look at a 'system', we see a general and simple definition, applicable to the context; a set of principles or procedures according to which something is done; an organized scheme or method.  By definition, a system is a set of principles that can be successfully duplicated anywhere and for the most part is not affected by a theological, philosophical, anthropological, sociological and psychological phenomenon of human-kind.
     Looking at the definitions God could not be religious as there is no higher being than Himself and there is no other worthy of praise like Him.  As a matter of fact, there was an angel named Lucifer, who challenged Him in this regard as recorded in Isaiah 14:13, 14; You said in your heart, I will ascend to the heavens; I will raise my throne above the stars of God ... I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High."  Needless to say, he was cast out of Heaven.         Since creation, everything God did was done in a sequential and systematic manner.  He found that it simplified things and made it duplicatable.
      Sin entered a perfect world when man exercised his power of choice to make decisions based on information he chose to agree with emotionally. Nothing has changed.  Daily we continue to make decisions based on our personal preferences, culture and all other factors combined.  Most people, research shows, make their decisions based on emotions rather than logic.
      Armed with this knowledge we are manipulated by the press, salespeople, businesses, politicians and unfortunately, some preachers, to make snap decisions.   Can you leave your future and eternal life to an emotional decision?