Are all religions the same if they have Love?

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corbin
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Are all religions the same if they have Love?

Post by corbin » Sat Jun 14, 2014 1:52 pm

If all religions are the same, what do we do with Christianity, especially when we have Missionaries trying to persuade others that Christianity is the best? After all Jesus Christ claims He is the Son of God (Mark 14:61-61, Luke 22:70-71, and John 5:16-47) whereas the other founders of other Religions claim they are just Messengers of God. And then you have the Resurrection of Jesus, and you have many witnesses at that time who could confirm this (I Cor 15). The meaning of all this as indicated by Scripture is that Jesus died for our Sins, and that all who believed in this would be saved (Romans 10:9). What would happen to the others who didn’t believe in this, I don’t really know. As a result Paul, a murderous opponent of Jesus, was converted, and John, the closest Disciple of Jesus, and Peter, the most outspoken Disciple of Jesus, who both worked with Jesus for about 3 years, day in and day out during His Ministry, and James and Jude, the biological brothers of Jesus who grew up with Him, all agreed that Jesus was the Son of God, He died for our Sins, and that He was Resurrected and ascended into Heaven.
Now we all want peace. And it might be very tempting for us to put all Religions into one box so that we might obtain Peace. But Peace, at least this type of Peace might be obtainable, but is this the type of Peace that Christianity is talking about. In fact, in Scripture it states that Jesus said He did not really come to bring Peace to the world, but that Wars and Violence would come because of Him (Math 10:34-36). Maybe This is what we’re experiencing now before we attain the real Peace that Jesus Christ promised us.

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Joe Parrish
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Are all religions the same if they have Love?

Post by Joe Parrish » Sat Jun 14, 2014 3:26 pm

Hi Corbin, :)
The word "religion" at its Latin root means "to tie" (ligio) as in ligament, ligature, etc., "back to" something (re) or "again" to something, or someone. Christians tie back to Jesus Christ, Son of God, who ties back to his heavenly Father, and it is the religion which ties us again to the living and ever present God in heaven, through God's Son, Jesus Christ, so we "anchor" there. The other religions could thus be compared to Christianity: who or what do they tie back to or tie again to?
Love is surely a part of good religion, but judgment is also a part; there are boundaries which we are not to cross, even though everyone does, and thus everyone eventually dies. Love brings us back to God, who loves us from the beginning, but love also warns us not to go beyond the constraints of what divides us from our God, or else we have made ourselves into divinity, and we worship ourselves, flaws and all. Thus love is a part of, but not all of, religion.
Peace and blessings,
Joe :)
Peace and blessings,
Joe

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Ernest
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Are all religions the same if they have Love?

Post by Ernest » Sat Jun 14, 2014 8:41 pm

Corbin, has anyone ever told you that you ask too many questions at once?

But Joe has addressed your question regarding Christianity, but you ask if all religions are the same if they have love? First I prefer to describe them as 'faiths' because religion to me is a general description of any faith or belief sincerely held. An most faiths differ in fundamentals from each other.

I would say that NO, because historically, culturally and theologically they've all developed from different foundations. What I would say is that many faiths have things in common that we all share, Love in some being among them.

I'm not denying that other faiths have holiness and sacred beliefs, just that the way that they worship God (or Gods) will differ from one another, some differences which are not reconcilable this side of the curtain between us and God. What it shouldn't do is prevent different faiths working together for the greater good. Bringing what we have in common to serve people (which is what it seems to me most faiths have in common) for the greater good.

Interfaith work promotes mutual trust and understanding, even love between peoples of different faiths, tolerance for each other and sets examples which can help to remove unsound prejudices and mistaken beliefs about each others faiths.

I also don't suggest that Christianity has a monopoly on God, who might well have received/revealed to people in different times and different context and different ways which have led to their faith, so respect for each other is something that we need to promote and to observe, without compromise to our own faith traditions.
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Ros
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Are all religions the same if they have Love?

Post by Ros » Sat Jun 14, 2014 11:58 pm

Qu 1. Are all religions the same if they have love?

I'm not sure what you mean by this question, however...

1) I agree with Ernest in that all religions/faiths are not the same. They have different beliefs, different ways of worshipping and different practices.

2) I also agree with Ernest when he says that Christians don't have a monopoly on God. God was around a long time before Jesus and God is still around in places and situations where there are no Christians to embody God's presence. Therefore, I think it reasonable to assume that God can make Godself known in such places and situations. Indeed, Paul makes the point that the Gentiles were 'without excuse' because God's eternal power and divine nature were clearly visible to them. Their problem was that they didn't honour God, not that they didn't know about God (Romans 1:20-21).

3) I also believe that God honours those who honour God, whether or not they are Christians. The story of the sheep and goats in Matthew 25 certainly seems to suggest this. What's more, Paul believed that 'all Israel' would be saved after 'the full number of the Gentiles' had come in (Romans 11:25-26). And he believed that God had exalted Jesus so that 'at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth...' (Philippians 2:9-10).

Paul does acknowledge the seeming impossibility of such a notion. Only God could both conceive of such a plan and bring it about:

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments,
and his paths beyond tracing out!
‘Who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counsellor?’
‘Who has ever given to God,
that God should repay them?’
For from him and through him and for him are all things.
To him be the glory for ever! Amen.

(Romans 11:33-36)

However, I think there is a clear implication here that, ultimately, everyone will be saved. Therefore, I don't think dismissing those of other faiths (or none) as being destined for everlasting hell is an option.

Qu 2. If all religions are the same, what do we do with Christianity, especially when we have Missionaries trying to persuade others that Christianity is the best?

I don't think all religions are the same (see above). But, even if they were, it wouldn't change what Christians are called to do: Share what we know of God and pray that others will be refreshed and/or transformed by it. After all, it is supposed to be good news. I think we should treat it as such, rather than as something to bash people over the head with.

Qu 3. Now we all want peace. And it might be very tempting for us to put all Religions into one box so that we might obtain Peace. But Peace, at least this type of Peace might be obtainable, but is this the type of Peace that Christianity is talking about?

I think the kind of peace Christianity is about is the kind that comes from picking up our crosses. You are right in saying that Jesus acknowledged that his coming would bring conflict - not least between those willing to acknowledge a servant king and those not willing to do so. However, if following a servant king means anything at all, I think it means laying down our weapons of war.

Meanwhile, would the peace that comes from putting all religions in one box be easy to obtain? I don't think so because religions are not all the same and it's the differences between them that cause the conflict between their adherents. Such conflicts cannot be solved by attempting to whitewash over the differences. The only way to solve such conflicts is through a renewed openness to the God who is able to transform all our hearts and minds. In other words, it's about humility. And that's where the kind of interfaith relationships that Ernest is talking about begin. Look at Paul's conversion. How would the story would have ended if Paul had not been willing to back down and/or if Ananias hadn't been willing to go and offer healing to someone who had been responsible for having his 'brothers' murdered?

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Beth
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Are all religions the same if they have Love?

Post by Beth » Sun Jun 15, 2014 2:30 pm

Last week in my devotional time I was reading a book about listening to God, and the authors mentioned the bestselling New York Times author Barbara Brown Taylor, who has written about finding faith in the world, away from the Church.
I wonder if any of you have read her books?

I think many people these days are interrogating religion. They want to find out what is darkness and what is light, to re-interpret these traditional poles.

Through my own experience of following Christianity I've had to do this continually in a very subjective way. I've been challenged to think about what is essential to my faith and what is optional. Love is a very subjective concept at the end of the day. I've tried to protect what love means to me by developing unique behaviors and practices, and joining alternative forms of church, like this one.

Religions try and make Love explicit through their literature. Yet the expressions of love believers produce can be very disparate, even within the same faith. I've had to ask many questions to find out what love is to me, and I don't envisage stopping any time soon.

In my opinion religions affect each other more than we think they do. Perhaps especially in today's uber-connected world of cheap travel, immigration and the internet.

When I lived in Birmingham (UK) as a child my mum taught in multi-cultural schools, and I came away thinking there were strong correlations between their cultures and mine in some important respects. However, I was very young and these cultures were filtered through the interpretations of my Church-going parents. I have had little engagement within multi-faith environments myself.

Has anyone read any of Barbara Brown Taylor's books?

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Joe Parrish
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Are all religions the same if they have Love?

Post by Joe Parrish » Mon Jun 16, 2014 4:59 pm

The challenge we face as Christians is how to interpret to others the sayings of Jesus when he says, no one comes to the Father but by me; and identifies himself as the way, the truth, and the life; and that he came that they might have life; and the Father and he are one. If he really meant those things, then we either have to say he was misguided, deluded, or simply wrong, or that he was trying to provide a way to his Father in heaven. His death on the cross and resurrection would be meaningless if he was not showing the power of God working through and in him. No other religious figure died and then came back to life as witnessed by hundreds of people. So unless we think death is not certain for all of us, we have the challenge of who do we follow if none others have solved the problem and challenge of death. On the other hand he also said to love others, love our enemies, do good those who hate us, and do not judge, and that the judgment we give to others will be how we are judged; sounds like we are to love others, rather than judge.
Peace and blessings,
Joe :)
Peace and blessings,
Joe

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Beth
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Are all religions the same if they have Love?

Post by Beth » Mon Jun 16, 2014 6:18 pm

I agree Joe, but Jesus sent his Holy Spirit at Pentecost. We know the Holy Spirit is part of the Godhead according to the theology of the Trinity. They say Christian love is a gift of the spirit. At the same time, I see many churches and individuals within them who don't display spirit-filled love as I would interpret it.

Love, while held to high standards in the Bible, is about getting our needs met. My understanding of Jesus is he did this in extraordinary abundance by dying on the cross in place of our sin.

Where there is sacrificial love there often exists a helping and supporting by the Holy Spirit. Even if the person themselves is not fully surrendered to this, it becomes part of their story. They may not be able to articulate it. Our job, in a sense, is to help them with the words, because we haven't got the power to help with the other.

I know some people will think this is woolly, but having spent a majority of my time now away from the Brick and Mortar church, it is what I believe.

Basically, I still need help with the words, and I don't know if we ever stop needing assistance with the transformation of our minds. We should constantly be coming to God through Jesus in prayer. Prayer is words and heart, and if heart comes before words, I think that's okay. I think I've kind of had to believe that God is everywhere, working silently and sometimes incognito.

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Are all religions the same if they have Love?

Post by corbin » Tue Jun 17, 2014 2:24 am

Ros You stated that you think everyone will be saved. Does this mean that Adolph Hitler will be saved, that Joseph Stalin willbe saved and that the head of Isis which is terrorizing Iraq, even if he continues with his current vilence will be saved. If this is true then Evil itself has no lasting consequenses. I can't buy into this. I don't think the Bible does either. There's really no Final Judgement then.

God Bless,

Corbin

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Ernest
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Are all religions the same if they have Love?

Post by Ernest » Tue Jun 17, 2014 6:29 am

The thing about all being saved is that God's mercy is infinite. Christian teaching rests on repentance and reconciliation with God, and as Jesus shared death on the cross with the two thieves, Barabas repented his ill-deeds and Jesus said "you will be with me today in paradise". The other thief mocked Jesus, with no sign of repentance (unless he repented at the point of death) and Jesus didn't make the same offer to him.

My response is based on Jesus submission that he will be the ultimate Judge and not us. How can we know who has and hasn't repented and what form that might take?

I know that there is an element of judgement made by the various national and world legal systems. The people that you describe, Hitler, Stalin (and many others no doubt) might be found guilty of crimes against mankind on earth, but the final judge will be God, through Jesus Christ. Is it for us to second-guess that decision? I hardly think so. Mankind can mete out it's punishments based on it's legal systems, but the ultimate punishment (if any) will be judged by God.

And my understanding of any likely punishment that God might make will be an eternal separation from him, never sharing in the eternal love of God or seeing his face in Glory, which it seems to me is our ultimate hope and aspiration.
Where there is hope and love there is life!
God is Life!
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corbin
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Are all religions the same if they have Love?

Post by corbin » Tue Jun 17, 2014 1:08 pm

And my understanding of any likely punishment that God might make will be an eternal separation from him, never sharing in the eternal love of God or seeing his face in Glory, which it seems to me is our ultimate hope and aspiration.

I totally agree with you on this last statement Ernest on the type of punishment that could be inflicted if there is no repentemce by the individuals.

God Bless

Corbin

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Are all religions the same if they have Love?

Post by Joyce » Tue Jun 17, 2014 5:24 pm

It is the concept of forgiveness from a loving God given freely upon repentance that I have noticed is missing from the awareness of followers of 'other faiths'. Punishment looms large.
The Muslim ones especially, perhaps because 'born' ones are not allowed to read their scripture in languages they know,tend to know very little about Islam and are surprised when I tell them that they have scriptures in common with Christians and Jews.

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Are all religions the same if they have Love?

Post by Beth » Tue Jun 17, 2014 5:42 pm

I think we have to be careful we don't exclude people from the grace of God before they've had the opportunity to accept it. To never know God in life and then persevere in this through eternity, through no fault, because of an absence of the gospel, goes against the goodness of God in my opinion.

I don't necessarily believe all will be saved. A statistical heaven with sheep and goats is taught in the gospels. On the other hand, as Ernest said, we don't know the attitudes of others, we only see their religious behaviors.

I agree with Joyce as well that the gloss we give to scripture and the culture around what we believe is critical to how we represent God to unbelievers, and to our relationship and intimacy with him. I've found a harsh God in church who I didn't like much. He wasn't like the loving Jesus who cares for my worries.

That experience of encounter with a frightening figure led me to search harder and longer for what I needed and what only Jesus can provide, which is self-acceptance and grace.

Since you are concerned with the "big sinners" Corbin, the Catholic church never ex-communicated Hitler or any of the Nazi's who were responsible for great evil, because they said they believed punishment would be upheld in the next life.

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Are all religions the same if they have Love?

Post by Ros » Wed Jun 18, 2014 12:11 am

corbin wrote:Ros You stated that you think everyone will be saved. Does this mean that Adolph Hitler will be saved, that Joseph Stalin willbe saved and that the head of Isis which is terrorizing Iraq, even if he continues with his current vilence will be saved. If this is true then Evil itself has no lasting consequenses.
That's a fair question. A God who had no desire to put an end to evil would be a scary God indeed. And, for me, that's the real question here. I do not believe that the evil of Hitler, Stalin, or indeed anyone else will be allowed to persist forever. How could a just and loving God allow that? However, I do believe that God not only has infinite mercy, but also the power to bring about a complete transformation of our character.

As Ernest points out, such a transformation requires a willingness from us to allow it, but I believe it to be possible for all. I accept that it is hard to see such a possibility in someone who has been responsible for such horrendous suffering. Yet Jesus saw it: 'Father forgive them. They don't know what they are doing.' No indication of punishment there? Only a (somewhat shocking) willingness to offer them life.

In the event that someone were so utterly depraved that they were completely unable to accept such forgiveness and love when truly faced with it, then it seems to me that they would already be dead. The breath of God through which they originally gained life would have been completely extinguished. Hence they would not be sentenced to live in eternal separation from God. They would simply be no more. Eternally dead. The second death, as Revelation puts it.

In theory, I believe that to be possible. In practice, I find it very hard to believe that anyone is so totally depraved that the power of God's love and forgiveness will not ever reawaken them. I guess I just think God's love is that irresistible! It's not about our not having a choice so much as there being only one choice worth making.
corbin wrote: I can't buy into this. I don't think the Bible does either. There's really no Final Judgement then.
Revelation speaks, among other things, of the casting of Satan into the lake of fire, followed by death and Hades. If that is not suggestive of the ending of all evil and the realms of the dead, I don't know what is. If there is no more evil, there cannot be a place where such evil resides. It is done with. Gone. Finished. For ever. Hence the creation of a new heaven and a new earth.

Interestingly, after this, Revelation speaks of no impure thing entering the Holy City and of the sexually immoral, idolators, murderers etc. being outside it. But it also says that the gates are open and that the tree of life will bear leaves for the healing of the nations. Hence there is a strong implication that those outside are not 'eternally separate' but can eventually be made whole (in keeping with Philippians 2:10). And this, after the 'final' judgement?

So I don't think the Bible is as clear about how everything turns out as some folks will claim. It provides us with some strong hints, but it doesn't spell out every detail of the rest of eternity. What it *is* clear about is that the water of life is well worth having and that God offers it to all who truly desire it. ('Let the one who is thirsty, come!') And it's on that truth that I try to build my life.

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Ros
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Are all religions the same if they have Love?

Post by Ros » Wed Jun 18, 2014 12:22 am

Beth wrote: Has anyone read any of Barbara Brown Taylor's books?
I haven't. However, I had a look on Amazon and thought they looked quite interesting :)

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Are all religions the same if they have Love?

Post by Ernest » Wed Jun 18, 2014 6:46 am

Ros wrote:
In theory, I believe that to be possible. In practice, I find it very hard to believe that anyone is so totally depraved that the power of God's love and forgiveness will not ever reawaken them. I guess I just think God's love is that irresistible! It's not about our not having a choice so much as there being only one choice worth making.
The exception to this might well be those who are so damaged mentally that they have no comprehension of the difference between right or wrong, and do not have a conscience and are totally incapable of feeling guilt or understand the horror and pain of the crimes (in our eyes) that they commit or the harm that they cause.

If someone is so damaged in this way, would they be condemned, despite their disability? I had always held a pretty black and white view of right and wrong until I read about and heard about this type of person. Their actions repulse and horrify us, but they can't and will never understand why. Somehow, I believe that God in his mercy won't leave them unforgiven. And when 'everything is made new' they will be healed and whole and able to share in God's Glory.
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Are all religions the same if they have Love?

Post by Beth » Wed Jun 18, 2014 12:59 pm

I'm going to try and chose my words carefully in what comes next. Corbin picked out the difficult cases. The Hitlers and Stalins of the world were unequivocally evil once the madness had passed and we earned the right to evaluate their actions in the the cold light of day. In the West, we earned the moral privilege through a) military and b) economic defeat.

However, many sin and their crimes are less obvious, and may remain hidden. Some are saved and a hardness of heart remains that causes them problems with repentance. Some aren't saved into the right church scaffold and aren't supported to repent when this may be desirable. Shame and secrecy can prevent an honorable attitude in these areas. Does this mean these lesser cases are not saved, since they display remorselessness and may knowingly continue to err?

I'll give you an example from my life. Without being specific, I committed a sin it was impossible to forget. It was obviously wrong. I knew when I did it and I strongly repented of the behavior afterward. No-one in the community has ever let me forget this episode, which they largely heard about second hand.

I realize I may need counselling for this in the future as the sinning was only symptomatic of wider issues and I'd fallen down badly at the time. I'd suffered abuse myself and my emotions were all over the place. However, we're talking of a decade of slurs since then, that cut completely through the community, from those I know to those I don't.

My accusers have completely lost the moral high ground through their bad behavior and I believe they are looking for me to harden me heart and say "So what?" I won't do this because I know what I did was wrong and I know I'm forgiven for it, but it's difficult to handle every day without fear, doubt and pity creeping in.

What they really want is to lessen their own sins. And I have a list of those. I'm now living life on a parallel track to the other Christians in the town, going to church "virtually", praying and worshiping in my parent's home, unable to get a job or break through this wall of hostility, while the Christians who won't forgive run churches, live their lives successfully and network nationally, and beyond, with other Christians, enjoying the grace of God.

But it's ludicrous for me to say they won't saved. How can I do that when I've sinned myself? Only Jesus can, as the man who never sinned.

N.B I don't actually know my trials are because of this specific episode I have mentioned. There could be other reasons I'm isolated and I suspect there are many, however the feedback I receive is definitely skewed toward this specific episode, which is disorienting.

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Are all religions the same if they have Love?

Post by Beth » Wed Jun 18, 2014 1:03 pm

Thanks Ros, I'll put Barbara Brown Taylor's books on my list. The explanation of Revelation was very helpful too!

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Are all religions the same if they have Love?

Post by Joyce » Wed Jun 18, 2014 8:33 pm

It's nobody else's business to forgive or not forgive someone's sins unless they are affected by them.
It's reasonable to be wary of the sinner/former sinner if we are likely to be in danger from a repetition of the behaviour. Otherwise the Christian thing to do is MYOB.

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