Archive for the ‘Religion’ Category

Religion: What is the rift between Islam and Christianity?

Thursday, May 5th, 2011

Everyone in the Muslim world views everyone in Western Civilization as a Christian. That is their world view.

Everyone in the Western world views everyone in the Middle East and/or Near East as a Muslim. (Muslim, or Moslem, means to be a follower of the Islam religion.) And that is the world view of all countries in Western Civilization.

It makes no difference as to whether or not it is true. That is the perception.

Aside from the continuing war on terrorism, there is a continuing rift, this conflict, with Islam, anyway. Even though one religion follows a prophet (Muhammad) and the other religion follows a messiah (Jesus), they both believe in the same God. Why can’t they just get along? So what is the major rift, for goodness sake, between these two religions?

The rift is simply this:

  • Islam emphasizes “correct action, observance;”
  • whereas, Christianity emphasizes “correct belief.”

The world in which Muhammad was involved was truly “a tough neighborhood” where violence was a natural state of affairs. It was beset with tribal raids (and even wars), and cycles of vengeance and vendettas. Tribal honor and family honor were central virtues: manliness, courage in battle, chivalry, and upholding tribal and family honor were major virtues.

There was no sense of moral purpose, or communal moral responsibility. There were all kinds of religious traditions, most pointed toward idolatry. God was not in the equation. Therefore, Muhammad set out to correct this situation, and turn people to God.

Through a series of visions from the Angel Gabriel during his life, he was commanded to “proclaim the name of God,” and the Qur’an (known as the Koran in English) evolved. This book is divine guidance and direction for mankind, and considers the original Arabic text to be the final revelation of God. It is taught and understood that Islam’s mission is to bring all people, the entire world, under the discipline of the Qur’an’s teachings, saving humankind from its sinfulness.

So, Islam emphasizes correct action, correct observance, and a summary explanation as to the teachings of the Qur’an can be found in the following:

The world in which Jesus was thrust was that while the Hebrew people were God’s chosen people to “spread the word, bringing all the nations of the world to Him,” the religious leaders had turned the laws into a confusing mass of rules – would you believe some 613 rules! They were trying to correct the sinful nature of humankind. They lost sight of their purpose which was to turn people to God, and through the Holy Spirit, change the heart of the individual.

The Law itself, as well as a mass of rules, never makes us acceptable to God. Rules such as attendance in church or doing good works or worshiping in a certain manner or honoring special religious days or tithing to a church, are examples in current times. True belief and true faith transforms our thoughts as well as our conduct – we do the above examples in appreciation or gratefulness or to honor tradition and make Jesus known, not in anticipation or approval or expectation. Heartfelt obedience (a decision from the heart) is more important than legalistic observance (an intellectual decision).

As Jesus teaches, God doesn’t so much judge our actions, He judges our motives. Therefore, Jesus was sent into the world to mend that broken relationship between God and humankind, give humankind the New Covenant, and offer a path, through Jesus, for the forgiveness of sins and a way to Heaven.

So, Christianity emphasizes correct belief, and a summary explanation as to the teachings of the Bible can be found in the following:

And that is the rift — the disagreement that disrupts good relations.
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Religion: Religions are forms of superstition. None has more standing than another.

Saturday, February 12th, 2011

A letter from a friend of mine who read my book.

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Dear Robert,

Your book has not changed my opinion that religions are forms of superstition.  Most try to assure advantage on earth, or an afterlife.

They are valuable (and true) so far as they are believed by their practitioners, or help them in life.  They all want to be exclusive of one another, and be the “true” way.  None has more standing than another except in number, or importance, of its adherents.

If time of origination had mattered, we would all be pagans.

None have ever “proved,” nor have miracles been substantiated.

All in all, none of the unicorns in the race seem faster to me.  I’m glad you found comfort.

Sincerely, William

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Dear William,

My, my ….you can still throw those roundhouse verbal curve balls.  Right over the plate, I might add.  Are you sure that we can’t just have a few Scotch cocktails, and perhaps you could come-up with something a little simpler for me to tackle?  Oh well, what the heck – as I have said before, I’ll try anything!

As to religions being forms of superstition trying to assure an advantage on earth, or an afterlife,   WELL I must say…….!    And by the way, ……   Have you considered ….?    [Translated: shoot, I don’t have the faintest idea how to handle that double mouthful of words.]

Of course, religions are valuable to their practitioners, but it’s a bit deeper.  The value of any religion is that age-old human craving to be reconciled to God, or some sort of eternal almighty Being; meaning, the very worst fears of all women and all men — death and eternal lostness!   Furthermore, they may be young or they may be old, but all psychologists/psychiatrists notice the inclination, the yearning, for all women and men for peace in their hearts by being reconciled to God in this present life, also.

It’s innate, for goodness sake!   Notice the numbers in my piece Religion: How America sees God.   That says it all.

As far as each religion wanting to be exclusive, or the “true” way, you’re right.  However, you’re trying to dump all religions in the same bucket, and as I present in my book, that is simply not the case.  They are not the same – they are not on the same path.  Heck, they are not even on the same mountain!

And you know as well as I do that all pagans had some form of worship to a higher Being, a Higher Power – every people group in history!

As to miracles, well ….you might want to give that some further study and thought.   Most people are taught that God revealed himself to the Israelites, and later to the gentiles (all people not Jewish) in the person of Jesus of Nazareth.   You might consider cutting this fella Jesus some slack in considering his life, his ways, and his teachings — his purpose, why he was here.  He is accepted in Islam (big time!), in Hinduism, and in Buddhism.

Most of the major faiths, we agree, believe in miracles, the intervention of God into the natural order.  In Timothy Keller’s book The Reason for God (www.TimothyKeller.com), his chapter Science Has Disproved Christianity – Aren’t Miracles Scientifically Impossible? handles this conversation on miracles quite nicely.

Scientific mistrust of the Bible begins with the premise that “Science has proven that there is no such thing as miracles.”  But embedded in such a statement is a leap of faith.  It is one thing to say that science is only equipped to test for natural causes, and cannot speak to others.  It is quite another to insist that science proves that no other causes could possibly exist.  And he goes on with further discussion.

Coming to the conclusion that God “isn’t” is a tough road – my reference is the Special Report in my book on the existence of God: http://www.majorreligions.com/special_reports_case_for_existence_of_god.php
Don’t forget, old friend, there is a fine line between having what one would perceive as a plausible foundational argument, and just flat-out not wanting to believe.

Yes.  I’ll have another Dewar’s on the rocks with a twist, thank you.

Robert

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Religion: How America sees God

Monday, January 31st, 2011

The below is an exchange of e-mail correspondence regarding an article October 7, 2010 in USA TODAY titled How America sees God.  An interesting article, it was based on a book America’s Four Gods: What We Say About God — And What That Says About Us.  The book was based on in-depth interviews combined with surveys taken in 2006, and again, in 2008.

Pretty amazing that the percentage of Americans who identify with these traits of God was almost evenly split at ¼, or 25%, each: Authoritative God @ 28%, Distant God @ 24%, Benevolent God @ 22%, Critical God @ 21%, and Atheist/agnostic @ 5%.

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From: Harold
Sent: Thursday
To: Robert Fawcett
Subject: Greetings! How America sees God

Robert,
USA Today has an interesting article this morning titled “How America sees God” and references a PBS series starting Monday on God in America.
Of the four concepts of God described in the article, I believe more in the Benevolent God with God manifesting itself in many ways, from very personal to universal.

Happy Autumn!

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—– Original Message —–
From: Robert Fawcett
To: Harold
Sent: Thursday
Subject: RE: Greetings! How America sees God

Dear Harold –
Yep, saw the article. I was quite surprised that it made the front page!   My, my – and I bet it caught a lot of attention nationwide.

While this article did not go into the subject, I have always found it truly interesting how the secular, or the un-churched, people react to these types of articles in major publications.   It stirs in the hearts of the young for awhile, but then fades.   Others (those in their twilight years, the seriously ill, those with life’s misfortunes, and so forth) ponder these articles, continuing to justify their own views that are in conflict with whatever individual faith they subscribe.

As I say in my book, these same folks continue to think that “all religions are basically the same” and their individual homemade views/beliefs are, likewise, OK.   The difference, of course, is that these people have never even tried to seek God, or an Eternal Almighty Being.   It is kinda either/or, as I point out in my book: either these folks do not need God, nor want God, or these same people do not feel that God wants them.   And then I go on with some explanation.

If (and that is a very key word) a person is serious about trying to figure it all out, then they study the major religions, for starters.   Of all the different approaches, they begin to understand that the life and ways of Jesus of Nazareth is the only teaching that offers a path for a personal relationship with God.   Then, they finally read the Bible with a different mindset, particularly these teachings.

I just finished a book from a friend – you can imagine how many books are given to me because of my writings ……    It is the best I have ever read on the subject of God.   The title: The Reason for God –Belief in an Age of Skepticism by Timothy Keller.   A word of advice if you choose to read: read each chapter, underline key points and make notes; thence, read the footnotes at the end of the book, in general, noting the chapter they apply; thence, go back and re-read the book, your highlighted underlines and notes.   Alternatively, go to this website and order the DVD: http://timothykeller.com/study/the_reason_for_god/ .   You can also buy the book here at this website, or go to www.TimothyKeller.com.

Have a nice day, old friend.   Have a nice day.