There is an old saying that goes: “Never discuss religion or politics in polite company.” Sage advice, right? It is obvious that people do not like their beliefs, values, or ideologies being questioned or undermined. My assumption is that it causes insecurity and spawns fear, and fear turns quickly into anger, and anger into resentment.
A long time ago, as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, I used to preach from door-to-door, and one of the lessons I learned was to convey such messages gently. In fact, someone stated that to blatantly challenge other’s beliefs would be like, “yanking the rug out from under them.” Nobody likes hitting the floor unexpectedly. God is a God of peace and love. Or so the Bible says. From what I’ve observed, I have to assume it all depends on the situation.
My cousin is a Scientologist, and as she recently asked me to mention this:
“Don’t forget to make sure the viewers (readers) know that I am the 1st Scientologist in the family. And proud of it. I know it will be helping mankind repair this messy planet’s ethics.”
Do I agree with the Scientologist’s precepts and practices? I do not. But I do admire her tenacity and devotion to wanting to apply what she’s learned, and how she works so hard to help others by doing so.
My second eldest son is an existentialist and a deist. He shares with me his insights and beliefs on the expansion of the mind, and growth of the spirit, and he, like our cousin, explores his spirituality thoroughly, and practices what he learns.
Do I agree with deism or the purely existential search for God? I do not. At least not in it’s entirety, and although most of the precepts and beliefs I do hold are taught by Jehovah’s Witnesses; I certainly take no offense toward anyone who will attempt to assist me in my quest to better understand and discern ‘The Truth’.
Also, I respect that both of the above are set on their own course toward their pursuit of eternity, and…that said, although we disagree on many of the precepts relating to God, eternity, etc., I have no right to project animosity toward them, nor to strike any attitude of superiority in regard to my own ideology over theirs. Why should I, because both their’s and mine are essentially, unprovable!
Why are they unprovable?
Well, I should qualify the statement of provability by saying that these are unprovable on this plain of existence. Only when we each solve the great mystery of transference after death, will we know who, if any of us, is absolutely correct. In reality, we can argue the point until, as they say, the cows come home, and yet at the end of it all each of us still fears what may lay in store. As William S. put it, “What dreams may come when we have shuffled off this mortal coil must give us pause. There’s the respect that makes calamity of, so long life.”
Having observed, evaluated, analyzed, meditated on, and written numerous journals about people over the past forty-plus years, and not only those with whom I associated, but of ALL of those who claim to be “spiritual” people; common, famous, and infamous. Among all of those, there were, in my estimation, none worth emulating in regard to their behavior and/or ideologies. If you are a Christian, then you are familiar with, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)
When considered rationally, the only way something can be PROVEN is if there is a single source that does not rely on opinion, conjecture, or supposition. A single source that everyone agrees is factual, irrevocable, without corruption or contradiction, and most importantly; unquestionably true! However; does such a source exist?
Laughably, most of the worlds population says there is such a thing. The example below is the short list of religious texts that people of this planet venerate and hold to be truth:
- Bahi’a – Kitab i Aqdas / Kitab i Iqa’n
- Buddhist – Tiptaka (In Pali Script)
- Christianity – Bible
- Hinduism – Bhagwat Gita, Ved, Uphishad
- Islam – Quran, Sunnah
- Janism – Jain Agamas
- Judaism – Torah (Tanakh or Hebrew Bible)
- Mormonism – Bible (King James Version) /Book of Mormon / Pearl of Great Price
- Paganism – tradition and/or varied and often non-specific text
- Rastafari – Bible / Kebra Nagast / The Promise Key / Holy Piby
- Shinto – Kojiki / Nihon Shoki / Fudoki
- Sikhism – Guru Granth Sahib
- Taoism – Tao te Ching (Daodejing) / Zhuangzi / Daozang
- Zoroastrianism – Zend Avesta
The source is: QuickGS, to which I will attribute the accuracy of this list, or lack thereof. The point is, there are MANY religious text, and few of us, if any, could find a way to subject ourselves to the learning and comprehension of each of them, ergo, we will most likely latch onto the one that is most popular within the region to which we are born.
Personally, I believe that the Bible is far and above everything else that claims to offer “the truth.” But the Bible, is also the only book I have ever been exposed to, and the book that I learned to be the oldest, most widely read book in the world. Does this, however, necessarily “prove” anything true about its revelation of the creation, or our continued existence, or the spiritual eventuality of mankind? Well, proof or not; those dedicated to it, read it as absolute truth and nothing but. Every thought and every word they glean from it, they hold to be true, no matter what.
Yes, you are correct in thinking that, “Just because they believe it. has no bearing on whether or not it is TRUTH, or whether or not it holds anything that pertains to TRUTH. What they believe is irrelevant, and what anyone else believes is equally irrelevant.” If it does hold “The Truth,” why are there so many sects and schisms among those who call themselves ‘Christians’? How can one book mean so many different things, to so many different people?
Descriptively, the Bible is a collection of sixty six books written through thousands of years, by about forty writers, many of whom claim that the words were given to them directly by our Creator. Therefore, the Bible is considered to be the truth because it declares itself to be such. Nothing else, no external sources, but the contents of the book, itself, claims it to be so.
2nd Peter 1:20, 21“20 For you know this first, that no prophecy of Scripture springs from any private interpretation. 21 For prophecy was at no time brought by man’s will, but men spoke from God as they were moved by holy spirit.”
So then, ‘IF” we accept that the Bible is inspired by our Creator, or God, and that these men were writing what our God (Jehovah, Psalm 83:18) dictated to them; how do we account for all of the different churches, beliefs, and so on, many of which fight and kill one another over their so-call interpretation of “The Truth.”
“… This can be seen in Christian fundamentalism, which idolizes the Bible yet largely misunderstands it. Fundamentalists venerate a Bible that does not really exist, a perfect text that perfectly reflects what they believe.” “…central doctrines, such as the trinity, that are almost entirely absent…central ideas in the New Testament …’salvation by faith through grace’, that at least until the reformation, were never part of official orthodoxy at all.” A History of the Bible – The Story of the Worlds Most Influential Book, 2019, p.3, by Professor John Barton, the Oriel and Laing Professor of the Interpretation of Holy Scripture at the University of Oxford England,
During the so-called “Great Awakening” of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, besides the mainstream Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish beliefs, new offsprings of these religions flourished across America. Among these were the International Bible students that later became Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Mormons, the orthodox churches, the reformed churches, the fundamentalists, the Pentecostals, and so on and so on.
Besides these, there are scores of others that use the Bible, but do not necessarily consider it to be the final authority on their beliefs and practices, e.g. Scientology, et al, but they all acknowledge the voracity of the Bible and its importance to the human family.
Personally, however, I happen to know in my heart that the precepts of Jehovah’s Witnesses are far more in line with truth, logic, and practical thinking than any other belief system I have studied in the humanities, or elsewhere.
From the beginning of the Bible to the end, the enveloping theme of God’s Kingdom under the rule of His son, Christ Jesus, is the only practicable explanation for the hope for mankind. Far surpassing the nonsense that ‘everyone’ is going to heaven, or the even greater nonsense of transcendentalism, transcendence, moving through circles, etc., and so on.
Do I believe that the people who are in charge of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, otherwise known as the “Governing Body,” are speaking to, or directly in communication with God, Jehovah? No, I do not.
They are men, just like any others when it comes to their foibles and personalities. They are not gods or angels, nor do they exhibit any of the attributes of such. They are, however, honest hearted seekers of truth, and despite their shortcomings as humans, will continue to strive to understand what our Creator expects of us and will help us to accomplish. These men, in turn, do their best to communicate to us what they understand the Bible to say, not in a dogmatic way, as do the churches, but in a way that beckons us to consider, evaluate, reconcile, and understand what is written in the same fashion of the Beroeans.
Jesus’ teaching is plain: we become Christian by abandoning our selfish interests, and devoting our life solely to God.
“If anyone wants to come after me, let him disown himself…” Jesus said. (Matthew 16:24)
This is what everyone who wants to be a Christian (or Christ-like) has to do. Can we really be considered a Christian otherwise?
Well, yes, to some degree we can. In fact, none of us can live our lives so selflessly that we could nullify the sacrifice that Jesus made on our behalf. It is simply impossible for us to do so, considering our spiritually weakened condition, but we have to try, and we have to ask for help through prayer in order to keep us focused.
Jesus taught his disciples that, by bringing their lives into harmony with Jehovah’s requirements; gaining God’s spirit; they would be able to accomplish anything. “If you had faith the size of a mustard grain, you would say to this black mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea!’ and it would obey you.” (Luke 17:6) This means we have to USE the Bible, to know what it says, and to put it into practice.
Did such faith exist among men, even in Jesus day? No, not completely. In fact accounts are presented in the Bible in which Jesus told his disciples that they could not perform certain miraculous healing and such, because of their lack of faith. That lack of faith to move mountains plagues us even today. The important lesson is that they tried, and continued to try to gain that faith.
The apostle Peter actually walked on water for a short distance. Apostles were given the ability to cure illnesses by the touch of the hand. Prophets were also granted the use of many miraculous powers including raising the dead to life. All miraculous in the sense that God granted it and performed it through them, and not for the titillation of curiosities, or to impress, but to show that the hope offered through Jehovah and the Christ Jesus is REAL.
So knowing that there are no perfect men walking the Earth today. Knowing what I do know, that Jesus, the one who perfectly emulated his Father, his God, did set the example for us to strive for. That ‘man’ is the only one whose character and being that wish to emulate, and I suffer each day in the knowledge that I am unable to do so.
When one will do as Jesus said, “disown himself” and recognize the corrupt nature of the churches and other so-called religious teachings; abandon all preconceptions and false notions about the Bible; about God and eternity; about Jesus and his relationship with his Father; only then will the true power of the Truth be recognizable and useful, and that will be found only within the pages of the oldest book known to man, given to us by an undying author who safeguards its purity, and is willing to help anyone of us to understand it.