The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and make you remember all that I have told you. John 14:26
The main purpose of religion is to guide the inquirer toward our common Creator but not become the destination. As a ‘guide’ religion must respect the individual’s right to choose a particular and unique way to discover and embrace the God within. Whenever religion dictates ‘the way’ it becomes a religion that fails.
"There will be no peace among the nations without peace among the religions. There will be no peace among the religions without dialogue among the religions." - Hans Kung
It was my intent to keep this blog as personal or original as possible, free from borrowed material and more a reflection of personal experiences. However, I found the following excerpts from the book ‘A Heritic’s Guide to Eternity’ so relevant to my own experience that I decided to include the following quotes about institutional religion from the book by Spencer Burke and Barry Taylor at this time.
- For years, we have assumed organized religion is the only way humanity can have a close relationship with the divine other – whoever that may be. But today many people are beginning to realize that faith can exist outside the realm of organized religion.
- Religion has historically been presented as the only way the spiritual part of our humanity can be accessed.
- One of the absolutes we have lived with for a long time is that religion is the best way to access and understand the sacred. But as the thirteenth century mystic Meister Eckhart said, “Only those who dare to let go can dare to reenter.”
- Religion declares that we are separated from God, that we are “outsiders”. Grace tells us the opposite, we are already in unless we want out.
- Are there other ways to practice faith communually? Does any faith community have the power to condemn, judge, and decide the destiny of others?
- Universalism is basically the theory that all religions are inherently the same – that each of them is valid and can bring us to God.
- Brand Christianity has turned faith into a commodity that can be accessed only through the embrace of a particular cultural form of religion, one that is increasingly unappealing to many seekers.
- After the Reformation, religion came to mean a particular set of beliefs about faith that stood in opposition to the reformer’s views. What followed was a religion that had more to do about right beliefs than simple faith. The Catholic version of Christianity was castigated as a ‘false religion,” and the Protestant beliefs were upheld as the “true religion”.
- The very thing institutional churches generally don’t do today is ask questions. Instead they present answers to the questions that people in our culture aren’t even asking.
- The momentum of Vatican II was watered down over the years to the point where later popes reasserted the supremacy of Christian faith [religion].
- The institutional church has come to be known over the years for its obsession with boundaries. It seems to spend so much of its time monitoring other people to see what they are and aren’t doing. It creates formulas to determine who’s in and who’s out, who’s lost and who’s saved.
- Compassion has given way to absolutes while it is the very quality that makes us more able and active to effect change in the world.
- Jesus’ teachings reflect and assumption that unless we are allowing the spirit of love, mutuality, and justice to work through us, nothing we do or say will affect evil, other than strengthen it.
- The church still wishes to be the final authority in matters related to faith and belief. It still wants everyone to convert to its particular understanding of salvation and the divine. It still wants to make belief ordinary by compacting it into a simple matter of accepting predigested concepts.
- The church like most of the other traditional faiths has opted for a boundary model. Boundary models are tribal my nature and function on the principle of exclusion. Boundary models are likely to be riddled with fear and suspicion toward those who live on the “outside”.
- Sin would perhaps be better understood in our culture if it were presented as pursuing self-interest at the expense of the well-being of the larger (or smaller) horizons of our existence.
- Sin has often been presented as a violation of the rules and regulations of religion. Jesus frequently challenged those rules.
- People who have left organized religion did so because they could no longer relate to the message, the ideas, or the concepts it advances about God and life.
- The emergence of nonreligious religiousity and a noninstitutional way of living out one’s faith is becoming more and more evident.