Inclusive Religion

Virtually all religious organizations seem to believe that they alone know ALL of the correct answers regarding religion. As a direct consequence of this attitude, they also believe that ALL OTHER belief systems are automatically wrong. If it should actually be that any of them are correct about this, then the vast majority of people on Earth have been wasting their effort at Worshipping!

Our attitude is different. We acknowledge that we humans certainly have limited capabliity of understanding God and His doings. This is actually a good thing! If even ONE of us TOTALLY knew AND UNDERSTOOD the entirety of God's Plan, then that person would be "equal" to God. This is not only impossible, but it would be bad even if it could ever occur, because we humans would tend to misuse such unlimited knowledge (and power).

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Therefore, it seems a logical certainty that ALL existing religions are incorrect when they claim to UNDERSTAND all of God's Plan. They each probably actually can SEE it, primarily because they have a Book, like the Bible or the Torah or the Koran, that lays it all out. But total, true understanding of all aspects of religion and spirituality are clearly beyond human capability. We can certainly get really good ideas about some aspects of His Plan, and so our various religious groups choose to act and think in certain ways to follow those understandings. The point being made here is that there are "gaps" in the understanding of EVERY religious belief system we humans have. Unfortunately, we are not as perfect as we would like to think we are and we are not perfectly intelligent or perfectly logical!


Each existing religion (optimistically) believes that They alone have the complete understanding of just what God is and how we are supposed to please and appease Him.

If this were actually the case, then the implicit assumption is that All other human members of All other denominations and All other religions are Wrong, no matter how insightful, how intelligent or how committed to their beliefs they may be. This may seem realistic and possible if there are only a few hundred or a few thousand believers of such an erroneous belief system, or if the believers are so naive and trusting as to blindly follow some smooth talking leader. Many cults can be discounted for such reasons, but how about the 800 million current Roman Catholics who have followed relatively constant beliefs for nearly 2,000 years? Can Protestants just dismiss ALL of them as stupid? Even if most were, doesn't it seem likely that at least a few have the Faith and depth of belief to truly know and worship God? Doesn't it seem arrogant to immediately dismiss all of them?

And what about all the other Protestant denominations? Can ONE arrogantly believe that all the others are wrong and only THEY are right?

A large Denomination (of a million true believers) would still be assuming that the other 5,000 millions of living people are Lost and thereby destined to miss the opportunity of entering Heaven. Since nearly 2,000 millions of these currently consider themselves Christians (Catholic or Protestant or Orthodox) and thereby believe that they will each have that opportunity, it is tempting to conclude that the narrowness of the view of each Denomination (of excluding Salvation of all others) must be incorrect.

Looking at this from another perspective, does it seem likely that our Loving, Compassionate, Caring Lord Jesus would participate in running such a blatantly unfair system? Where the vast majority of people who devote their lives to Him, and who are passionate in that Devotion, would be automatically banned from Heaven, just because they had chosen the wrong Church to walk into? Jesus would never allow such a thing!


It would seem that the most logical resolution to this problem is for each Church, Mosque and Temple to recognize that THEIR understanding is TOTALLY CORRECT but incomplete (which is equally true of all the others) and that their various Faiths and Denominations are, in actuality, just subsets of those who have found a correct and proper way of Worshipping God. A movement toward non-Denominational Christian churches and general belief in Christ has been rapidly growing in recent years which partially accomplishes this goal.

In 1522, Martin Luther wrote: "Let us abolish all party names and call ourselves Christians, after him whose teaching we hold . . . I hold, together with the universal church, the one universal teaching of Christ, who is our only Master."

This movement toward non-Denominationalism, essentially an acknowledgement of our limitations in fully understanding our Faiths, is definitely moving in the right direction. It could continue even further, to welcome Catholics, Orthodox, Jews, and even Moslems. After all, all of these belief systems worship the SAME God/Father/Allah/Jehovah and recognize the importance of Adam, Abraham, Moses and the Ten Commandments. They differ in their separate understandings of just what God expects of us mortals and in how we are to Worship Him. Many times, these differences in understanding arose based on slightly different societal environments or different translations or versions of Biblical source materials.

What if these major religions are actually just subsets of humans who believe in God? This is possible, and actually even logical. We Protestant Christians, Roman Catholic Christians, Orthodox, Jews, and Muslims may just be using different procedures to worship our One and Only and same God. For Christians, He provided Jesus as the focal point of religious belief. Once a person has accepted Jesus as his personal Savior and become a Christian, he has established a relationship with God. Similarly, if a person accepts the Prophecy of Mohammad as the proper path, he has established a different but equally valid relationship with Allah (God.) Different procedures may have been appropriate to establish the God - relationship because of differing social orders and structure. God's infinite insight and wisdom would have realized just which vehicle would be most appropriate for those peoples at those specific times and places.

If a particular society did not generally revere and respect Moses or Jesus or Mohammad, that particular society would probably not be likely to learn to follow God through that particular vehicle. God may have chosen to approach different peoples, at different times, in different ways, but always with the same goal - a stable society with consistent rules of conduct and which generally or universally worships only Him.


Let's look at a chronology of God's interaction with humans:

The Garden of Eden and The Fall

The Flood

Need For The Ten Commandments

The Babylonian Captivity

Jesus

Mohammad

Modern History

This still leaves about half of the present world's population who do not yet actively follow Him. This might yet cause God to come up with new and alternate ways of getting the remaining humans to see His light. If so, maybe He WILL cause other prophets (or maybe even another future Savior) to appear to initiate additional new groups to worship Him. Then we humans have to deal with the question of whether such an individual actually does represent God"s will or whether he is merely a mortal with a personal agenda driven by evil.

Whether Smith (Mormons) or Koresh (Branch Davidians) or many other purported Prophets actually represent God can be a tough call - especially from believers within the Denominations or sects which follow that individual. It is very tempting for humans to want to follow someonw who claims to know all the answers! Such individuals could conceivably be bringing new insights to us from Him which are necessary to cope with modern existence. Then again, they may be Satan - driven. Each individual human must decide whether to follow or not / whether to invest Faith in such person's teachings or not. Jesus knew that we would be faced with such dilemmas, and He warned us to be wary of false Prophets.

If we each are willing to acknowledge our pitifully limited understanding of these matters, we might be willing to consider that other fervent and devout believers, whether Protestant, Catholic, Orthodox, Jewish, Muslim or others, may indeed have an equal but different basis for belief in God, as related to ourselves. In such an environment, we may all be able to learn much more (from each other) and as a consequence, find ways to better live in harmony with others with whom we don't always see eye to eye. I, as a Protestant Christian, should show tolerance, understanding, and patience for believers of these other of God's religions. That is the approach that Jesus Taught me! That attitude should NOT be extended to groups or religions which do not worship and revere God, such as pagan or sorcery groups.

Most religious leaders in each of the religions discussed here believe that ONLY their system is correct and proper. This essay is meant to suggest that EACH probably ARE totally correct and proper FOR THAT SOCIETY. God obviously knows about the great diversity of humans. We tend not to ALL agree on almost anything! This essay is meant to suggest that He has apparently presented to mankind at least three very different and distinct ways of Worshipping Him, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, but that all three are recognized and appreciated by Him. Some modern societies are just not willing to accept Judaism or Christianity, but maybe they will embrace Islam, which would give them a method of Worshipping God/Allah. Other societies might find Christianity more acceptable and embrace that. Others still, Judaism. None of the three are better or worse than the others, just different. A person would be initially free to choose any of the three, but once that decision was made, total commitment must be made to THAT Faith and all it includes. Devout commitment to whichever Faith is chosen is the important part.


I cannot claim to see any way to "harmonize" all of the various beliefs in God among the three principle religious systems that believe in one God (Christianity, Judaism, and Islam). But I toss the following speculations out for further consideration:

Muhammad did not understand the concept of the Trinity in Christianity. When he saw that Christians were revering Jesus as a Divine God, he saw that as challenging God's (Allah's) First Commandment, that there is but one God. To Muhammad, Jesus appeared to be a SECOND God, in obvious violation of the First Commandment. As a result, Muhammad centrally focused all of his beliefs on there being ONE GOD, and the most important Prayer in Islam clearly states that fact.

What if Muhammad had clearly understood the Christian concept of the Trinity? He would then have realized that Jesus actually WAS Allah / God! Muhammad would then have NOT considered Jesus as being a SECOND God, but actually the ONE and ONLY God, Allah!

Other than this matter, Christianity and Islam are remarkably similar, in beliefs, in historical (Old Testament) origins, in virtually everything! If Muhammad had fully understood the Christian concept of the Trinity, Islam and Christianity would be essentially identical!


Various Christian groups, including Mormons, believe that Devout humans have the capability of essentially becoming 'Gods' in Heaven. Traditional Christians find this extremely offensive and even blasphemous, because it similarly challenges the concept of One God.

However, there is an interesting point to consider! Christians all believe that the Holy Spirit "indwells" within each Believer, as a Guide. What IS the Holy Spirit? As One of the Three of the Trinity, it IS God! In a substantial sense, Christians believe that God Himself is within every one of them! This might not actually be very different from what Mormons aspire to!

Perspectives like these might exist to explain the various diversities of our various belief systems in God. These two are presented as examples of the concept.


Pastor C Johnson

(Editor of BELIEVE)
A Christ Walk Church, (a non-Denominational Protestant Christian Church)

If this approach interests you, I have written a more extensive essay on the topic, at: Compatibility between Faiths.


This subject presentation was first placed on the Internet in May 1997.

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