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Old 06-23-2002, 09:14 PM   #1
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Other religions II (for subtopics raised in that thread)

Hey there "other religions" people,

I really hate to ghetto-ize subtopics brought up in other threads for many reasons which I won't go into here, but I am willing to try it once in the case of the "other religons" thread. It just seems to me that the thread has evolved into two discussions one of which is the discussion over whether all religions are the same or different from each other. I think that that discussion deserves a thread of its own on its own merits.

(However I will continue to reply to misinfo about my religion on the parent thread when I feel its necessary. I am by no means endorsing the idea that Christians should keep their religion out of that thread.)

So if you are interested in addressing the topic "Are all religions the same?" then check out the post below and reply as you see fit.
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Old 06-23-2002, 09:42 PM   #2
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Since this is a continuation of a discussion from another thread, let me remind everyone of where we left off.

AM was fighting a pretty much lonely battle with Bubba, Kingpin and myself (to a much less effective extent). Her argument is that since all religions teach the same thing, all religions are the same. Bubba and Kingpin disagreed, arguing that Christianity, for one religion at least, in fact teaches very different things from other relgions and therefore it is very different.

This discussion left off with a post from AM attempting to demonstrate that her religion teaches the same thing about the nature of God that Christianity does, that is she posted several quotes as proof that her religion also teaches that God loves us. This came as a response to my post which argued that some religions teach that God is distant and some teach that he is very close.

Note: People of other religions please feel free to contribute your perspective. What do you think? This isn't just a Bahai/Christian discussion and no matter what side you take, your views will make it much more interesting. Thanks.

I am going to ask you just once more to look below for my reply because if I added it here this post would be like a mile long! i promise that this time I'm done with the initial stuff.
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Old 06-24-2002, 01:50 AM   #3
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AM,

I think I was being a bit confusing, as usual, with my last post where I said that some religions believe in a distant God and some believe in one that isn't. It seems to me that you thought that I was saying that only Christianity teaches that God loves us. You interpreted my words "distant" and "close" to mean "unloving" and "loving" and thats perfectly understandable way to interpret these words. But I didn't mean them in that way.

I never meant to say that no other religion teaches that God loves us. I know for a fact that all religions teach that God loves us or that God is Love in addition to teaching the same code of morality as all the rest. I should have been careful to say that while all religions teach that God loves us, we disagree on the nature of that love and on how God expresses this love to us.

And there are basically two sides to the argument about the nature of God's love and all the religions take one side or the other. One side says that God loves us from a distance, from outside human reality and the other says that God loves us from up close in perfect intimacy from within human reality. In the simplest terms, the religions differ on where God and his Love are "located" (if I may use such a word about God) and how it reaches us. For me, Bahais and Muslims, since they share a concept of God, are good examples of the side that says that God is located in a completely separate place from his creation and so he sends us His love (which is just one of His aspects), like a package, from outside our reality. Christians, on the other hand, are a good example of a religion that takes the side that God coexists with his creation and therefore His Love (which is the same as saying God Himself) can literally "live" inside of us as a natural partner to our souls and personalities.

But thats just a general description of the difference between these three religions. In a specific way Bahai's and Muslims and Christians differ in the following way. Bahais and Muslims deny that God could ever or would ever come close enough to us to live as one of us or to live with us inside our bodies. Christians on the other hand, testify that God Himself not only did come to live with us but also that he still does. I believe that this important difference forms a chasm between us which results in a major difference in how we understand God's Love and that this has major implications in how we experience that Love in this life and in how our lives turn out in the end.

But let me focus on just one of these implications, since just one is actually more than enough to talk about.

The reason why Bahais and Muslims believe that God could never come to visit us or live with us is because they believe that God is so great that if God were to become a part of us that would compromise his complete separation from us and that would mean that his greatness would be compromised. And God's greatness cannot in any way be compromised or the whole universal order would fall apart. For Bahais and Muslims, God's greatness is dependent on Him being completely separate which means that there can be no mingling between Him and His Creation. If we go by their theology, this means then that they believe that there can be no direct experience of God in this life. This necessarily includes experiencing God's love. A Bahai can therefore only believe that God loves them. In other words, according to their beliefs any love that a Bahai feels in their hearts has no other origin than from their own hearts. They believe that they feel only their own love for God which comes in response to hearing and believing the news from a prophet intermediary that God loves them. This, of course, is a powerful feeling of love which is exactly like the love we feel for our earthly loved ones when they say they love us or when they send us flowers. And Bahais and Muslims are very happy and content to feel this love for God. I know for a fact that they are in no way miserable people for believing that God cannot live within them. It seems to them that feeling their own love for God is quite enough for a happy life and no more is needed. They look around themselves and count their blessings and are content. All of this happens just like their holy books say it should work.

But having only a belief that God loves you is a whole different thing from claiming to be a witness that God came to visit us in person long ago and that he now literally dwells in the hearts of Christians in the form of His Love for us. Just feeling love for God is a whole different thing from claiming, as we Christians do, that we can enter into union with the Love that God Himself feels for us and so we can be with God in this life not just in the next. Most people, especially bahais and Muslims think we are crazy or exagerating or just hoplessly confused as to the real situation to believe these things. And I agree. We would be completely crazy if we just believed this stuff was true just because some told us it was true or if we thought that it agreed with common sense. But thats how we are different from them. We don't just believe it because someone told us it was true. We don't believe it because it made a lot of common sense to us from the start. Christians testify that we have experienced a Love of an order beyond any Love that we have ever known or could ever imagine or comprehend from the pages of a book. It is a Love that is far beyond the beautiful sentiment that we feel for our families and our spouses and even far beyond just feeling strong love for God in our hearts. It is a love thats so powerful that its been known to force people to their feet. It is a love so demanding and insistent that once we feel it we can never rest until we love others in the same radical way. Most of all, this is the Love that we are taught about in the Life and death of Jesus. It comes to us in exactly the way he told us it would. It comes to us if we follow his commands as they are written in the Bible. And according to it, his commands to us went far beyond exhortations to follow the law with good intentions.

(Sorry I am going to have to break this one off at this point because its getting way too long. On to the next post)
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Old 06-24-2002, 02:50 AM   #4
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Old 06-24-2002, 04:12 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally posted by Sicy

Sicy, please. This here is part of a bigger thread and for people who havenŽt been following the other one, this is hard to understand.

Whiteflag - IŽll comment on your posts later, ok
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Old 06-24-2002, 04:29 AM   #6
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But lets just go back a step and say that Christians are actually crazy people who believe that the laws of the universe do not apply to us.

There are two obvious questions to ask right now

1. Does it ultimately matter what we think of God's Love and how we experience it? Isn't it enough that we all feel love no matter what kind?

2. Are there any objectively observable differences in outcome of our lives that result from the different teachings of these three religions on the matter of God's love for us?

I think that the answer to the first is yes, IF religion is only about you and your feelings of well being. But religion has also always been about the well being of others besides ourselves, which leads to the answer to the second question.

I believe the answer is yes there is because I think that what we believe about God's love for us greatly effects how we relate to and how we benefit others and this is something that can be observed. And so this can be our objective yardstick is seeing the difference between the religions under discussion. Of course it is by no means a perfectly objective method but its the best we can hope in this situation where we are talking about the most subjective subject known to man!

So lets go over again briefly what these religions believe about getting close to God.

To restate the difference with a few clarifications,

Bahais and Muslims believe that there is a definite limit to how close God can get to us because if He came down to our level then the universe couldnt exist. They believe that only a Being who is our total opposite, that is completely separate from us and infinitely Great, can sustain the universe. They have never experienced any different from what their holy books say is possible. They believe that they must wait until the next life to be with God.

At best, Bahais and Muslims believe that God could never be closer to us than water is to a swimmer. They believe that we can no more take God into ourselves than we can breathe water. For them a clear separation between God and man is only proper.

Christians believe that God can mingle with us. We believe He mingled with the flesh of Jesus and we believe that He mingles to a lesser degree with us today. We feel this mingling is much more than the sentiment Love. For us, this Love is multi-leveled and without end and it acts independently on our behalf just the way you'd expect a personal God to behave. We believe that this Love exceeds any other kind of Love taught on the earth and that it matches exactly what the Bible says about it.

Christians believe in a God who is a like Good King who is not above walking among the commoners of his realm or touching their common flesh. Our Good King is Great BECAUSE he mingles freely with everyone without distinction or limit when he doesn't have to. His Greatness is confirmed not lessened through personally embracing us.


So on the one hand we have people who are very careful to observe the proper limits in life. These are people who believe in everything should be in proper moderation and proper balance.

And on the other we have people who believe that limits are meant to be liberally blurred. These are people who believe that Love at least should be expressed in a radical fashion sometimes at the cost of moderation and balance in the rest of our lives, sometimes at the cost of our lives themselves.

Though I can't account for every individual Bahai and Muslim, I can tell you this from observing them and talking to many of them. When people come to believe in these religions, they make a commitment to living a good life and doing helpful things for other people like good world citizens. They donate and collect money. They are eager to give blood and to hand out food and clothing. They like to solve technical problems for people in need. And these are really good and wonderful things to do. But then these folks want to go home. Maintaining a well balanced personal life is a religious duty equal to being kind and helpful to others and it is wrong to unduly sacrifice the good life for others if it isn't absolutely necessary. This life of perfect moderation is the kind of life I could easily imagine is inspired by a experiencing God's Love as if it was a beautiful gentle rain falling from above.

And though I can't account for every individual Christian, I can tell you this from living among them. When people come to really believe in this religion, they start making indescriminate, passionate commitments to the PEOPLE, all the people, that they meet and their personal lives become not so important anymore. Suddenly they can't stop wanting to deeply bond with others. They can't stop wanting to intimately share in the troubles and joys of other people. These are people who lose all sense of proper reserve about everything and suddenly think that balance is over-rated. They give too much money and too much time. They laugh, cry and talk too much. They invade personal space. They jump without thinking into dangerous situations for the sake of people who don't want their help and they make friends with the worst most undeserving people. They start acting and loving like lunatics giving and giving even when they get nothing but rejection and misery for their troubles. This unbalanced life of radical love is a life that I can testify is due to feeling God's love like fire in the belly that can't be made quiet and peaceful until deep connections and great sacrifices are made. Its the Love that has caused who knows how many Christians to happily lay aside their plans and careers and even their lives for the sake of others. Christians who really get what the Jesus taught about Love act like they know a Love thats different from the ordinary.

And there you have the difference between religions that teach that Love is a just part of a reasonable life and a religion that teaches that life is unreasonable unless Love bursts from its proper place. Who do you think will end up helping more people? the ones where charity is a duty among other duties of life or one that sees charity as the means and the end of the good life?

Ok, I'm done now and now I've got to cover my bases. I know i've probably confused the hell out of everyone with my incoherant rant so please feel free to ask me to clear up anything you just can't understand cause if you don't I know its my fault. Please dont think bad of me because I am writing this at 3 am and please don't take anything I said as an insult because I know I didn't mean it that way. Please feel free to call me an idiot, because you won't hurt my feelings. In fact I'll probably think its a laugh.

On a personal note I want to say to AM that even though I started out talking to you, I think I stopped doing that about half way through. So don't take anything I said personally, ok? And no I haven't been drinking even though it must really seem like thats the case......
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Old 06-25-2002, 12:27 PM   #7
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