Friday, May 30, 2008

All Religions Can't Be Right

Two Latter Day Saints missionaries sat quietly in my place of business for two hours doing whatever they needed to accomplish in our city, which like so many, can no doubt benefit from the positive activities missionaries engage in. As I thought of them and others like them I had seen through the years, I thought of the unique beliefs that I've learned about LDS folk from watching documentaries, particularly their belief in baptism for the dead, and to a lesser degree, their off-shoot movements that still practice polygamy.

I then thought of all the different varieties of Christianity, as well as my own, and realized that they can't all be right. If they can't all be right, then it may be fair to grant them all the possibility that they are all wrong, including my own. If that is accepted, at least as a remote possibility, that leaves room for some hidden truth or reality that has not yet surfaced. Perhaps that hidden truth may never come to light either. In the meantime then, we continue with whatever brand of Christianity--or religion in general--we have come to accept as true.

Such uncertainty in uncertain times is neither agreeable nor comforting. Nevertheless, being dogmatic about the absolute superiority of one's own religion or brand of Christianity, is neither agreeable nor comforting. So we're back where we started. We keep on doing what we've been doing for a lifetime for some, only years, months or weeks for others. We hold onto what we think is superior truth, for whatever it's worth to us.

All religions can't be right, but they're right enough for those that subscribe to those particular values and beliefs.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

666 Ways of Being Religious

The title was, of course, conceived tongue in cheek, however, please note that the following link even has a funny looking pentagram of sorts. Well, it's an imperfect hexagram, but you get the general picture.

The original context was included in the following comment:

Intellectual inquiry IS a way of being religious, and an important one. Religious scholars usually divide religious behavior into six categories, one being inquiry. Some posit further that any religion or sect that grows for a long enough period of time will eventually incorporate all six categories, which you can find here:
Posted by: Samuel Sukaton 27 May 2008 at 9:16

The above comment was, in turn, part of the following link:

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Postmodern Belief

A wonderful being such as God should exist, must exist and, therefore, does exist.

God exists because one chooses for him to exist.

For those who choose for God not to exist, he simply does not exist.

Whether he exists or not is immaterial.

The choice is yours.

Now one can go on enjoying life with this new found belief, a belief of choice.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Genetic and Neuroscience Revolutions

The Neural Buddhists NYT by David Brooks, May 13, 2008:

In unexpected ways, science and mysticism are joining hands and reinforcing each other. That’s bound to lead to new movements that emphasize self-transcendence but put little stock in divine law or revelation. Orthodox believers are going to have to defend particular doctrines and particular biblical teachings. They’re going to have to defend the idea of a personal God, and explain why specific theologies are true guides for behavior day to day. I’m not qualified to take sides, believe me. I’m just trying to anticipate which way the debate is headed. We’re in the middle of a scientific revolution. It’s going to have big cultural effects.

He recommends reading the following: books by Andrew Newberg, Daniel J. Siegel, Michael S. Gazzaniga, Jonathan Haidt, Antonio Damasio and Marc D. Hauser

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

We Create Our Adventist Reality

The reason the concept of the remnant is so effective is that only a few will ever be able or want to live the sometimes austere lifestyle of Adventism.

Traditional Adventists focus on wholesome music, art and entertainment. They eat wholesome foods, drink healthy beverages, and live a healthy lifestyle that traditionally has been both a comfort to dyed-in the wool Adventists, and a source of restlessness for the more adventurous among us.

Even though it would probably never come to pass, since you could no longer speak of a remnant, imagine what a primarily Adventist society would be like. Well, such societies actually do exist in the enclaves near Adventist institutions. The only difference is that you can always find a gas station within driving distance if you needed gas on the Sabbath.

Imagine, if you will, a world of mostly Adventists where gas stations never opened on Sabbath because everyone walked to church. That sounds like what Jewish believers do by having temples near their communities. Realistically, a society where everything stood still on the Sabbath sounds a lot like heaven on Earth.

Who would there be to evangelize in a mostly Adventist society? Again, I've experienced that when I lived in an Adventist enclave and wanted to walk to my evangelism exercise walk on Sabbath afternoon, only to find that--surprise surprise--everyone within walking distance was already Adventist. Of course, some of the Adventists I found were listening to secular music on Sabbath and not bothered by the fact that I was knocking on their door to speak to them about Christ and was subsequently informed, "everyone is Adventist in this building except the man below us who is battling cancer. If you want you could knock on his door." That was my first and last attempt to go door-to-door in a mostly Adventist community.

What if Christ, out of kindness to the Adventist worldview, actually comes back and takes the Remnant to an Adventist afterlife of their own creation? To do otherwise would seem less than kind. In a universe where anything is possible, might there also be an alternate universe where Catholics enjoyed a proper Catholic-tinged afterlife, replete with the virgin Mary having more of a salvific role than she does in protestant churches.

Might this be the reason why God tolerates so many different religions and varieties of Christianity and Judaism, because there are enough alternate universes to accommodate all his children and their particular vision of the afterlife?

Who knows, maybe the good folk in the recently conceived (8th-day) Adventist Futurism movement might also one day live and enjoy the future reality they so passionately hope comes to light.

In the future perhaps everyone will have their "million year picnic"* in a heaven of their own imagining.

* The Million Year Picnic is a 4000-word short story by Ray Bradbury, about a family from Earth that emigrates to Mars.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Second Coming of Christ: Reinterpreting the Prophecies

The first coming of Christ was nothing like what the Hebrew nation expected. It did not set them free from Roman rule. It did not usher in the peaceful and successful world that they had read about in the book of Isaiah.

If this misunderstanding happened with the all-important First Coming of Christ, what would prevent a similar misunderstanding from happening to the as-important, Second Coming of Christ.

When it is said that "every eye shall see him" one has to keep in mind that when those words were written down "every eye" referred to those in the then-known world, ostensibly a flat world with the Mediterranean, or great sea, as it's focal point. The Second Coming would have to be very large in scale, millions and millions of angels to fill a large enough area of the Mediterranean Sea, and the barbarian areas of Europe, Asia minor, etc., to be able to be seen all over the then-known world. It would follow then, that when the Second Coming occurs it will be seen by every eye in that part of the world. As the Earth rotates other areas will also be able to see the wondrous sight of golden beings and their Saviour-King hovering over planet Earth in a chariot of clouds.

Greater study and prayer are needed to unlock the prophecies about the Second Coming of Christ and strip them of interpretations that 2,000 years have built into them.

Some faiths believe in a Secret Rapture. Ours does not. However, when it speaks of "one will be taken and the other left" I sometimes wonder if out of respect for Free Will, those that are not taken will be allowed to live out their lives, as well as that of their descendants, until Free Will eventually renders this planet unlivable. In this way, God would not be the destroyer of those he created, they would destroy themselves. How long would this planet continue to exist without God's protecting grace preventing total anarchy and evil?

Some might think that to allow this world to continue with the uninterrupted intensity of evil that would exist without God's grace cushioning the effect of sin, would be more unkind than to destroy all those who reject God's last call to repentance. The same might well be said for our present state of affairs where an ever-increasing level of evil and suffering continues day after day.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

The Second Coming by Sheer Will

Christians everywhere are focusing more and more on the reality of the Second Coming, not as a far-away dream, but as something that will happen within a few years.

The power of the will is astounding. If we all focused on these simple words, "Jesus Christ is coming back in my lifetime," whatever we're not doing now that would hasten Christ's Second Coming, we would start doing.

Now it's important to realize that nothing we can do through our own efforts will be successful without being filled by the Spirit of Christ. I've heard from more than one person that sometimes evangelistic campaigns are mounted in large cities and famous evangelists are invited to speak, but in some cases, not one person makes a decision for Christ. Those in attendance are the ones that already believe, not those who are at the decision point.

I've often thought that if large groups of Christians would visualize the Second Coming as an event already experienced, it would have to take place sooner, not later.

Hasten the Second Coming in your life. Think of it constantly.