Most people throughout history believed or practiced their religion because they were raised to do so, made to feel guilty if they failed to do so, or coerced by social pressure to “fit in” with their family/clan/neighbors/local elites. Prior to the 20th century, there was generally little questioning of authority, and swift, vigorous punishment for those who dared to do so. What people learned in the home and school was also not all that demanding – it took an hour or so on a sabbath-day, or was the “price” for a feast day off from one’s work demands, or on fairly rare occasion required some self-denial for a fast day. There were always privileged, authoritative “religious” to obey: priests/monks/nuns on up through archbishops, or rabbis, or imams/mullahs, or the like, many of whom in turn had still higher human authorities to whom they were held accountable. These religious did not share their shortcomings, therefore many of the laity were convinced that they, unlike themselves, didn’t have any.
Tag Archives: Christianity
It is easy today to hear many things from various sources. One of the modern day mantras is that Islam is a Religion of Peace. Upon closer inspection neither Muhammad nor any of his early followers used this argument as they defeated the Polytheists, Jews, Christians, Zoroastrians, Buddhists, Hindus and Sub-Sahara African polytheists and animists on the battlefield. 20th Century Pakistani Muslim scholar Abdul Maududi stated the following:
“But the truth is that Islam is not the name of a ‘Religion,’ nor is ‘Muslim’ the title of a ‘Nation.’ In reality, Islam is a revolutionary ideology and program which seeks to alter the social order of the whole world and rebuild it in conformity with its own tenets and ideals. Islam wishes to destroy all states and governments anywhere on the face of the earth which are opposed to the ideology and program of Islam regardless of the country or the nation which rules it. The purpose of Islam is to set up a State on the basis of its own ideology and program.” [CMAA emphasis]
Back in the 7th century Muhammad had very limited success trying to convince others to adopt his new politico-religious ideology. From 610-622 his followers totaled about 100 when one considers those that earlier escaped to Abyssinia. It was from 623-632 that Muhammad swelled his ranks by practicing political and militant Islam whereby the possessions of his vanquished enemies [Jews, Christians and pagans] became the possessions of Muslims and where the slave trade became lucrative.
Muslims who apostatized were killed on Muhammad’s order and those who left Islam after Muhammad’s death were soundly defeated by Abu Bakr [the first kaliph] in the Ridda Wars which lasted from 632-634.
Christians believe that Jesus instituted Communion at the Last Supper. In fact Jesus had just taken the middle matzah called the Afikomen from the single stack of three matzah during the Passover observance. He broke that matzah and then equated that unleavened bread to His body and poured the wine and equated that to His blood.
Seems simple enough but not for many professing Christians. Catholics believe the bread and wine actually becomes the physical body and blood of Jesus and those Christians who do not believe that are denied Communion in a Catholic Church. A local Catholic Bishop may make an agreement with a local Orthodox Bishop to extend Communion to Orthodox Christians. However, Local Orthodox Bishops will not comply. The Orthodox Church does not permit non-Orthodox Christians to take Communion in an Orthodox Church and the Orthodox Church forbids Orthodox Christians from taking Communion in non-Orthodox Churches.
Likewise Catholics are forbidden from taking Communion from non-Catholic Ministers. The Catholic Church considers taking Communion in a non-Catholic or Orthodox Church to be a grave evil and mortal sin. The Catholic Church considers their Bishops and Orthodox Bishops to have a direct line succession going back to the Apostles. Since non-Orthodox and Catholic Pastors cannot claim that line of succession they are considered illegitimate to offer Communion according to the Roman Catholic Church.
In the past 40 years, unlike anytime dating back to the 16th century, legions of folks who were raised Roman Catholic have decided to become Biblical/Evangelical Christians. This does not mean these Christians never become Catholic but the volume of those leaving Catholicism for Biblical/Evangelical Christianity has been to such an extent that many Evangelical Churches are comprised of up to 40% members who were raised in the Roman Catholic Church [RCC]. There are many reasons for this and those reasons range from disillusionment to a quest for spiritual growth. There are those who have had bad experiences in the Church to those who began to read the Bible and discovered variances between the Biblical text and what they were taught. Undoubtedly the sexual scandals [and associated failed cover-ups, lawsuits and admissions of guilt] affecting the credibility of the priesthood alienated many Catholics. According to a 2004 research study by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops 4,392 priests committed acts of molestation against 10,667 victims between 1950 and 2002. 81% of those victims were male and over 50% of those acts were committed against children 11-14 years old. The Associated Press estimated the settlements of sex abuse cases from 1950 to 2007 totaled more than $2 billion. Bishop Accountability puts the figure at more than $3 billion in 2012.
Often in life people of good will find it very difficult to understand or even tolerate the other let alone find areas of agreement. Upon closer analysis when one understands the core beliefs of people their opinions and actions become far less perplexing. This is important because once understood we can more easily anticipate certain views even those views that are in opposition to what we may hold as being true. Let’s categorize and extrapolate some conclusions.
Those who claim to need more proof to believe in God, don’t believe in God or are against those who espouse a belief in God conclude the following:
ISRAEL: Does the Hebrew Bible indicate the Messiah, the Anointed One of the House of David, is divine?
25 But I know my living Redeemer,
and He will stand on the dust at last.
26 Even after my skin has been destroyed,
yet I will see God in my flesh.
27 I will see Him myself;
my eyes will look at Him, and not as a stranger.
My heart longs within me.
Analysis: Before the advent of the prophets Job posed an interesting question. Will the Lord actually stand upon the earth? Will those who have died be resurrected to see the Lord? It was clear from the prophetic books of the Tenakh [but not from Torah] that there would be a resurrection of the [“righteous”] dead in the Last Day, and that God would again be among the people as He was in Eden. The Pharisees accepted this, as do modern or rabbinical Orthodox Jews, though they often add to this the belief that only after the Jews “clean up the world” and become more faithful will Messiah come. [This is not too different from Muslim beliefs about the Mahdi, which are probably drawn from this.]