Thursday, August 27, 2009

Faith and Religion

“I put no stock in religion. By the word ‘religion,’ I have seen the lunacy of fanatics from every denomination be called ‘the will of God.’ Holiness is in the right action and justice on behalf of those who cannot defend themselves. And goodness – what God desires – is in here (your mind) and here (your heart). By what you decide to do everyday, you will be a good man – or not,” said the Benefactor (David Thewlis) to Balian (Orlando Bloom) in the movie Kingdom of Heaven.

Those lines echo in my memories even after years watching the movie. They have been stamped so deep in my mind that somehow some of the conducts I do reflect the same idea. The Benefactor had drawn a demarcation line between faith in God and the religion of man. Most people think that the two are similar, but it is not naturally so.

Faith in the One True God unites all men. Religion divides.

Some would not agree to the above statement.

I do not compel people to nod in agreement. I am simply expressing my opinion.

My argument, in defending the above quotation is this: if God is the Giver of Faith and the Source of all goodness, then wherefore man marks history with centuries of bloodshed – all for the sake of “God’s work” – unless there is something terribly wrong with their perception of “faith in God’s name”? If God is the Creator of all virtues: peace, harmony, love and comfort, why do men slaughter each other for defending what they believe as “uprightness in the sight of God”?

Would God approve all the violence, persecution and assassination committed against His most-honored creation?

I don’t think so.

For over a millennium, the dominating people invaded other lands and conquered other nations, then enforced on them the “religion of God”, to “safe” them from paganism and eternal condemnation. One religion banned another as “pagans,” another religion called others “heathens,” and when it came to reformation of faith (meaning: returning to the truth of God’s Word, as what Martin Luther did when setting up the Protestant Church) the dominating class called the newly born reformers “heretics.” And, which was more, all these “pagans, heathens and heretics” are meant for scourging – in other word: annihilation.

Henceforth came the bloodshed that victimized the lives of millions of men, women and innocent children for centuries on end. And in some parts of the world, the same “scourging” is still at practice up to the present age.

Would God, the Father of Peace, consent to such action?

I don’t think he would.

Wherein lays the problem, then?

In my opinion, it is because people misinterpret between the term “faith” and “religion.” Faith saves our souls from perdition. Religion doesn’t!

You can perform all the religious duties and be as devout as you can be, yet still… if you don’t have faith in God, you won’t be saved from condemnation.

Religion classifies people. One says, “I’m a Protestant,” another says, “I’m a Catholic,” and still another claims, “I’m a Pentecost.” And based on those titles, one calls the others “unbelievers.”

Faith is not similar to the title printed on ID cards!

It talks about union with God even while we are still living on earth. It talks about how we personally know God and the perfect will He has for each of us and all mankind. It is about knowing what the good and perfect will of God is, for us to perform in everyday life. It’s about walking hand-in-hand with the Creator of the Universe, the Source of all virtues, the Father of Peace.

Religions – terminologically – do not emphasize on those things. It is more about how we perform our duties to God, such as praying and reading the Holy Scripture. Some people kneel down when they pray, some don’t. Some people go to church on Sundays, some on Saturdays. Some churches allow ladies to wear trousers to services, some sternly prohibit it. In the province on the west-end of this country, Christian women are obliged to wear jilbab (headcover) even when they are attending services – very unlike the situation in other parts of the world.

Why should the praying positions and church attendances become such a fuss that blocks people from living in harmony? Why do we quarrel so much about how we say things to God while the most important thing is what we are saying to Him?

[I’m not saying anything about other religions here. I might be wrong or misinterpret something I don’t know much (or nothing) about.]

Christianity as we know these days is divided into three major groups: the Catholic, the Protestant, and the Pentecost Church. One differs from another in the way each performs rituals. Nevertheless, the foundation of all is the same: Christ, the Cornerstone on which the Church of God is founded.

When will we wake up and return to our root?

I believe Jesus didn’t come with sword or club to compel people to become His disciples. He came with gentle words and in great power to seek and save those who are lost – those living without faith in the One True God.

Among those who followed Him, there were tax collectors, politicians, religious leaders, prostitutes, merchants and beggars. Jesus didn’t draw any demarcation lines to divide one group of people from another.

Why should we, then?

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