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Imagining Pluralistic Religion

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Imagine how your spiritual life would look if you loved every person (both friend and stranger) unconditionally, rather than with the condition that they must alter their beliefs to accord with your own worldview if they are to meet with acceptance within your community.

Imagine a spiritual life where your religious activities are not motivated by the fear of hell (a doctrine which undeniably paints a picture of God as a cruel monster), but by a desire to understand the ways in which your neighbour experiences suffering and to try to help ease their suffering.

Imagine a church where people of all faith backgrounds feel welcome because they all have something vital in common: a belief that in reality – in accordance with what is actually true – there is only one God. This God is not the exclusive property of Christians, or Muslims, or Jews, or anyone else. He has, in reality, created every person in accordance with His will and intends for them to believe precisely what they believe at any given moment in time, because He is sovereignly unfolding all the events of their lives.

Imagine if church was about debating the moral, theological, social, and technological issues of our time, and if part of the role of the church was to help shape the future of humankind in a way that would eventually lead to the alleviation of poverty and conflict.

Imagine a church community where everyone is encouraged to learn more about other faith groups through discussions, debates, and social activities that are truly inclusive. Imagine valuing every person you meet in this community and trying to understand them through the lens of their own beliefs, rather than feeling you must persuade them to conform to your beliefs.

Are you willing to consider that for every scripture you can quote in defence of your religion, your neighbour, who has a different religious understanding, can quote a scripture from their religion which is equally compelling to them? Or would you be so arrogant as to suggest that you are absolutely right, and they are absolutely wrong?

Imagine a worship band with a Muslim on bass, a Christian on guitar, a Hindu on drums, and a Sikh on vocals. Imagine if these band members could compose a worship song together that they all felt was God-glorifying, because it reflected certain universal truths about God, rather than particular doctrinal differences.

Imagine if Christians studied the Qur’an and Muslims studied the New Testament; not with the intention of converting one another, but with the intention of understanding one another. Imagine if your guru – your spiritual mentor – was someone from an entirely different cultural and religious background to your own.

Imagine if you could appreciate the vision I am presenting here without regarding it as idealistic or naive, but instead embracing it as a realistic possibility. Imagine if in response to this article you didn’t feel anger or fear, but felt excited and inspired by the possibility of getting to know your brothers and sisters from other cultures and understanding what it is that motivates them and makes them so devoted to their particular faith.

Imagine the possibilities that would be open to us if our spiritual lives weren’t focused on defending our interpretation of particular doctrines, but were instead focused on extending unconditional love to all people.

(Image by shekharchopra85 from Pixabay)

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20 comments

  1. Hi Steven,
    I actually found this incredibly profound. I, myself, have adopted this kind of a vision for life, and it’s comforting to see another believer who has as well. I have a friend in Switzerland who is actually one of my closest friends, and he’s not a Christian, but is more of a materialist/agnostic. Because of our great friendship and my unpartial Christ-like love toward him, we’ve actually begun discussing (and friendly debating) Christianity, the natural world, morality, and theological phenomena as a result, which has been something that’s brought us even closer together. We both want to understand each other, even if we don’t always agree. Obviously, I pray for his salvation, but I’m not going to exclude him from being my best friend simply because he’s not a Christian. Paul didn’t do that, Peter tried to do that (and got reprimanded), but most importantly, Jesus never did it either. But, like Jesus, when called to give the truth, we must give it gently and with love…even at the risk of losing others. I really loved reading this post, and it thoroughly encouraged me! Thanks for sharing!
    Bis später,
    Emily 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Hi Emily!

      I’m glad to hear you found the post relatable. I’m also glad that you’re open to having friends who don’t share your beliefs entirely.

      To be honest it does sadden me when people only look at their friends as potential converts to their own religion, but having been a very evangelical Christian in the past myself I absolutely understand and respect your desire for your friend to convert. I know you only want the best for them.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Blessings,

      Steven

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Sounds very close to a song John Lennon wrote decades ago. The problem is that imagining something is very different from the realities of the world. Just a thought.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello! Yes funnily enough I thought about that John Lennon song when I found myself repeating the word ‘imagine’ 😊.

      I personally believe in infinite possibilities, so the way in which we perceive the world now doesn’t mean that things can’t change.

      I’m an optimist, but I respect the fact that people have had experiences that make them more pessimistic about life’s possibilities than I am.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Steven

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I think it’s a good thing. Sometimes a good Bible can help one understand Buddhism and a good study of the Hindu texts can help clarify some parts of the Bible. Granted there are differences but I think we humans tends to focus too much on them rather than look at things in the big picture. Case in point, murder is bad in Christianity. Murder is bad in Hinduism. Does it matter from which book or prophet this tenet came from?

    This Simpsons clip can reiterate my point eloquently: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eBYlPVn9UDs

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi friend!

      I like what you said about the need to look at the bigger picture. When we consider how ancient the universe is (if scientific estimates are to be believed) and if we consider the eternal existence of God, it paints our contemporary religions in a different light.

      Thanks for the Simpsons clip, will give it a watch!

      Peace be with you and thank you for reading and commenting 😊

      Steven

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I completely agree this is how it should be and truly believe that heaven will be like this! The picture you paint with your words makes my heart smile and gives me hope. Thanks for sharing this wonderful vision, Steven xx

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This is exactly what I imagine. This is the vision I hold. I don’t feel fear when I think of this. I feel peace and joy. It puts a smile on my face. I KNOW there are other people in different religions and who have different beliefs that feel the same way. And this post is proof that I am not alone. Neither are you.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m so glad I came across this post! I just joined WP today in the hope of exploring more ideas and philosophies on life, love & faith etc. This post sums up how I feel exactly! I hope to be able to share some of my thoughts on here and trust it will be a valuable and cathartic experience. Looking forward to reading more from you!
    Hayley 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Hayley! Thanks so much for visiting and checking out some of my posts. And welcome to WordPress! I find it to be a wonderful place to discuss life’s big questions and I hope you will too. Peace and blessings! Steven 😊

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks Steven, I appreciate the welcome. I was actually on here a couple of years ago as ‘Red Letters’ not sure if you remember me? As I was reading some of your posts I remembered occasionally chatting to you on here.
        I’ve been on a bit of a journey re faith over the last year and wanted to come back on here having gained new perspectives. Anyway, I hope you’re well!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I absolutely remember you, Hayley, and your beautiful piano playing! I used to really enjoy your posts. I didn’t recognise you with your updated profile pic but I’m glad it’s you and that you’re back! I’ll look forward to keeping in touch 😀

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Oh thank you so much, Steven, that’s very kind. 😊 I searched ‘Religion’ on here today and yours was the first post I came to and what a great first post for me to read to inspire me. Just what I needed!

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Oh that’s great! I’m delighted that the WordPress algorithm pointed you in my direction! If you’d ever like to chat in depth about anything, my email address is on the Contact page and I’d love to chat about our respective faith experiences. Although perhaps your plan is to post about these things on your blog, in which case, I’ll chat with you in the comments instead! 🙂 I generally leave comments on my blog open on new posts for 14 days but they are closed for older posts (doing things this way helps me to keep on top of things!). Peace be with you, Hayley! 🙂

              Liked by 1 person

            2. I appreciate that, Steven and think that it would be good to share our thoughts/experiences on faith and belief. There’s a lot going on in my head right now and I’m slowly beginning to process and unravel it all. I find that writing helps me a lot which is why I’m back on WP again. I look forward to chatting to you and will email you at some point.
              Thanks again!

              Liked by 1 person

            3. Well, take your time, and you know where to find me if you ever want to chat 🙂 I agree that writing can be very helpful. As well as blogging here I also have a journal which I write in pretty much every day. Also, music is a lifesaver of course! Take care, precious soul! 💛

              Liked by 1 person

  7. It’s almost 11pm in my country and I came across your post. I will say it was you confirming my thoughts. Like your word, If only we don’t see people we wish to see them. Thanks for this. Am glad am not the only one with this idea.

    Liked by 1 person

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