“On God, Love, and True Religion” (Part I)
The Thing that most fascinates me in life is not success, sex or money (although they are important incentives in my life), but God’s relentless and loving presence in human quest for him through religion and spirituality.
(Allow me to state this parenthetical statement: I understand very well that all religious traditions do not teach the same doctrine nor every form of spirituality is parallel to each other. For example, Christianity proclaims the divinity of Jesus Christ and claims that Jesus is the only way to God, whereas Islam confesses Mohammad as the Final Prophet of Allah. Vodou and Hinduism teach there are multiple ways to God through the Lwa and gods or the Vodou lwa and gods in Hinduism are various expressions and manifestations of one true God. Some religious scholars parallel various religious traditions with their geographical locations and cultures. For example, in Africa, one finds African traditional religion; in Asia, one encounters Taoism, Confucianism, Buddhism, Hinduism, etc. In the Arab world, one meets Islam, and in Europe, one finds Christianity. [this perspective on religion and geography has been challenged by various scholars and thinkers] Hence, the distinction between world’s religions is evident. The interesting thing is that our world embraces religious pluralism, cultural relativism, heterogeneous narrative, and epistemological difference. Nonetheless, what remains a paradox for many people, as it pertains to religion, are the following questions:
1) Are all religions true?
2) Do they all (religious paths) lead people to God?
3) Do the people from different religious systems or traditions worship the same God?
4) Does God approve all religions of the world?
5) How does one know which religion is true and not a deviation from God’s original plan for humanity?
6. Does it matter what religion one chooses to embrace?
7. Is it okay to blend various religious traditions and rituals?
8. What if all religions have it wrong?
9. What if all religions are different manifestations of human delusion about God?
10. What if there is only one true religion?
11. What if Jesus is the only way to God?)
By religion, I seek to convey the idea of God’s loving movement and disruptive intervention in cultures and religions of the world to draw people to himself and to create a new and distinctive human race that will honor him and spread his name. This particular perspective on religion does celebrate cultural diversity and value various religious traditions. Nonetheless, it does insist that God transcends our religious imagination.
True religion is also a way to experience and receive divine love, grace, and care. True religion boasts in God’s solidarity with humanity and the oppressed of the world; correspondingly, it forces us to depend daily upon God to provide orientation, wisdom, and guidance in this life of despair and hostility.
True religion promotes human interdependence, reciprocity, and solidarity with one another—as men and women who are created in the Imago Dei.
Food for the Soul!