Wed | Sep 20, 2017

God isn't bound by religion

Published:Monday | April 5, 2010 | 4:00 AM

I knew a Hindu who practised more Christian principles than most professed Christians. Many Christians would consider him incapable of going to 'heaven' simply because he was born into Hinduism and, although exposed to Christianity, chose to cling to his accustomed faith. It is, therefore, sad to say that the actions of many 'religious' people (of whatever faith) demonstrate intolerance and fear (of losing power/control over others). After all, there can be no greater power than that claimed by those that think they have the keys to eternal bliss.

Paradoxically, sometimes 'religion' drives people away from God because institutionalised systems of worship and set beliefs tend to be inflexible and foster exclusivity. Religion has been blamed for many wars, innumerable deaths and relegating masses of people to the ilk of the backward and barbaric heathen, thus justifying their mistreatment, enslavement and sometimes even extinction.

The current worldwide upheaval that caused an active theatre of war in Iraq and now Afghanistan, is directly associated with religion. The Jewish-Arab conflict and resultant global acts of terrorism are all based on religious differences between people. On the surface of it all it, therefore, seems inane that everyone is supposed to be the children of the one God (Elohim, Allah, Jehovah) yet continue to kill one another in His name.

Jihads, suicide bombings, and mass killings represent the extreme fringe of an age-old religion that shared common roots with Judaism, which in turn gave rise to Christianity. Even within the many (ever-growing) denominations and variations of Christianity, there exists competition, disharmony and even acrimony.

I was born into the Methodist faith but embraced Roman Catholicism because of my schooling at St George's College. I am not a regular church-goer but, I have no compunction about attending any church in addition to the two to which I am accustomed. I have attended the Seventh-Day Adventist, Baptist and Anglican churches. I was, therefore, taken aback when, many years ago while I was engaged in selling tickets to raise funds for a Baptist church, one pastor from a different denomination sullenly remarked, "We don't support any other church."

We shake our heads in disgust and disbelief at the carnage that occurs because of religious differences all over the world yet we Christians often do not support each other. There exists competition among churches and competition within churches. Church politics, power struggles, hypocrisy, moral corruption and holier-than-thou attitudes attend too many Christian gatherings. Such behaviour does nothing to attract members.

Presumptuous

Personally, I find it presumptuous that any one religion or Christian denomination can state categorically that theirs is the only way to 'see the face of God'. The very idea of confining God to the property of any one religion is ridiculous. I see Christianity as a religion inspired by Jesus that encourages certain acts (of fairness and compassion toward our brother and sisters) and spiritual attitudes (of the realisation that our Heavenly Father is supreme in all things). The Holy Spirit of God is not unique to Christianity.

As we commemorate the Easter season and the supreme sacrifice of Jesus; we should remember that He did not die only for Christians, in fact, at the time of His death, Christianity did not exist. Jesus died for everyone. The significance of His life and death is multifaceted, but a burning question has echoed though the ages, "Why did they kill Jesus?" The answer remains the same ... because of intolerance and the fear (of losing power/control over others). People haven't changed much after 2,000 years, have they?

Garth A. Rattray is a medical doctor with a family practice. Feedback may be sent to garthrattray@gmail.com or columns@gleanerjm.com