WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN RELIGION AND GOD?
RELIGION IS NOT GOD.
/ ST. BARBARA, THE PATRON SAINT OF ARTILLERY
According to some estimates there are 4200 different religions in the world. One could draw two distinct conclusions from this rather large number: 1. The vast majority of people throughout the ages have believed in the existence of some kind of God. This would very well mean that man has a deep understanding that he is part of the existence of some larger creative force. The other conclusion is 2. The mind-boggling array of religious beliefs, dogma and practices in the world can only mean that god is a worldly construct displaying man’s vivid imagination and his need for belief in a god.
Of course there is a third conclusion. This is the idea that both of these are true. That is, we are drawn to the idea that we didn’t get here on our own and intuitively know God exists BUT religion is created by man and is not God. Somehow many expect religion and its adherents, because they “represent” God to be perfect. This is aggravated by the insistence by many of these 4200 religions that theirs is the only correct one, authorized or inspired by God.
Muslims believe the Quran was verbally revealed to Muhammad through the angel Gabriel over a period of twenty-three years, beginning in 609 AD, when Muhammad was forty years old. While the Quran expresses familiarity with the major events and narratives of the Biblical Scriptures it also is used to interpret Sharia Law, which has no basis in the New Testament of the Bible. The Quran, like the Old Testament substantially describes a humanistic god who manipulates the material world.
Christians have varying beliefs on the infallibility of the Bible as the word of God. Many believe the Bible is the complete, inspired, literal word of God. Others believe the Bible, is in many cases not literal, but allegorical or metaphorical and is only accurate in the “original autographs.” Of course, the “original autographs” is somewhat of a euphemism because these “original autographs” do not exist as such, but Bible scholars say are “contained” or represented by means of the massive number of early translations or copies still in existence. In other words, we know what was on the original manuscripts because we have so many copies made from them. It is true there are far more surviving early biblical manuscripts than any other ancient historical document.
Biblically, the real problem comes in with the translations written under the auspices of the various institutional churches, starting with the Roman Council of Nicaea, under Constantine. We won’t go into detail here, but suffice it to say there are many inconsistencies and even alterations to the meaning of some key words. Two important examples pursuant to our point:
SIN. What modern Christians associate with sin is breaking the ten commandments or doing something “naughty.” The original Hebrew word for sin meant something entirely different. It meant “to miss” or “to miss the mark.” In the context of Jesus’ teaching this means to miss or lose sight of our spiritual nature and forget that God is Spirit and we are to pray incessantly (live) in the Spirit. All material acts and thoughts miss the mark.
REPENTANCE. The word and the concept of repentance has come to mean to Christians the process of turning from our “sins” and asking forgiveness. This implies that we can be “of the world” and still be “saved” so long as we “turn from our sins.” However, the original meaning in the Greek comes from the word, metanoia-- to “change the mind.” Some Christians insist this means merely to change one’s mind about Jesus and believe. But, if we are to accept Ephesians 4:24 (NIV)”…and put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness…” we would have to admit repentance is about more than a change in worldly behavior.
Somewhere in the history of the Christian religion, Christ’s teaching was changed from turning away from the false material world and our worldly allusions, to seek and remember our true spiritual selves—God reflected in us as in Genesis 1, has evolved into “salvation by believing in Jesus as God.” Is it just a coincidence that other ancient wisdoms understood the worldly predicament in much the same way as Jesus Christ? The word “maya,” one of the most important concepts in Eastern philosophy, is similar to the Toltec “mitote,” or the spell of the material illusion which keeps us from the Truth. We must let go of the attachment to and reliance on the material world to experience “Brahma” or God.
Whereas Eastern philosophy (notice it isn’t generally referred to as religion) entails various practices which lead to a quieting of the mind and toward spiritual understanding, modern Christianity seems content to maintain a worldly perspective and pray to God for help.
Institutional Christian churches learned to control their congregations by turning Christ’s liberating teaching into a process of quilt relief through participation in organized “sacraments” and practices aimed at maintaining a need for the “church.” It would seem the last thing Western churches want is for parishioners or congregants to realize that Jesus did teach the only Truth, but that it is the same truth taught by the Eastern philosophies. They want to forget that Jesus said, “anyone who follows my commands (teaching) will understand my doctrine.”
So, yes, you can believe that Jesus was/is the embodiment of the Christ, healed the sick, raised the dead, walked on water and was resurrected to prove that our true being is spiritual, not material.
Instead, the Catholic church gives us hundreds of “Patron Saints” to pray to for relief from the world we won’t let go of! I may have made up “St. Barbara, the patron Saint of artillery,” but there are hundreds including a Patron Saint of Lawyers and a Patron Saint of Advertising. Have we become so numb to hypocrisy that we can’t tell the difference between Monotheism and Pantheism?
Is it not understandable that millions of intelligent people are disinclined to believe in God because they equate God with the hypocritical religions they see in the culture all about them?-- religions that routinely ignore the “sins” of fornication and divorce but decry the sins of homosexuality or gay marriage. Many Christians treat church like a club they go to on Sunday but ignore the rest of the week. Jesus taught the truth that we are saved, from sin, sickness and death and can know God to the extent we let go of the world’s illusion.
God is not religion. God is.