The Spiritual Needs of Mankind.
Almost all races and civilizations have or had a concept of "God".
Most have used that concept of God to manipulate their citizens via 'Big Religion'.
(A similar evil to Big Tobacco, Big Uranium, Big Pharma, Big Oil, Big Banks.. ad infinitum.)
Most civilizations have also used their concepts of God as a tool to achieving higher long-term morality and better resilience in time of crisis.
Like most things in life.. Religion has its Good side and its Dark side..
(Note.. This article reflects the personal views of the author. It is NOT 'authorized' by any denomination.)
The historic legacy of 'Big Religion' is so horrific that any modern leader cannot be considered 'educated' if they don't understand the 'worst aspects' of "Religion" (and their threats to society). Obviously, they should also understand the best aspects of Religion and their benefits to society.
PS.. There is no need to apologize for discussing religion or "God" in an Educational context..
90% of the world believes there is a "God".. THEY are the majority in a democratic world!
The doubters & agnostics are a tiny minority and have no right to be offended by the views and beliefs of the democratic majority.
In the movie 'Contact', the agnostic (Jodie Foster) is desperate to be selected to make 1st contact with the aliens.. The assessing panel rejects her saying "90% of the world believes in 'God', why would we send an ambassador who doesn't??"
One 'Head Nurse' in a very large Catholic 'Childrens Hospital' commented that "With Parents, 90% is probably too low.. In 40 years, I can't recall any parent of a critically ill child being unwilling to join me in prayer for their child" "Certainly, some might not be genuine - but far less than 10%" (end quote)
We DO, however, have a (God given??) right to question the 'good vs bad' of ANY issue that affects our community. In fact, this 'educational forum' would be negligent if it didn't address the pros and cons of Religion.
A word of caution.. If you are young and still dependent on your family for basic needs, and your family has strict religious principles, and you lack the maturity to temporally submit to false ideals, you should not be reading this potentially divisive material! - Preserving harmony under your parents roof is more important to God than being doctrinally correct!
The average person has many issues with organized religion! And, they are in good company! - The Bible does too!
Many of the references in the Bible to "Ministers of Religion" are scathing condemnations!
Those texts imply that some church elders are lying to and manipulating their congregation!
Mat 7:15 calls them "Wolves dressed as Sheep". Several passages refer to "Shepherds who prey upon (devour) their flock".
The universal Assassination of Gods Good Nature..
God often likens His attitude and principles to those of the most loving and caring human Father that ever existed. That's a dramatic claim - and not at all consistent with the mysterious, judgmental and 'impossible to understand' god' that 'Big Religion' promotes. Jesus often implied that "even a child can understand the Father!" (If only the ministry would stop confusing them!)
A simple reading of the NT Bible reveals a patient, kind, forgiving Father.. An exact opposite Father to that painted by the bloody history of Big Religion..
Big Religion is a very dangerous beast for several reasons, but mainly because "Big Anything" becomes dangerous.
Small Churches like any small group, may lack power, money, political influence - but they rarely lack integrity! Small congregations are among the most helpful, caring and uplifting bodies in any community.
Strength In Numbers?
With larger numbers in a body, the activities and programs become more beneficial. Churches below a hundred rarely have a music program or youth activities and hence they will loose all their young folk. Their Senior Support program will be ok (because that will be only age group attending)
Churches above 200 will face a more insidious problem.
In any society, about one in fifty folk are great manipulators. In a small church, there will be only one of them. In a 300 strong church, there will be 6 of them and they will form a 'self-serving' steering group. (strength in numbers)
This group will become very efficient at steering the whole body away from unprofitable care-giving activities. They will even influence the 'sermons' to be less suited to the poor and more suited to the rich. The rich will be told what they want to hear - not what they should hear!
Elements of "Fear Religion" ** will be employed to retain attendance and boost financial commitments.
In a wealthy church, even the Music will be changed to suit the well-off folk. It will no longer be suited to uplifting the poor and oppressed. It will not be designed to increase our shaky faith in a merciful Father.
Their million dollar music program will indeed be impressive - but it will just be "feel-good" music with a heavy beat. (The "feel-good" effect and the "goose-bumps" will of course be attributed to the power of the Holy Spirit.)
There is nothing wrong with a skilled 20 piece band and "goose-bump" music! As long as you don't neglect the music that the "desperately lost" need to hear! As long as the music is not so loud that these "desperately lost" folk cannot hear the voices of the congregation singing to their Father!
There is nothing wrong with a "wealth church" as long as it doesn't neglect the homeless! As long as it still HAS the homeless attending. (Ie. they haven't all been driven away by the lack of care or the judgmental looks that well-off folk tend to hand out!)
"Fear Religion" is a term that describes the way churches try to keep people attending (and contributing money) by keeping them afraid of God! Afraid of 'Hell Fire'. Afraid of doing anything that displeases God!
'Fear Religion' translates certain Bible verses incorrectly in order to cause fear..
Eg. Mat 7:13 "wide is the gate, and broad is the path, that leads to destruction and hell, and many go in that way. But narrow is the gate, and narrow is the path, which leadeth unto life, and few find it."
The verse actually says that "in choosing the easy path, many are headed for a sad life of disaster and spiritual empty-ness - Only a few are willing to travel the hard road to a happy, successful, spiritually rich life!
The greek verse has no words that imply 'eternal life' or 'eternal destruction'. If you know how loving a Dad God is - you would never believe that He will allow "many/most" of His dear children to burn in hell!
In response to the challenge that "Mat 7:13 does NOT say that most will go to Hell".. One minister replied "I know the translation is wrong - but people are too lazy and the 'Hell' idea keeps them motivated, and keeps them coming to church! and, that's a good thing."
Sadly, he is partly right! The problem is this.. These ministers are trying to Force people to 'come to Christ'..
They are trying to "Call" people who have Not (yet) been "called" by God!
John 6:44 "No man can come to me, unless The Father (who has sent me) 'calls' him.
They don't understand that today, God is NOT (yet) calling everyone.
Written by Brian F.
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