Across the world, there are many religions (e.g., Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Zoroastrianism, Buddhism, etc.) . Some people cannot just imagine that if there is only one true God, why is it that they are divided as to what they believe in. Is not that all individuals came only from one source - God? Contrariwise, there are people who will not agree to the former statements because they believe that there are many gods; yes, lots of them. They will not accept it that we all came only from one source. There are people on earth that even believe that there is a pre-Adamic race . So, the question remains as to why there are many religious belief systems. Could there be a point in human history that diverse forms of religions will no longer divide men? Can the gap be closed such that there is an interreligious harmony via collaborative effort? Well, let us attempt to provide arguments, counterarguments, evidences, inferences, and insight whether this line of reasoning may, in fact, become a reality someday.
Part 2: The Argument
Let us start with the interrogative thesis statements mentioned above as the argument for the initial premise of this paper. The argument, by and large, requires a standard source in the exposition of this paper’s details. If readers would agree, I will base my answers from an authoritative source – the bible. Without a standard frame of reference, it is hard to make one’s point clear and direct to the point. Hence, the bible will serve as my springboard in expounding the thesis of this religious / philosophical / argumentative essay. Then, supporting evidences will be presented before the presentation of the counterarguments in paragraph six of this portion of this research paper.
Part 3: Objections and Defenses
In the bible, there are statements that seem contradictory and illogical to some people . They say that the bible contains myths; hence, it should never be relied upon as a credible source in understanding the world. However, individuals who think that way, maybe, partly, or wholly, did not read the bible at all, whether they belong to other religions groups, are atheists, agnostics, or whoever they may be. The truth is the bible is so logical, scientific and ethical that you cannot simply discount its merit.
I have only presented one example. There are other examples that require basic logic only. Even when I cite the bible, it will only prove that everything in it is correct – except for some cases (e.g., mistranslation, malicious addition of bible verses, etc.). Then again, the integrity of the bible is whole if people will cross-examine other versions of the bible or refer to the original manuscript. So, the issue about the bible’s authenticity has been resolved. You may now ask: Why is your introductory statement so lengthy after your presentation of the thesis? Is not that we should rather go to the important aspect such as what specific elements that created the world religions’ chasm? From past to present, men have either worshipped God properly or not. There are people who worship Him accordingly (John 4:24). Since every person – except for babies and some “special” people – were all endowed with freewill, they can decide for themselves to choose good over evil (Ecclesiastes 12:14). If they choose goodness, they can be considered as rational / logical beings; if not, then, they can be considered irrational / illogical individuals. It logically follows then that people who do not acknowledge God properly and His existence are fools (Psalms 14:1, 53:1; Romans 1:21) and their very existence, tautologically, are the very proofs that God says what is true. So, what does this statement has to do with the chasm? Well, biblical proofs (that is, verses) tell us that indeed such is the case that we ought not to mix biblical doctrines with false or misguided ideas (Matthew 15:14).
If we investigate how people in some, if not all, other religions believe in their god/s, they will never be able to pass through the standards of the bible. Some religions worship animals, woods, metals, and other created things (Romans 1:25). Instead of worshipping the Creator, they worship the creatures. Further, some religions offer sacrifices to devils, sacrifices their sons/daughters, and so on (I Peter 4:3; I Corinthians 10:20; Jeremiah 13:10; Revelation 16:2). So, if we think of closing the gap, there will be religion/s who will still stand firm to their erroneous beliefs. Although we do not discount that there will be religions who will be agree to have interreligious communications, it should be through a religious (professional) debate. What I precisely mean by ‘debate’ is to let other sectarian groups to have a common standard (e.g., logic, bible, science) for interreligious communications. Let the leaders or authorized representatives of each group present their arguments and evidences why they believe that their religion is the true one. As a reiteration, without a common standard or consensus, it is hard to see the similarities/dissimilarities of people’s varying belief systems. For instance, how can we compare Islam from Buddhism when they are wholly different? One major difference will make the gap impossible to bridge. Hence, as for my part, religious and/or cultural similarities / differences should stand on their own or face full scrutiny from experts, scholars, etc. Further, no religious groups should be prejudicial / biased / discriminating of other religions except / unless they are willing to subject themselves to cross-examination. They have then every right to defend what they are supposed to defend. If they failed to provide proofs based on the agreed standards, then, they should simply tolerate or accept the viewpoints of the other groups.
Let us now proceed with the counterarguments why it was so that there will never be a closing of the chasm and interreligious communications (that is, so as for differences in religious belief systems to be outweighed by their commonalities). Initially, we may be too superficial to even think of the commonalities of major world religions. People would infer that Judaism and Christianity are somewhat similar especially in the use of the Old Testament. However, in the New Testament, some people will not succumb to the belief that Jesus Christ is the Messiah (Matthew 28:13-15). For those people, they are still waiting for His coming. Even in Christianity, there are those who professed themselves to be one, but their works deny them (Romans 1:22). For this part, I believe that commonalities will exist only inside a particular faction, but not across all religions. People should remember that there are religions who kill for their religions’ sake (John 8:44). They think that killing other people is a command from God . Even when they go to war, they do the same thing . Anyone who is not one of them, if they cannot convert the person in their own religion, is worthy to be killed (e.g., during the Jihad, Inquisition, Crusades,etc.) (Kuper, 2009, pp. 24, 74, 243; Soriano, 2007). Even in cases where killing may not occur, erroneous “Christian” doctrines, for instance, are being used for filthy lucre’s gain (Titus 1:11). There are also religious groups who gather / unite to advance their own interest. So, how can it be possible to overcome differences in diversity of religious and cultural diversity? As apparent from the word “diversity” itself, it is not possible – except in the name of tolerance for people who have not heard about the God’s truth. Still, when we talk about God’s truth, some religious groups will say that there is no monopoly of it. That said, Truth, truly, originates only from God. If there is only but one true religion, does that mean that all the rest are counterfeits? Well, we cannot just phrase that statement as such. We have to consider many contributory factors why people / races have different religions (Ephesians 2:12). What should instead be kept in mind that when people heard about preaching / teaching of a religion, it is up to them to decide whether to join or not. We should not force anyone or use deceit or killings just to let people believe in a religion. If people will realize that, indeed, one’s religion is the true one, why will it not then be possible that they will be in the same flock (except in case of misguidance)? Despite to the contrary, we not hinder people to exercise their freedom to choose their own religion. However, this usually does not happen especially for countries that ban the entries / freedom to hear other religious group, which is understandable given their form of government and religious/belief system.
People from all walks of life who exercise or affiliated with their own religions will realize for themselves that although there is a commonalities in teachings/doctrines because of the universality of some values; that may still not count as strong contributory factor in closing the interreligious gap. The statement just mentioned may only be possible in the name of bridging the gap via religious tolerance or co-existence (e.g., live and let live). Similarities or commonalities in some aspects of religious beliefs do not entail that two or more religions are identical. It is a known fact that there cannot be a marriage between truth and falsehood, light and darkness, understanding and misconceptions, etc. because the former will always overpower the latter. Hence when considering oppositions or contrary ideas whether there can a bridging of the gap, or better closing of the interreligious chasm, resolution may not be readily apparent to them whose reasons are not well-exercised. Individuals should take their side of the issue considering that it is hard to embrace a belief system contrary to what they truly believe. As the cliché goes: Truth makes a person dismiss that which is false.
Part 4: Conclusion
(As a caveat: This is not a recant). From my own perspective and the perspectives of other rational beings, I believe that in order to close the gap, for instance, countries must open their doors for another religion to come in. Let them hear and test whether what they are hearing are according to standards (e.g., Bible, Quran, Bhagavad Gita, science, logic, etc.). Only through that can individuals realize if there are indeed general and specific commonalities (or not) among the world’s religions. Nonetheless, we should learn to think critically yet effectively to differentiate bogus religions from the true one. As rational individuals, we should hear, explore, search, join, separate, unite, and examine whether a religious group is according to one’s own preferences (I John 4:1). There should not be a point in a person’s life that one of his/her inalienable right for religious freedom should not be exercised.
I believe that I already presented my case point-by-point. As I iterate, my stand is that the differences in religions will exist to a certain extent. As a Christian, only the true religion and God, in his own appointed time, that everything will come to a close. As human beings, especially, for people who belong to other religious sects, my belief is that God wants all people to be saved (I Timothy 2:4). However, we have to do our share. We have to be obedient to God by showing our love for our fellowmen whether they be united with us in faith/religion or not. If we are kind to other people, I am sure that God will also be kind to us. I firmly believe that God knows exactly our infirmities and how we are being conned sometimes by the evils that surround us. But God is faithful and will do everything to help us (Romans 8:35). Thus, whether in good times or bad times, we should always trust God and thank Him. For in this life, we cannot forgo the harsh realities that we experience. But life must go on. We should consume our earthly days thinking and doing well. If we have irrational and fanatic belief, I think it will do more harm to us and to other people whom we should have treated humanely. If only we will realize that closing the gap in religions require an act of kindness, there is not a point that some people will be cruel to one another. If religious leaders will only be honest to themselves, they will not allow people to be led astray. I know for a fact that most, if not all, religions exist because of filthy lucre’s gain (Titus 1:11). Why not try to reverse the scenario? Why not make religion free from hatred, lucrative gains, etc. for people to understand and accept, be that as it may, to truly love God? We should never allow ourselves to be the very hindrance for other people’s salvation. Remember, life here on earth is for a moment, but in the afterlife, it will either be in eternal damnation or bliss. I chose; you choose.
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