Posts Tagged ‘religious beliefs’

World population as of 2014 is 7.2 billion and growing. Out of that, there are a total of over 3 billion churches. There is no official directory for all the congregations in the county, because sociologists of religion have to rely on statistical estimates from surveys. These are often disputed, and to complicate matters even more, thousands of new churches open each year while thousands of others close. The Hartford Institute estimates there are roughly 350,000 religious congregations in the United States with millions of members in each congregation.

So if we are all members of the “Body of Christ” why is there so much disagreement between different congregations?

Several hundred years ago in many countries there was only one church that was tolerated. But when people began to immigrate to the United States, they were free to bring their own religious beliefs and practices with them—and they did. Many of our major denominations trace their beginnings back to their European roots—Lutherans from Scandinavia, for example, or Presbyterians from Scotland.
In spite of the differences in religious practices, all Christians should agree on the central truths of the Gospel:
• That we are all sinners in need of God’s forgiveness.
• That Jesus was born in the flesh, was crucified, died for our sins and was resurrected after three days.
• If we confess our sins God will forgive us of our sins and give us eternal life.

What do you believe?
Beyond these core beliefs, most Christians believe in one God that exists in three persons—the Father, the Son (Jesus Christ), and the Holy Spirit. They believe that Jesus Christ walked this earth, fully God, and yet fully man and after his death he was buried, rose again and now lives at the right hand of the Father, making intercession for the believers forever. They believe that in order to be saved and be granted entrance into heaven after death, one must place one’s faith entirely in this doctrine.

Many Christians from mainstream Christianity consider denominations with non-Trinitarian beliefs to be cults and will not inherit eternal life in heaven; but are condemned to the everlasting fires of hell. But is this really biblically factual?

I have had many stimulating conversations with Jehovah Witnesses and Mormons as well as other Christians. I have to say that most of their doctrinal beliefs are based on Scripture. But the ones that aren’t, do not condemn them either.

In Acts 15 we read that while Paul and Barnabas were in Syria, some men from Judea arrived and began to teach the Gentile believers that unless they were circumcised they couldn’t be saved. The church sent them to Jerusalem to meet together with the other apostles to resolve this issue. At the meeting, after a long discussion, Peter stood and addressed them as follows: “Brothers, you all know that God chose me from among you some time ago to preach to the Gentiles so that they could hear the Good News and believe. God knows people’s hearts, and he confirmed that he accepts Gentiles by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as he did to us. He made no distinction between us and them, for he cleansed their hearts through faith. So why are you now challenging God by burdening the Gentile believers with a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors were able to bear? We believe that we are all saved the same way, by the undeserved grace of the Lord Jesus.” In the end they concluded, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to lay no greater burden on the Gentiles than to abstain from eating food offered to idols, from consuming blood or the meat of strangled animals, and from sexual immorality. Isn’t it interesting that neither Paul nor any of the apostles mentioned observing God’s feast days, keeping Kosher, or even mentioned the Trinity doctrine as a condition for salvation?

Again we read in Acts 16:25-31, that after an earthquake had released Paul and Silas from jail, the jailer rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” Again, there was no mention of following doctrinal beliefs in order to be saved. He only said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.”

We need to keep in mind that God’s plan for His Church was to bring unity to His followers—while denominations, by their very design, brings division and dissension.

If we are truly “One Body in Christ” then we should put away division and  judgment and focus on what’s really important—that we are all sinners in need of God’s forgiveness.

For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. (1Cor. 12:12)

For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. (Rom 12:3-5)

Prominent Republicans are calling for Ariz. Gov. Jan Brewer to veto a controversial bill that would allow businesses to deny service over religious beliefs.

The Arizona Legislature passed a bill last week allowing businesses whose owners cite sincerely held religious beliefs to deny service to gays. It allows any business, church or person to cite the law as a defense in any action brought by the government or individual claiming discrimination. This legislation has caused a national uproar and voices of opposition have grown each day, with the business community and both Republican U.S. senators calling for a veto.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964, enacted July 2, 1964 is a landmark piece of civil rights legislation in the United States that outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin. It ended unequal application of voter registration requirements and racial segregation in schools, at the workplace and by facilities that served the general public. (Also known as “public accommodations”)The Act was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson on July 2, 1964 at the White House.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 explicitly prohibits public businesses from refusing service to patrons on the basis of race, color, religion, or natural origin. In addition, most courts don’t allow businesses to refuse service to patrons based on the owner’s personal convictions. For example, a man can’t legally be refused service because they enter a business dressed in drag. At the same time, an atheist business owner cannot refuse service to a patron entering the business carrying a Bible.

There a number of legitimate reasons for a business to refuse service, some of which include:
• Patrons who are unreasonably rowdy or causing trouble
• Patrons that may overfill capacity if let in
• Patrons who come in just before closing time or when the kitchen is closed
• Patrons accompanied by large groups of non-customers looking to sit in
• Patrons lacking adequate hygiene (e.g. excess dirt, extreme body odor, etc.)

In most cases, refusal of service is warranted where a customer’s presence detracts from the safety, welfare, and well-being of other patrons and/or the business itself; such as businesses that do not allow guns to be brought onto its premises.

I believe that far too often within the Christian community, we (the Church) have become instrumental in causing disunity where none need to exist. The Bible teaches that we need to show love and unity to a lost and hurting world. In our world of so much intolerance, it is even more important to study the Scripture and seek diligently for what it says. However, we also need to be humble when we are faced with decisions that will affect others around us and to err on the side of love and unity whenever possible without disregarding the clear teaching of God’s word.

Consider the following verses:
Colossians 4:5-6 “Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned, as it were, with salt, so that you may know how you should respond to each person.”
Romans 14:4 “Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. “
Ephesians 4:2 “With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love.”
John 8:7 “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”
1 Peter 3:8-11 “Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. For whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it.”

We do not win people to the Lord by condemning them and calling them names or refusing to serve them at our public businesses. This is why God says to speak with wisdom, grace, and love. Instead, we need to let the love of God flow through us so that the world can see what true love is and turn to God instead of fighting against Him.