Philosophy Lite: Searching for the right religion
March 31, 2011 at midnight
Updated March 31, 2011 at 11:01 p.m.
By Raymond Smith
I recently read an article suggesting that of all the world's religions, people should select the one that fits them and brings out the best in them. A thinking person should dismiss this idea out of hand because the stakes are too high to commit one's life to such a singular purpose - there is more to consider than just the here and now.
While different nationalities and cultures have differing ways of thinking, all mankind has the same needs and concerns. Many of the world's religions were instituted by humans, so it should not be surprising that there is a diversity of religions among diverse peoples. But not all differing religions can be valid, so we have to think clearly which one most nearly meets the condition of man and the real world in which we live.
First of all, is that god is a god of love, or is he vindictive and arbitrary?
Second, many of the world's religionists agree that any valid religion must be monotheistic. The Greek and Roman gods failed because they were largely indifferent to the people, often fought among themselves and were sometimes immoral.
Third, has this god revealed himself to mankind throughout history in a satisfactory and reliable manner.
Fourth, what is his moral code? Can it bring about stability in a broken world? How does he deal with the problem of evil? Is he a god of justice?
Fifth, what about the hereafter? Do we have any hope of a secure future or do we have to keep coming back until we finally earn our way into heaven? How can we know when we have pleased this god enough?
Most Americans honor Jehovah God: revealed to us from the beginning of history by His chosen people. Through His Holy Word, He has given us instruction on how to live, bringing man to his highest potential. In this book, He has revealed His character, His requirements for the people of His creation, how we are to relate to Him and revelations about the life to come.
The most important consideration of all is that He is a God of love and mercy. More than this, He is a God of hope, confidence and peace. He is a personal God who we all can relate to. He is a God of grace - forgiving us our sins and indiscretions, as an earthly father would his own son. He is a living God, and He is still in control of the world. He is a life-changing God, bringing forgiveness and new life to millions who have accepted his offer of salvation through the shed blood of Jesus.
The most beautiful aspect of our faith is that it is practical. It relates to us according to our need. Our God relates to us as we might to our own children: loving, instructing, providing, rewarding and yes, sometimes punishing.
Because he is a God of love we love him in return, and we are at peace.
Raymond F. Smith is a deacon at Fellowship Bible Church in Victoria and President of Strong Families of Victoria.