Reflectionon Religion and Theology
In my life, I have never given serious thought about the nature ofGod and religious beliefs that people hold. I adopted these beliefsjust as I was taught. Rarely did I question and if I did, the answergiven was final. My immediate family also seem to have adopted thebeliefs just as they were taught to them without giving a criticalthought or questioning. In spite of ensuring that I was baptized (theChristian way), they have never acknowledged or demonstrated anyparticular religious affiliations. The emphasis is more on goodmorals than on beliefs. My character has been shaped, not by mystrongly held religious beliefs but, my parent’s continuousemphasis on the need to carry oneself with decorum and to exercisehigh moral values and standards. I gave the first critical thought tothe nature of God and religious beliefs when I decided to take thecourse. I have reflected on my thoughts on how this course haschallenged me to think differently about the subject and my beliefson the same.
Before taking this course, I had never thought of taking a liberalsocial culture approach to religion. By taking this perspective,Haught (1990) challenged me to adopt a similar approach to religion.The course drove me into thinking that religion was primarily formedaround social, cultural beliefs or individuals have been doctoring itto suit their social, cultural belief. The challenge compelled me tothink of people’s cultural norms and their religion. In most cases,there is a close connection. By taking a social-cultural approachtowards religion, one only realizes that today, people adoptreligious beliefs that will not interfere with their freedom. Thecourse’s coverage on liberal social culture perspective on religionmade me realize that people would not want their cultural (religious)norms to destroy their freedom.
Besides, I had almost thought that religions and Christianity are oneand the same thing. I rarely appreciated the existence of otherreligions. After studying the approaches to religion, my thinking onthe components of religion was changed. Little did I know that otherreligions had as many followers as Christianity (Martin, 2016). Ionly used to consider them as minor religions. The study on the typesof religious behaviors compelled me to draw a very close connectionbetween religious beliefs, participation, and social cooperation. Myunderstanding of religious behaviors challenged me to view religionas a set of rules defining what is right and what is wrong. Fromthis, I deduced the ability of religion to define what is right andwrong in the society. The majority of the religious beliefs connectrewards, punishment, and social behavior. All religions have criteriaof punishment for wrongdoers and rewarding for believers.
Bill Maher’s broadcast on Christianity challenged me to think ofChristians as followers of Christ as opposed to fans. Followers leada Christ-like life, but fans just admire what Christ used to do butdo not have to, necessarily, do it. I had always thought that merebelief in the death and resurrection of Christ and His ability tosave our lives made individuals Christians. Bill Maher challenged meto think otherwise one has to lead a Christ-like life. When Icombined Maher’s thoughts with those of Haught, I came to aconclusion that today’s Christians just attempt to be like Christbut they are not. The Scripture, as understood from liberal socialculture perspective on religion, has been doctored to accommodate therotten behavior of today’s Christians (Martin, 2016). Instead ofseeking to be like Christ, adhering to his teachings and followinghis ways, today’s Christians seem to be taking a differentdimension. They are making attempts to ensure that their immoralbehavior coincides with the provisions of the Bible and the teachingsof Christ. This risks societal perversion to a considerable extent.
From the study, I deduced several meanings of the word ‘God.` Myunderstanding is that when this word is spoken, it implies theperceived supreme being of a particular religion. ‘God’ isbelieved to be omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent. In allreligions, prayers and offering are dedicated to a supreme beingknown as ‘God.` I have several beliefs about God. One such belief,as insinuated in the Bible, is that He is the creator andconsequently the owner of all that we see. Having created the earth,nature and everything in it using His omnipotence, He has power overit and rules over it. I believe in the Holy Trinity. I also extend mybelief about God the Father that he sent His only begotten Son (JesusChrist/ God the Son) so that all who believe in Him shall have aneverlasting life (Stackhouse, 2015). The course on Religion andTheology has as well enabled me to gain an additional perception andunderstanding of God He is the mighty one. Theologically, Iunderstand the term ‘mighty’ as one used to describe superiorability to do extraordinary things or cause extraordinary happenings.
As pointed out earlier, I had never given a critical thought toreligion until I seriously thought about taking this course. Fromwhat I have learned through the course of the study, I believe thatreligion is a cultural system of behaviors, views, belief andworshipping specific Supreme Being who is also believed (by theworshippers) to be in control of everything including their lives. Ialso believe that today’s religions incorporate, to a considerableextent, cultural norms in an unconscious attempt to avoid theconflict between the norms and the religious beliefs. The religiousbelievers we have today focus on making religion and lifestylecompatible rather than following the primary tenets of the religion(Haught, 1990). The knowledge acquired from this study has enabled meto realize that today’s believers are willing to compromise theirreligious tenets for a better lifestyle.
As much as I respect other religions, I also believe thatChristianity is the only true religion. To a considerable extent,knowledge gained from this course has influenced my decision tosettle on this conclusion. One of the main reasons as to why I holdthis belief is the fact that Christianity is more of a relationshipthan a religion (Martin, 2016). In Christianity, Christians purposeto live for a supreme being (God) who already saved their lives.Unlike other religions, Jesus Christ (God the Son) sets an example ofthe life we should lead on earth. The Supreme Being once went throughwhat we (Christians) go through today. By doing so, He set a goodexample of how, we Christians, should respond to hardships,challenges, and tribulations. As evident in Luke 5:20, he forgavesins and advocated for embracing and loving enemies as opposed tohating them back. In His life on earth, Jesus portrayed the characterof a typical Christian. He provided a benchmark of the life thatevery Christian should purpose to lead.
In addition to this, Jesus is the only leader who claimed to be God,and He performed miracles to prove it. Beyond performing miracles,Jesus rose from the dead. If all these things are true, then it goeswithout saying that Christianity is the only true religion. Muslimsalso believe that Jesus existed, not as a God, but as a prophet. Thenotion of His existence is never disputed disputes arise from Hisnature. Recently, scientists conducted a critical study to assesswhether or not Jesus rose from the dead. Irrespective of the resultsof the study, the implication, is that scholars (with the majority ofthem such as Bill Maher being unbelievers) still seek to know thetruth behind Jesus’ nature. This fact pushes Christianity, as theonly true religion, a notch higher. Even for other believers, theexclusivity of Christianity cannot be underestimated. The fact thatthe Bible is the inerrant Word of God presented to us positions thereligion above assumptions. It is from taking this course that I cameto learn that the Bible, as the word of God, is not a mere belief byChristians but a fact.
All this implies to me that a Christian’s vocation shows thepurpose of God being fulfilled in their life because we are Hischildren. It can, therefore, be said to be the end of healing.Christian vocation comes as a result of the fact that we are broughtinto the presence of God and equipped with the wholeness He has forus. I believe that Christian vocation is the completion of God’spreparation in the life of a Christian to work with him/ her as a newcreation. As such, the vocation of a healer would only reveal itselfin a Christian if they purpose to comply with God’s word and HisBiblical teaching (Stackhouse, 2015). Besides, the vocation of ahealer only reveals itself to the person if they believe in Christand His teachings. It is, therefore, likely that there are so manywho have been called to heal but they are yet to realize theircalling because they do not believe. I have come to understand thatreligion is all about faith believing in that which one cannot see.Faith is essential in the breakthrough of the life of a Christian.
From the above reflection, it is well evident that I learned a lotfrom the course which challenged my way of thinking and compelled meto change it. The clear understanding that I have gotten fromstudying this course has transformed me and my life from a partialbeliever or a fan of Jesus Christ to a true believer and a realfollower of Christ and His teachings (Martin, 2016). I have gotten abetter and deeper understanding of Christ. I intend to use theknowledge gained to enlighten potential Christian to join us as wefollow the ways of Christ. Also, I will utilize the knowledge inchallenging other self-proclaimed Christians. Christians who onlylabel themselves as believers and followers of Christ withoutnecessarily following Christ are so many. I will use the knowledgeacquired from this course to educate this group of individuals. Mygoal will be to win more souls for Christ as I emphasize on theessentiality following the ways of Christ as opposed to mereaffiliation with the religion.
Haught, J. F. (1990). What is Religion?: An Introduction.Paulist Press.
Martin, D. (2016). The future of Christianity: Reflections onviolence and democracy, religion and secularization. Routledge.
Stackhouse, M. (2015). Civil Religion, Political Theology, and PublicTheology: What`s the Difference?. Political theology.