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By the beginning of the 16th century, the medieval Church and all that it represented, entered a period of profound crisis. By this time, the Church was nearly fifteen centuries old. Throughout its history the Church always had to confront problems both within its organization and from without. But by 1500, these problems rose to the surface and the Church would shake at its very foundation. Political philosophers like Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527) had already rejected the medieval idea that popes were superior to kings (see Lecture 1). As a citizen of Renaissance Florence, Machiavelli was a Christian, yet he distrusted and disliked the clergy. He saw no need to reform the Church and Christianity because his secular theory of the state was based on the notion that religion and faith was nothing more than the cement which held society together. He would certainly have agreed with Karl Marx who, more than three centuries later, would argue that:
Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people. [Contribution to a Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right, 1844]
A second problem of the period concerned the merchants, bankers and artisans of Europe's largest cities and towns who resented the fact that local bishops of the Church controlled all of their commercial and economic activities. Although capitalism as a form of economic organization had not yet infiltrated Europe, these producers and money-makers knew that more money and power was theirs if only their lives were less regulated by the Church. Again, I think what we are witnessing here is the development of a secular concept of work and acquisition. Yet another problem facing the Church was that in the 16th century there were numerous reformers who were openly criticizing the Church for its numerous offenses. Priests married and then took mistresses, holy offices were bought and sold for the highest price, incompetence among the clergy became the rule, the congregation of more and more people in towns and cities perhaps exposed the amorality and immorality of the clergy. In a word, the problem was corruption.
Meanwhile, peasants in England, Italy, France, Germany and elsewhere were also on the move. They began to revolt openly against both the clergy and the aristocracy. Their grievances were the most complicated of all -- their revolt was against political, economic, social and religious authority. And despite the Inquisition, the work of the Dominicans and Franciscans, and even a holy crusade, heretics and heresies continue to grow more numerous and more vocal.
Along comes Martin Luther (1483-1546), the son of a self-made copper miner from Saxony (see Lecture 3). As a Renaissance scholar, humanist, Augustinian monk and Doctor of Philosophy, Luther led an open attack on the issue of the sale of indulgences. While struggling with his own sense of self-doubt, Luther could not accept that salvation could be won by "good works" alone. Salvation for Luther could be won, however, by one's personal relationship with God, through faith ("the just shall live by faith alone"). This was an important development in the history of Christianity and the Church. The Christian had, up to 1517, always found his or her faith by obeying the Church. Good works were the only path to salvation -- in other words, there was nothing specifically individual about this faith. With Luther, on the other hand, faith was internalized -- it was a matter of heart and conscience. It was "inner-directed," to borrow an expression from the American sociologist David Reisman.
Luther's ideas appealed to those people who resented the worldliness, arrogance, incompetence, immorality, cynicism and corruption of the clergy. And, his message fell on ready ears -- in other words, the German people were ready to listen to a man like Luther since he seemed to speak their language. These people resented the wealth of the Church. The nobility resented the land held by the Church, all free of taxes. And the peasants saw Luther as a champion of social reform. Luther's confrontation with the Church, all prompted by the Ninety-Five Theses, led to a violent conflict between Catholic and Protestant. Such a conflict was not merely one of words but of men fighting men. Outside Germany and Scandinavia, the two places where Luther's ideas had their greatest impact, the Reformation was guided by the troubled conscience of John Calvin (1509-1564). Unlike Luther, Calvin stressed man's legal relationship with God. God's laws must be obeyed without question. For the Calvinist, moral righteousness must be pursued, lusts must be restrained and controlled, and social life and morality must be carefully regulated. Such an ethic of self-control was predicated on the notion that we should all work hard at our calling. By living such a life, one could be saved. However, for Calvin, 99 out of 100 men are damned. This is God's will and he must be obeyed.
Perhaps this will enable you to one day understand why we view religion as a very dangerous instrument that is used by the powers to precipitate all sorts of problems.
Remember Religion is controlled and directed by man and therefore cannot be fully trusted. However we truly believe that there is a superior Force out there called God and whatever name we chose to call him Allah, Yahweh, Krishna, Jehovah, Yod - Hay - Vav - Hay ,Adonai, El, Elohah ,Elohim, Shadai,Tzeva'ot etc; he is the same God. There is no such thing as my God is better than yours or you are a heathen, if you follow the basic rules of any religion none of us would ever fight. In every religion it is sin to kill or rob from your neighbor. If we just followed these two rules we would never need to point a finger at anyone again.
Religion means, "to re-connect” in Latin. Are we really re connecting with each other or disconnecting?
Someone seems to have found a very nice way to explain how we fight with each other because of our different religious beliefs.
How under one God is it possible to have so many different religions that cannot tolerate each other?
Religion is a Latin word that means, "to re-connect." The meaning of this word is the same as that of mysticism, i.e. "joining of human soul with God." Readers surely know that the very idea of possible union with God is in contradiction to many religious doctrines and not infrequently brings religious people to confusion and even fury. Modern religions are mostly a collection of traditions, social conventions (laws) and beliefs that are not at all connected with the above-mentioned original meaning and purpose of religion. That is why the first misconception in your question is the notion that conventional religion is predominantly related to the search for God. No. Religion as a rule is essentially a secular phenomenon with spiritual aspirations.
Every religion in the name of faith in one God, in reality, encourages belief in its own deity. (Terrible sacrilege!) God is one, and although saints and sages call Him by different names, they mean and point to one and the same. Religionists, however, imagine that only the name that they chose points to God, and they fight over names. And thus there appear such fanatical sectarian notions as True believers (Orthodoxy), Chosen People, Last Prophet and so on. These ideas at some time had an important, now essentially lost, spiritual meaning. That is why the second misconception in your question is the notion that religion believes in one God. No. Religions as a rule teach that only their world view is true, that only their method of worship is correct and that only their god is the sole God.
People cannot stand each other for many reasons. The most important one is fear – fear of the new, incomprehensible and strange for them – fear of God. Another reason is envy, i.e. dissatisfaction with their God-given destiny, inability to take pleasure in the success of others. The third is economic and emotional insecurity (derivative of fear), i.e. inability to believe that the omnipresent and omnipotent Lord knows your situation and already is helping you. People constantly demand something from God (prayer?), are angered if they do not receive what they ask for but do not sit down to do meditation to find out and remove the real reason for their troubles – spiritual ignorance. That is why the third possible assumption inherent in your question is that intolerance and hate come from God via religion. No. Intolerance comes from the human nature itself – from the human mind that searches for some sense of control in the face of the ever-more-powerful-than-human Universe and tries to alleviate ever-present insecurity by attacking one's neighbor in hope of survival in spite of inevitable death. Only a mature mind is capable of seeing the uselessness of intersectarian animosity and struggle. But the development of separate religions is a natural chapter in the spiritual development of human society.
The sole solution to the problem of animosity between religions is a total change in consciousness of every single human being. By the grace of God, this is precisely what is happening today and will lead to the disappearance of all secular religions in their present form. After all, people are growing to recognize one God in deeds, not in words
(Translated from Russian)
(Translated from Russian)
God is a name given in English to the one supreme being, as postulated, especially but not exclusively, by the three major Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) as well as Hinduism (Brahman), Sikhism and Zoroastrianism. When used as a proper noun, "God" is typically capitalised. The (lowercase) words "god" and "goddess" are derivative common nouns, used to refer to one of the supernatural beings postulated by some religious systems, such as the Greek and Roman dieties. (See the list of deities for a list from various religions.)
"God" is also used to refer to a non-anthropomorphic entity, an underlying energy or consciousness that pervades the universe, whose supposed existence makes the universe possible; the source of all existence; the best and highest good within all sentient beings; a higher power; or even that which is beyond all understanding or definition
We would like to end of with this note. We know that religion is a very dangerous topic and these are just our views and in no way do we claim to be right. If you think we are misguided or insane we will gladly accept those titles because fighting is simply not the way to win. In any war between two nations or two individuals, there are always two losers; one of them simply refuses to acknowledge the loss.
P.S. This was written several years but almost everything we stated there still applies today. History repeats itself