Wednesday, January 09, 2008

What's the Difference?

I got one of those emails talking about the Muslim relgion. It mentioned "Jihad" and that the purpose thereof is to eliminate the world of "infidels". This "Holy war", is taken to extremes by some, as evidenced in 9/11. The word "infidel" could be also defined as "non-believer". From what I have learned about the Muslim religion, it is not a religion of hate, but some take it to the extreme. It seems like such a shame that any one would ask people to hate and fight against others.

Contrast this with the gospel of Jesus Christ that teaches us to love one another. "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you, and persecute you. That ye may be the children of your father which is in heaven..." Love is the central principle of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Why is it then, that so many "Christians" show such hatred of me and my religion? They attack, abuse, and speak evil of us. One day some representatives of another church came to my door. They asked if they could share a scripture with me. I agreed because afterall, we both believe in the Bible. As they began reading, I was shocked because I didn't recognize the scripture. I quickly realized they were using another translation that had changed the meaning slightly. But I thanked them for their sentiment, and told them that I had my own religion and would not be interested in learning more. They asked what religion I was, and when I told them I belonged to the Church of Jesus Christ of latter day saints, they asked if they could leave one of their pamphlets with me that spoke about our church. I was curious to read what they had written, so accepted the pamphlet.

As I read over the pamphlet, I was shocked at how much they had gotten wrong about our religion. If they really wanted to help others understand about our religion, you would think they would have asked us for the information to make sure they got it correct. But by giving false information, in my mind it reflects worse on them, than on us. "A house divided against itself shall not stand".

My goal as a believer of Jesus Christ is to act consistently with my beliefs. Although I may not agree with the teachings of other religions, I believe that they should have the privilege to worship as they want, without persecution. Do you know how much money our church spends each year to combat other religions? Zero. We don't fight other religions, we don't publish anti-literature about them, we don't ridicule or persecute them with our words or actions. There is no room for that in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Lately with Mitt Romney running for president, a lot of attention has been placed on our religion. I have been shocked to hear the reaction of the "Christian" churches. Not only do they deny that we are Christian, they say that we are of the devil. My question is, how are their actions different from the Muslim idea of Jihad? When a Christian church ridicules other religions, it somehow negates the "Christian-ness" of their faith. "By their fruits ye shall know them."


Delirious said...

My brother, "Sticks" wanted to respond to this post, but was at work so couldn't, so instead sent me an email. I thought it was very good, so wanted to include it in comments here.

"You were discussing the Islamic religion, and the "Jihad", and you said that they believed that its purpose was to rid the world of non-believers. That is not correct. That is the interpretation of the "Jihad" by the radical Shiite group of muslims. The original meaning of "Jihad" was "a service to Allah (God)". There were originally 5 basic principles of the Muslim faith.

1. Proclaim your belief. This was done by believing and saying, "There is no God but God, and Muhammad is his messenger (Prophet)."
2. Read and study the Koran. (this was to be done only in Arabic, and the Koran was never supposed to be translated).
3. Perform acts of charity and service.
4. Pray daily facing Mecca.
5. At least once in your life, make the pilgrimage to Mecca.

It wasn't until later that some began to come up with the idea of the Jihad, and as I said, it was originally supposed to be a great sacrifice, some service that only you could perform for God. Islam, as set up by Muhammmad, was a religion of peace, and accepted all religions "of the Book", or in other words, all othere religions that believed in the Old Testament. They thought that these other religions had been led slightly astray, but that as long as they followed the basic principles of the "Book" they couldn't be all bad. What is really sad is that the members of the muslim faith who are causing almost all the problems in the World, and these are the radical Shiites along with a few others, only constitute about 3% of all the muslims in the World. Our headline on the newspaper this morning states that 151,000 Iraqis have died from violence since the U.S. invaded. Most of those died at the hand of other Iraqis. Pretty sad."

Delirious said...

I ran across this article today. I applaud the authors.

A Mormon Worldview

LDS Newsroom
01/09/2008 02:50 PM MST

SALT LAKE CITY--While so often the debate about Mormonism centers around the peculiar and controversial on the one hand and the banal and unimaginative on the other, Latter-day Saints are animated by a much grander vision of life.

Journalists often ask what differentiates Latter-day Saints but rarely investigate what inspires, motivates and moves them. As is the case with any religion, the transcendent side of Mormonism cannot be captured by caricature and stereotype. For example, much media attention has been devoted to such topics as the precise location of the Garden of Eden and on which continent Christ will reappear without examining the over-arching worldview that gives them meaning.

However, as an exception to this rule, the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life hosted a substantive conference aimed at exploring the larger picture of Mormonism. One reporter initiated a thought-provoking discussion by asking Mormon historian Richard Bushman, “What is the question that Mormonism answers?” Bushman replied: “What Mormons really try to do is to offer a story – a story of human existence that begins in the world before and comes to this world. It answers the classic questions of whence, why, and where. It’s not just something that stands above Mormons, but is imbued into their minds.” This broad view of humanity stirs the inspiration of Latter-day Saints, elevates their earthy aspirations and gives poetic meaning to their eternal longings.

Accordingly, the journey of human life originates in a pre-mortal existence, where each individual exercises free will and progresses spiritually by learning from a loving God the principles of truth and happiness. To further that progress, God provided a mortal existence in which His children could prove their faithfulness and fulfill a very individualized destiny. His personal guidance and mercy, manifested in the Savior Jesus Christ, give each individual more than ample opportunity to succeed. Participating in this mortal test is a choice each person makes freely. And the choices made in this life determine one’s station and activity in the eternities, where God reserves a unique place for all of his children. Throughout this process each individual maintains a core identity and possesses immense capacity for growth and progress. Above all, the main purpose of God’s numberless creations is to allow his children to be happy.

Anything but earth-bound, the most deeply-held desires of Latter-day Saints constantly stretch towards eternity. All earthly disappointment and loss can ultimately be redeemed, thus providing a surety that the most precious things in life – human associations and personal character – can continue forever. Mormon scholar Daniel Peterson wrote in the book Why I Believe: “I am convinced … that our spiritual yearnings will not and cannot be fully satisfied in this life, however desperately we may seek to quiet them with inadequate substitutes.” “And the gospel speaks,” he continues, “with special eloquence at times of death, when … those who depart do so into a very real and concrete world in which social ties and family relationships flourish even more richly than they do here, and where learning and growth continue into boundless eternity.”

This transcendent worldview affirms both a broad perspective of eternity and a focused concern with the immediacy of the present. It motivates actions into civic involvement by extolling the inherent worth of the individual and urging mutual responsibility between all humankind. It exalts the attainment of intelligence and knowledge, and not only in this life — these will continue to increase and serve wonderful purposes in our eternal journey.

Latter-day Saints embrace the acquisition of knowledge as a spiritual mandate. Joseph Smith proclaimed: “One of the grand fundamental principles of ‘Mormonism’ is to receive truth, let it come from whence it may.” And, according to revealed scripture, “whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life” will follow us in the hereafter (D&C 130: 18). Thus, all human striving blends seamlessly into eternity.

Writing about religion involves the difficult task of capturing the ineffable individual and collective spiritual experience of a large group of people. Getting at the heart of Mormonism is best undertaken not by narrowly focusing on controversy and getting mired in esoteric theological debates, but through a more imaginative examination of the worldview that inspires its members.