ESSAY ON CATHOLICISM 9
Religionis, with no doubt, one of the most fundamental aspects of humanbeings in both the traditional and contemporary human societies.Indeed, it has been known to play a fundamental role in determiningthe behavior, values and aspirations of human beings. This comes outclearly in the fact that a large number of wars have been fought inthe name of religion, a situation that is increasingly happening inthe contemporary human society. One of the most popular religionsremains Christianity, a religion that was started more than 2000years ago after the death of the person in which it was based JesusChrist.
Christianityunderlines a religion that is founded on the teachings and miraclesof Jesus Christ or the “anointed one”. Jesus the anointed onefrom God the Father is said to have come to the world and fulfilledthe prophesies and laws of the old testament by dying on the crossand rising again from the dead before going up into the heavens. Inessence, Christ was both human and divine in nature (Asad,2003).There are varied teachings that are unique to Christianity, not tomention being fundamental to its nature. Christianity is based on thefundamental beliefs summarized in 1 Corinthians 15: 1-4, which statesthat Jesus died for the sins of human beings, was buried and wentahead to resurrect, in which case he provides salvation to all peoplewho will make the effort to receive Him by faith (Asad,2003).Indeed, the core notion of Christianity revolves around believingthat Christ was crucified on the cross and died as payment for thesins of human beings, and resurrected after three days. It is throughdying and resurrecting that the debt of sin was paid, therebyallowing human beings to have a proper fellowship with God, andenabling them to walk in obedience and fellowship with God (Ferguson,2003).Christians believe that human beings were specifically created so asto have a relationship with God. Unfortunately, the sinful nature ofAdam and Eve, who were the first people to be created, separated allhuman beings from God. This means that all their children inheritedtheir sinful nature, in which case they were imperfect. Nevertheless,the relationship between man and God was restored after the death ofJesus Christ the Son of God. One of the most distinctive natures ofChristianity is the fact that, unlike other religions, it does notteach that human beings have to do some form of good and cooperatewith God so as to gain the right to be in the presence of God(Ferguson,2003).Instead, Christianity teaches that individuals would be saved throughgrace, which implies that individuals were not made right in thepresence of God by their own efforts, works and sincerity, rather itis by faith on the things that Jesus did on the cross.
Arethere many Christianities?
Moreoften than not, Christianity seems to come in many forms. However, itis worth noting that there is a difference between denominations andnon-Christian cults or false religion. There is only one single formof Christianity, which is the Christianity that teaches that Jesusdied on the cross for the sins of human beings (Ferguson,2003).In essence, human beings can only have their sins forgiven byaccepting Christ as their savior and believing that He died for theirsins. Underlining the singularity of Christianity is a statement thatJesus made as chronicled in John 14:6, which stated that “Iam the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Fatherexcept through me”.This means that Christianity would have to follow one path,irrespective of the many denominations. These denominations, however,must be differentiated from cults such as Mormons and Jehovah’sWitnesses, which claim to be Christian while still denying aparticular aspect of the essentials or fundamentals of the Christianfaith (Ferguson,2003).Denominations within the Christian faith may be traced way back intothe protestant reformations where a movement aimed at reforming theRoman Catholic Church in 16thcentury gave rise to the four major traditions or divisions includingAnglican, Reformed, Lutheran, and Anabaptist (Eliot,2011).The four have given rise to numerous other denominations over theyears.
IsChristianity Compatible with other Belief Systems?
Therehas been some insinuations to the fact that as much as there may besome distinctions between the varied world religions, all religionswhen stripped down to the bare essentials have the same teachings.This underlines the notion that all spiritual paths or religionsfundamentally have the same teachings pertaining to the sisterhoodand brotherhood of women and men, as well as God’s universalfatherhood. Of course, it may be acknowledged that there exists somecommon ground between the varied world religions particularly withregard to the basic statements and values pertaining to morality(Ferguson,2003).However, there exists a significant variation between the same thatcannot be eliminated. Indeed, it is noteworthy that Christianitycannot be compatible with other religions particularly consideringthat Christ, its founder, boldly placed it on a class of its own.Since the path to God is only through Christ Jesus, it means thatChristianity can never be reconciled with other religions. Thedistinctive nature of Christianity is founded on the Jesus’uniqueness (Jenkins,2011).Religious leaders in other denominations implore people of followthem so that they can be shown how to find the truth or the way tosalvation, while Christ stated that He is the truth and the way toeternal life, as well as the light to the world (Eliot,2011).
Thereexist irreconcilable and drastic variations between Christianity andevery other belief system or religion. All religions are founded onindividuals doing things via their striving and struggling so as toearn the favor of God (Jenkins,2011).For instance, Buddhism teaches that individuals have to utilize theTibetan prayer wheel, while Muslims have to make pilgrimage to Mecca.Other religions teach that believers have to give certain foods awide berth and give alms to the poor or even carry out a specificnumber of unspecified good actions. On the same note, they may berequired to go through the reincarnation cycle so that they canbecome perfect or even pray in a particular manner so as to reach outto God (Woodhead,2004).However, this is not the case for Christianity. Indeed, the Christianteachings are a complete opposite of the teachings of other faiths inthat it states that no person can do anything so as to merit thepresence of God or get to heaven. All people, by the fact that theyare descendants of Adam and Eve are guilty of wrongdoing, in whichcase they are not perfect (Woodhead,2004).To reconcile themselves with God, Christians need to receive Jesus’sacrifice that He made on the cross on their behalf. This variationmay be seen in the manner in which different religions teachregarding the wages of sin. In Buddhism, for instance, there is theteaching of the errant son who had to work off his penalty for themisdeed of the past through years of servitude. This is in contrastto the Christian parable of the Prodigal Son, where the repentant sonis received warmly back by the loving father who shows him undeservedgrace and forgiveness (Pearcey,2005).Such variations underline the irreconcilable differences orincompatible nature of Christianity with other religions.
CanChristianity Interact with Culture and Remain the Same?
Questionspertaining to the interaction between Christianity and culture havealways drawn a lot of controversy. This is particularly with regardto the incorporation of traditions and cultures into its discoursewhile still remaining Christianity. Christians have been at a lossregarding the manner in which they can avert the possibility formoral impurity and contamination while at the same time fulfillingthe mission that Jesus gave to them. Needless to say, the point ofreference for such controversy must be the Bible (Pearcey,2005).
Indeed,the New Testament incorporates numerous exhortations pertaining toengagement with culture. For instance, in Mathew 5:13-16, Jesusstated that “Youare the salt of the earth. . . .You are the light of the world. Acity set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do men light a lamp, and putit under the peck-measure, but on the lampstand and it gives lightto all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in sucha way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father whois in heaven.”This implies that believers must engage with culture so that they cantake the non-believers into the light (Stenhouseet al, 2005).This is complemented by other statements in Mathew 28: 19, 20, whereJesus commissions the believers and disciples to “Gotherefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them inthe name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, Matt.teaching them to observe all that I commanded you and lo, I am withyou always, even to the end of the age”(Stenhouseet al, 2005).
Nevertheless,this does not necessarily imply that they would have to incorporatethe cultures and traditions into the Christianity. Indeed, suchcontamination would render the church unchristian. For instance, theNew Testament incorporates quite a number of warnings againstworldliness even as it commissions individuals to have an impact onthe world. In Romans 12:2, Christians are warned against beingtransformed to the world but rather be changed through the renewal oftheir minds so that they may prove the will of God pertaining to thethings that are perfect, acceptable and good (Fahlbusch&Bromiley, 2002).This is complemented by the Colossians 2:8, which cautions believersagainst allowing anyone to take them captive via empty deception andphilosophy in line with the elementary principles of the world or thetraditions of men but instead stay in tune with the teachings ofChrist. Further, in 1 John 2:15, they are cautioned against lovingthe world or the things that are in it, as anyone who loves the worldwould not have the love of the Father in him (Pearcey,2005).Still on this, James 1:27 states that there exists an undefiled andpure religion in the sight of God the Father, which revolves aroundvisiting widows and orphans in distress, as well as keeping oneselfunstained by the world (Fahlbusch&Bromiley, 2002).This means that even as believers and Christians seek to convert thenon-believers into Christianity, there is a limit to which they caninteract with each other. Indeed, this is complemented by 2Corinthians 6:14, 17, where Christians are cautioned against beingbound together with unbelievers since there is no way that apartnership between lawlessness and righteousness can exist(Stenhouseet al, 2005).In essence, they are told to come from the midst of the unbelievers,as well as separate themselves from the same and they would bewelcomed to God if they desist from touching what is not clean. Thisunderlines the fact that there is no way that culture and traditionsthat are worldly can be incorporated into Christianity withoutchanging the religion into something else (Woodhead,2004).
TheFuture of Christianity
Thefuture of Christianity seems considerably challenging considering thegrowth and development of human beings in other areas of their lives.Indeed, it is noted that a large number of Christians will startquestioning some elements of the bible and seek to analyze theirdeeper meanings even beyond what has been taught about Christianity.This could mean a reduction in the number of people who subscribe tothe notion of being Christian. It is noteworthy that there are threecategories of Christians including cultural Christians,Congregational Christians and Convictional Christians (Fahlbusch&Bromiley, 2002).Congregational Christians are individuals who see themselves asChristian simply because they incorporate a loose connection with thechurch maybe through infant baptism or being members of a particularfamily but do not have a deep commitment to Christianity. CulturalChristians, on the same note, are Christian simply because they comefrom a country that is basically Christian, in which case they do notsee themselves as anything else, while convictional Christians arethose whose lives are oriented towards their faith in Christ, whichmeans that they find meaning in being Christian (Fahlbusch&Bromiley, 2002).Of particular note is the fact that the first two groups of peoplemay be shrinking in the future as a result of questioning theteachings of the bible and the increased acceptability of beingatheists or moving to other religions that may be becoming acceptablein the contemporary human society (Stenhouseet al, 2005).However, the same cannot be said of the convictional Christians whowill be increasing in numbers.
Inaddition, the Christian teachings are bound to take or incorporatemore of culture and traditions in the future. It is noted that theindividuals who try to increase their reach by making an aggressivewar against culture are bound to suffer and find it hard to reachother people or unbelievers (Fahlbusch&Bromiley, 2002).This means that radical Christianity that seeks complete separationof culture and religion will be seen like an enemy rather than beingseen as seeking to serve people or engaging in culture. However, theincreased comprehension of the meanings of the varied parts of thebible will increase the relationship between the church andtraditions, especially in line with fulfilling the commandmentpertaining to loving all people (Stenhouseet al, 2005).
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Ferguson,E. (2003). Backgroundsof early Christianity.Grand Rapids, Mich: William B. Eerdmans Pub.
Jenkins,P. (2011). Thenext christendom: The coming of global Christianity.Oxford New York : Oxford University Press
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