Martin Luther believed we, not the church, should be able to interpret the bible ourselves rather than be told what to believe by the church (so he translated it into German). I think that’s wonderful! Thereafter all sorts of other “religions” popped up, breaking down the institution into many more, smaller, institutions.
I see, in today’s spiritual movements, some similarities. There are many “spiritualities” popping up all across the internet, claiming they are not religion. A Facebook group that teaches beliefs involving some sort of “higher power” be in within ourselves or “the universe” as well as teaching practices such as yoga or mediation in order to connect with such, wouldn’t that group, in a way, be an institution? Hence, a religion? Does not naming or titling your belief system mean it’s not a religion? Semantics aside, I guess my thoughts are more along the line of where do these “groups” core beliefs come from? The Bible? Psychology? Intuition? A mix of “religions” or beliefs? A secret club? A private mentor who passes down knowledge to his or her acolyte(s). Life coach gone group therapy? I’m not knocking them down, I’m just wondering what’s evolving here? There’s so much information. Some people are spiritually guided to follow the correct path (and I can see a good one myself that is connected), but others can be misled and end up in worse shape. How do we know which of these “groups” are good. Education doesn’t seem to matter anymore, which is fine. We don’t all need degrees. But how can these groups prove they are good? How many are just looking for money or worse, are cult-like? I’m concerned for the desperate people out there willing to grasp onto anything in this information-overload age we now live in.
Aside from the spiritual revolution(s) and or evolution(s), there are little things I wonder about, too. When the Catholic Church was charging people money to purchase freedom from God’s punishment for our sins, Martin Luther disagreed. Though not the same, I was reminded of this because some of the leaders of these groups charge money for psychic healing. Wouldn’t that be similar to charging money for prayer? Shouldn’t prayer be free?
A couple hours after I wrote these musing, the answer came to me. A piece of scripture popped into my head. So I looked up the amplified version: Matthew 7:15-20 Beware of the false prophets, [teachers] who come to you dressed as sheep [appearing gentle and innocent], but inwardly are ravenous wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them [that is, by their contrived doctrine and self-focus]. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every healthy tree bares good fruit, but the unhealthy tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does no bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore, by their fruit you will recognize them [as false prophets].
The results of their teaching, their students, their kids, the activities that follow, will reveal the truth. I like this. It reminds me of a plaque I have in my storage unit that says simply: “Harm None.”
There was a time when I personally didn’t believe in any organized religion (but still recognized others needed it). For me it was too patriarchal. There were too many rules, and there were wars caused by it not to mention corruption within. I started to do my own research. I was interested in Buddhism and Wicca. But I read about a lot more. Some books, including, “The Celestine Prophecy, my grandma’s urging to watch Joel Osteen, and my father’s invite to his new church where I discovered the ‘saved by grace through faith’ particulars brought me back to Christianity (though, to be clear, I truly never left God nor He me). Through more research and intuition I’ve come up with my own beliefs. Part of the research was reading the entire Bible. I should also mention, because it is significant, that through the years I’ve also read a lot about the sacred feminine. Other readings have interested me, such as Eckhart Tolle. While others I have turned away from. For the record, I don’t push my beliefs on others. And I don’t accept that from others either. Anyways…
After I was guided back to church and witnessed the fellowship and charity work that some churches offer, I changed my mind about all organized religion being not for me. I found a good fit. We are blessed to live in a country where we have this freedom of religion– but it goes deeper still when we recognize we have the freedom to educate ourselves, too. Freedom of press gives us this. I could right another musing about how centuries past only certain things got through the cracks, but that’s another day.
Many thoughts swim through my head every morning. I, personally, am comfortable with my beliefs, strong in my faith and remain interested in learning more (I will even give advice when asked or in deep conversation). I may even change my mind about a few things through the years (though one will remain the same).
Peace and love, -T
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