Can we judge the truth or merit of a religion by the attitudes, actions, and beliefs of its adherents?
Using Christianity as an example:
Look at greedy, fame-hungry pastors, sexual and mental abuse within the church, gossiping and cliqueish groups, divorce rates as high or higher for religious vs. non-religious couples, war/sexism/homophobia/intolerance in the name of God or holy book, division between denominations, etc.
Can the merits of a “life-changing” God and savior be judged by the lives not changed? Should someone say “I’m going to leave Christianity because of (insert group of people)”?
I was a fan of saying “Judge the religion by its tenants, not its people,” but I still wonder if you can make a decision about a religion based on the followers.
Take Islam for example… You may see Muslims saying “Islam is a religion of peace” but meanwhile extremists are bombing innocents in marketplaces and schooling children on the use of automatic weapons. Can one say “Well, despite all the killing and the intolerance, Islam is a religion of peace.” Can one overlook the evidence to the contrary no matter what?
Without Adam and Eve and the Creation myth, what would probably be different about Christian theology, doctrine, and beliefs?
Some things that come to mind for me are:
1) Original Sin. Without this story, how would we come to think that a sin nature passes through generational lines? Or that there was ‘original sin’ at all?
1a) …thus, infant baptism would probably not be taught/understood/practiced.
2) What would be our reasons for Jesus having to die for us if we didn’t have the “first Adam” story and its lessons?
3) Marriage. Would we just be missing one argument about “man and woman only” or would a larger definition of marriage change?
4) Satan: what would our beliefs about evil be like?
5) Would we really understand sin? How would our theology on sin look without it?
Basically, I’m really curious about how much we derive from a story, a myth. when I really get thinking about it, so much of Christian theology and doctrine has been formed out of this tale.
If you enjoy long religious rants with a hefty dose of confusion, come on down! I’m full of them today.
One of the popular Christian aphorisms I’ve used in my past life—and keep hearing over and over again—goes something like this:
It’s not about religion, it’s about a relationship.
This is commonly understood as meaning: being a Christian is not about traditions and habits and doctrines and rules and so forth. It is about having a personal relationship with Jesus (including God here as well), like a friend, lover, or father. In fact, I bet if you go out and ask your typical North American Protestant Christian what they say on the topic, they will probably verbalize it almost exactly that way. It is incredibly common, and I haven’t heard many negative reactions to the statement.
I’d like to suggest a different take on the subject.