Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Deifying Belief

I'm thinking, one of the problems that religion and religious people sometimes get into is deifying belief. We make belief a false god. We cling to our beliefs about God. Other beliefs too. But, in particular I'm thinking, sometimes our beliefs about God become more important than our relationship with God. And this is unfortunate.

Our beliefs are a guide to a relationship with God. They aren't an end in themselves. They don't save. Rather, they lead us to a relationship with God. It's the relationship with God that saves.

Just trying to put this into words makes me think of something else. Beliefs help us to put into words, to talk about, the ineffable. Being a Christian, I tend to talk about spirituality in Christian terms. I talk about God, and the Holy Spirit. Which is a plus when talking to other Christians.

But a negative when talking to those who aren't Christians, who may feel I'm talking about something they don't believe in, rather than seeing beyond the words to a shared experience.

For me, in my life, listening to the Holy Spirit has been very important. The Holy Spirit has been a wonderful guide for me on the journey of personal growth.

It's important to be open to the Holy Spirit challenging our beliefs. Beliefs about ourselves, other people, the earth and everything on it, and even about God. Both individually, and as a church (or other religious institution or equivalent organization). I do feel like, unfortunately, the leadership in my church, the Catholic Church (or Roman Catholic Church, if you prefer), sometimes puts belief ahead of the Holy Spirit. Not open to listening to what the Holy Spirit is saying to us here and now in the present. And that's unfortunate. (Note that when I say "my church" here I'm referring to the worldwide Catholic Church, not the local congregation.)

The term Holy Spirit is a Christian term, but the idea, the experience of God, which that terms captures for me is not unique to Christianity. Other religions have other terms for this idea of connecting with God (though they also don't all use the term God) on a personal level, hearing God's message.

Salvation is another notion where we might cling too much to our beliefs. Cling to the belief in Heaven after we die. Ah, but in truth, we don't know what will happen after death. We do know from experience that the Holy Spirit has a lot of saving power to offer us in the here and now. I've experienced this. Others have.

Perhaps biblical fundamentalism is a subtype of deifying beliefs. Deifying what one believes the Bible says to be true. The Bible, rather, should be a guide to us in our spirituality.

The point is, we should listen to God, the Holy Spirit, that spiritual place within, whatever one calls it, rather than clinging to beliefs and ignoring spirituality.