The Rapidian

Ethics and Religion Talk: Which Religion is the most correct?

Is your religion more correct than the rest? Why or why not?

What is Ethics and Religion Talk?

“Ethics and Religion Talk,” answers questions of ethics or religion from a multi-faith perspective. Each post contains three or four responses to a reader question from a panel of nine diverse clergy from different religious perspectives, all based in the Grand Rapids area. It is the only column of its kind. No other news site, religious or otherwise, publishes a similar column.

The first five years of columns, published in the Grand Rapids Press and MLive, are archived at http://topics.mlive.com/tag/ethics-and-religion-talk/. More recent columns can be found on TheRapidian.org by searching for the tag “ethics and religion talk.”

We’d love to hear about the ordinary ethical questions that come up on the course of your day as well as any questions of religion that you’ve wondered about. Tell us how you resolved an ethical dilemma and see how members of the Ethics and Religion Talk panel would have handled the same situation. Please send your questions to [email protected].

Fred Stella, the Pracharak (Outreach Minister) for the West Michigan Hindu Temple, responds:

“Well, in reality how would anyone really know? I can say that there is a built-in humility in Hinduism (but by no means are all Hindus humble!) that guards against such exclusivist thinking as there being ‘one right religion.’ The scriptures give no such indication of such.  Hinduism accommodates a wide variety of belief systems within itself, so it can also embrace the wisdom of other religions as well.  There is even a valid branch of Hinduism that has no concept of God.

“Since Vedic thought teaches that every soul is a part of God, none will be punished for their lack of complete understanding of Truth, whatever  that may be. “The Divine and I are one” (Brihadaranyaka Upanishad I.iv.10) is one of the central doctrines of the faith that promises we will never be separated.

“When Asian immigration expanded in the 1960s, many Hindus were trying to navigate this Christian majority country as best they could. To make things easier on their children, some were taught that since God loves everyone, and there is no “wrong religion,” it really didn’t matter if a child decided to adopt another faith (usually Christianity, of course) if that would pave a smoother way them socially or professionally.  However, sometimes that meant that such a move would be the end of many wonderful family and holiday traditions. Therefore, we are seeing a significant reversal of that mode of thinking these days.”

Chris Curia, the Director of Youth Ministries at Fairway Christian Reformed Church, responds:

“The declaration of one religion as more correct, if by that we mean more righteous than another, is an oxymoron. But in our hyper-partisan geopolitical climate, it can be so easy to resort to these dualistic tendencies of needing to distinguish correct from incorrect.

“But spirituality isn't a zero-sum game, and imagining it as such turns it into a hoax we perpetuate on God. One religion does not have to win, nor do all others have to lose. If the Christian church were the only, for example, one would think it would function a whole lot better than it does. If Ford made the best cars for everyone, then what need would there be for other makes and models? Sometimes, it instead behooves us to uncover transcendence from behind the mask of our religious identities.

“In the Christian Bible, there is a Greek word, transliterated to dikaiosune, that describes the condition of being acceptable to God. This is a person of integrity, virtue, purity of life, and concordance of thought and action, with no mention of one's stance on moral positions. Religion is simply a system of symbols and metaphors that provides language to communicate that this notion of transcendence is possible for our lives. All religions are not the same; but if the goal of each religion is to teach people, in their respective contexts, how to be expansive, freer, and more loving—to experience transcendence in a person's lived experience—than each religion will have served its purpose.”

The Reverend Colleen Squires, minister at All Souls Community Church of West Michigan, a Unitarian Universalist Congregation, responds:

“Unitarian Universalist draws upon many sources. We believe in the direct experience of transcending mystery and wonder affirmed in all cultures. We believe in the wisdom found in the world’s religion which inspires us to an ethical life. We also believe in Humanist teachings often grounded in science. Finally, we are grateful for religious pluralism which enriches our faith and encourages us to deepen our understanding and beliefs. Taking all of this into consideration, Unitarian Universalists do not believe one religion is more correct than all the other religion, we have something to learn from each other’s beliefs.”

Rev. Ray Lanning, a retired minister of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America, responds:

“ ‘Correct’ is a word better suited to solving problems in arithmetic. For Reformed and Presbyterian Christians, our concern is to be faithful to all that God has revealed in His Word. We believe that ‘the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament are the Word of God, the only rule of faith and life’ (Larger Catechism, Q. 3). We say with Christ, ‘Thy Word is truth’ (John 17:17).

“We are Reformed Christians because we subject our faith and our lives to the test of Scripture, and reform them accordingly. We are Presbyterians because we conform the worship and work of our churches to the teaching and example of Christ and His apostles. We dare not assert that our religion is ‘more correct than the rest’ because we know that we have only begun to reform our lives and our churches. We have yet to arrive at anything like perfection of faith in and obedience to God’s Word and God’s Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ.”

 

This column answers questions of Ethics and Religion by submitting them to a multi-faith panel of spiritual leaders in the Grand Rapids area. We’d love to hear about the ordinary ethical questions that come up ina the course of your day as well as any questions of religion that you’ve wondered about. Tell us how you resolved an ethical dilemma and see how members of the Ethics and Religion Talk panel would have handled the same situation. Please send your questions to [email protected].

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