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The Fundamental Essence of Religion is Humanism

In a previous post about Biblical/Theological Humanism that I had written a while back  titled “Theological Humanism? A solution to the divide?” I mention that religions need to start approaching their theology from a more humanistic perspective otherwise they will, at some point, find themselves irrelevant and ignored, but my primary focus was the fundamentalist and orthodox ideologies and their methodologies and rhetoric. These religions find their dogma more important than the people and that was really my primary focus for that post.  Now, having recently read the following two books, which were awesome by the way,  :

I find my approach towards Theological Humanism solidified, but changing in a very fundamental way to which not everyone will like, and some may label it as heresy.  For that I apologize, but for me this makes a lot of sense. After reading these two books  I was  inspired to write my Personal Creed v1.0 which helps to codify my current beliefs and will also help you to see where I am going with this. In there my first 3 points are as follows:

  1. I hold that the world’s religions have organically developed and evolved based on the political values and socio-cultural conditions of their times. Religion is a method of perpetuating cultural history, mythology, and morality as has been determined by their relative and distinct histories.
  2. I hold that there are many parallels between the world’s religions’ morality that when distilled down to its essence they reflect humanism at its core. Religion and Humanism is about humans and the relations between us as individuals, and humanity as a collective and interdependent society.
  3. I hold that the potential wisdom from the world’s religions can inspire us in our ethical and spiritual life, and provide an impetus for the free and responsible search for truth and meaning. I also hold and accept that each individual’s journey towards spiritual growth is personal and unique, and worthy of respect, inquiry; as well as being a potential place where I may learn and grow in my own journey.

In essence I am saying that the fundamental essence of all religions is humanism which just happens to be steeped in the culture, mythology, politics, and history in which it was formed; in other words at its very essence  all religions teachings and their morality is truly Humanism with a cultural, mythological, political and ideological skewing and dressing them.

With this knowledge choosing the religion that is appropriate for you becomes which flavor of mythology, ideology, and culture do you like your humanism. The ideological, cultural, and mythological choice you make will become defining of how much of what I shall call truth will be taught. The more orthodox or fundamentalist the religion the less truth you will get, since they care more about slavish adherence to their dogma than they do how what they say and do affects humans.

Now some religions really find themselves skewed far from this precept and they emphasize their mythology and dogmas more than they do the moral and humanistic values and this is why the orthodox and fundamentalist religions are harmful. They have forgotten what religion is really all about….. you and me – humans and our relations with one another. Jesus, Muhammad, Buddha, and all other prophets’ teachings at their very essences were about us, humans, and our interdependent relations, although some may approach it from an theistic point of view. Religions need to return to the humanistic essence of their theology.

My stance changed from ‘orthodox and fundamentalist religions need to change their approach to their theology’ to ‘they need to return to the humanistic roots of their theology’. A subtle but very important difference. Just an idea for you to ponder. =)

Theological Humanism? A solution to the divide?

OK, so I was reading a post on Prop 8 Trial Tracker where the following quote was rendered which spawned the creation of this post:

There’s two lenses here. One’s a biblical world view and the other is basically more of a secular humanist world view, and that’s why there never seems to be agreement,” said the Rev. Pastor Brad Cranston, of Burlington’s Heritage Baptist Church. “They’re not going to be reconciled with one another.”

Iowa – One Year Later (Proposition 8 Trial Tracker)

Now, my recent post A problem with conservative religions is that Dogma and tradition is more important than People really touched upon this, but having read that quote I realized that I realistically could take this a step further. I have stated before quite a bit, perhaps not specifically on this BLog, that modern (fundamentalist and Conservative) Christianity is not really “Christian”. They have lost their way. Jesus’ teachings were about love, compassion, mercy, and acceptance and many of the contemporary Christian teachings, especially fundamentalist and conservative Christian teachings, have nothing to do with these ideals, and in some way are antithetical to them, which saddens me greatly. In that post I also state flatly that for them dogma is more important that humans which is something that they need to move on from, especially if they are to remain relevant and not part of the problem.

Now, the above thought brought me to the create the idea of Biblical Humanism. Fortunately, I am not the only one to ever have considered this possibility. It was first (as far as my currently limited research shows) was thought up in the late 1400′s with Erasmus of Rotterdam’s’ writings. Erasmus was a monastic Catholic priest of sorts and was heralded in his time for his enlightenment and writings. He was, shall we say, the father of contemporary Biblical/Christian/Theological Humanism.

A more humanistic approach to religious practice and teachings less zealous, blind, irrational, and tyrannical. The heaven hell model and the extreme religious tyranny are why Christianity is slowly dying and why people for many years have been defecting from Catholicism and other orthodox religions to other more humanistic faiths. These conservative or fundamentalist faiths enforce their dogma with fear – fear of going to hell, fear of sinning, fear of not getting presents on Christmas, fear of not being saved. This sort of fear based propaganda stresses the psyche and emotions and eventually there is going to be a break down, and we are seeing that, especially in Europe an Asia, and also here in the United States. These religions are killing themselves and they are too proud and arrogant to see it. Historically they have changed only when they see that they have had no real choice, but perhaps this time… they may not be able to fully recover, unless they embrace a more humanistic view of Christianity – a view that is more “Christian” than what is being taught in many churches today. A Humanism Theology may be the only way to save contemporary Christianity.

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