DO ALL ROADS (religions) LEAD TO GOD?
The following image shows 12 of the many religious systems of the world, with a dove at the center signifying peace. The dove has a branch in its beak and seems similar to the dove with an olive branch from the Biblical story of Noah.
Let’s be clear, my use of this picture is only to give a visual image of the religions. Also, the list of religions isn’t exhaustive as it doesn’t include the denominations of some, nor does it include many other beliefs stemming from Spiritualism, Animism, Fetishism, Hedonism or Naturalism, which were conceptualized and labeled in the 19th century though they existed long before.
ALL of these religions have elements of cultural, ritual, or devotional observances leading to so many other questions aside from the main one.
- Can humanity experience divinity without religion?
- Would humanity’s experience of divinity be a relationship similar to human experiences?
- Which is it, religion, relationship, or both?
- Are they compatible and interchangeable?
- What is relationship?
- What is religion?
- Does divinity exist?
The Divine or God, from a strict Biblical perspective, is a Living Spirit. Not all religions express belief in God as a Personal Spirit Being with intellectual and emotional faculties and a celestial (spirit) body.
Some believe God isn’t a being, but a composition of all things in the cosmos. Others say there are many gods in a pantheon. Some even believe in gods in the elements while others say there is no god, or that terrestrial man is god.
Religion is a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the cosmos, especially when the cosmos is considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies. Religion usually involves devotional and ritual observances, and often contains a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.
Religion is subjective to the human experience and the human yearning to fill an innate void, and can be based on erroneous information originating from unreliable, biased human sources.
Relationship is the way in which two or more concepts, objects, or people are connected, and is the state of them being connected. It is objective and, when defined from a strict Biblical perspective, supersedes religion with a continuous active spiritual connection to the Creator God Himself.
Relationships are horizontal and vertical. Human relations are horizontal and can be summarized as follows:
- Two people casually encounter each other.
- They become socially interested in each other.
- They gain an understanding of each other from interaction.
- They become more personal and desire benefits from each other.
- They become physically and mentally involved.
- They become metaphysically involved.
- They experience/comfort each other.
Human relations are affected by geography, language and culture as well as by birth-status, profession and economics. From a human perspective these all place a degree of mutual limitation on relationships.
A relationship with the Creator God is vertical and based on accurate intimate personal knowledge of Him, which comes directly/indirectly from Him. This knowledge of God comes in such a way that it moves the soul (<–link) to continuously believe and exist in Him.
From a Biblical perspective religion is not the same as relationship.
In contrast, human/divine relationships have only a human element of limitation. There is no divine limitation thus there is the logical possibility of gradual human improvement through a connection with the divine.
Although humans are the highest form of terrestrial intelligence our limitations in our existence and relations are heightened by a void, which can be generally defined as a yearning for something greater than self that’s missing from self.
From a strictly Biblical perspective, this void is a result of the spiritual disconnection of mankind/humanity from God/Divinity. Many have tried to use human relations of varying forms, even religion, to fill this void; many have failed miserably or have had only fleeting temporary consolation.
If we view connecting to God as a “spirit to Spirit” relationship, as opposed to a cultural/religious ritual, then there is a logical sequence of things that occur as a result. This is an explanation of how the experience usually unfolds in humans. This presupposes that God is already interested in humanity, which He is.
- Enlightenment (Mental)
- Submission (Mental/Physical/Spiritual)
- Empowerment (Spiritual)
- Education and Work (Spiritual)
The Holy Bible gives us the scriptural basis for the above sequence. Though contextually it refers to another teaching, it lists 4 stages inherent in the experience of connecting to and existing in God.
“For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.“ ~Hebrews 6:4-6 AuthorizedKJV
Enlightenment is simply encountering, understanding and showing interest in the knowledge of God without choosing to accept Him.
Submission (tasting) is choosing to accept a belief in Christ Jesus who is the Heavenly gift. The sealing of the Holy Spirit is instantaneous, subsequent to this choice, which is the starting point for intimacy with God.
Empowerment (partaking) is being endued with power from God to do His work on earth through the anointing of the Holy Spirit. The sealing and the anointing are completely different experiences.
Education and work (taste) include(s) gaining profound understanding of the Word of God and revelation knowledge from God as well as gaining distinct powers to facilitate God’s work on earth.
These are Divine influences upon humans that cannot be derived from ritualistic religion but only originate from an intimate personal relationship with God Himself through Christ Jesus.
Ritual observances, culture and devotionals for moral conduct (religion) can carry one only so far. However, a continuous active spiritual connection to God based on accurate intimate personal knowledge (relationship) will connect humanity to divinity.
Religion comes with a lot of wrappings and trappings it seems, much like a battery pack for a temporary charge. Relationship is clear cut and goes directly to the source, much like something always-plugged-in.
If a person were to examine his/her religion and cultural/religious rituals, based on this writing, would he/she be able to say with absolute honesty, “I am connected to Almighty God and we have a relationship?”
DO ALL ROADS (religions) LEAD TO GOD?