Disclaimer: This post is not meant to belittle any specific faith or denomination of religion, but instead act as instrument of mind stretching and heart testing.
A week or two ago, I was talking with my mother-in-law about religious individuals. She was sharing a story with me about a conversation she had been engaged in with a religious young man who had started the conversation in hopes of winning her over to his religious viewpoint. As she is very learned in Torah, the conversation quickly tilted and she ended up as the one imparting spiritual knowledge and the man was then the listener. Overtime, another religious man who was supposed to be supervising the younger man came over in attempts to inhibit the conversation and take the younger man away from the situation before she imparted some bit of knowledge that caused the younger man to possibly re-think his religious beliefs.
I was perplexed by this scenario. I began to scratch my head about why the older, more experienced man hadn’t let the younger man ask his questions and receive knowledge. My mother-in-law’s reply to this question hit me right between the eyes.
“Some people are truly seekers of truth and others are not.”
She went on to explain that she sensed that the younger man, who was not as experienced within his religion, was a genuine seeker of truth and the old man who broke up the conversation was more concerned with the convenience and comfort his specific organization currently enjoyed. He could see that his student was starting to “stray from the path” of their specific religion even though everything my mother-in-law was saying was straight from the same Bible. The reason why the older man was growing concerned was because what he believed to be true based on his religious sect’s pillars of faith did not align with the texts they claimed to base their faith on.
We live in a world where religious people have lifted other’s interpretations of their sacred texts above the very simple meanings of their sacred texts. The “statement of faith” on the congregational website has grown to be more powerful than the holy text itself. This “don’t go there” mindset has completely removed the possibility for growth and hindered the quest for ultimate truth within a movement for the sake of convenience. The most detrimental outcome of this strict unquestioning devotion to any specific sect’s interpretation of their source of truth is that the source of truth is then truly shifted elsewhere and any new quest for truth outside of those guidelines is not tolerated. It is for this reason that I am very proud of my spiritual community’s distaste for the “statement of faith” which has allowed for us to truly dissect holy texts and question their true meaning and implications. Is there a possibility of two people disagreeing on a subject in the text? I would hope to God that there would be or else I would highly doubt our ability to have any progress towards seeking truth.
Here is my challenge to you this day:
Completely turn off all outside influences, all commentaries, and all interpretations of your faith’s ultimate source and study the words completely for yourself. Make your “statement of faith” the text itself and no other man-made condensed versions. Take your sect’s “statement of faith” out and as you find concepts the in “statement” that have no foundation in the text or are outright untruths, feel free to mark them out. There is nothing blasphemous or wicked about this if you are using the text that your denomination says is the source of holy truth. As you discover new truths, feel free to make note of them; but not on the paper – make them in your heart. Feel free to update the list as you study and if a concept doesn’t feel right, restudy it to make sure that’s what the text says.
Your statement of faith should only be a true dedication to a quest for ultimate truth. If your internal statement of faith changes, there’s no need to shun those with a different statement of faith because yours may not be the same as anyone else’s. Instead, commune with those who have the same hunger for truth that you have. It may be uncomfortable at first, but true comfort will come once you are completely honest with yourself and with God.