The Coming Religious Wars
Extracted from the August 7, 2004, Market Update
Our comments are highlighted in Blue.
By the beginning of the 16th century, the medieval Church and all that it represented, entered a period of profound crisis. By this time, the Church was nearly fifteen centuries old. Throughout its history, the Church always had to confront problems both within its organisation and from without. But by 1500, these issues rose to the surface, and the Church would shake at its very foundation. Political philosophers like Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527) had already rejected the medieval idea that popes were superior to kings (see Lecture 1). As a citizen of Renaissance Florence, Machiavelli was a Christian, yet he distrusted and disliked the clergy. He saw no need to reform the Church and Christianity because his secular theory of the state was based on the notion that religion and faith were nothing more than the cement which held society together. He would certainly have agreed with Karl Marx who, more than three centuries later, would argue that:
Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people. [Contribution to a Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right, 1844]
A second problem of the period concerned the merchants, bankers and artisans of Europe’s largest cities and towns who resented the fact that local bishops of the Church controlled all of their commercial and economic activities. Although capitalism as a form of economic organisation had not yet infiltrated Europe, these producers and money-makers knew that more money and power was theirs if only their lives were less regulated by the Church. Again, I think what we are witnessing here is the development of a secular concept of work and acquisition. Another problem facing the Church was that in the 16th century there were numerous reformers who were openly criticising the Church for its numerous offences. Priests married and then took mistresses, holy offices were bought and sold for the highest price, incompetence among the clergy became the rule, the congregation of more and more people in towns and cities perhaps exposed the amorality and immorality of the clergy. In a word, the problem was corruption.
Meanwhile, peasants in England, Italy, France, Germany and elsewhere were also on the move. They began to revolt openly against both the clergy and the aristocracy. Their grievances were the most complicated of all — their revolt was against political, economic, social and religious authority. And despite the Inquisition, the work of the Dominicans and Franciscans, and even a holy crusade, heretics and heresies continue to grow more numerous and more vocal.
Along comes Martin Luther (1483-1546), the son of a self-made copper miner from Saxony (see Lecture 3). As a Renaissance scholar, humanist, Augustinian monk and Doctor of Philosophy, Luther led an open attack on the issue of the sale of indulgences. While struggling with his sense of self-doubt, Luther could not accept that salvation could be won by “good works” alone. Salvation for Luther could be won, however, by one’s personal relationship with God, through faith (“the just shall live by faith alone”). This was a significant development in the history of Christianity and the Church. The Christian had, up to 1517, always found his or her faith by obeying the Church. Good works were the only path to salvation — in other words; there was nothing specifically individual about this faith. With Luther, on the other hand, faith was internalised — it was a matter of heart and conscience. It was “inner-directed,” to borrow an expression from the American sociologist David Reisman.
Luther’s ideas appealed to those people who resented the worldliness, arrogance, incompetence, immorality, cynicism and corruption of the clergy. And, his message fell on attentive ears — in other words, the German people were willing to listen to a man like Luther since he seemed to speak their language. These people resented the wealth of the Church. The nobility resented the land held by the Church, all free of taxes. And the peasants saw Luther as a champion of social reform. Luther’s confrontation with the Church, all prompted by the Ninety-Five Theses, led to a violent conflict between Catholic and Protestant. Such a conflict was not merely one of words but men fighting men. Outside Germany and Scandinavia, the two places where Luther’s ideas had their greatest impact, the Reformation was guided by the troubled conscience of John Calvin (1509-1564). Unlike Luther, Calvin stressed man’s legal relationship with God. God’s laws must be obeyed without question. For the Calvinist, moral righteousness must be pursued, lusts must be restrained and controlled, and social life and morality must be carefully regulated. Such an ethic of self-control was predicated on the notion that we should all work hard at our calling. By living such a life, one could be saved. However, for Calvin, 99 out of 100 men are damned. This is God’s will, and he must be obeyed.
Perhaps this will enable you to one day understand why we view religion as a very dangerous instrument that is used by the powers to precipitate all sorts of problems.
Remember Religion is controlled and directed by a man and therefore cannot be fully trusted. However, we truly believe that there is a superior Force out there called God and whatever name we chose to call him Allah, Yahweh, Krishna, Jehovah, Yod – Hay – Vav – Hay, Adonai, El, Elo hah ,Elohim,Shaddai, Tzeva’ot etc.; he is the same God. There is no such thing as my God is better than yours or you are a heathen if you follow the basic rules of any religion none of us would ever fight. In every religion, it is a sin to kill or rob from your neighbour. If we just followed these two rules, we would never need to point the finger at anyone again.
Religion means, “to re-connect” in Latin. Are we really reconnecting with each other or disconnecting?
Someone seems to have found a very nice way to explain how we fight with each other because of our different religious beliefs.
How under one God is it possible to have so many different religions that cannot tolerate each other?
Religion is a Latin word that means, “to re-connect.” The meaning of this word is the same as that of mysticism, i.e. “joining of the human soul with God.” Readers surely know that the very idea of possible union with God is in contradiction to many religious doctrines and not infrequently brings religious people to confusion and even fury. Modern religions are mostly a collection of traditions, social conventions (laws) and beliefs that are not at all connected with the above-mentioned original meaning and purpose of religion. That is why the first misconception in your question is the notion that conventional religion is predominantly related to the search for God. No. Religion, as a rule, is essentially a secular phenomenon with spiritual aspirations.
Every religion in the name of faith in one God, in reality, encourages belief in its deity. (Terrible sacrilege!) God is one, and although saints and sages call Him by different names, they mean and point to one and the same. Religionists, however, imagine that only the name that they chose points to God, and they fight over names. And thus there appear such fanatical sectarian notions as True believers (Orthodoxy), Chosen People, Last Prophet and so on. These ideas at some time had an important, now essentially lost, spiritual meaning. That is why the second misconception in your question is the notion that religion believes in one God. No. Religions, as a rule, teach that only their world view is true, that only their method of worship is correct and that only their God is the sole God.
People cannot stand each other for many reasons. The most important one is fear – fear of the new, incomprehensible and strange for them – fear of God. Another reason is envy, i.e. dissatisfaction with their God-given destiny, inability to take pleasure in the success of others. The third is economic and emotional insecurity ( a third possible derivative of fear), i.e. failure to believe that the omnipresent and omnipotent Lord knows your situation and already is helping you. People constantly demand something from God (prayer?), are angered if they do not receive what they ask for but do not sit down to do meditation to find out and remove the real reason for their troubles – spiritual ignorance. The possible third assumption inherent in your question is that intolerance and hate come from God via religion. No. Intolerance comes from the human nature itself – from the human mind that searches for some sense of control in the face of the ever-more-powerful-than-human Universe and tries to alleviate ever-present insecurity by attacking one’s neighbor in hope of survival in spite of inevitable death. Only a mature mind is capable of seeing the uselessness of intersectarian animosity and struggle. But the development of separate religions is a natural chapter in the spiritual development of human society.
The sole solution to the problem of animosity between religions is a total change in consciousness of every single human being. By the grace of God, this is precisely what is happening today and will lead to the disappearance of all secular religions in their present form. After all, people are growing to recognize one God in deeds, not in words
(Translated from Russian)
God is a name given in English to the one supreme being, as postulated, especially but not exclusively, by the three major Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) as well as Hinduism(Brahman), Sikhism and Zoroastrianism. When used as a proper noun, “God” is typically capitalised. The (lowercase) words “god” and “goddess” are derivative common nouns, used to refer to one of thesupernatural beings postulated by some religious systems, such as the Greek and Roman dieties. (See thelist of deities for a list from various religions.)
“God” is also used to refer to a non-anthropomorphic entity, an underlying energy or consciousness that pervades the universe, whose supposed existence makes the universe possible; the source of all existence; the best and highest good within all sentient beings; a higher power; or even that which is beyond all understanding or definition
New Comments Oct 2016
Clearly, the religious war’s have escalated since this article was first written and everything and more we predicted over a decade ago has come to pass. Europe has made a grave error in embracing multiculturalism. If you are going to bring immigrants into the country, you need to enforce the values of the land. Secondly, you need to bring in immigrants that can integrate with the existing population and are willing to integrate. You can’t bring in barbarians who refuse to integrate. We are not stating that all Muslims are barbarians; many Muslims are willing to embrace new cultures and are open minded. However, the radical individuals need to be stopped right at the border and sent home. Additionally, all immigrants irrespective of religion should be put on a five-yar probation; if they violate any major laws, they should be deported immediately.
Other Articles of Interest