Let Us Create A True Religion...
There are a lot of good points there, but what you're describing doesn't much sound like a religion so much as rather a general charitable organisation designed to benefit the wider community. Granted, JW's should do more to help people in a charitable sense, like the Sallies, and stop coming across as self-righteous bible bashers only interesting in helping people if they can convert them.
You say It is enough to know that Jesus is the Son of God and that Satan is their opposer and ours. Sorry, but even the demons believe in God, as James says in his book. In fact a lot of religions don't even hold to the existence of Satan. What other religions teach the truth about what the Kingdom of God is after all...the great majority just say is is a condition of our heart, so a correct 'interpretation' of such an important matter cannot be excluded.
"Encourage bible literacy but leave interpretations and doctrines to God and Jesus". Huh?
So are God and Jesus meant to beam down correct interpretations to us. Or does this religion just sit around in little groups and put their own interpretation on things. True religion should be united doctrinally, although there should be room for healthy debate and no punitive measures against those who may disagree on some points, which is where the JW elite have gone wrong, ie, don't tolerate different views on moot beliefs.
Jesus said the holy spirit would 'guide you all into truth'. So sincere christians should be keen on discerning what the actual truth in scripture is, not just shrug shoulders and say 'ah well, it's just a matter of interpretation, so I'll just believe in God and Jesus and be a good person.' It is not trying to correctly interpret the bible which is wrong, although obviously this is bound to lead to disagreements. Joseph said 'do not interpretations belong to God'? Obviously God doesn't give personal revelations on how his word should be interpreted...rather he guides his servants via his holy spirit. Without attempting to correctly interpret, or I prefer the word understand, the bible, one cannot hope to gain as much as one can from it, thus one is depriving themselves of wisdom, truth, and treasure that God intended for us to benefit from, not shirk as too hard to find and understand. One won't find the answers to such important truths as 'what happens when we die', 'will God forever tolerate wickedness' 'is hell a place of torment' and so on and so on. The answers ARE there and it's a cop out, sorry, to say a group professing to be a true religion should not offer interpretations or explanations of what the bible truthfully teaches on a certain subject. Why bother being part of such a wishy washy religion at all. May as well just sit and home and just read the bible yourself.
The point is that Jesus Christ established the benchmark and test for true christianity, and carried on by the apostles. Call is 'primitive christianity' if you like, but as close as we can get to the system of worship and beliefs he taughts and revealed, the closer we are to 'true religion'. It simply ISN'T enough to say that all we need to know is that there is a God and a devil, and ignore the rest of scripture.
True religion should be united doctrinally
Is religion necessary? That to me is the real question. My perception is that religion, as an external manifestation of spirituality, is spurious and means nothing; of course, I was raised a witness. I was raised to disdain Catholic Charities, a true charity; also Salvation Army, a real charity. But I wonder if many posters here think of "true religion" as similar to the WT in being one that is cohesive like a cult, with a strong sense of community fueled by a belief that we are superior and we alone have God's blessing.
Where in Jesus' words did he instruct us to set up a congregation structure like that of the Jews? Jesus life and death did away with subjection to a religious heirarchy, but Paul and Peter were determined to set one back up; or were they? Is that just the modern (WT) take on the whole matter? The WT cannot conceive of a body of believers tied together only by acceptance of Jesus and love of God; they must be inventoried, monitored, admonished and controlled. That is not a christian system; that is a system of laws and control, number crunching.
That is what religion is to me. Control. And I believe it is a failed mindset, or paradigm, as some would say. Spirituality, on the other hand, is an inside experience. Take sexuality: religion wants to control and demonize it, either sending you to hell or death at the big A for infractions. A person who experiences spirituality realizes that his happiness does not come from anything external, including sex, as a means to fill a spiritual void and that to pursue it alone for one's happiness is a dead end. The end result is the same: seeking connection with God and his will; the spiritual person, though, is likely to be much happier in his choice.
But look at the difference: no structure, no punishment, and most of all, no heirarchy. Heirarchy, which witnesses hate in the Catholic church, exists just as strongly in the WT, just with different names. It is worse, in fact, because there is no chance for dissent or redress.
Religion is the enemy of spirituality. It is all external and for show, and confuses the idea that each person must get in touch with what God is to him.
The trouble is that most religious leaders and groups have said or felt that they were under the influence of God's spirit when they formed their groups. And many people can be mislead thinking they are being guided by holy spirit but are being led by false spirits. That is why were are told to "tests the spirits."
I agree with you that the Bible is the one source we have to use as a litmus test for faith. But many of us can read the same passages and come to different conclusions. Does this mean that the spirit of God is directing some and not others? I don't think so. I think God has given enough room in our search to satisfy the basic need of faith without being dogmatic. And maybe the real test for Christians is the toleration we have of others. There have been many Christians that have not had interest in doctrinal beliefs but have been just good and decent people who care for others. In the long run, I'm not sure the doctrine is all that important. In the end, God seems to judge us for our "deeds" not our doctrine.
Just my opinion Assasin.... There cannot be a "true religion".
When "I believe" becomes "we believe" then there is ALWAYS a loss of integrity. Even in your original post on this you base this idea on a LIST. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. .... spirituality is never that simple.
Religion is man-made...........Spirituality is the connection you share with "god"....
You say it should avoid doctrine.... But the list itself IS doctrine. What happens when I want to join this "religion"... but I disagree with #3 or #5 or whatever #...??? Am I then a "sect"?
I think in some ways some have a need for everyone to believe the same. "forsaking the gathering of those who are LIKE MINDED" doesn't necessarily mean... SAME. Which is, in essence what we have here on JWD... LIKE MINDEDNESS(to some degree) without negotiating INTEGRITY. We agree to disagree sometimes. I would leave the religion to those whom it is suited for... follow your own spirituality and share it with those that would share with you.
JMO... though. Yes it sounds better than WTS.... but how long does that last?
Its impossible to have a "true religion" in 2003. The primitave church had close ties to THE man Jesus. We dont dont have the same kind of connection as the early Christians did & until Jesus "returns" we will continue plodding along with a dilluted sense of what "true religion" really is. Until then, I think its a complete matter of what we as individuals choose to do in regards to our own spritual well being.
I was raised as a catholic & I was conditioned to think a certain way. It wasnt until I was in my late 20s, early 30s that I began to explore the Bible on my own & came to understand some things. I have to tell you, that was the most wonderful feeling, being free from a man made organization. As far as teaching others, its futile to attempt any kind of bible thumping, it just turns people off. The key is to lead by example, whether it be with your children or friends & other family. If someone wonders why youre so "at peace" or "quietly confidant" you can tell them why & if they want to know more you can say: Well....this is what I think....
I tend to agree with you. John's description of the 7 Churches in Revelation speaks of the condition of the Churches either in his day or symbolicly of the condition of the entire church during the time of the end...or both. The point is that in either time the churches had detriorated and the responsibility of remaining faithful was upon each individual in these churches. (Rev. 2,3 "He who has an ear...etc)
Some of these churches were so bad that they were in danger of being completely destroyed. But individuals in them still had a chance. This is a confirmation of what Jesus foretold in his parable of the wheat and tares. All would grow up together until Christ came again. At the harvest the angels and Christ would do this work.
What Christians can do is to remain faithful to their personal commitment to God and Christ. Some may be able to work within a church system. Others prefer not to. What is important is to realize that it is not the church that brings salvation. It is Christ.
I'm all for the Church of Sexual Healing....Catholic School Altar Girls, Dirty Vicars, Bishops of East Danglia...
or perhaps The First Unreformed Church of Pantyism...eheh...ah the possibilities.
Why not do like those who've quit other churches and get Bible Studies to meet and reac the Bible in homes without Watchtower? Teach Christlike love and encourage charitable deeds. No one has to ask for a license to do it. Just do it.
Name? Christians. Or each group can have its own name. Groups can get together at times, work together, pool resources and the like if they want to. I think it's called a congregational type polity. Somebody might like a name like the Church of Jehovah, but that would not have to be a requirement for associating.