Recently I was on a mission trip to one of those trendy, touristy, new agey towns. As we prayer walked up and down their streets I saw a lot of Coexist bumper stickers. I agree with what the sticker says, but necessarily what people read into it or think it says.
What I mean by coexist is giving humanity room to decide for themselves what they will believe.
What I don’t mean by coexist is the accompanying assumption of many, namely that it doesn’t matter what you believe. It does matter what you believe. Jesus is the truth. But you cannot glorify God by physically forcing someone to accept this truth. Faith requires that they choose to accept it. Love for God, like any other love, only means something when it is freely given.
On the other side of the coin though, I do not believe that discussion, education, or witness is a form of coercion. People who are offended by hearing the religious views of others, need to grow up and toughen up. Words and ideas are never to be feared by people who are seeking the truth.
So coexistence is a matter of religious freedom. I believe God gave us religious freedom because it supported His purpose. He wants us to have the faith to choose to serve Him, or alternatively to choose the consequences of rejecting Him. Therefore being Christian naturally leads to a belief in religious freedom.
However, not every religious viewpoint supports religious freedom. The very first symbol in the normal Coexist bumper sticker does not believe in religious freedom, and in fact believes that forced conversions and religious war have a place in God’s will.
This is a major falsehood in what people think they are saying with those Coexist stickers. They think they are saying all religions are basically the same, that all are equally at fault in sowing disharmony, and that it is possible to maintain your beliefs and peacefully coexist. This is a deep pile of false ideas.
Wouldn’t you rather work from a foundation of truth, morality and genuine religious freedom?
Good words Charles. May we continue to work from a foundation of truth, morality and genuine religious freedom in Jesus.
Thanks I appreciate the encouragement.
Reblogged this on Truth in Palmyra and commented:
Some people just say thing a whole lot better than me!
Thanks Wally. I am glad you liked it and that you thought it was clearly stated.
Do you believe that children have a right to religious freedom until they are old enough to make a choice based on critical thought and evaluation of evidence?
If I answer this question in brief, you will misunderstand my answer. So let me give a detailed answer.
Real freedom always includes responsibility. It is impossible, apart from the idealistic dreams of foolish philosophies, to have freedoms for which you do not take personal responsibility. This is the reason that we do not give children driver’s licenses. Once they are mature enough to figure out the responsibility behind their actions, then we let them begin taking the actions. In a similar way with religious freedom, a child who is left to wander without spiritual guidance is not really being given freedom, but instead being thrown to the wolves. This is placing them into a situation where their choices have spiritual consequences they are not able to handle. They become cannon fodder in the spiritual warfare all around us.
For this reason, I do not believe a parent does well who fails to instruct a child on religious matters. Claiming that you are allowing them to wait and choose for themselves when they are ready is looking at it backwards. Without instruction they will make choices which hinder any possible future decision – morality guides ideology. But if the parent will instruct them in their own religious views then that child will have a platform to choose from, one which does not hinder any future choice they wish to make, for or against God.
Furthermore it is foolishness to think that any parent, no matter how overbearing, can control the religious freedom of their grown child by giving them religious training as they grow up. The capacity to make their own decisions in spiritual matters is a gift given them from God and the parent is no longer responsible, or even capable, of influencing that decision once the child is grown. But as mentioned above, if left to their own devices, like a child behind the wheel of a car, something destructive will happen which will undermine their future potential.
If one considers the plethora of religions that abound on our planet, not to mention 30,000 or so different denominations in your own faith, how does one establish which it the true religion?
You stared that this is a ‘gift from god’. Surely such a deity would ensure this gift was the exact gift he wished to impart?
How would you explain the billions who had not been given this gift from God?
Do you believe that those who have not received it ( as per your religion) were unable to demonstrate ethics and morality?
Generally it is rude to take someone else’s blogpost and use it to grind your own axe. These questions are off the topic of the post, and your statements follow the tactic of asking multiple questions in such a tone as to make the other person look stupid.
Nevertheless I will answer you at least somewhat. I said for the parent to educate their children in their own tradition. In other words, parents should teach their children what they, the parent, believes. The child will make their own choices to accept or reject along the way. This point of reaching our own conclusions is what the original post was about.
The whole of humanity has been given a freedom to make their own choices. As they do they will develop a multitude of ideas. (Although I believe your claim 30,000 denominations is ridiculous.) This does not reflect on the existence of God one way or the other. You make God out to be a monster because of humanities response to Him, but our response says something about us, not Him. I rather think He gave us a gift of free will. Without it we would not be truly human but some form of automaton. One that chooses to invent their own path to God, one that chooses to reject all concept for God, and the one accepts God as He really is, all shape their own choices and thereby their own destiny.
The figure of 30,000 is an estimate and it is official, and likely more since the last time I looked.
I have a link somewhere, if you would like to see it?
If there were no issues surrounding religion then the world would likely all be adherents of a single religion – or no religion.
This is plainly not the case so it suggests some form of cultural indoctrination tied in with religion.
A visit to any of the numerous blogs hosted by deconvertees of any religion will quickly attest to this.
The less pressure a child is under to adhere to religion the more likely they are to not follow it as an adult.
This is why I asked how much respect you believe should be afforded children with regards religion.
Free will is patently not in evidence in large tracts of the Old Testament, where people such as Moses were obliged to commit genocide under the direct orders of Yahweh ( your god).
What do you believe would happen to the children of the world if religious instruction were withheld from them until they were of a minimum age of 16?.
No I am not interested in whatever links you can find to the issue of how many groups exist. I do notice though that a few days ago on your own blog you used a different number.
The diversity of opinion though, is something I already addressed. Tying religious opinion to culture is obvious. Not an argument for or against anything I have said.
Regarding children left untrained, I have already answered that, but I can say it again, attempting to be more clear. The untrained child will almost certainly grow up to reject God, this choice not occurring from the freedom allowed them by their parents, but instead from the enslavement of their own failures.