| | An Opinion about rituals "in religions:"
An Opinion about rituals "in religions:"
When a person, or religious organization, keeps inventing sacraments, then it is they're keeping of the sacraments they have faith in, not Christ. Otherwise, why keep those invented sacraments?
And when one goes to a confessional and tells a "priest" about their sins, then it is their going to the confessional and doing the confession ritual and penance that they have faith in, not Christ. Otherwise, why not go directly to God, from within the heart, through Christ for the forgiveness of sins as Christ taught?
And when one goes to a series of rituals, then it is their participating in the rituals that they have faith in, not Christ. Otherwise, why go to rituals?
Christ never taught anything about ritualistic sacraments, or going to confessionals. He taught faith. It is only the flesh, seeking to feel it has earned its spiritual relationship with God that comes up with the formulation "these are the things I do because of faith." Christ's teaching was that faith is not about man "doing." It is faith in what God has, and will, do.
Just so that everyone knows I'm not singling out the Catholics, it would be entirely possible to write exactly what I just written, only substituting the ritual and legalism details of any protestant denomination for the mass/ritualistic sacraments/confessional part, and the doctrinal point would be just as valid.
Christ did indeed teach that salvation and relationship with God is based on faith and only faith.
It IS the Catholic Church that invented all the nonsense about Mary being a lifelong virgin, and that one prays to her to get healing, favors, and whatever. And it IS the Catholic Church, which elects "saints", and says you can pray to them for special favors; isn't it? I don't remember Christ teaching anything about praying to Mary or "saints". And it IS the catholic church that teaches that you can't be forgiven for sins without coming to its confessional booth, telling your sins to someone it calls a "priest" and doing whatever penance that "priest" tells them to do; right? That is the Catholic Church, isn't it? Or is the church that does all that stuff some other church and I just got confused for a second? This isn't a stereotype, it is just fact. Is the Catholic Church now teaching that one simply goes to God in personal prayer about sin and is forgiven based on the perfection and efficacy of Christ's work on the cross? If that's what they're teaching these days it would be the first I've heard about it.
If the rituals, ceremonies, legalisms, and taboos the Catholic Church started inventing in the middle of the first millennium are just a natural outgrowth of Christ's teaching (the expression of faith, if you will) then why would not the rituals and ceremonies and taboos and legalisms of any other church be the same? For instance, the day of Pentecost was shortly after Christ's death and resurrection and we are told people were speaking in tongues, etc. So why would it not be valid for Pentecostal churches to say: well, what we do goes all the way back to the days of Christ's ministry, death and resurrection, so when we "speak in tongues" it is simply a natural outgrowth of Christ's ministry and what early Christians did. Therefore, you can't be saved or have a relationship with God unless you join our church and do this "speaking in tongues" thing.
Although most protestant denominations only practice the concept in part, the orthodox (or doctrinal) Christian concept is that all believers in Christ are priests with Jesus Christ as our intermediary with God. Forgiveness for our sins is based on Christ's work on the cross and our faith in Christ and his work. That is why (doctrinally speaking) we can approach God directly in our personal prayers and receive forgiveness for our sins.
The Catholic Church, AND OTHERS, have taken this concept rooted in grace and turned it into a system called religion whereby humans earn forgiveness from God by going to a particular place (the confessional), "confessing" sins to someone whose business they are not and then performing some more works ("penance") to complete the business of earning God's forgiveness. The concept at the root of it all is that Christ's work on the cross was incomplete or a failure, and so we have to add our works to Christ's work to make them complete.
Nothing could be more out of keeping with the Christian doctrine Paul wrote, which teaches that Christ's work on the cross was complete, perfect and perfectly efficacious.
I will say this, instead of simply changing out a protestant system of works for a catholic system of works a person really should consider Christ's message of faith.
A person can reach the point of exasperation, trying to figure out the un-figurable (which church's or denominational system is the right system to please and impress God). But Christ's message of relationship with God through faith makes all the figuring unnecessary.
I appreciate and agree with the orientation of many posts: the intended grace nature of what the Catholic Church has termed "sacraments" and turned into empty rituals, the spiritual (rather than physical) nature of Christ's church, the idea of all religion as schemes for pleasing God with the energy of the flesh rather than faith, the concept of salvation through faith alone rather than a program of religious works, rituals and observing legalisms, taboos and "sacraments."
I understand that the antiquity of the traditions and rituals the Catholic Church has invented appeal to many, (at least more so than those traditions and rituals invented by the evangelical/fundamentalist protestant churches), but that is their choice. However, these things would come between Jesus and I.
Every church and denomination has "Jesus" and "faith" and "Christ" readily rolling off its collective tongue. But Christ taught that just because one says "Lord, Lord" that doesn't mean that they will have a relationship with God, but only those who do the will of God - and Christ taught that the will of God is his creations responding to him in faith.
I am where I am now because of a volitional choice to respond to Christ's message of faith with faith. And I find that message of faith very comforting indeed: a relationship with, and justification and righteousness before, the God who created my soul based only on my faith in the savior he sent for me (and the guidance of God's own spirit thrown in (at no extra charge whatsoever).
All this without having to work, work, work at rituals and taboo observance and magic worked by "saints" and the "virgin Mary" and all the rest of that nonsensical claptrap. Instead "doing" what Christ taught us to do; believe on the one whom God sent and rest and be relieved of our burdens by God's grace.
(Nor any need to search and hunt and figure out and research which church hierarchy's claims to have "truth" or "validity")
I can't get more comfortable than that, and why anyone would choose the works route is beyond me (except I can understand their flesh screaming at them, "ok, so now what do I have to do?")
This is not rocket science. On the one hand you have Christ and Paul clearly teaching faith alone and on the other hand you have the Catholic Church teaching mass attendance, compulsory confession, worshipping Mary, the Lord's table sharing turned into a system of magic, "last rites" for salvation, and on and on. And various other churches teaching a relationship with God based on emotional ecstatic, moral purity of the flesh, ritual observance, etc.
It really doesn't seem like much of a choice to me, or is it anything that requires great academic diligence. I prefer Christ's message of faith.
I owe a great deal of thanks to a friend named "Don" (on Dave's Christian forum) for this article. His writings have given me much comfort and direction.