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Inclusive vs. Exclusive

Warning! Reading this post may piss you off. You may feel it’s blasphemous or heretical. You may be certain that I’m bound for eternal damnation. I make no apologies, so either get over it or let it fester and eat away at your soul.

Why is Christianity so exclusive? It’s do it our way or burn in Hell. Those are apparently the only options offered. I’m sure there are other religions, probably most Western religions, that also subscribe to the “You’re either with us or agin us” philosophy.

Particularly in matters of the spirit, it’s nearly impossible to be a Christian and even acknowledge another belief structure. You can’t be a Catholic and a Methodist or a Baptist and a Lutheran. You can’t be a Christian and a Buddhist, although to a Buddhist that’s entirely possible.

There are some who say you can’t be a Christian and also practice naturism although there is nothing in Scripture to prohibit it. I do know many Christians who are naturists (nudists).

I’ve seen where some Christians (probably with more fundamentalist beliefs), find Christianity and the practice of yoga to be incompatible although there are undoubtedly many Christians who see no problem with practicing yoga for it’s health benefits.

Yoga has profoundly spiritual aspects and does have its roots in Hinduism but it doesn’t necessarily follow that practicing yoga is anti-Christian. Yoga does touch on divinity but everyone is free to define the divine in their own way. In my yoga practice I do no pray to any gods, Hindu or otherwise. There is often a reading at the end of a yoga class but it usually touches on some aspect of leading a right life and how we should live in harmony with others and with nature.

I’ve been reading The Teaching of Buddha and The Bible. So far, I’ve found only subtle differences but nothing contradictory between the teachings of Buddha and the teachings of Christ. The most fundamental difference I’ve found is inclusiveness versus exclusiveness.

Let’s consider the theological possibility that there is only ONE God, a god that is called different names and worshipped in different ways by different religions and cultures. Does it matter if he call him God, Jehovah, Buddha, Krishna, or Bob? Does it really matter how we worship him, if we worship him at all, or even believe in him?

If we chose to believe in the deity, then our higher purpose is probably to achieve enlightenment and oneness with him. Does the path we take to unite ourselves with the deity, be it in Heaven, Paradise, or Nirvana, make a difference? Is the path we follow all that important? Maybe it’s more important to find our own path and follow it.

How do we know if we’ve chosen the correct path? We don’t. Personally, I tend to believe that it’s a process of trial and error and we’ll eventually figure it out.

Related post: Religious Conversion

3 comments to Inclusive vs. Exclusive

  • Wise. Great. Thought provoking.

  • KH

    Christianity is in fact not, as you say, “Exclusive”. Christianity is in fact “Inclusive” as Christian identity is available to anyone.
    Christianity is in fact the name used to identify a group of people who 1. believe that a man named CHRIST, son of GOD, died sacrificially on the cross for the sins of man against GOD and 2. in so doing changed all that was previously established as pathways to GOD, 3. offering those who share the belief in HIS new sacrifice the only way to GOD and 4. setting aside all other paths.
    Christianity has come into effect through an act which signifies the end of the old system of separate belief systems for separate cultures and offers UNITY to all people seeking GOD in all cultures through belief in CHRIST JESUS and his message as stated in the BIBLE.

  • True, anyone can be a Christian and in that respect, it’s inclusive. Anyone can join the club but you if you don’t join the club, you’re automatically excluded. There doesn’t seem to be any room for discussion about the path, it’s pretty much etched in stone.

    Interestingly, most of the non-Abrahamic belief systems do not separate cultures but are inclusive and share common and universal values. In the last two millennium, Christianity has divided and crushed thriving cultures and belief systems. There isn’t even unity among Christians. Many denominations equate unity with uniformity.

    That’s the way I see it. Sacred texts, are by their nature, allegorical, not literal.

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