Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Dogma or Hearsay?

About five years ago, when I visited my cousin in Mumbai, he told me a rather strange story about how a girl who used to frequent the Church suddenly stopped coming to Church, and how my cousin and some of his friends decided to enquire about the matter. On making enquiries they came to know that this particular girl had been approached by some foreigners who had apparently sold her their version of Christianity and she had finally joined their sect or cult! My cousin, and the Pastor of the church where she was a member then tried to get her back, but then when they visited her, she had made up her mind! So strongly had she been indoctrinated that she would never return to the mainstream church! When they visited the so called shrine which this girl began to frequent, they noticed some very strange artefacts, namely an eagle, and something approaching the shape of a cross, but something about which my cousin would not talk about!

Now many years after my visit to Mumbai, I keep thinking about what my cousin had told me then, and I realise how everything does connect! Being a regular member of the Church in Gurgaon, I have come across various instances where regular Church Goers had stopped coming to church, and when I asked them later why they had stopped coming to church, they told me that they had joined another church. I keep observing how, so many sects, cults, and breakaway religious organisations have cropped up and they are working under no registered regulatory organisation! It is unfortunate that so many of our young ones are being lead astray by such organisations whose very existence is debatable! What are we doing to stop this exodus of young believers to organisations whose very motive is highly suspect?

The incident of the Ranch Davidians, David Koresh, the Texas Waco massacre, and so many others all around the world, forces us to do a rethink of where we stand today! While it is true mainstream Churches lack the spirit or missionary zeal, often becoming so called, “Country-Club Churches,” the so called breakaway churches have much to offer in terms of excitement, food, cash, and many other exciting inducements which will attract the newly converted! The Sunday Service includes singing, screaming, dancing,something akin to whipping up mass hysteria, so that by the end of the so called service, everyone is truly whacked out and exhausted. It is very easy to indoctrinate and brainwash the young inductee in such a surrounding. After this begins a rather twisted and convoluted interpretation of the teachings of the Bible! In a rather clever manner, the  teachings of the Bible are subverted! I guess, as a layman, no one has the right to interpret the lessons of the Bible so that he can impose it upon others! For example, many years back, when I was studying in college, some foreigners used to visit the college premises, and they would tell students that the world was soon coming to an end, and they took up examples from the Book of Revelation and talked about the image of a great statue which was made of different metals, and the feet were made of clay and how the ten toes represented ten nations of the world today which represented the G-10 nations, and how they would enter into a pact, and that the Anti-Christ had been born somewhere in the Middle-East, and so on! The date of the end of days came, and yet the world continued as usual.

Upon doing some more research into the wide-spread proliferation of Cults and Sects all around the country, I was told by a senior about an international organisation : ZG.(I am not mentioning the name) which was propounding a rather radical and different interpretation of the teaching of the Bible. On checking it out on the internet I came across the statements that it is a forum for changing the world, a forum for bringing out a change of attitude, and it mentions how a scientist of the fourteenth century was hounded by the church for his rather radical views which challenged the teachings that the Earth was the centre of the universe! I was taken aback that this organisation has chapters all over the world, including India!

Perhaps the reason for all this dilution and subverted teaching of religious scriptures is the result of excess liberalism, lack of leadership in mainstream churches, and lack of religious spirit. As I wonder about this deteriorating state of matters, my mind goes to the Coptic Monks and priests of Ethiopia who jealously guard their religious texts and relics, and it is even said that the Ark of the Covenant is in Ethiopia, but it is protected by a monk who gives his life for protecting it! The Coptic Monks in Ethiopia are a rather secretive group who might be protecting the essential character and basis of the Christian religion! I am reminded of the Monks of Mt.Athos, on the Greek Peninsula, Orthodox Christians, who like the Coptic Monks of Ethiopia are Defenders of the Faith. The rigours of being a Monk on this Peninsula mean that they are cut off from the materialism of the world, they grow their own vegetables, and their own wine the ancient way, and their lives are entirely dedicated to their cause. Their entire day is spent in prayers, and daily chores of cleaning the churches, tilling the ground for vegetables, harvesting the crop and so on! And of course, women are not allowed on this peninsula!

I guess, power corrupts, and money entices people to do wrong. The only way to defend the Faith is by having a more vibrant, active, effective, and dedicated mainstream church which is devoted also towards serving humanity at large.One should not just think about saving for the rainy day, for it is clearly written in the New Testament that the birds are not worried about what they will eat tomorrow because The Almighty provides for them. Reading the Bible regularly and reading it privately without trying to derive all sorts of distorted meanings is perhaps the best option. Of course having Faith in the Almighty is another important thing! Now this brings us to the question about the difference between Faith and Blind Faith, but then I would not like to delve deeper into this argument, although I would choose an unquestioning Faith as the better option as apposed to Blind Faith!

Disclaimer: the views expressed in this article are the personal views of the writer, and they do not in any way mean to infringe on the working of any organisation!

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