The Religion Racket
by Norman H. Wells
Former Pastor, Central Baptist Church, Cincinnati
Now With The Lord
© 2005 James H. Dearmore/Gospelweb.net

The Late Dr. Norman H. Wells

[GospelWeb.net Globe]

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Chapter 4

United We Fall

Religion has the arrogant audacity to look the world square in the eye and make the preposterous proclamation that all the hundreds of competing churches with their bigoted beliefs, contradicting creeds, and diverse doctrines are really one religion.

All religions are obligated to accept what they believe and teach to be truth. When the "truth" of one church contradicts the "truth" of another church one thing becomes painfully obvious. They might both be wrong but they can't both be right. Many make the claim of being the "true" church. This naturally means that all that differ have to be accepted as false.

Practically every church has a creed which gives a summary of their religious beliefs and doctrines. Using all of these creeds one can find a denial of every positive truth that is proclaimed in any of the creeds. Anything that one church believes is denied by another.

Am honest outsider making inquiry of the many different churches would not only come to the conclusion that there were many different religions but also that there were many different gods.

Religion in our day ranges from the snake handling preacher performing his miracles in a downtown storefront to the Cardinal observing the complications of a high mass in some ornate cathedral. And we are supposed to believe that they are all one religion.

A family will move and have to change churches. They will generally start attending the church that is closest to their new home. Their new church may be entirely different in creed and practice but they are still to believe that they are in the same religion. A family of ten could each attend a different church. These ten churches could be different and contradicting yet this family would be expected to believe they were all in the same religion.

Church "A" will proclaim that if you believe what they say you are heavenbound but church "B" will declare that if you believe what church "A" teaches you are hellbound. This, it must be said, is quite a difference!

In this one religion you can have a God that is dead or one that is living.

Baptism can mean anything from being dipped three times under water to having three drops sprinkled on your head. To some baptism is a way to heaven while others say it isn't even necessary to be baptized. Babies are baptized by some while others denounce this as heresy.

The Bible can either be the infallible, inerrant, word of God or a mere collection of myths, traditions, and wise sayings of men.

God created this world by speaking it into existence 6000 years ago or he merely sat back and watched it evolve several millions of years.

Some of religion ignores eternal things and concentrates on the betterment of man in this life, while others, quite the opposite, ignore this world and spend their time preparing for the next.

To be saved or not to be saved, that is the question. Salvation is emphasized by some as the most important thing in man's existence while others ignore it entirely. One church declares that an eternal hell of literal fire and brimstone awaits the unrepentant sinner while another yawns and declares hell doesn't exist.

One religion says man is eternal and immortal and another says he is not. Quite a difference!

What about man? Some say that he is bad and getting worse while others say he is good and getting better. We can hear that this world is reeling toward fiery destruction or is spiraling upward to Utopia.

Ask a question and all these churches come up with different answers. That is bad enough but then for religion to expect us to believe that all these different answers are right and true is downright ridiculous. Suppose an arithmetic teacher gave a class of ten pupils one problem and got from them ten different answers and then would announce they were all correct. This is foolishness.

Some of religion sees the foolishness of this and tries to remedy it with something even more foolish. These people will disavow any relationship with any established denomination and will call themselves interdenominational. This can mean just about anything but it is presented as a religion acceptable to people of all denominations. Now this would take some doing! All the socalled "truths" of the various denominations that contradict and deny each other are all accepted.

Does that sound foolish and confusing? There's more. There are those who are undenominational. This has to mean they are not of any denomination. People of all faiths and religious beliefs are welcome to be members of this undenominationalism. This has got to produce a big nothing!

The greatest emphasis in religion today is that given the ecumenical movement. This is the effort to bring all the different churches, denominations, and religions together with the idea of eventually becoming one church. This is a real paradox. These same people will have us believe that we are already one church and yet they spend all this time and money trying to establish what they say already exists!

For the ecumenical movement to be successful it becomes necessary for each participating religion to soften, hone down, and eventually get rid of its distinctive doctrines that are not in harmony with all the other participating religions. Anything that is believed by one and not by another must eventually be eliminated. Since everything that anyone believes is denied by another this does eventually produce unity . . . unity in unbelief. This is where the ecumenical epidemic win finally lead.

Why can't we turn from this feeble folly of pretense and face the situation. We need to acknowledge that what we have is a host of different religions. We must accept that all of them cannot be right and that each of us has the task of finding the truth in this maze of contradiction.

We are in danger of destroying truth bit by bit in a phoney attempt to weld all religions into one. It is far better to have truth alive and shouting forth above the babel of confusion created by these conflicting claims than systematically to eliminate all chance of its ever being heard.

To draw attention to these obvious facts about the divided condition of religion and to express opposition to the ecumenical movement is to set off an odd reaction. Church goers act amazed and even horrified that anyone would dare suggest that religious differences exist and that some of these differences would have to be classified as error. Religion tries to dismiss those who point out the obvious by classifying them as "bigots" who are full of "prejudice" and "hate."

What kind of religious climate are we establishing in these United States?

In the name of unity and the ecumenical movement many things are expected of everyone. Religious convictions are to be buried under compromise. Religious differences are to be hidden from view. Only those things on which everyone agree are to be displayed. Religion is to be so broadminded, liberal, and tolerant that everyone can be a part and no one will be offended. Deep religious convictions are looked upon as a weakness bred by ignorance.

Anyone who does not conform to this currently popular concept of religion is ostracized as an enemy of society. It is assumed that to differ is to hate. To state that there is a difference in religion and that some of that difference is error is immediately to be branded a "bigot," described as "prejudiced" and placed in the same category as Communists, Ku Klux Klan, etc.

Why can't we face the fact that it is not necessary to cover religious differences with compromise? Mere acceptance of a maze of contradicting religious claims does not produce unity ... just apathy. In the name of religion, above everything else, we should be able to disagree vigorously yet maintain an attitude of love one toward another. Honesty is a virtue of all religions and this honesty forces the recognition of difference in religion. To deny this difference requires a measure of hypocrisy ... a trait that is contrary to all religions. Deep religious convictions should be encouraged, not disparaged. A truly religious character can only be based on certain, sure religious convictions. This produces the wonderful assurance we so desperately need. In a world where men's hearts are failing them for fear, we need a sure word, an anchor of the soul. This can only be found in deep religious convictions that bring peace and assurance. These deep religious convictions can only come with the certainty that what we believe is the truth. In the religious certainty and assurance that we need there can be no room for doubt. If what we believe is the truth then that which contradicts is error. All religions would have to accept this fact.

Each individual who feels he has the truth of religious peace and assurance also feels the obligation to make it known to others. Although this of necessity involves clash with what he might believe to be error it is done in love ... not hate. His desire is for the benefit, not harm, of those he seeks to enlighten.

We should be thankful for a religious climate that has allowed us to follow our beliefs and allows everyone else to do the same. This is the kind of religious climate for which we should be striving, not mere conformity to shallow nothingness. A religious freedom that encourages deep religious conviction and aggressive propagation of all religions in peace and love should be our desire.

This is the religious climate that produced rugged faith with tried and proven convictions. It establishes a religious certainty that gives an anchor in this uncertain world. This is what has made America strong. There exists a common bond of love and respect among people with deep religious convictions, even though they disagree in doctrine.

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