While all religions share the same essential purpose, all of them are failing miserably. They start out right, but end up obsessed with matters of lesser importance and are, in some instances, just plain insane. Observe for yourself and this is what you will see:
- Instead of bridge to God, religion is often a barrier to God;
- Instead of freeing people from their burdens, religion itself is the burden;
- Instead of knowing God, religion is obsessed with knowing about God;
- Instead of divine acceptance, religion is preoccupied with guilt and failure, and the depiction of God as a deity displeased about both;
- Instead of bringing unity to humanity, religion is the principle cause of most disunity;
- Instead of peace and tranquility, religion is a circus of endless activity, beliefs, dogmas, and doctrines that are more divisive than unifying.
To begin with, it is ironic but the literal meaning of the word religion is “to return to bondage.” The word comes from two words, the prefix re meaning “to return,” and the root legare meaning “to bind.” Since everyone wants freedom, and many turn to religion to find it, the regrettable consequence is that too often the only thing they get is greater enslavement. This is the dysfunction found in every religion and Christianity and Islam may be two of the most dysfunctional religions in the world today.
Since I know other religions only as an outsider, I’ll reserve my observations to what I know best as an insider to Christianity. I have been a spiritual leader within the Christian church for decades. But, I have had the added experience, unknown to virtually all other Christians, of providing consultation within almost every communion within the Christian church. For example, not only was I a former Baptist minister for twenty-plus years but, for more than a decade now, I have provided consultation to Roman Catholic, Evangelical, and Protestant churches all across the U.S.—from theologically conservative churches to liberal ones, from mid-sized congregations to those accustomed to seeing more than 10,000 worshipers every weekend. I’ve consulted with churches vehemently opposed to anyone but males in positions of authority, and with those served by female clergypersons; with those who openly welcome gays and lesbians to those who insist they return to the proverbial closet.
I know the Christian church. And, frankly, I loathe some of the stuff I’ve come to know. At times, I’ve wondered if I might not have been better off to have gone after some other career. And yet, I now realize it is part of my destiny to be right where I am, to know what I know, and to say what I’m saying, especially through this book.
I feel more strongly today than ever before that the future of humanity is at stake. Unless there are profound changes in human consciousness—that is, changes in how we look at each other, as well as how we treat each other, there is little hope for humanity’s survival. Madness has reached an unimaginable, as well as unsustainable level. Unfortunately, however, the one place where you would expect to find sanity—in your religious tradition—you often find just the opposite.
This, and a score of other anomalies I cover in a new book, The Enoch Factor: Sacred Art of Knowing God.
Instead of helping people know God, most Christian churches, and their leaders, are obsessed with achieving the status of being the biggest church with the largest crowds and the most elaborate campuses. Yet, ironically, apart from a very few exceptions, most churches are declining. If the declines experienced in most churches today were the medical case history of a patient in a hospital, the diagnoses would read, “Chronically ill; resistant to change; on life-support; likely terminal.” The church itself is the one institution most in need of the very thing it proclaims to the world—salvation. It boasts of knowing God. But, by the sheer numbers who have given up on the church already, it is right to question whether the church knows God at all.
Here’s what you should know…
Religious belief has supplanted a relationship to God in most churches today. Few would admit this, but there is no question but what this is the case. How to know God has been relegated to a place of secondary importance. Or, to put it another way, knowing about God is regarded today as equal in importance as knowing God. It’s as if religious leaders believe what people need is more beliefs, more doctrines, dogmas, moral judgments and expositions. But, if beliefs and doctrines were what people really needed, why are they leaving the church in greater numbers today than ever before in Christian history?
There is no belief that, once you know it, will mean you know God. If that were the case, the belief itself would be God. Just as a name for God is not God, neither is a belief about God, God. There is nothing you need to know in order to know God. You know God already. You have just forgotten that you do. Or, you’ve been misled and confused, thinking there’s something missing or that you must believe something before you can know this Something or Someone we call God. In either case, you are spiritually unconscious, asleep to the indwelling presence of God—a presence within you already. If you were awake, you would both see God in yourself, in others around you, and in the world. You would know this Presence, too, intimately and in a transformational way.
To know God is the supreme purpose of every human life. I have written this book in the hopes it will serve as a catalyst to awaken in some the realization of the Eternal, this one Life who goes by many names. The fact that so many people are unaware of God’s presence explains why there is widespread discontent among Christians in almost every church today. It also explains why many of them swap churches faster than swingers swap lovers. They are looking for themselves but, unfortunately, they enter a church only to discover the church is more lost, confused, and dysfunctional than they are.