PART 5 MY SEARCH

CHAPTER 5

Thinking Of Joining Any Of These Mainstream Religions:

Islam, Seventh Day Adventist, Jehovah’s Witness, The Church Of The Latter Day Saints, Unitarian?

Let’s continue to look at some general information about each of the remaining faiths. This will provide an awareness of their basic beliefs, or theology. Testimonies of either a member or leader of each faith will help us understand how they came to and continue in their faith. Just how much these faiths differ will become obvious, and will become our basis for determining which faith or faiths follow the one true God.

Islam

An Imam (leader) of an Islam Mosque provided this testimony via a phone conversation.

I had a chance to examine the message of Christianity (Catholicism). Christianity and Islam believe in the same prophets of Abraham, Isaac, Moses, etc.

Jesus was a Jew, who lived as a Jew and as a prophet of God. He showed us the way to live and serve God when he was on earth.

However, the bible of Christianity has been corrupted because it states that Jesus is God, and that there is a different way to serve the Father, Allah. There was only one God in the past, which is the same God in the present, and the same God in the future, Allah.

The protocol for following Allah is the same today as to when the scriptures were revealed to the prophet Muhammad. There are rules to follow that are very plain and simple, and are consistent from one day to the next.

Our bible, the Koran, has never changed.

Their Islamic belief system requires a follower to adhere to the teachings of the Koran (Qur’an) that were revealed to Muhammad in about 610 BC from the only one God, named Allah, by the angel Gabriel.17 Their teachings include:

  • The name of God, “Allah”, is also found in the Christian Bible.
  • Allah is the only creator.
  • Allah’s divinity is not shared by anyone else.
  • Human beings are not created in Allah’s image.
  • There is no original sin.
  • A follower is to observe the Five Pillars of Islam:18
  • Believe in only one God, Allah by reciting the words, "There is no (other) god but God (Allah) and Muhammad is His messenger."
  • Worship by observing the five daily Prayers (Salah) each day so that one is constantly reminded of God and given opportunities to seek His guidance and forgiveness.
  • Charitable Giving by spending 2.5% of one's wealth for the benefit of the poor or needy, like debtors or travelers.
  • Fasting in the 9th month of Ramadan, which begins near the end of July and continues through August in America.
  • Make a Pilgrimage (Hajj) to Mecca once in your lifetime for those who have the means and are able bodied. The purpose is to perform a series of rituals, and dates back to the time of Abraham.
  • Seeking nearness to God.
  • Looking for forgiveness from him.
  • Expressing their gratitude to and dependence on him.
  • Atoning for their past sins.
  • Reminding them of the needy.
  • Salvation is referred to as being sent to Paradise at death as a reward from Allah if one was a “good Muslim” throughout his/her life by following the Five Pillars of Islam.
  • There will be a final Day of Judgment with a bodily resurrection of the dead. If Allah considers one good, they will go to Paradise, but if bad they will be sent to hell.

Seventh Day Adventist

This personal testimony is from a member of this faith.

I am from a long line of Seventh Day Adventists. I was raised in a family that strictly adhered to the teachings of the Seventh Day Adventist church.  After being taught the beliefs of the church, I decided at age 12 to be baptized in water. At that time I felt like I had enough information and clarity to follow Christ.

Seventh Day Adventist beliefs are meant to permeate your whole life. Each belief is supported from the scriptures of the Bible. I was taught that we were born to reflect the image of God through our daily life, from our thoughts to what we eat, the places we go, and from how we interact with others to what we wear.

One of the things that I love the most about the Seventh Day Adventist church is that it encourages one to seek and prove the scriptures for one’s self, and to not to take the word of a pastor, elder or anyone else for granted. At a very early age my dad said to me, “You can’t believe a part of the Bible and not believe another part. It’s either all or nothing.”

I have remained in the Seventh Day Adventist church because the Bible is our road map to living a Christ-like life with the hope of making it to heaven.

It all adds up to me, it makes perfect sense. I have felt and seen his presence in my life and the life of my friends and family. I am proud to call myself a Seventh Day Adventist.

It’s interesting that the origins of this faith are the most recent—it began in the 19th century.

Seventh Day Adventists believe they have been chosen by God as a peculiar people to proclaim the three angel’s warnings that are set forth in the book of Revelation chapter 14. These messages are to be presented to all of the people of the world with the hope that they will become followers of this faith; thus becoming God’s representatives and ambassadors on the earth by preparing themselves for the coming Christ. A member must agree with the 28 Fundamental Beliefs that were set forth by their founder, Ellen G. White.

Some of these are:

  • The Trinity is one God who exists in three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit as revealed in the New Testament.
  • The man, Christ Jesus, was not the Lord God Almighty19, but Michael the Archangel.
  • They are to keep the Ten Commandments, which will develop Christian character by pointing out sin.
  • They are to observe the 7th Day Sabbath, which will cause them to grow spiritually by reminding themselves of the way that God can make them holy.
  • After physical death, a person’s soul remains at rest in the grave until a future resurrection20, known as “soul sleep” i.e., residing in God’s memory until the resurrection, He will then recreate the person with an immortal body having the same mind and personality as before.
  • They use the same Bible as Christianity.
  • In order for a follower to have an opportunity to go to heaven, they must:
  • Repent of their sins.
  • Believe in Christ’s atonement.
  • Be baptized in water for the forgiveness of sins.
  • Obey the Ten Commandments.
  • Observe the Sabbath.
  • Tithe 10% of their income.
  • Believe in the remaining 28 Fundamental Beliefs.
  • A final judgment will occur in which all departed souls that are sleeping will be given an immortal body. At this investigative judgment, it will be determined as to who will go to heaven. Those who don’t go to heaven will be permanently destroyed or annihilated by fire. There is not a literal place of torment.

Each faith that we have examined seems to introduce something that sets it apart, and the next one separates its followers into two groups. Let’s see what this is all about.          

Jehovah’s Witness

This testimony is from a member of this faith.

At the age of 11, as a Catholic, I was disillusioned with religion. Nothing of it made sense. The idea of dying and going to heaven did not reconcile my thoughts on a troubling question I had,

“If Adam and Eve were supposed to live forever in a paradise panorama and their offspring spread throughout the earth, why am I going to die and go to heaven? How can we gain back what Adam and Eve lost?” I just could not reconcile these thoughts. So, I wanted nothing to do with religion anymore.

As it turned out years later, the only religion that was able to answer those 2 questions satisfactorily was the one who not only diligently searched me out in their preaching work, but also voluntarily took time to teach me the Bible for free, Jehovah's Witnesses. And even now at the age of 48, no other religion has ever in my life come forward with the same offer.

Becoming a follower of the Jehovah’s Witness means that a person agrees with the teachings of Charles Russell, who wrote his own bible called the New World translation, published in 1950. Some of these teachings include:

  • There is only one God who is called Jehovah (Yahweh) or the Father.
  • The Holy Spirit is not a person, but a life force.
  • Jesus is not fully God and man, but a created being.
  • Satan and his demons were cast out of heaven and thrown down to earth in 1914.
  • Taking blood into the body through the mouth or veins violates God’s laws.
  • They believe in the atonement of Christ.
  • A follower will ultimately end up in one of two groups who will eventually be either in heaven or on Paradise Earth.
  • A special group of only 144,000, the “anointed” Christians who have been born again. They will gain access to heaven where they will live forever. Being born again involves being baptized in water and begotten by God’s spirit (life force).
  • A particular group of Jehovah’s Witnesses called the “other sheep” that must earn eternal life. If they succeed, they will live on Paradise Earth forever, and to gain access they must exhibit loyalty to Jehovah (Father) and to the “anointed” Christians before they die. This loyalty includes 3 areas of requirements:
  1. Knowledge of Kingdom history and a new "language" in order to be able to call on Jehovah and to serve "shoulder to shoulder".                                       
  2. Righteous conduct by keeping the laws of Jehovah which may call for "...hard changes to make in order to keep God's requirements".
  3. Loyalty to God's government [represented on earth by the anointed Governing Body of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, headquartered in Brooklyn, New York]. This includes an additional mandatory duty that, "Jehovah would require" of his servants; they must be, "...loyalspokesmen or proclaimers of God's kingdom" (Ibid). This is mainly a reference to the door-to-door "preaching" work.21
  • The souls of those who are not in either group will be annihilated after physical death.

Another faith, another perception as to how to become a follower of God; and next we’ll look at a faith claiming that their writings were found buried in a hill in New York. What do these writings have to say?

The Church of the Latter Day Saints

This personal testimony is from a Bishop in this faith.

I had, from the time of my childhood, a gut feeling that the concept of God was true, but never gained a testimony to allow the commitment necessary to act on that feeling. I wanted it to be true, but it never solidified into a belief.

As I struggled with the prospect of my darling bride’s investigation into the beliefs of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, there was, in my soul, an area hidden from my understanding. I always seemed to insert fear as a false shield whenever I faced an important unknown and this time was no different.

The first person I spoke to about my wife’s baptism into this faith was not by coincidence. Nothing is. I was greeted by the outstretched hand of the mission president. I had no knowledge of the workings of the Church, but in this man was an overwhelming sense of safety. I proceeded to pour out my life’s story. I told him I was committed to learn all I could about the Church by becoming informed of its discussions. Not that I was going to join the Church you see, but if this was the path my love wanted to take I would support her—and to do that, knowledge was essential. Prior to leaving this meeting, the Elders gave our daughter a Book of Mormon.

At home, I opened it to Moroni 10:3-5. What I read made sense so I took the challenge. Though fear tried to strengthen its’ grip within me, I knew in my heart, God would not lie. That night I knelt in prayer asking with real intent to know if the book of Mormon was true. In the morning the first blessing of my conversion enveloped me. The fears I carried with me to bed were gone and replaced with more than the words, yes it is true - that unknown portion of my soul now had purpose. I felt at peace.

I was now drawn to The Book of Mormon and towards the waters of baptism. I struggled though, with the question of my worthiness for forgiveness. It was not until, while reading about the atonement, I surrendered in humility and sought true repentance. It was then that the captivation of guilt was lifted and I was filled with the love of Christ. That blessing was greater than any I could have ever imagined.

We learned of our sons’ tragic death the day before I was to be baptized. My life would never be the same. In that instant the purpose and focus of my life changed. I no longer sought to be baptized for me, but needed to be baptized for my family. I was not then, nor have I since, been angry at God for the temporal death of our only son. I sought only to do all that was necessary to lead my family to the temple—there to be sealed for time and all eternity. I was blessed with a remission of my sins at baptism. I was blessed with the presence of the Holy Ghost at my confirmation into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I was blessed to receive my Temple endowments. I was blessed to be our sons’ proxy for his baptism, confirmation, and Temple endowments and there to be sealed to my wife and children.

The veil was thin that day and I now am blessed to have a testimony of the Gospel, which is woven into the very fabric of my being. I have been blessed to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with friends, family and strangers. I have been blessed to do ordinance work for the dead. I have been blessed to hear the promptings of the spirit. I have been blessed to pray with real intent and to cherish the answers. I have been blessed with the knowledge that, if I live according to God’s Commandments and endure to the end, I can be together with my family forever. I have been blessed with clarity of purpose and a desire to serve and follow in the footsteps of my exemplar, Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  I testify that Heavenly Father and his Son Jesus Christ live, that this Church is true and that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God. I do so in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

The one thing that stood out for me was that Mormons did not leave their religion at the door when they left Church. That is how I live my faith. I invite you to find out for yourself. If I can help in any way, I will.

Some of the beliefs of this faith are:

  • A follower of the Church of Latter Day Saints must believe in the teachings of the Book of Mormon, which was buried in a hill in New York, and found by a man named Joseph Smith who received directions from an angel as to where they were located.
  • This book claims to be the only written record of Christ’s appearance on the American Continent following his resurrection. He came to visit the Nephites and Lamanites who are named after two individuals, Nephi and Laman, the sons of Lehi, a prophet who left Jerusalem during the reign of one of her kings in order to live in the promised land of America.
  • They accept the writings of Christianity, Catholicism, and Episcopalian, but many of their teachings are dramatically different.

Some of these are:

  • The Garden of Eden was located in what is now the state of Missouri in the USA, unlike the religions of Judaism, Catholicism, and Christianity that believe the Garden of Eden was located in the area of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers.
  • Noah’s ark was built in Missouri, contrary to those who believe that it was built in the Middle East.
  • Jesus is God, the Father is God, but there is no trinity.
  • Every person pre-existed time as a spirit.
  • God created multiple worlds and each world has people living on it.22
  • God was once an imperfect man who attained godhood, and was given his own planet to rule over.23
  • Sometimes, God reveals new revelations that are different from past revelations.
  • Jesus’ incarnation was the result of a physical relationship between God the Father and Mary.
  • Besides believing in the Book of Mormon, a follower will be:
  • Baptized in water for the forgiveness of sins and have hands laid on them with prayer in order to receive the indwelling Holy Spirit.
  • Taught the basic principles of Christ’s doctrine.
  • Required to keep the Ten Commandments.
  • Required to tithe 10% of their income.
  • Instructed to not consume coffee, tea, tobacco, and alcohol.
  • While believing in Christ’s atonement for sin, they also believe that obedience to the various laws and ordinances just mentioned would determine which of the three levels in heaven will be obtained.
  • There is not a literal place of misery called Hell.

This is a story that is very distinct from the others in the sense that it adds the concept of there being other planets that have life on them.

No matter what faith you are involved with, if any, you might be pondering the idea that there appears to be a faith for everyone.  But is there? The last faith that we will look at actually espouses this thinking, accepting everyone from all faiths, even those who don’t have any.

Unitarian

This testimony is from someone, who was employed by this faith, but not necessarily involved with this faith. With all due respect, this was my favorite testimony because it represents what this book is about. How many people claim to follow God, but have never known him in a personal way?

I was born and raised Catholic but I’ve been working at a Unitarian Church (non-denominational) for the past 15 years. About 13 years ago, the former minister retired after working 25 years, and I got to know him pretty well during those two years.

Everybody seemed to love this guy. His sermons were very controversial and thought provoking.  I remember that he would order books, like every week, from Amazon.com with many of their titles (religious ones) being so unique.

Right before he left I figured that he would have some “answers” for me.  You know, him working here for so long, getting all those books and, in my opinion, he was a smart cookie!  He used to joke around too, but one day I asked him seriously, minister (he got pretty serious too), please give me some ‘answers’ about religion/God. He looked straight into my eyes and responded, “I don’t even know myself”.  I asked him no more questions after that.

What does a person have to do to become a member? Nothing, they just show up. This church has no dogma or established belief system, except to welcome everyone regardless of his or her belief.

Some of their teachings are:

  • Believe in the teachings of Jesus as well as those of anyone else.
  • Messages in the services are on issues of human growth, human potential, and personal human issues along with social, moral, and ethical issues. 
  • Do not believe in a personal God, one with whom someone feels a one-to-one relationship, a deity who cares specifically for that individual and to whom that person can appeal directly.24
  • Members are free to make up their own minds as to their concept about God.
  • Members are to follow the example of several moral and ethical teachers, Jesus included, who have shown humans how to live lives of love, service, and compassion.
  • There is not a literal heaven or hell.
  • After physical death, there is no continuing individualized existence.

I don’t know about you, but this has been quite enlightening to me. Hopefully, after reading about each of these faiths, it will be easy to consider several questions:

  • Do all of these religions follow the same God?
  • Does each of these religions follow their own God who gets along with the other Gods?
  • Is there but one true God, and hence only one true faith?

Now that we know to a degree what each of these mainstream religions believe, let’s see if we can sort out which one or ones are following the one true God.

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2ITJ1wj

Website: http://bit.ly/1RQnYJ8          

 

New Covenant Ministries - Ministerios NuevoPacto                                                                                       

Sunday & Thursday Worship 7:00PM - Domingo & Jueves 7:00PM                                                                                                                                           

Harbor Church, Block Island                                                                                                                   

Endnotes                                                                                                                                                  

17Quran, 20 Nov. 2013 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Quran>.                                                            

18“Five Pillars of Islam: Faith”, 25 Nov. 2013 <http:// www.islamic-dictionary.com/what-is-islam/ five-pillars-islam-faith>.                                                                                                                     

19“Seventh Day Adventists Teach Jesus is Michael”. 13 Oct. 2013 <http://www.jesus-is-savior.com/False%20 Religions/Seventh- Day%20Adventist/michael.htm>.                                         

20David J. Stewart, Settling the Soul Sleep Controversy. 14 Oct. 2013 <http://www.jesus-issavior.com/ False%20Doctrines/soul_sleep.htm>.                                                                                  

21“Jehovah’s Witnesses: Salvation Through Works”, 28 Oct. 2013 <www.watchman.org>.                

22“Top 10 Bizarre Mormon Beliefs”, 18 Oct. 2013 <http://listverse.com/2008/02/04/ top-10-bizarre-mormon-beliefs/>.  

23“More “Facts” Mormons Won’t Tell You Up Front”, 22 Oct. 2013 <http://www.1timothy4-13.com/files/ bible/mormonfacts2.html>.                                                                                                 

24“1 Beliefs, Creeds, and Doctrines”, 28 Nov. 2013 <www.uunashua.org>.

 

 


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Synopsis
ARE YOU THINKING OF JOINING ANY OF THESE MAINSTREAM RELIGIONS: ISLAM, SEVENTH DAY ADVENTIST, JEHOVAH’S WITNESS, THE CHURCH OF THE LATTER DAY SAINTS, UNITARIAN?
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