Television Personality Looks Anew At Religion

When Barbara Walters decided to do a special on God last year, she had never done a piece about religion before.

"I don't remember ever doing an interview about God," said the noted television personality, who added that religion was something she hadn't thought about that much. Her parents had not been religious and she really didn't know about how her friends felt about it.

"Before the show ran," she recalled in a recent interview, "at dinner parties I'd ask how many people believed they were going to heaven. Not many did."

So you can imagine her surprise when her special, Heaven: Where Is It? How Do We Get There? was the most highly-rated show of the year on ABC. It was so popular that the network plans to air it again this Friday night, Dec. 22. On the show, Walters interviews Roman Catholic Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, Rabbi Neil Gilman, Joel Osteen, the Reverend Calvin Butts, the Dalai Lama, actor Richard Gere, as well as a Muslim scholar, a scientist and a convicted terrorist.

Doing the show made Walters think more about religion, she said, though she doesn't normally discuss her own beliefs. "I'm a journalist," she says. "It just wouldn't be appropriate."

But Walters says she thinks that “it is enormously comforting to have faith and to believe in heaven and that things are going to be happy, and to have the Rose Kennedy point-of-view,” referring to the late mother of slain President John F. Kennedy, a woman noted for her devout Catholic faith.

"And of course the whole discussion of science, the belief in intelligent design, is very provocative," added Walters.

The famous interviewer, however, does talk easily about her upbringing and what she believes has given her the values by which she lives. "I had no religious education," Walters said. “I'm Jewish but because my father considered himself an atheist, religion was not part of our life. I never went to Sunday school." Her father, Lou Walters, who owned the Latin Quarter, one of the hottest night clubs of his era, did come home on Friday nights, when the Jewish Sabbath begins. Her mother, Walters added, "never gave [religion] much thought, though we did make a point, once in a while to light candles on Friday nights. But we never observed Yom Kippur or fasted. We never celebrated the holidays." She never went to temple, never remembers going to a Passover seder, nor celebrating Hannukah.

"We didn't have a Christmas tree either,” she recalled. “But I have a Christmas tree now. I love Christmas."

When Walters decided to do the show about heaven, it's original title was "Heaven: Does It Exist?" The network rejected that title. There had been an earlier show called "Resurrection" where the ratings were not as good as expected, possibly because of the way the show was promoted. They felt that people did not want to have their beliefs questioned and wouldn't tune in if they were.

During her many interviews for the piece, Walters was twice told that she was going to go to hell---once by an incarcerated, failed suicide bomber and once by the Rev. Ted Haggard, who said that if she wasn't a born-again Christian there was no guarantee she would go to heaven. "I was very cool," she recalled, "but it was a little chilling." Haggard’s interview was removed from the new version of the show because the national evangelical leader resigned from his Colorado Springs megachurch ministry after a male escort alleged that he and Haggard had had sexual relations. An interview with Houston-based megachurch pastor and televangelist Joel Osteen was added to the show.

Walters said the interview that affected her the most was one with the Dalai Lama. "He said the purpose of life was to be happy. That comes from being warm-hearted and compassionate." So, she said with a laugh, "for two weeks I was warm-hearted and compassionate….There was not an ounce of competitiveness in me…Then things went back to normal.”

Before she interviewed the Dalai Lama, she had rarely had anything to do with religion. "If my friends were Christian, or Jewish or Mormon I might know that, but I didn't know whether they would go to church or temple." She went a couple of times to hear the prominent black preacher Calvin Butts at the Abyssinian Church in Harlem. "Maybe twice I went to temple in a blue moon. When I was married to Merv (Adelson) we celebrated the holidays because it was important to him.” She adopted a daughter, Jackie, with her first husband Lee Guber. "Lee cared, so Jackie went to Sunday school. She considers herself Jewish.”

Because she did not have a religious upbringing, where she learn her values? "I don't remember my parents ever lecturing me or discussing values," she said. “I'm not sure where a moral compass comes from. Some people just don't have it. How do you get from meanness to kindness?” Walters added that because her sister, who died two years ago, had been mentally handicapped, “I grew up with a compassion I might not have had."

She also grew up in show business, first in Boston, where her father owned his first nightclub, then in New York. She was exposed to all sorts of famous people who were admired by everyone. "Yet because I knew them, I knew they had problems just like everyone else. I had a sense of balance and understanding I might not have had. I knew it didn't matter how important or celebrated or rich you were. It had nothing to do with the way you led your life."

Walters recalled that her father treated everybody the same, from the show girls to the celebrities. "I grew up with very little prejudice because all different kinds of people worked for my father, from all different religions to all different countries."

Perhaps it was that same kind of understanding that she found so appealing in the Dalai Lama. "I loved his own warm-heartedness, I loved my hand in his, his humor. I sat in the rain with hundreds of Buddhist monks of all ages listening to him. He is very appealing. He says he is not a god, that he is a teacher. He's very modest. If I believed in anything I would believe in reincarnation. That would help explain some of the misery in life….and that perhaps the next life will be better."

--Walters was interviewed by On Faith moderator Sally Quinn

Comments (94)

Evangelist Faith LC Bryant:

I believe that those who reject God are afraid of the committment required to follow Him; they are unwilling to yield to the precepts, responsiblities and accountabilities of Christianity. Interestingly, Lucifer was ejected from heaven because of the very same unwillingness. People have the right to choose whichever path they will in this life, and no one understands better than I that truth lives in the mind of the believer. That said, it is my prayer that we will all come to the knowledge of God's Truth before it is eternally too late. Now, God sees us through the veil of His Son's sacrifice, but upon His Second Coming, He will be a judge and a judge alone, who will dispense rewards and consequences according to our work.

Anonymous:

Barbara,

I am so glad that you have chosen to explore faith as an issue and take America along for the ride.

However, I would take exception to the Dali Lama's statement that the purpose of life is to be happy. I think the purpose of life is to build and nurish relationships, both to God and to each other.

Even the most corrupt, evil person can be happy, so happiness for its own sake is not a noble goal. And while every person tries to avoid pain and adversity, both are necessary for a person to develop a sence of empathy and to grow spiritually.

I wish you could have included Billy Graham in your special. He has such a way of being humble and still not backing away from God's message. When I think of faith in today's world, I think of him. I think you may have had a different experience with Christianity interviewing him than you did with Ted Haggard.

Peace

vince porter:

I think, therefore I don't believe in God.

Douglas:

Whether everyone wants to admit it or not, sooner or later, God will become important in our lives. I also grew up with only a surface orientation of religion and have spent the years of my life trying to define my place in the many religions and the thousands of varieties of churches in the US. I do believe in one God, but that man from all corners of the globe have organized one religion after another, whether Christian, Islam, Jewish, Hindi in order to workship God. And far too often, in definig each religion, the feeling of separateness and speciality has caused men of God to hate and even kill other men of God who define expression differently.

Alex:

Question? Barbara

Is a rumor going around about you having a bedside interview with Fidel Castro can you confirm this?


http://ihatecastro.blogspot.com/

Stephen:

Barbara,

If you had been given the opportunity of having a Jewish education you would have learned at an early age that the purpose of life is to be happy and the importance of compassion toward others.

It's nice that you found a teacher who could express this beautiful concept in a way that spoke to you.

Walter Hoenig:

Of course there is a heaven Boy George Bush gets to go there because he listened to God and invaded Iraq.

Gerald Hall:

Faith is far more than merely going to church (or temple or mosque). It has to do with one's personal relationship with God. Jesus Christ said that the most important commandments were to love God above all and to love one's neighbor as you would yourself. Jesus is revered as a great prophet and teacher in both Islam and Judaism yet how many Muslims or Jews actually know much about what Jesus said or what he taught? As a Christian, I know that only through knowing Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and saviour from my sins will I be allowed to go to Heaven to be with God the Father. I am also married to a wonderful woman who is an ordained United Methodist minister who is a walking, talking miracle and testament to God's strength, power and love in the midst of tremendous adversity. The one true God....the God that Abraham knew and worshiped is a God who loves each and every one of us and wishes for us to do the same for their fellow human beings, great or small, regardless of their faith or lack thereof. God is not a being who teaches hatred. He is also a just God who, unlike any man, is the only being who can truly judge justly. Everyone....read what Jesus had to say. Then you will find the path to love, peace and justice for yourself and all humanity.

Cayambe:

Barbara,

I regret your decisiion to exclude Ted Haggard from the repeat broadcast coming up. He is after all one element of the reality of the Christian faith's. There is the bad and the good both, and it is often not easy to distinguish one from the other.

I was an admiror of Jimmy Swaggart long before he fell from grace. I thought he had the best show on TV, the best sermons, the best delivery of them. To this day he has set the standard for public begging of forgiveness from the Lord. I had not even a suspician that he might be sinning when we weren't looking. Knowing this, having observed case after case of it over the past 50 years I have a difficult time granting absolute authority to those whe preach and explain God's desires and wishes for us. Don't you?

Tomcat:

Speaking of the Dalai Lama, I had a dream in which a man in a pinstripe baseball uniform is greeting the Dalai Lama. The were both holding soft-serve ice cream cones. The caption was "DH greets DL in DQ".

Ernie:

Religion is a lot of things to a lot of people. Men (and women) have created religions to understand the world around us; to define our purpose in that world and to learn ways to live in love and harmony with each other. Perhaps, God is already in all of us and we are just looking out instead of in.

Jean Nziengui:

I have nothing against her hosting a show on ABC
She had host recently host two show, which i found utterly boring...I think that ABC give her to much air on prime time evening. I think, you should find another alternative not her again.
Cordialy
Jean

Bryan:

All the faiths of the world have a lot more in common with each other than they would like to admit. If each faith was a thread, together they would weave a tapestry. It is only then that you can see the bigger picture. Christians that insist heaven if found only through Jesus are no different than others that profess it is only through their religion that you can find heaven. Heaven is here on earth and can be found by following the lessons taught in whatever scripture you are following. Religion is enviromental - you most likely will be what you are raised to me. In Barbara's case that would be none.

Walter Hoenig:

Joel Olsteen? Is this what American Christianity has sunk to? Going to a megachurch to be told that all that greed is a good thing?

DW:

It is a sad testimony to human intelligence when one refuses to, at very least, consider that there is a deity above mortal man that planned and crafted our very existence. To refute such, when realizing that our own kind can create or invent, limits us to our own wisdom, which has bestowed nothing for us but futile civilizations, dogma and hypothesis of life that come and go, never conclusive. Very soon we shall see the realization that we have overall rejected God since Eden. There, God saw that man wanted to depend on his own wisdom. God is only hands off because of mans decision..but only for a short while longer. This, we shall see - perhaps even in the lifetime of this generation.

anonymus:

Barbara, you mentioned that you love Christmas. But do you know the real meaning of Christmas? God sent his son as a gift of atonement for our sins (and we all are sinners). This is a gift from God for all who trust in Him and understand that He came to pay the price on the cross for our sins. He loves us that much!

God bless you Barbara.

Falada:

I'm hugely sorry about the decision to delete Ted Haggard's segment from the rebroadcast. Surely keeping it would have made the entire show far more thought-provoking.

A truthful Christian:

Many people have read the Bible and thoroughly know what it says. God knows our hearts. There are people who are not necessarily seeking, wholeheartedly, who God is. That is why their understanding is limited. Or they can't fully believe that there is a God or that Jesus Christ died for all of our sins and transgressions. When a person truly accepts Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior and desire a need to have God rule, guide and lead their life, then the mysteries of this world will begin to unfold. I thank Jesus for doing this for me and for all of us, to cleanse our minds of the sins that we have committed and are still committing. Jesus Christ is our salvation. Jesus Christ is our salvation.

M_Noiset:

You _removed_ your interview with Ted Haggard?? Wouldn't it have been a lot better to leave it in?

You had an interesting interview, but when it turned into a valuable commentary on Rev. Haggard's sincerity, you suppressed it. Why? I doubt if many journalists would have done the same.

Bad call, Barbara.

Lorainne:

All that you read is non-fiction, unless it is fiction.

robins:

Commentary by Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan:
The trees of the forest silently await God's Blessing.

The law of gravitation is working from two sides: from the side of the earth which draws all that belongs to the earth, and from the side of the spirit (spirituality) which attracts the soul towards it. Even those who are unconscious of this law of gravitation are also striving for perfection, for the soul is being continually drawn towards the spirit. They are striving for perfection just the same. In the small things of everyday life a man is never satisfied with what he has. He always wants more and more, be it a higher rank, wealth, or fame. He is always striving for this.

This shows that the heart is like a magic bowl. However much you pour into it, it only becomes deeper. It is always found to be empty. The reason why man is never satisfied is that he is unconsciously striving for perfection. Those however who strive consciously after perfection have a different way. Nevertheless, each atom of the universe is meant to struggle and strive in order to become perfect one day. In other words, if a seer happens to be in the mountains he will hear the mountains cry continually, 'We are waiting for that day when something in us will awaken. There will come a day of awakening, of unfoldment. We are silently awaiting it.' If he went into the forest and saw the trees standing there they would tell him that they too were waiting patiently. One can feel it. The more one sits there the more one feels that the trees are waiting for the time when there will be an unfoldment. So it is with all beings. But man is so absorbed in his everyday actions and his greed that he seems to be unaware of that innate desire for unfoldment. It is his everyday tasks, his avariciousness, his cruelty to other beings, that keep him continually occupied, and that is why he cannot hear the continual cry of his own soul to awaken, to unfold, to reach upward, to expand, and to go towards perfection.

Dear Barbara,
As Dalai Lama says the purpose of life is to be happy, well he has the right idea! In order to be happy it seems we can just strive to be happy in all situations (which is not easy). Just making the effort to do this may take many lifetimes but it seems a worthwhile goal to practice as it would eventually aid the individual to understand everyone, even the sinner. That does not mean we have to follow the sinner but to at least feel compassion as God would certainly do. As we try not to worry & be happy, this practice alone can lead us to wonderful qualities such as trust, acceptance, faith, and love to God and ALL of humanity. If we think unity - not separateness we might all eventually find God within ourselves.

Tony:

I reject god because there is no evidence for him. I don't believe in blue elephants, either.

Andrew:

How can you look at Ted Haggard, Jimmy Swaggart, the Crusades, the Inquisition, the Albigensians, slavery, discrimination, ad infinitum, all committed by people who claimed to have accepted Jesus Christ as their personal savior, and still think that doing so will make you a better person and make a better world?

Walter Hoenig:

"How can you look at Ted Haggard, Jimmy Swaggart, the Crusades, the Inquisition, the Albigensians, slavery, discrimination, ad infinitum, all committed by people who claimed to have accepted Jesus Christ as their personal savior, and still think that doing so will make you a better person and make a better world?"

Did Jesus ever say that He came to make the world a better place? I'm not trying to be a smart alec, I'm really curious....

Tib Buddhist:

I am born Tibetan Buddhist and am one still. But because of the modern education I received and scientific and secular outlook I developed, I am confused at times because many of the things I believed in growing up no longer stand up to my rational mind's scrutiny. For example, we were led to believe that many of the priests have ability to be reincarnated, ie. reborn after death, in any person they chose to. Reality, however, does not accord with belief. Modern science and medicine has proved conclusively that many of the attributes associated with mind or soul (the one that transmigrates) reside in brain. Eg: They would say: "That little boy is a reincarnate of that lama, because he remembered his village from the lama's previous life". But memory is all in the brain cells, not something abstract (otherwise, a person with Alzeimer should be able to remember then, because he still has a soul!).

Yet I do not reject my faith (Buddhism), or my spirituality (not necessarily Buddhism). Religion and faith has value even to the modern, rational man. Their role is to make a better human being of us all and bring about a better society. They provide us comfort, stability and guidance in times of need, sadness and chaos. Many of the mental illness need not be dealt with drugs only; a better outlook or philosophy on life that a religion like Buddhism provides can help one deal with depression etc. Religion has kept mankind sane (even as it caused many wars and suffering too) as it progressed scientifically and technologically at incredible pace in the last few centuries.

Yet sometimes, I know if and when someone close dies, I will be not be comforted the way I used to be...


Pat:

As a practicing Buddhist, I do not reject God, I do not accept the teaching of God. External happiness. The reason for faith is to become happy, internal happiness. Buddhism is a practice of becoming happy for oneself and happy for others. Nothing to do with God or anyone else but my responsibility for my own happiness and the happiness of others. There is no seperation between the person and the environment in which they live. Neither can be happy without the other being happy, the person and the environment. happines for oneself and others.

Anonymous:

Wow. I didn't realize how many people blindly followed religion, i.e. truly believe in a god that can answer prayers.

I love when I see "Jesus said________". My response "So?"

Hopefully, Christians won't lead us back into the dark ages.

Elizabeth S.:

The interview with Ted Haggard should remain in the show, especially knowing that he did not practice what he preached.

In this case I find it to be a good example of how one uses their faith and religion to tell others "do as I say, not as I do". This is just another case of a "religious" person condeming others who follow a different path but who in reality are committing the very sins they preach about.

kennytal:

Merry Christmas to all, including the Christ deniers.

Michael Schwalm:

Humans are infinitesimal specks in an infinite universe. We can sense that there is a higher power and intelligence but we can never know it; we are too limited. The life-force for growth and survival is in our genes and if we are in tune with our life-force and use our God-given rational minds, then understanding, tolerance, respect for other humans and life-forms, and compassion will follow. Religions organized around so called “sacred” texts that purport to be the literal word of God are patently irrational and have nothing to do with spirituality or God; they are corporate cults that deal in money, politics, sexual domination, and endless brainwashing. The truth is always free.

Karen:

Does anyone take Barbara Walters seriously as a "journalist"? She has associated herself with mentally unstable idiots (Rosie O'Donnell and Joyce Behar). She is not worth watching, or wiping my feet on. Yesterday the VIEW became the ultimate stupid women show by not giving one hard question to Hillary Clinton. All these bimbos shame smart, educated women. Barbara Walters needs to just go retire with all the rich liberals on Nantucket and lisp her way into irrelevancy.

MedallionOfFerret:

Ted Haggard is rejected 'cause he got caught. Y'all know we are all sinners, right? Then it seems to follow that your validity is based on whether you got caught or not, right?

Heaven & Brittany's chastity are equally valid topics in the entertainment world.

Joel:

THE LAST PEOPLE I WANT TALKING ABOUT GOD OR REPRESENTING IDEAS OF FAITH TO ME ARE TV PERSONALITIES.

EVANGELISTS ON TV ARE EVIL AND WILL BURN IN THEIR OWN SELF-INFLICTED HELL FOR STEALING FROM POOR ELDERLY PEOPLE.
TALK SHOW PERSONALITIES ARE INANE.
OPINIONS OF ON-AIR PERSONALITIES DO NOT COUNT FOR WISDOM.

Yes, I am shouting.

Jean:

The worst thing that happen to all the best philosophies in the world is religion.

Mel:

Since the time that Adam disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden, man has been sinning. It is man's nature to sin. Under the Old Covenant of the Law, sins were paid for by blood sacrifices. Under the New Covenant, Jesus became our ultimate blood sacrifice on the cross, and because He was without sin, His sacrifice was perfect, resulting in sin itself being cancelled out, for everyone who believes. The only requirement is faith.

For a more in depth discussion, you can read the Book of Galatians in the Bible.

Carey:

"Because she did not have a religious upbringing, where she learn her values?"

What a sad, narrow-minded view. What would ever give you the idea that morality is born of silly superstition? Why do so many people - even those who are not particularly religious - think that values can only come from a religious upbringing? Obviously, religious upbringing didn't do much for the likes of the aforementioned Ted Haggard or Jimmy Swaggart. It didn't do much for the guys who crashed those planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. One could make the argument that a religious upbringing does more harm to one's values than being raised in an environment of compassion for one's fellow man, period. God, if such a thing exists, probably doesn't care whether you worship "him" or not, and probably doesn't care whether you believe "he" exists. What kind of petty brat of a god would care about such a thing? If you had an aquarium full of sea monkeys, would you honestly fret over things like "sins" or how they worship you? Why do Christians, Jews, Moslems, etc. think that god is such a petulant, needy little teenager? If there is a god (there isn't, by the way), all he really wants is for us to enjoy ourselves without interfering with the enjoyment of others. That's it. The whole bread and wine thing, the whole not eating pork or shellfish, the whole crashing planes into buildings, is so far beneath our purpose. It's a bit of a cliche, but get a life, people.

jamalmalik:

Jamal read it.
Thanks

Bill Fleischhauer:

I've never seen a comglomeration of diverse,religiously disoriented thought as the foregoing. Not only did some of the answers stray (or even start with) from the thesis point,but what was included was for the most part illiterate/jibberish. It supports my thinking that religion is entirely based on emotion and not reasoning. And we all know what our emotions can do to our reasoning.

Billfleisch

Todd:

Evangelist Faith LC Bryant - I believe that you should keep your religion to yourself. You are just as much a zealot as the Muslim imams demanding death to all Americans. The major component of both Christianity and Islam that makes both of them look and act ridiculous are the ideas of forced conversion [either by word or by sword] and the exclusionary mentality of us vs. them. Grow up. Jesus taught love, tolerance and compassion, none of which your retrograde simplistic interpretation of Christianity endorses in practice. Evangelical Christians are by in large hateful towards those they disapprove of, intolerant and have compassion limited to those who worship and live according to their beliefs only. When it comes to love, tolerance and compassion your kind talk the talk, but almost none of you walk the walk.

Carey:

Mel - your god is an angry bloodthirsty god. I'll pass on worhsipping that, thanks.

sok7:

Where did she get her values is a valid question - not because non-religious people do not or cannot have moral values, but because some people who do not subscribe to one of the religious or philosophical orders try to substitute their feelings for true morality. 'I feel I am moral and thus I am moral' is a fallacy. Any 'morality' that is ego-centric is not moral at all. Ego corrupts all.

Yes I know that ego can and does corrupt even those who have faith and claim to have found God, so save the keystrokes everybody. Where did she get her values is still a valid question.

Carey:

Sok7 - yes, it's a valid question, but it was asked in the context of religion. That's what made it narrow-minded. The question itself is interesting, the context is bigoted.

Mark:

I reject absolutely the comment above by Walter Hoenig about Joel Olsteen. He stated that "Is this what American Christianity has sunk to? Going to a megachurch to be told that all that greed is a good thing?" Obviously Walter has never listened to Mr. Osteen. Mr. Osteen has never said or implied that "greed is good thing." Please Mr. Hoenig, tell me what sermom Mr. Osteen said this. If you truly have listened to his sermons you will know they are all numbered (three digit numbers) and are all available on DVD and many are available free on the Internet at www.joelosteen.com. So please lets us all know what sermon it was Mr. Hoenig. In truth Joel has never preached this, and if Mr. Hoenig had listened to any of Joel's sermons he would have never heard any of the "prosperity gospel" the right-wing fundamentalists falsely accuse him of. What Joel is saying is that God wants us to improve ourselves, to not be satisfied with our sinful lives. Why is that message so threatening to the right-wing fundamentalists like Mr. Haggard and the Southern Baptist Convention?

Bob Pyle:

Good people, regardless of your religious convictions, just please remember that the concept of Christianity is simple, and can be boiled down into two statements. Everything else has been promulgated by man over the centuries. They are (1) Jesus Christ is who He said He was (the son of God); and (2) There will be a Judgment Day, and it will be terrible for almost all of us including me. You can add, subtract, deny, evade, rationalize, quibble, ignore, laugh, cry, or ridicule, but it will not change anything of the truth Christ brought during the short time frame of his work. Most of us have sold our souls for a bowl of pottage, and it will go down hard for eternity. Believe it; do not doubt.

RuachX:

I think that there is one key element that often gets missed in these discussions: that sometimes religion and spirituality become mutually exclusive, regardless of the faith being discussed. People get those two concepts confused and some think that the terms are interchangeable. Although they can be, they are most often not.

In order to correctly delineate between religion and spirituality for myself, I give myself a very short litmus test: Am I saying this word or performing this action because someone said that it's the right thing to do? Or have I searched my heart and soul and come away with the feeling that this is the most beneficial word to say/the most beneficial action to perform? If the answer is "yes" to the former, then I am practicing a religion. If it is the latter, then I am moving as I believe Spirit would have me move.

You see, I think that one's relationship with (their perception of) God is a personal thing. Or, at least, my relationship with my perception of God is a personal thing. No one else has the right to dictate what my relationship with God is supposed to look like. In fact, unless I'm hurting another person, my relationship with God is nobody else's business unless I choose to share it with others. I seek to discover what God's voice sounds like to me, how I believe Spirit leads me, and the difference (if any) between what I want and what Spirit requires -- which, for me, has always been only what is most beneficial for my journey. I perceive God to be loving, kind, and big enough to be far more than my pea-sized imagination is capable of dreaming Him to be. I say "Him", by the way, because that is what feels most comforting to me. Feel free to substitute your own gender-based pronoun, if you'd like.

Anyway, because my relationship with God is so personal, I don't have a problem with the labels that other people put on their God Box -- and I so enjoy the enlightenment that I experience when I explore faith traditions that seem different from my own. They only seem different on the surface, though; once I really get into the sacred texts, teachers, and the follow-ship of other faiths, they really are not so different from the form of Christianity that helps me find meaning in my own life.

And I find that people in this country are so funny -- especially my fellow Christians. They are like the European Americans who don't want to believe that unless their parents just got off the boat, they are either part Native, part African, or part both. These Christians run to the KJV the moment one mentions the fact that as Abrahamic faiths, Islam and Judeo-Christianity are blood brothers, siblings in faith borne of the tribe of Abraham. Heaven forbid they should ever have to express their own thoughts! They seem to have become so reliant on one Biblical translation that they seem to not actually think at all; their answers are usually regurgitated KJV pablum spouted by rote without reason. You ask them, "What if this were you? What would you do?", and the answer inevitably becomes, "That wouldn't happen to me." Heh. Whatever blows your hair back.

I am astounded at how quickly afraid those entrenched in religion become at the mere mention of something in another faith making sense. So afraid of being called herectics, they'd rather reject everything outside . . . say, the KJV, than give any serious thought to even the tiniest thread that strikes a chord of similarity or familiarity between their faith expression and those of other faith expressions.

I think they're afraid of peace. I think that they're still living in the Crusades, in the Dark Ages of spirituo-religious philosophy and practice -- and I think that they're afraid of having to apologize for all of the hateful things that have been done since the original splits in faith traditions began. Too many people make too much money on war, and when they make war in the name of whatever-name-they-have-for-God, they make more money without having to sully their own hands with the blood of the innocents caught in the crossfire.

My God, if it were discovered that we were once all of the same faith -- that we could again be all of the same faith, regardless of what names we babble when we pray -- what else could we learn to stop fighting over?

What if we stopped trying to legislate how other people live and just concentrated on cleaning up our own little corners of the world? Gosh, the billion-dollar war machine might just break down. We might all just get along.

Can't have that, now can we?

Mark:

Creationists don't want it both ways. You may have heard the ridiculous creationist demand that schools (i.e. public schools) should teach "the controversy" (translation: teach creationism). However, I get e-mail all the time at the Christian School I work at from parents, teachers, and church members notifying us of evolution books that they want banned from the book fairs at the school. So the creationist/fundamentalists really don't want it both ways. All they want is their weak fundamentalism instead of Jesus. How sad.

Another example is the most recent request to ban the book "Conversations with God" by Neale Donald Walsch. The right-wing fundamentalists are going all out to ban this book.

There is hope. I look to a book like "God's Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It" by Jim Wallis as finally someone standing up directly to the lies of fundamentalism.

Robert:

New Orleans, Tsunami in Thaiand, Iraq, Sudan, where is God's compassion?

Mel:

It is liberating to know that your sins are cleansed so that you can have fellowship with God.

Having fellowship with God is worth infinitely more than appearing uncool or unlearned in the eyes of men.

paul:

What makes you think God's compassion is limited to what happens on earth. Just because people die or even that they suffer doesn't mean that God doesn't have compassion. I beleive that what happens on earth is part of a test do determine whether we will be servants of God and be worthy of heaven or if we only think of ourselves and will go to hell with all the others that think that way. We all have free will to decide for ourselves what we want to do. Sometimes the test is a negative one - what will we do when we suffer. Sometimes the test is a positive one - what will we do when everything goes right. Many times the positive tests are harder to pass than then negative ones because if we are arrogant or think to highly of ourselves we will fail

Jim:

It's terribly touching that people think they're so amazing that there MUST be a divine creature that oversaw (oversees) their existence.

Alas, so many people I know are petty, bitter and unimaginative that - well, frankly - the idea of divine inspiration is disrespectful. The way most of us live our lives - if there was a god, he would kill us all for our shallowness and baseness.

chansee:

George W. Bush confirmed my decision to reject the Christian faith (I was brought up as a Catholic). He claimed to have talked to his God all the time, before, during and after he decided to invade Iraq and claimed that he was doing God's work. If his god told hiom to invade another with false reasons and caused to kill all those innocent civilians, then his god could not be a good god.

I guess Bush must have talked to his god and was told not to do anything to stop Israel from killing all those Lebanese, mostly women and children, then his god is not a compassionate god.

George W. Bush gave me really good reason to reject Jesus and the Christian faith.

Thank you, George.

RuachX:

I believe that science proves theology, and that theology proves science. For instance, the commonly-accepted version of the Judeo-Christian Bible says that it took God six days to create Earth and all Her inhabitants. But the Hebrew word for "days" can also be translated as "ages" -- which is about how old science believes Earth to be. So who's wrong? Well, nobody.

That's just Judeo-Christianity talking. Although I haven't explored this in other faiths, I'd be willing to bet butts to dogbones that whenever there are translations of translations of translations of texts that were written thousands (or even hundreds) of years ago, the same kinds of glitches would likely crop up.

Personally, if I am unable to say that this theory or that is absolutely wrong, then I have no choice but to concede that the theory is right, according to the perception of the theorist. Why are so many people afraid to allow their children the opportunity to consider more than the parents' own points-of-view? Are you afraid that there will be questions that you can't answer, and so will be left feeling diminished in your childrens' eyes? What's wrong with "I don't know" as an answer to your child's questions about God or spirituality, or science? Why are you afraid to explore these questions with your children, to do the research and the reading -- and to teach your children to do the same?

We fear that which we do not understand. Yet, if we do not allow ourselves a measure of understanding about viewpoints different from our own, we will continue to live in the darkness and fear that breeds hatred and violence.

What if there is no "one way"? Why are so many people afraid to honor all paths to Spirit -- including the scientific paths that may lead to Nirvana and/or enlightenment? There are those who seem unable to grasp a completely spiritual explanantion of how we came to be, and there are others who seem unable to grasp a reality that includes unquantifiables. When they come to the discussion table, they are both right, according to each person's worldview. The key is not in trying to prove one another wrong, but in creating bridges of understanding based on the threads or points-of-view that make our beliefs similar. And since we are all human, there will always be threads that bind us -- physical as well as spiritual.

My challenge to myself is to learn all that I can about the science of evolution and find the similarities that link it to what I believe to be the archeology of our spiritual birth. I won't have the children in my life afraid of asking the hard questions, especially the questions that I can't answer without doing some research and reading. Those are the questions that challenge me to learn and grow. And to date, learning and growing with my children -- nay, *because* of my children -- has never left me feeling diminished in their eyes. In fact, one of the answers they most enjoy from me is, "I don't know, but let's find out together." It's also one of my favorite answers to give. Well that and, "I dunno. What do you think?"

Why are so many people afraid to say that to their kids?

I guess that's what makes me a 21st century kind of Christian: I'm not so sure that my path to God is the end-all, be-all "right" path. My path feels right for me, but it may not be the right path for you, or you, or you over there. Your relationship with what-you-perceive-Divinity-to-be is a personal thing -- that is, if you perceive Divinity at all, and it's fine if you don't. It is not my place to dictate to you what I think your relationship to, or perception of, Divinity should or shouldn't be. Frankly, it's none of my business. If you asked me, I'd tell you what I believe and I'd endeavor to learn more about what you believe. The rest is up to you.

If God showed up in a white lab coat, clutching a microscope, or if you saw Einstein or Aristotle reading the Qur'an, would they be diminished in your eyes? They wouldn't be in mine.

I think that those would make for fun, fun conversations, myself.

Peter Heechong Kim:

I have read all comments about God and religion, and their beliefs whether he or she has a faith in God or no faith in God. But we human being is limited and powerless and the life span is only 100 years. We all act like a god who is able to control our own destiny and could live forever. We like other animals are born and grow and produce children and get old and eventually died. We exist in this world for a short period of time in comparing to the universal. Our thought and ideas come from the culture where we live on and there is nothing to new ideas or thought outside of the culture which has nurtured us. The only thing is that we become humble and seek for the truth. Whether we believe or not, I know the truth that there is God in the past, the present and forever. God is the creator of heaven and hell too.

harvey:

There are so many different beliefs in the world ,as for me I place my faith in Jesus as the light of the world ,

Hans:

For a long time now it has been said that GOD and LOVE are the most misunderstood and misused concepts since the inception of human (or any other) language.

Peter:

Warm feelings aren’t bliss just as the cold truth isn’t hell either. It is how we are attached to our selves and egos that we normally find in others what we look for in our own gratifications. Incidentally, we are ignorant of others as we only recognize what we feel from them.

The experience of freedom from attachments especially of the body such as feelings and senses burden our liberty to be our true persons whether we feel warm or cold here on earth. When we emerge from our bodies in time of death, we are free, we are light, and pure conscience. Unfortunately, others who haven’t developed their conscience to a purer form of establishment are doubtful. You cannot really know or believe anything unless you know it and understand it. Most religions have prepared the inner person or soul in our lifetime for this special occasion.

There are also the possibilities of miracles, even in death and the beyond. It is possible that those who haven’t discovered their souls through no fault of their own are innocent. And a lot also rests with one’s ability to let go of the hurt and forgive their trespassers.

In dying, you begin to loose your awareness, and all things become distorted as you gradually become distanced from them. Not even your closest friends or loved ones can make any sense to you the body, feelings and senses. But the gift of understanding begins to take shape as we truly let loose of our attachments, and become light and free as we pass. It is probably the only stage where you can see another person from a pure conscience. Only that it comes in a time when we are not able to practice it in this world. We move on to become united with all in harmony but without the body, feelings and senses. If happiness, warm, and good are physical feelings, imagine what they become when they are transformed into spiritual entities! It is the realm of pure conscience.

The honest truth should never be condemned or punishable. It is a remedy for a healthy soul. If only we can become honest and not shaped our conscience by material attachments of selfishness and egotistic desires, we can definitely achieve heaven on earth. But the chance of that happening when we are born into a material dominated world is extraordinary. It is possible by transcending the body during Baptism with fire and rebirth – both of which purifies the soul.

Death could be celebrated as a special transition in the passage of life.

oldhonky:

Anyone who would like to find out how to become a 21st-Century Christian without turning into a bigot or a rightwing-nutcase can read

The Phoenix Affirmations

by Eric Elnes

Jossey-Bass/Wiley, San Francisco, 2006

B-Man:

Barbara, I think you have it just right. You're smart, intelligent, compassionate, wise, nice....so many things that religious people are not, because they're so concerned about how THEY are going to heaven and people who aren't delusional like them are ungrateful heathens who are this, that, and the other, and are surely going straight to hell. The fact that you responded most warmly to the Dalai Lama speaks volumes. He's the real deal. Thank you so much for posting here.

Evangelist Faith LC Bryant:

I believe that those who reject God are afraid of the committment required to follow Him; they are unwilling to yield to the precepts, responsiblities and accountabilities of Christianity. Interestingly, Lucifer was ejected from heaven because of the very same unwillingness.

***************************************************

You have been misled.
Read 1 Chronicles 21 and 2 Samuel 24. There is almost word for word, the same story, except in 2 Samuel it says God caused David to take a census and 1 Chronicles says Satan moved David.
Not only does that appear to make Satan and God the same but the following would seem to bolster that opinion Isaiah 45:7 I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.

By the wa,= the name Satan does not appear in the Garden of Eden story in the Hebrew or Greek versions.

Now here is the crazy part. John said that Jesus helped God create everything , yet the Bible says that Satan took Jesus up to the mountain and Yes Satan promised the son of God more then God could- are you out of your mind?
Do yo really think the God that is supoposed to be able to save you would allow Satan do to anything He or She didn't want.

nobody knows about the hereafter and anyone that claims to is a liar
For the truth go to www.religionquestioned.com

Anonymous Pantheist:

I believe, as many Native Americans, that God is Nature. If you must anthropomorphize God, call her Mother Nature. God created man in his (man's) image. This is perfectly consistent with the theory (soon to be law) of evolution. The scriptures make interesting reading and have been useful in offering comfort and guidance to mankind during the unenlightened ages before the discovery of DNA.

We indeed should be worshipful of Nature, for it is the source of all life, and, in the life cycle of many chemical elements, does indeed provide re-incarnation.

verbatim:

Obviously, the worst of fanatical believers and non-believers have stayed away from this discussion. That made me read the whole thread.

Mel:"His (Jesus') sacrifice was perfect, resulting in sin itself being cancelled out, for everyone who believes. The only requirement is faith." Are you sure you have that right? Perhaps that explains why so many people profess the faith only to indulge in the canceled out sin.

Todd: "Evangelist Faith LC Bryant - I believe that you should keep your religion to yourself."
We should all keep our religion to ourselves, observe what we believe in but impose it on nobody
else.

SOK7 and Carey :"Where did she get her values is still a valid question."
Simple : From decent parents who cared to teach by example, maybe. From good books Barbara may have read. From associating with people who had values to share. Maybe even from a natural inclination.
I suspect the schools were not as bad then, ooh, thirty odd years ago, when she went to grade school. Lots of good sources for learning values.

What do I think? I think religion is a private matter to many of us. Ought not be paraded, nor used to moralize. Observed in quiet by living up to what is right, the golden rule perhaps.
If I pray it is my own business; what I say is between me and my God.
As to faith, it would be very presumptuous of me to believe that joining a church would come close enough for eternal salvation.

Deanna:

Take any single text from the Bible in isolation, and you can use it to justify or vilify almost any position. Many claim the Bible is the divine word of God, and I believe that is true. However, I'm not sure we have His Bible -- some of it, yes, but probably not all of it. "The Bible" has been compiled by men. Men made decisions about which texts were to be included and which were excluded. Men translated those texts from Aramaic, Greek, Hebrew, Latin, or whatever language the "original texts" were written in. The Bible is full of conflicting passages, especially if you are looking for a passage to justify your particular belief. Whether this is true of other "sacred texts" or not, I lack the wisdom or education to say.

Creationism or evolution? According to Genesis, God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh. Then again, Psalm 90:4 says, "For a thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night." Whose "time" are we using to measure creation?! The "path of evolution" and the "path of creation" are very nearly identical -- if you use God's time! And scientists have now discovered evidence that the universe was created in a "Big Bang." From Genesis, we read, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light 'day' and the darkness he called 'night.' And there was evening and there was morning -- the first day." Big Bang or God's Word? I really don't believe we have to choose.

Over and over, the Bible tells us that God's ways are not our ways -- and yet we continue to try to define and confine God with words, rules, laws -- all creations of man.

Do you believe God exists? Look around you: the mighty oceans, the vast expanse of stars, the majestic beauty of sunrises and sunsets, the earth's bounty, the fragile butterfly, the delicate splendor of flowers,the miracle of birth! Scientists explore the vast expanses of the universe and the microscopic parts of atoms and living cells, and they are amazed at the intricacy and order. Do you really believe this is some sort of accident -- a cosmic burp?

I believe these are the creations of God's hands, poured out as a blessing for all of His children. We are each of us beloved children of God. God loves each and every one of us so much, He took on human form, came to earth as the baby Jesus and the man Christ, and died an excrutiating, horrible death AS A HUMAN (setting aside his divinity) to pay the price of salvation for each of us sinners, each of His beloved children.

And what does He ask of us in return? "My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." John 15:12-13. Is this an easy command to follow? Emphatically, NO! Because, you see, all of God's children are my friends, my brothers and sisters. Christ calls me to love everyone as He loves me -- even to the point of giving my life for the sake of another. Do I believe this is what God asks of me? Yes. Will I do it? With God's help and guidance, anything is possible. Can I, with my human limitations, love those who would kill me or my child? Whose mouths preach hatred, prejudice, greed, and divisiveness, saying they speak for their god, who requires this of them? No.

Hate the sin, but love the sinner. That is what it all comes down to. "Forgive us our trespasses AS WE FORGIVE THOSE WHO TRESPASS AGAINST US." Have you ever really thought about what that means?

I believe the only way I can live my life is to ask the Holy Spirit to help me see the beloved child of God in every person and love them as Christ has asked me to. I cannot judge them -- only God can judge. He will judge me, not by the religion I chose to follow, nor by my works, for I cannot do the good He would have me do without His help and guidance. If I am saved, it is because Christ died for my sins. In gratitude for this gift of God's grace, I strive to love others as He loves me. In time, if we continue to follow this path -- set aside our differences and concentrate on our common humanity, God will use us to achieve peace on earth. I am heartened and encouraged by the efforts being made by leaders of the faithful to find common ground.

nmr:

For a good discussion on religion, see:

http://juliasweeney.blogspot.com/

Realist:

Tib Buddhist,
I agree with your point of view.

I'm an atheist and ex-Buddhist, but I still find many aspects of Buddhism helpful in my life.

I don't have much respect for other religious leaders - very little of what they say makes sense to me, but I always like to hear what the Dalai Lama has to say. He usually has something positive, rational and useful to contribute.

I was raised as a Christian, but Christianity just makes no sense at all to me. The Bible is full of contradictions. The God of the old testament seems like an angry hypocritical childish carricature of a human. He just loves to kill people - any silly excuse will do.

The whole business about God sacrificing his son makes no sense either. Why does God need to sacrifice his son to himself to convince himself to forgive people? It makes no sense! Does he just like to torture people? Did he allow Jesus to be tortured and killed just for dramatic effect? I understand where Dubya is coming from now.

If God loves people so much, why did he create humans knowing that he will torture most of us for eternity. The Bible is clearly not the word of God. I would expect a much higher standard of writing from God. I would expect God to at least be capable of coming up with a religion that was useful and makes sense.

Buddhism is one of very few religions that really can't be used to justify violence. It's one of very few religions I would be happy to see more of in the world.

Regards,
Realist (and Buddhist sympathiser)

Mel:

Dear Verbatim: if you believe that Jesus is the Son of God and paid the price for your sins, then that faith will save you.

You can experience the reality of God by believing in Jesus. God was and is and always will be awesome. One moment of experience is worth countless moments of speculation.

Bob:

Comment:

"Doing the show made Walters think more about religion, she said, though she doesn't normally discuss her own beliefs. "I'm a journalist," she says. "It just wouldn't be appropriate."

But Walters says she thinks that “it is enormously comforting to have faith and to believe in heaven and that things are going to be happy, and to have the Rose Kennedy point-of-view,” referring to the late mother of slain President John F. Kennedy, a woman noted for her devout Catholic faith.

"And of course the whole discussion of science, the belief in intelligent design, is very provocative," added Walters."

This thread is simply a joke, a mawkish, self-serving PR opportunity and nothing more.

Joanna:

Rev Haggard would have been an excellent example of a Christian.

A Christian is a person who understands that they are a sinner in need of a savior.

A Christian is a person who understands that Jesus' death is a substitution for our own death.(He took our place on the cross.)

A Christian is a person who believes in the diety of Jesus Christ.

A Christian is a person who, like Jesus, extends grace and love to sinners, even him or herself.

We, Christians are in constant prayer and petition, self-reflection, sin examination to become a reflection of Jesus' grace and mercy.

We are not a completed work until we are in heaven, anyone who looks at man or women and expects perfection will be very disappointed, for ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of the Almighty God.

Don't seek after happiness. Seek after an opportunity to love your brother as yourself. Then you will find a contentment that surpasses human undertanding.

I am constantly amazed by the efforts people will go to to fill the Jesus sized hole in their lives. Don't fill it with a Christmas tree, fill it with a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Ask questions, God is pleased when we seek after Him, for He loves us and wills that none would perish but all would have eternal life.

Brambleton:

I can only imagine what my life could have been had my wife not shared her Christian testimony with me. Granted, Christ charges her with sharing the Gospel to non-believers. But she didn't "force" the Gospel on me and she didn't make me choose to accept or not. And believe me, it took awhile.

She is the only person I've ever known to have complete strangers ask her what makes her so happy. She lives with a freedom knowing that God has a plan for her life and that He is more than willing to take her burdens from her. How on earth could you ask her not share that with you? How could she live with herself if she didn't share her joy (not happiness) with friends and neighbors alike?

John:

Thought I'd share something I wrote for another purpose, but which fits here so nicely....some great thoughts here all, thank you for sharing

God exists (well at least my version of God does)


There are many truths about God in our minds and experience. One is that if we ever directly experience his presence, we should say thank you to God for providing one to believe in. Much good is done in your name.


We inherit our opinions about God from our parents, and as we grow we experience life and learn from our history and culture and civilization.


As I see it, when we talk about God, the nature of God, the will of God, what God wants we make the huge assumption that God exists, which the scientist in us needs to establish beyond any reasonable doubt. Which of course has given us atheism, agnosticism, and for some, a return to pre Judaic Christian and Islamic beliefs and practices, as people make up their minds God does not exist or unlikely exists.


So what do we know scientifically?


Current accepted scientific evidence indicates that Earth is some 4.5 billion years old, that our galaxy, the Milky Way, is some 11 to 13 billion years old and that the age of our observed universe is between 10 and 15 billion years old. What it was before this, we do not know, except we can assume matter and energy were permutating through what we have come to call time. On what will come after we can only speculate, though we're taking a shot at the answers.


Given our understanding of the properties of light and wavelengths, and the properties of other substances, we can measure distances and speed.
Using these mathematics and others, and sophisticated optical and technical tools, our knowledge of the shape and size and macro characteristics of our universe has grown tremendously to this date, but much of our universe is still unknown, waiting for the right questions to be asked.


In terms of the volume of the universe, we can only know what we’ve sensed and measured and understood. While we’re here we’ll learn more of our particular place, in our particular part in this infinite universe. Barring some cataclysmic galactic event or self inflicted extinction, we will continue for eons more to adapt and evolve, driven, supported, and as easily neglected by, natural and cultural forces. But infinity is against us and even if we reach the stars as mankind we will most likely ultimately demise as a species.


That is our known "spatial" universe. What of our shared history in it?

We've been here for many thousand of years and cycles in civilizations, and our Prisca Sapiente has gifted us several wonderful religions and philosophies, each evolving in their separated geographies, and civilizations, each derived from profound, influential ideas and teachings, that provided cohesive forces to combine people together into communities and cornerstones for civilization. Each have practical and moral guidance for Homo Spiritualae.


But pre birth and post death are experientially outside our times and scales and dimensions of possible understanding except via incorporation of teachings and beliefs; which includes speculation and belief of life beyond death as an added dimension to experienced life.


Spiritual mind, that part of us that seeks understanding of our place in our world in our universe outside of our experienced lives, appears to be a relatively recent phenomena in the development of hominids.


While Homo Sapien is say 200,000 years old, the first direct evidence of spiritual thought was burying dead with items required for living, and other artefacts such idols, and later, painting caves, and studying the skies. That suggests belief in an afterlife and the remembering of a life.


We know from 120,000 year old grave evidence that ancient civilizations had shared beliefs, and from studies of peoples histories from around the world that their cultures have oral founding histories, and accounts of seminal individuals and events in their past.


After the retreat of the last ice age around 10,000 BC , Homo Sapien was essentially globally dispersed and dealing with their life’s particular demands and fortunes . Over the next 2000 to 4000 years when they sufficiently learned and organized agriculture they’d understand task organization and co ordination and would begin building cities and strategic locations.


Organized religion and its centres and its ritual and dogma played a very important part in all these ancient civilizations, because we have excavated their buildings and we‘ve inherited their religious beliefs and histories.


The majority of the world today looks to the God of Abraham through today’s Jews, Christians and Muslims. This is the one true God who is the all powerful, all knowing, all encompassing and directing God


All three of religions have developed their own ideas about the nature and attributes of Abraham’s God, and each have their own writings and practices and ceremonies and traditions.
Abraham was a semite who lived among peoples whose long standing spiritual and cultural influences rested in his predecessors' already ancient semitic Akkadian and Sumerian religious traditions and beliefs.


All these peoples already “civilized” and agrarian for some 6000 years, had even more ancient gods and religious beliefs and practices that went back through their shared histories of tens of thousands of years. But Abraham felt compelled to follow one all powerful God to the exclusion of any and all others. So says shared our belief.

He is believed to have migrated westward towards today’s Middle East where he lived out his days and where his descendants continued to live.


Some generations later his descendants encountered famine and migrated and found refuge in Egypt where they lived for some four more hundred years before following Moses to their promised land and Judaism circa 1200BC.


Out of Judaism, there arose first Christianity around Jesus of Nazareth and his early followers. They built a Greco Roman church over a few hundred years based on its status as the Roman Empire’s state religion and it still thrives today.


Islam arose out of Arabia gifted by the prophet Mohammed, peace be upon him, whose sayings and pronouncements all followers agree come directly from God. Islam grew rapidly through Sinai into Egypt and westward to southern Spain. Northwards it began sparring with Byzantium but eastwards it rapidly advanced along the silk road towards Persia and Central Asia and China and India


Here Islam and Christianity found other important religions and philosophies and ideas about morality and everyday living.


Hinduism arose among the peoples who created the Vedic civilization of the Indus that had its genesis circa 5000BC, maybe earlier. It was flourishing by 3500 BC along the Indus River of India and one of its crowning achievements was a culture and civilization based on sacred texts called the Vedas and other important writings. These accumulated and preserved the knowledge of their spiritual lives and traditions, and their ideas about just and ethical lives.


Hinduism includes a number of gods in its ancient pantheon but two eventually emerged as most important, Vishnu, the preserver, and Shiva, the creator and destroyer of the world. A Hindu believes that after this life, an individual not yet at one with the “absolute reality of Brahman” is reincarnated in either a higher or lower station in life dependant on the deeds, or Kharma, of the life just past. As with other religions, rites and practices and ceremonies are very important in the day to day lives of its followers.


Buddhism arose in 6th century BC partly due to those changes being undergone by Hinduism out of which Vishnu and Shiva emerged. Gautama Siddartha, the Buddha, was born 553BC, in India near modern day Nepal. He was by all accounts a capable successful gifted individual who around age thirty, began to search for a solution to all the unhappiness and human suffering he saw around him, which, as a Hindu, he saw perpetuating throughout constant re incarnations.


Eventually , Siddartha left his wife and riches to travel around the country to learn and understand how a life could be lived free of suffering. After several years he began teaching and preaching, and gained followers as the Buddha. As the Buddha he revealed four basic truths; suffering is always present, much suffering is caused by desire for things not absolutely necessary, there is a Nirvana which is a freedom from this desire, and this Nirvana was attainable via The Eightfold Path.


These principles of conduct and behaviour included being self disciplined, self sufficient, truthful, humble, charitable, and neither stealing or killing nor harming living creatures. Being Hindi in origin, the Buddha also preached re incarnation. As with the other religions, Buddhism spread and developed various forms over time as followers interpreted the message and intent of its founder.


Sikhism (1500AD), was founded as a synthesis, a compromise, between Islam and Hinduism, and contains the admirable spiritual and moral guidance of its constituent parts.


Zoroastrianism , which evolved from the ancient Persian Mazdaism, deserves mention as having a 3000 year old system of spiritual beliefs, based on ancient written texts and moral codes still considered sacred by followers living today. It stems from 1000BC Persia and is dualistically good versus evil in nature. Followers believe mankind can live a just life by observing moral laws and correct rituals.


Zoroastrian rituals of fire earth and water are rooted in the more ancient Mazdaism, whose followers worshipped a pantheon of gods at altars of fire and who placed special significance on earth and water as symbols. Ahura Mazda was Mazdaism’s chief god and he ruled the firmament. Others, gods of war, fertility, mountains, rivers, and such, were also venerated.


Confucianism (founded around 500BC) and Taoism (founded around 600 BC but emergent some 500 years later influenced by Buddhism) , were founded in China by followers of venerated scholars and sages and originators of principles of conduct and behaviour. Shintoism, founded in Japan, is based on understanding and venerating and following the ways of ideal individuals and important ancestors, living by their example.


What all religions and their followers share is common fundamental beliefs about the existence and characteristics of their God or gods, and adherence to a religious code of beliefs, its ritual practices and behaviour.


The Judaic Christian Islamic all powerful all knowing all directing God of Abraham by definition includes and directs our reality, hence is outside our reality, our universe, currently indescribable, and perhaps ultimately unknowable.


The rest of what we believe we know about God has been ascribed by our Prophets and their teachings, and its schools of thought developed by followers and handed down for generations to today. Initially Moses, Christ and Mohammed, peace be upon him, each articulated teachings that included according certain powers and characteristics to God


Since then each religion’s followers have shaped and moulded the thoughts and teachings of these key prophets through their own perceptions and times and all three religions have fragmented around perceived important differences and beliefs, and of course all religions have experienced followers who have added their thoughts to shape new sects and all religions have those who have perversely twisted religion to serve their purposes.


Considering the inevitability of time and events and changing
culture and civilization, the nature of all too human followers,
and our quisitive, searching natures, our acquisitive nature, our domineering nature, this is unavoidable, and the religious landscape
I inherited.


I was born a Catholic, asked questions as a teenager, and got the answer back that "if I had those questions, I should not be a Catholic". So I wandered and found out more about other religions, and over the years have read more history, philosophy, biographies, etc,


The hard truth is that the true nature of God is still speculative (not proven scientifically), and who is right in interpreting God's will, none can say here on Earth.


Because despite the living reality of our prophets and their teachings, the existence of God has yet to be proven scientifically, meaning God has not been clearly identified and described and independently verified, and is perhaps even unknowable.


But neither has God been dis-proven by science.


From my perspective, as an independent observer with admitted biases in culture and life experiences, and with a life's interest in history and philosophy, and possessing a character that seeks some coherence in the structure of life and our activities as Humans, the atheist is as foolish as the blind believer of complicated dogma, and Ocham was right. There is something to be said for straight forward simple explanations and solutions. And questions to ask I might add.


The simplest truth from an entirely unbiased independent observer trying to understand God is that God is possible.


To deny this statement is to be ignorant of the hysics and nature and time scale of our universe. And the beauty of the question, which has not only haunted me, but the minds of many generations back, is that through religion it has enriched our individual and collective activities and efforts and is expressed in our cultures and civilization.


The more complicated truth is that much of our history has been created and tainted by actions of those who use religious beliefs inappropriately for personal gains and the interests of themselves and others of their cultures and times. This includes sinners from all the religions and beliefs spawned in our shared history on earth.


But there's also more basic truths in our shared history that includes prophets and sages and wise observers who have provided solid spiritual ideas about God and principles and purposes of life.


I have seen and experienced how belief in God and ideals of God are adopted and applied with very positive and sometimes amazing results throughout the world today and by all religions, as it has throughout our shared history.


And our scientists and artists and explorers and philosophers and historians and writers and scholars and many others have provided us with wonderful ideas about who and why and what and when and where we are.


Still without incontrovertible evidence that an eternal being with the attributes and powers we ascribe to God exists in or outside this universe, we can only speculate on unverified data. This is an essential truth.


But is a scientific problem with God, somewhere in that gap between what is known to be real and the infinite unknown, necessarily so bad? Is science even an appropriate tool to study God? On what do we base our scientific beliefs of what is and what is not?


Scientists observe a currently unknown aspect of the universe, invent a tentative description, called a hypothesis, that is consistent with what was observed, then verify it by testing it against available data.


The objective is to create a theory. A theory provides a coherent set of propositions which explain a particular event or phenomena.


So the scientifically appropriate answer to the question “ is God real?” centres on meeting God and via observation and experimentation confirm what we believe to be true about God, that is, the “hypothesis of God“.


And asking the question scientifically means it is scientifically possible for God to exist.


Meaning God, via the concept and our understanding of God is within our Prisca Sapiente


So I’ll eagerly watch science continue to explore the laws that govern our physical reality, and continue to admire religion and philosophers and scholars exploring what it all means.


And I believe that what’s fair and desirable is that every individual be free to worship God in their own way, without interference, and followers must respect other’s right to do the same.


I also wholeheartedly believe everyone should spend time thinking about God and appreciate how different religions have enriched us and how close our core beliefs are. We should embrace these commonalities because they are truly worthy lessons to live by.


Firstly, our prophets agreed we should respect one another’s life and property and family and ways and beliefs and generally treat others as we ourselves want to be treated.


In addition our prophets also taught and encouraged self discipline, self sufficiency, self improvement, charitable giving and compassion, humility, truthfulness, to not steal or to harm or kill others.


And Aristotle taught the golden mean, which finds its way through life by understanding the extremities and looking to walk a reasonable path with temperance, justice, courage and wisdom


In addition I’ve come to believe and learn and understand and respect that all that is good in religion is due to its ideals and is about God, and all that is bad about religion is due to the actions of individual followers. I also believe that harming, lying or stealing in the name of God or religion should be reviled as the ultimate hypocrisy and morally repugnant.


And I’ll pass on believing our universe and our reality may one day find out the undeniable truth of questions and realities posed by our prophets.


Until then I believe we’ll keep asking. Its our dilemma as thinking, enquiring minds and flowers in God’s gardens.

tim:

What a load of ...! Mindnumbing simpletons and charlatans the whole lot. We will never advance as a species spiritually as long as we keep buying this antiquated clap trap. When will people grow up and realize that YOU ARE GOD? Now this is REAL ACCOUNTABILITY. Religion is for the morally, ethically and spiritually childish.

JP:

There are so many shows on TV, but we don't have a weekly primetime show on Spirituality. The major networks need to be brave enough to create an objective program to discuss theology.

Barbara, hope you can do this for america, maybe a " global view ", we have in meeting point in the world,it is spirituality. all we need is to become better educated on eastern/middle east/western, religions and philosophy. Wars cannot change minds, reading the scriptures and prophets will.

Valerie Brown:

Why is it that people never say that they don't believe in the Devil? or Why is it that people never blame the Devil when catastrophes happen, or when innocent people are killed? Have you ever thought that you are spiritually blind to the Truth? The Devil is all about pride, lies, hate, deception, murder, death, etc.

God is about genuine love, peace and joy - whether anyone believes if God really exists or not - the time WILL come when you find yourself laying in your death bed - then you will have plenty of time to seriously think about how you have lived a prideful life denying God the opportunity to reveal Himself to you so that you can use your gifts, skills and talents to help change lives. When the breath you breathe leaves your body, you will find out that God is who He said He is and that Jesus Christ really did come to make God know to you - you will be without an excuse when they find yourself bowing down before Him on Judgment Day. So if whether you choose to believe if God exists our not - God is still God.
Instead of you missing out on fulfilling the true purpose of your life - why don't you humble yourself and ask out loud this question: will the true God reveal His love in my heart?

Realist:

Valerie,
Your world view is a little too simplistic:
God = all the things I think are good and
Devil = all the things I think are bad.

You need to get out of your church, get your head out of your Bible, and actually have a look at the real world. It's more complex, more wonderful and more interesting than that, and you can have relationships with real people instead of imaginary ones.

If God exists and the Devil exists, then God created the Devil. He can't blame that one on us.

I seriously doubt that lies, hate and deception have anything to do with earthquakes or tsunamies, although some preachers in the US are stupid and ignorant enough to claim that God is responsible for them.

Much of the hate and deception in the world seems to come from people who claim they understand what God wants. E.g the claim that homosexuality is a choice is a straight out lie. It's a blatant denial of reality that hurts many people. Ask Ted Haggard if he chooses to be gay!

Anonymous:

Valerie wrote:
"Instead of you missing out on fulfilling the true purpose of your life - why don't you humble yourself and ask out loud this question: will the true God reveal His love in my heart?"

Yup, I did that at a Christian camp when I was a teenager. I convinced myself that I could feel God's love for a week or two. But without continuous re-inforcement, the brainwashing wore off.

I got a much better high from practicing meditation. I prefer my spiritual experiences without having to believe in psychotic fictional deities.

Realist:

Sorry, that anonymous was me.

Dave:

"Rev. Ted Haggard, who said that if she wasn't a born-again Christian there was no guarantee she would go to heaven."

Just because the messsenger failed does not mean the message isn't the truth!

How come everyone wants to put the messenger on a pedastal? Are they not human like you and I?

The Bible is full of imperfect people chosen by God because of one thing, belief.

candide:

To believe without rational reason is foolishness. To ask others to believe without reason is criminal.

Sabine:

Let me clear a common error in here.
Freedom precedes responsibility, the merit which values your choice. If you are following orders, or influence, or because of fear, expectations, and obligations, or for a reward and recognition etc, then you are not free, thus your belief is not true.

I grew up a catholic, but now I made a rational choice to believe. I practice my belief with objective action that contributes to the common good. And I mean actions that are not harmful not only to me but also to others. I don’t boast about any random acts, I just go ahead and do what is right.

Sometimes, political influenced people attack me in public, in meetings and conferences. But you know you have a responsibility to avoid harm and maintain dignity.

A lot of people condemn me for being true, and a lot more thought I am mad to continue to believe in the face of persecution. But I don’t harm anyone and never intend to; I support non-violent protests including the use of literature as in poetry, lyrics, short stories, and so on.

I admire those who are proactive in quantifying their beliefs by raising awareness of issues of injustice, and volunteering their time for charity.

Your work purifies your heart and your soul.

ecoast:

Sally Quinn -

Possessive of it doesn't take apostrophe - it's simply "its".

The contraction of "it is" takes one, as I have shown above. And you call yourself a journalist?

ecoast

Laime:

It's amazing how human god turns out to be for the believers: forgiving/punishing, kind/vengeful or loving/angry. Sounds a bit like your preacher, no?

It is we who create God in our own image. If God is transcendant, then it is folly to define him in such human turns. To define is to limit.

God is the search for our own spiritual self. If you are vengeful, you'll love the 'burn in hell' aspect. If you are decent, you'll turn to the 'do unto others' verse.
Your definition of God is you.

Richard:

Watching the empphatic faces in the auditorium of these TV shows I can only conclude : they are drugged.

Religion is a nice way to raise one's endorphin level, very comforting, certainly makes life easier (not to face the realities, the children dying of cancer, the people dying in war,, and, and, and....), but it is not a good way to face reality.

Because it is a drug.

Christians or Jews or Islamists are no better people than atheist. We have no information that they are. For some reason it does not guide them to do better.

It is just a personal comforting feeling that is being created and at the same time a tremendous loss of reality, it's an escape.

Anonymous:

sok7 is right about morality being non-egocentric. But I disagree with saying feelings are not true morality. If everyone had strong empathy, we’d have no crimes. Murdering someone else would be like murdering yourself.

(Of note - on a Star Trek Voyager episode, they had one crew member convicted of murder on another planet, & his sentence was to relive the victim's murder over & over again thru the victim's eyes for the rest of his life.)

I usually avoid Ms. Walters' interviews (they're tepid), but this one was interesting. I think it would have been more interesting to have kept the 'sinning' preacher on the show. He's no worse than the rest of humanity. In fact, he's a perfect example of 'sin' - missing the mark. He lies about sex. In this society, who doesn't? But more to the point, what did he have to say about 'heaven'? I'd love to know.

J. Rhinehart:

sok7 is right about morality being non-egocentric. But I disagree with saying feelings are not true morality. If everyone had strong empathy, we’d have no crimes. Murdering someone else would be like murdering yourself.

(Of note - on a Star Trek Voyager episode, they had one crew member convicted of murder on another planet, & his sentence was to relive the victim's murder over & over again thru the victim's eyes for the rest of his life.)

I usually avoid Ms. Walters' interviews (they're tepid), but this one was interesting. I think it would have been more interesting to have kept the 'sinning' preacher on the show. He's no worse than the rest of humanity. In fact, he's a perfect example of 'sin' - missing the mark. He lies about sex. In this society, who doesn't? But more to the point, what did he have to say about 'heaven'? I'd love to know.

J. Rhinehart:

Sorry about the double entry above.

Ruth Robbins:

BARBARA WALTERS IS IMMORAL????

The question Quinn asks is: "Because she (Walters) did not have a religious upbringing, where did she get her values"?

Is Quinn implying Walters is immoral - no values - because she did not have a religious upbringing?

Is Quinn implying you cannot be moral/have values unless you have a religious upbring?

Since when does Religiosity equate with Morality?

THE GODLESS MONKEYS IN THE ZOO PRACTICE "THE GOLDEN RULE".

Blake Adams:

I think it is wonderful, first of all, that Barbara Walters has made public her personal religious upbringing. She provides an example of a person who was raised without the "moral fabric" of the Christian faith, and has still grown into a decent, moral human being. The fact that she was most affected by the Dalai Lama is heartwarming, as well. It would have been quite sad if one of the doom-and-gloom "the world is awful and we ain't gone be here much lawnger" Christian faiths had caught her interest.

The upsetting part about all this is that a) so many people have reacted to her open-minded and honest survey of religious beliefs by saying "Barbara, I sincerely hope you come to believe what I believe or else you're going to hell"; and b) taking out Ted Haggard's interview seems to show our culture's tendency toward protecting and covering up Christians' hypocrisy, even in an otherwise unbiased program.

S.A.M.:

Many here, and even Barbara herself, seem to speak of "inherited faith,,,i.e., if you are taught as a child one type of faith, then you're doomed to live that forever."

Like Walters, my parents failed in their responsibility to train me in faith. Thankfully I went searching for a way to fill that void in my life and that's when I found out about Jesus.

I was never proseletyzed, nor did someone "push their belief down my throat." I willingly received and began a whole new adventure called the Christian life.

More than 20 years later, there are many, many things that I do not understand about how God works. I know that I'm not always his best representative and that I fall woefully short of being the perfect example of what a follower of Christ should be.

I hope that Barbara truly listens to what the many faith leaders said to her during that interview and comes away with the truth.

I too would have rather seen her interview Billy or Franklin Graham, rather than Mr. Haggard, but I was not the booking agent for that show. I assume that Mr. Haggard may have been a bit more flamboyant and fit with the stereotype of a preacher that probably exists in the minds of the people who arranged the interview.

nancy:


It is absolutely kooky to throw out any religion because someone who believed in it did something wrong. Jews killed Jesus. But they're not killing Christians now. Pagans like hitler killed Jews. Today's pagans aren't killing Jews. In just about any group you can find people who did something wrong, whether or not they believed in a religion. Muslims killed Americans on 9/11, but not every Muslim is a killer.

Why not take a positive view? Our concept of liberty came from Christianity. Christians were behind abolishing slavery (Mr. Wilberforce) and brought civil rights (Martin Luther King), enacted child-labor laws to protect children, and Christian ministries do more to feed the poor and bring medical help worldwide than any other religion. Jesus's disciples didn't always understand Him. They fought over who would sit next to Him at His right hand in heaven. They were with Him and got some things mixed up for awhile. He was patient. Jesus was the historical figure who did more than anyone to increase the value and stature of women. It's impressive. If you decide ahead of time everything's evil but you, you're going to miss the very best! Study the Jesus in the 4 Gospels and ask Him yourself to show you what is true. Can't hurt. No, you might not live a perfect life, but it will be better in ways you can only find out with an open heart, mind, and soul.

Christopher Tucker:

The concept of god is nothing more then an easy answer to life's difficult questions created by people who are deeply attached to their own inherent fear of the unknown and primitive dualistic conceptualizations. If people would just learn to become personally confident enough to think for themselves, and to be on good enough terms with death as not to ascribe to the modern mythology of god and religion, then maybe they could learn to open their hearts to the inherent joy of the present moment (instead of placing their blind faith in the future benefits of their own self entitled mortality). Let’s not forget that theology has been responsible for the spread of a great deal of hatred, confusion, and pain throughout the world (you don’t see “animals” killing each other over their own abstract ideology). I look forward to the day that people learn the humility required not to feel compelled to slap the ‘god label’ on everything that they do not understand, as the concept of god is nothing more just an easy answer to life’s difficult questions, grounded in fear (not to mention, it’s an intellectual cop out). I grow tired of the erroneous rantings of self-entitled, blindly faithful madpersons, shielding their hatred, hypocrisy, and repression in the cloak of theology (i.e.: don’t bash gays if you are in fact a closet homosexual yourself. You have truly lost touch. Get help). Despite what you’ve heard, there are no absolutes in this world (other then the fact that the concept of permanence is an illusion). You body and bones do not belong to you, or your silly concepts of deification for that matter. They are on loan from the earth, to which they ultimately belong.

Duff:

Ms. Walters. All you and anyone needs to know about religion is that it was created by men when they were primitive and rather simple, to explain things they couldn't understand.
For an intelligent, modern man to still believe impossible and primitive things is pretty nearly inexcusable.

Thinking Out Loud:

Barbara - I'm not impressed.

So we have another talking head full of her own self importance - anointing us with her wisdom.

Why should I care what you believe?

Who does care?

Have you ever opened a bible? (Somehow I doubt it.)

Evidently there is a group that's in TV watching deficit and can't decide what to think, unless you tell them. As Mr T. said - Pity the fools.

Ugggggghhhhhhhh......

Thinking Out Loud:

You listen to most christian "ministers" today and it's clear we are living in the time period the Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy about at 2 Timothy 4:3-4:

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.

This was speaking of supposed Christians...

To 95% of Europeans and North Americans - they don't care about anything except their own opinions and desires. They are not about to have their lives dictated to by a book like the bible. The result is the "Christianity" of the early 21st century is nothing like the christianity of Jesus time.

Where's Christmas in the bible?
- In Jesus day it was the Saturnalia Celebration of the Roman pagans.

Easter?
- The feast of Astarte - Fertility God - Pagan holiday.

Immortality of the soul?
- Plato's teachings.

Most people don't have a clue what the bible really teaches (and really don't care).

For example -
Trinity - I'll let you read about the Council of Nicea and Constantines vocabulary tricks leading to this belief. You'll have to look hard to get to the truth. But - consider Colosians 1:15 first. How could "God" be first born?

Oh yeah - It's a Mystery - That's the trick...

Sure, I think I'll let the guy (Constantine) who boiled his wife to death in oil (after the council) make my decisions on what to believe.

NOT...

I will agree with the Anti-Christian input on "Religion" being responsible for more bloodshed and murder than any other cause. With greatest hits like the crusades and the inquisition - How can these guys claim to serve the same god as Jesus? Unbelieveable.

Just goes to show - You say something long enough and loud enough and squash (kill off) any desenting views - your story becomes the truth. Why complain about China when they are only following the playbook of western civilization?

shamai kanter:

According to my relatives, when the Walters and Kanter families lived in apartments on 27 Nazing street, in the Roxbury neighborhood of Boston, the Walters were our dowstairs neighbors; and Barbara and I were playmates. I have no memory of this, nor would Barbara, I imagine.

Barbara would go on to become an international celebrity. I earned rabbinical ordination and a doctorate in religious studies.

Since two pervading interests of humanity have always been sexuality and religion, I am amazed at ms. Walters' benign disinterest in religion. In one stroke she has removed herself from a major part of human experience.

Further, as someone who observes first-hand the remarkable impact of the Jews upon contemporary human history, it is surprising that she has developed no curiosity about the significance of the Jewish presence in history, and what that might imply for her own life.

To an outsider, this might suggest denial.

It is my hope that ms. Walters might expand her interests to include the fascinating world of Jewish religious experience. It can add depth and meaning to a life of remarkable variety and breadth.

Pastor Joe Ortiz:

TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN

After viewing the Special I was not happy about the way the " Christian " view was shown.

I thought that your choice of Rev. Olsteen was a very poor choice of an accurate Christian explanation of the topics. He does not have the whole true evangelical view of the way to heaven.

A much better choice would have been evangelists who's life's highest call are to proclaim the message of heaven and how to get there. A better choice would have been, any of the Graham evangelists Billy, Franklin, Ann, or Will, or Greg Lorie, nationally known evangelical pastors like Tony Evans, Chuck Swindol and many others.

As pastor of evangelism at our church ( Bloomingdale Alliance Church in Bloomingdale GA ) I have attached an article to be posted on your web site in effort to set the WHOLE evangelical view straight .

Thank you.

Joseph Ortiz
Pastor of Evangelism
Bloomingdale Alliance Church
501 W. Hwy. 80, Bloomingdale GA 31302
912-748-6351

The Real balanced Evangelical View....
Heaven Were Is It ?
And how do we get there…

Was the topic of Barbra Walter’s special on 12/22/06. As a follower of Jesus Christ, there is no greater topic for me to speak of and proclaim to anyone that of…Heaven and How to get there.

Where is heaven ? Heaven is another place another time some say another dimension altogether. It’s a place where God is and Jesus Christ His only Son resides and rules with His angels. It is where the Holy Spirit came from to be in the lives of His followers after Jesus ascended back to heaven. It’s the place where Jesus Christ is preparing a place for His followers. It’s a place where there are streets of gold as well as walls of precious stones, and twelve gates of twelve pearls. The bible ( God’s holy word ) gives the reader a description of heaven in the book of the Revelation. Please read the referenced verses in italics to get a better word picture. Revelation Chapter 21 and verses # 19 and # 21 . Heaven is where the righteous people of God prior to the death and resurrection of Christ went too, and all of His followers go too. Many things there have happened, are happening, and will happen there as described in the bible.

How we get there …..is by looking at ourselves as God sees us against His standard rule of measurement, the Ten Commandments – His Holy Law. Everyone of us has broken His Laws at one time or another, some more than others. Because we have broken some or most of the Ten Commandments we are guilty and stand condemned. When we die we’ll stand before Him to be judged for breaking His laws no matter if they were lies (regardless of how small ) or if we’ve stolen ( regardless of the value ). When we break His laws it’s called sin. If we have disrespected therefore dishonored our parents, committed adultery, murdered …..We will stand guilty and be sentenced to eternal punishment. The bible says in Hebrews 9:27 “ it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment ”

So knowing that a person will stand before God guilty of breaking His law (s), what will the verdict be? Innocent or Guilty? Many will be found guilty. They will then be sentenced to eternal punishment in hell. Weather you believe in hell or not it doesn’t change the fact many people will be found guilty and pay the penalty of eternal death.

SO who then can make it into heaven? It’s the person who NOW recognizes that they stand guilty NOW of offending God by living their lives breaking His laws ( sinning ), and understand that they must be made right with God by having Him forgive them of all their sins. God the Father loved humanity and knew we could not make it to heaven on our own merits, because we are imperfect human beings. God’s word says that “our own goodness are like filthy rags to Him ” That is why God sent His perfect and only Son Jesus the Christ. Even Nicodemus a Pharisee, a member of the Jewish ruling council and an expert in God’s law…. came to Jesus one night acknowledging to Jesus that He (Jesus) was sent by God because of all His miracles. Jesus said to Nicodemus…“ for God so loved the world that He gave His only son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have ever lasting life ” He, Jesus who knew no sin, who never sinned because He was and still is God’s Son and because He came from heaven where there is no sin, became the supreme, once and for all sacrifice for everyone in the world who would recognize and acknowledge their sinful state of being, turn from their sinful way of living ( this is called repentance ) and trust ( believe ) in the sacrificial death of Jesus on the cross and bodily resurrection to pay the penalty of their sins.

There is only one thing that stops people from receiving God’s forgiveness for their sins, and entering heaven, it’s called PRIDE. Peoples and cultures in the U.S. and throughout the world are prideful, thinking they can go to heaven on their own merits like those interviewed in the Barbra Walter’s special. It showed different religion’s ideas of making it to heaven were totally based on how GOOD they behaved while they lived. People think that after they die and stand before God, that God will notice their goodness, wink at their badness or that their good will outweigh their bad and let them into heaven. Nothing is further from the truth and it doesn’t make sense. God said …”for all have sin and fall short of the glory of His glory ”. Besides if that where true God would have never had to send Jesus to pay for our sins. Jesus said of Himself “ I AM the way the truth and the life no comes to the Father but by Me. People must push their PRIDE aside, humble themselves, call out to God ( He promises to hear them ) turn from their habitual sinning and believe - trust on Jesus Christ to be saved. God promises to all who call on Him His grace ( undeserved and unmerited favor ) to save them because they can’t save themselves. But God will resist all those who are proud of heart and insist on trying to get to heaven any way other than the way than He has already provided. Now You know about heaven and how to get there ! Ready for heaven ? Call on Him, He’ll answer you. He promised He will. And He can not lie.

Joe Ortiz is the pastor of evangelism and outreach at the Bloomingdale Alliance Church
Bloomingdale GA. Rev. Ken Otto, senior pastor. off: 912-748-6351 www.bloomingdalealliancecma.org


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On Faith is an interactive conversation on religion moderated by Newsweek Editor Jon Meacham and Sally Quinn of The Washington Post. It is produced jointly by Newsweek and washingtonpost.com, as is PostGlobal, a conversation on international affairs. Please send your comments, questions and suggestions for On Faith to Caryle Murphy, its producer.