Columns/Special ReportsThe Reformer

SIMILARITY AND DIVERSITY IN RELIGION


By Prof. Protest Nathan Uzorma

According to Aristophanes “Wise men, though all laws were abolished, would lead to the same lives.” One who is wiser today was as at yesterday ignorant. This is further authenticated by Alexander Pope thus, “A man should never be ashamed to own he has been in the wrong, which is but saying, in other words, that he is wiser today than he was yesterday.” Yes, wisdom don’t consist in knowing more that is new, but in knowing less that is false.
By knowing less that is false, one comes to the knowledge of the “absolute.” My preferential process of learning does not follow a systematic or stereotype tradition hence I learn anywhere I find myself. In the process of learning everywhere and through any means, I came to the full recognition that many people say things anyhow without considering the proper meaning of same. When things are said without recourse to their hermeneutic implications, it creates a major problem in proper understanding of same. I am saying this in view of my experience few Sundays ago at a particular Pentecostal church, where I briefly visited to appreciate my friend Mr. Joseph, who presented his newly born baby in the Church.
The man of God upon sighting me consequently recognized my presence and announced same to the mammoth crowd and without much ado, demanded for a hand shake with the Lord’s Reformer, which I did oblige him. As we were holding our hands, I did again oblige him access to my psychic higher self, on his way I decided to disconnect him. This made him to apply the principles of Prosopomancy (the art of reading the signs of human face) in releasing his (thus says the Lord) prophecy which did go thus: “Professor Nathan God said I should tell you that there is an unfinished work that you must return to do…” As he was yet speaking, there was an interjection from the lord that consequently stopped him, and the Lord through the Reformer replied, “Man of God, there will always be an unfinished work in the history of every man which informs the common slogan at the point of exit ‘o he or she left us at the point when his works and mission are most needed.’ Man of God, I have not left any work undone and unfinished…” He looked at me with profound interest and consequently smiled. I make bold to say that my God will not allow me to die now that I am on a mission to depopulate hell and populate heaven through the great light of God, the light of salvation-the Noah’s Ark which is the ark of enlightenment. That was that!
Now the major thing that was said by the same Pastor which got my attention was when he said, “Few days ago, the lord began to minister to me about the mystery in Our Lord’s Prayer. Many of us in the Pentecostal Church are yet to understand this prayer…” Though I forgot to ask the Pastor if he has truly understood the mystical cum spiritual meaning of the prayer; to say we have not understood it is easy but to properly understand same, is the challenge of the day. This has been the major problem with the preachers of today; they make statements that if properly digested, will create a major problem to the entire world. Such statement has continued to fan the flam of controversy throughout history and can be understood if basic philosophical principles are applied.
The saying that “there is nothing new under the sun” appears not to have made any sense to many people. It appears that the Pastor was right when he said that we are yet to understand the mystery in Our Lord’s Prayer. I am very much aware of a text known as Maxims of Ani which is a twenty-second dynasty text that appears to have been based on earlier eighteen dynasty work, which places it in the fourteenth to sixteenth centuries B.C. This text discusses the concept of God and his worship. The Maxims of Ani and Our Lord’s Prayer are very similar, to the extent that scholars are of the view that Jesus Christ copied from Maxims of Ani in teaching of Our Lord’s Prayer as is shown below.
OUR LORD’S PRAYER                                        MAXIMS OF ANI                                                                         Our father which art in heaven  …                           . The God of this earth is the ruler of the horizon                                    Hallowed be thy name                                                The God is for making great his name. Devote yourself                                a                                                                                     to the adoration of his name
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Thy kingdom come………………………………………………Give your God existence                                                                                                                                                                    Thy will be done……………………………………………………He will do thy business                                                                                                                 In earth as it is in heaven ……………………………….His likenesses are upon the earth                                                                           Give us this day our daily bread…………………….(God) is given incense and food offerings daily.                                                    And forgive us our debts as we…………………….The God will judge the true and honest forgive our debtors                                   And lead us not into temptations…………………Guard again the things that god abominates                                                                    But deliver us from evil……………………………….Preserve me from decay                                                                                                For thine is the kingdom…………………………………(God) is the king of the horizon                                                                                     The power and the glory……………………………..He magnifies whoever magnifies him                                                                              Forever and ever……………………………………………. Let tomorrow be as today                                                                                       Amen…………………………………………………………………..Amen                                                                                                                                              
Something must be wrong somewhere in the course of human history. The ancient truly saw spirituality from a different perspective today we are seeing same from materialistic point of view no wonder Katharine Whiteborn says, “Never believe anything until it’s been denied.”
The Bishop of Hereford was once being patronized by a great lord who talked very proudly. “I never go to church,” boasted the lord. “Perhaps you have noticed that, Bishop?”  “Yes, I have noticed it,” answered the Bishop gravely. “Well, the reason I don’t go is that there are so many hypocrites there.” “Oh, don’t let that keep you away,” said the Bishop smiling. “There is always room for one more, you know.” This is the true position of life. Many people have stopped going to church because of many abominable things going on in various churches. This is core religiosity and not spirituality.
The spirituality of the ancient is today seen as a taboo and is replaced by “me I no go suffer, I no go beg for bread, God of miracle na my papa” what an error!
The ancient voiced the spirit of unity and agreement that is why we may accuse them of copying from one another. They have been the founders of divine reality. If man can forsake imitations and investigate the reality underlying the revealed word of God, they will be reconciled, for reality is one in diversity. This however is not to be doubted because there is unity even in golden rule among all religions of the world. The teaching according to which we should treat others as we ourselves would wish to be treated, is an ethic variously repeated in all great religions:
In Buddhism, “Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful” Udana- varqa, 5:18. In Ziriastruabusn, “That nature only is good for when it shall not do unto another whatever is not good for its own self”. Dadis-tan-I dinik, 94:4. In Judaism, “What is hateful to you; do not to your fellow man. That is the entire law, all the rest is commentary.” The Talmud, Shahbat 310. In Hinduism, “This is the sum of all righteousness: deal with others as thou wouldst thy self be dealt by. Do nothing to thy neighbor which thou wouldst not him do to thee after.” The Mahabharata.
In Christianity, the same voice is heard thus, “As ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.” Jesus Christ. Luke 6:31. In Islam, “No one is believer until he desires for his brother that which he desire for himself.” Sunnah. In Taoism, “ The good ought to pity the malignant tendencies of others, to rejoice over their excellence to help them in their straits to regard their gains as if they were his own, and their losses in the same way.”The Thai-Shang, 3.  According to Confucianism, “Surely it is the maxim of loving-kindness: do not unto others that you would not have them do unto you.” Analects, xv, 23. In the tablet of Baha-u-llah, 71 (bahai) it says “Blessed is he who preferreth his brother before himself.”
Every religion is one.  Religion is the outer expression of divine reality. Therefore, it must be living, vitalized, moving and progressive. If it be without motion and non-progressive it is without the divine life; it is dead. The divine institutes are continuously active and evolutionary; therefore, the revelation of them must be progressive and continuous. All things are subject to reformation. Old ideas and modes of thought are fast becoming obsolete. Ancient laws and archaic ethical systems will not meet the age of the revelation of reality and therefore the greatest of all centuries.
All the world over, mankind has honoured the spokesmen of God and has adopted their teachings. The world reverse Christ, Muhammad, Buddha, Zoroaster, Krishna, and other high prophets as greatest leaders. But it has not looked at them as related to one another. It has thought of them as rivals, competing for the homage of the world. Man has imagined that to accept the revelation of one is to deny the revelation of every other and that the followers of any one high-prophet are not loyal to their lord unless they esteem Him the sole authentic revealer come from God. This imagination of man has sought to balance the high- prophet-against one another as it were in scales, so that when one goes up, the other must go down. Thus the influence of religion which ought to tended to unify the earthmen, has through a deep misunderstanding engendered hostility and strife.
The prophets never spoke evil or ill of one another; the antagonism originated from their followers. None of the prophets affirmed that his revelation was final or exhaustive. In former ages the manifestations of prophets and masters did not explain clearly their station. Sometimes they spoke as though they were God himself at other times they would admit that they themselves were human. There immediate companions perhaps understood the hidden references to their true state, but later followers were confused. These either worshipped them as God or regarded them only as inspired men. Doctrines such as the Trinity were evolved to try to explain the seeming contradiction of their station.
We, in this glorious age, are more  fortunate because Christ is here in the person of the Holy Spirit to teach us all things. A casual look at the great religions of the world is enough, if unprejudiced, to reveal that they have much in common. All teach love, justice, detachment from personal desire, honesty, selflessness, mercy, truthfulness, moderation, and trustworthiness. These truths are not just words. When society forgets them, the resulting pain is sharp and deep.
Baha’ is believe that religion should unite all hearts and cause wars and disputes to vanish from the face of the earth, give birth to spirituality, and bring life and light to each heart. Mankind will have achieved the great peace, for which from age the sacred scriptures have constantly held the promise, as we shall soon see. The Bible says, “Depart from evil, and do good, seek peace and pursue it” Ps. 34:14. According to Lao Tse, “Weapons, however ornamental are not a source of happiness, but are dreaded by all. Therefore the man of Tao will not abide where such things are.” For Buddha, “Among such humans, brethren, at Ketumati the royal city, there will arise Sankha, a wheel-turning king, righteous and ruling in righteousness. He will live in supremacy over this earth to ocean bounds, having conquered it not by the scourge, not by the sword, but by righteousness.” “The discipline of the wise increase peace in the world” Talmud, Berakoth 64. In the Quran, Allah says, “The believers are but a single brotherhood, so make peace and reconcile between your two (contending) brothers; and fear Allah, that ye may receive mercy” Quran 49:10.
These quotes demonstrate again the unity in the teaching of the masters. If mankind decides to study these teachings with the deserved understanding, we shall cease from seeing the United Nations as the only hope for the peace of mankind. According to Baha-u-llah, “Religion is the greatest of all means for the establishment of order in the world and for the peaceful contentment of all that dwell therein. The fundamental purpose animating the Faith of God and His Religion is to safeguard the interests and promote the unity of the human race, and to foster the spirit of love and fellowship amongst men. Suffer it not to become as source of dissension and discord, of hate and enmity.”

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