Today’s religions around the world have a shared element of belonging to a religious structure that regulates the actions of the adherents in that specific faith. Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Judaism, the five primary faiths, consist of similar elements written in the scriptures of each faith. In the components of a belief system, culture, myths, ceremonies, ethical structure, subjective experience, material expressions, and sacredness, the embodiments of any faith are visible. In the world, the emergence of emerging religions has introduced new philosophies that are meant to give the five top religions an alternative. The purpose of this essay is to expose how Christianity follows the pattern of the elements mentioned above as well as examine one new religion and analyze the pattern observed in that religion.
Elements of the Christian Religion
Christianity consists of subdivisions that have divergent views about the broader aspect of Christianity. Roman Catholics, Baptist, Lutheran and the Protestants are examples of Christian groupings known as Churches that subscribe to Christianity but disagree on the manner of conduct and running of affairs of Christianity (“Religion: Christianity” 2017). The Christian beliefs follow a pattern of interconnected aspects that serve to distinguish Christians from followers of other faiths.
Firstly, Christianity has a belief system. The first aspect of Christianity is the belief in the existence of a supreme being, God, without which one does not qualify to call themselves a Christian. According to Christianity, God is the creator of everything that is today and ever was. Christians hinge their belief system on absolute faith in everything written in the Bible, which is the scripture that explains the will of God to Christians and gives instructions on the conducts of Christians and anyone wishing to join the Christian religion (“Religion: Christianity” 2017). The Bible also contains stories, events, and evidence of how the belief system was beneficial to previous believers.
Secondly, Christianity is a community of believers who worship the same God under the same instructions from the Bible. The community of Christian believers views each other as one people regardless of where they are in the world. For example, Christians in the United States can easily interact with Christians in Asia or Africa since the precepts and theme of Christianity is known to everyone through the Bible.
The central theme of the Christian religion is the end salvation of everyone who believes as salvation was granted for free when God sent his son, Jesus Christ, to die on behalf of every man and woman for their sins (Sullivan, 2017). The existence of a son of God who died and rose again is the third element, and the central mythical aspect of Christianity as most people outside the religion deny the existence of Jesus or his resurrection. For example, Islam is the view that Jesus existed, but he was not the son of God and instead was a prophet just like Mohammad, the prophet of the Islamic faith. The other mythical aspects surrounding Christianity is the authenticity of the Bible. Members of other religions do not believe the events and instructions as relayed in the Bible and consider it a book too old to be applicable in the current times (“Religion: Christianity” 2017).
Fourthly, Christianity is a ritualistic religion that consists of practices that are a means to achieve total induction into the said will of God and the belief system. The most important ritual for Christians is the prayer to God in the name Jesus for the forgiveness of sins, providence of needs, guidance for life and salvation into eternal life after death among others. (Sullivan, 2017). Other rituals include regular reverential worship of God, reading of scripture, attending Christian gatherings such as Church services on Sunday, self-denial of food and drinks to pray and sanctify themselves, etc. Finally, the element of sacredness is essential for a Christian follower since it is only through sanctity and holiness that one can have communion with God. The items of material expression and emotional engagements are not so common in Christianity because worship and reverence of God take center stage
Simply put, Scientology is the religion that merges science with religion. The deeper meaning as provided by the Church of Scientology shows that the central belief of Scientologists is that humans are immortal spiritual beings known as thetan that have many past lives lived in extraterrestrial cultures (Farley, 2006). The central theme which is considered a myth by other religions is that the spirit is separate and independent from the body and soul. The study and understanding of the spirit distinguish Scientology from other faiths. Unlike Christianity, Scientology does not subscribe to the dogma of God and instead concentrates on finding the God-like nature in all spiritual beings (Farley, 2006).
The central ritual of Scientology is a process called auditing which seeks to elevate an individual to a state of clarity and total freedom through the understanding of spirituality. One who is clear in Scientology is equivalent to one who is saved in Christianity since clarity and salvation are the way of removing all falsehoods and enabling a person to reach a new level acceptable to the standards of their religion (Farley, 2006).
Emotional experience is a crucial element of Scientology. Tone scale is an emotional classification system used to determine the progress of a person during auditing and guides on how to improve their condition based on the advances made in understanding the spirit being (Farley, 2006). The ethical system of Scientology is also different from that of Christianity since it is not enshrined in a set of laws or precepts like the Bible. Scientologists considers ethical conduct a byproduct of proper auditing and as result of attaining total freedom. According to Farley (2006), the moral system of Scientology is only useful in attracting people to the religion and keep those opposed to Scientology out.
There are no known material expressions of Scientology but opinions and points of view that are adopted to underline the stand in the religion. For example, Scientology is vehemently opposed to psychiatry and psychology since according to the founder of Scientology, L. Ron Hubbard, psychology ignores the spiritual dimension humanity. Scientology does not also subscribe to the idea of sacredness like in Christianity (Farley, 2006).
Elements of religion are important to distinguish what is acceptable, permissible and outright wrong in any religious affiliation. Traditional religious outfits have embedded their belief system in the hearts and minds of their followers and continue to spread their ideology to secure more following. The upcoming new religions seek to expose the flaws of other religions and provide alternative solutions to those confused by the existing numerous religious groupings.
Farley, R. (May 6, 2006). “Scientology nearly ready to unveil Super Power.” St. PetersburgTimes. Print.
Religion: Christianity. (2017). Jewish Virtual Library. Web. Accessed 14 May 2017.[www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/christianity-2].
Sullivan, L. (2017). “Aspects of the Christian Religion.” Encyclopedia Britannica. Web.Accessed 14 May 2017. [www.britannica.com/topic/Christianity/Aspects-of-theChristian-religion]