Saturday, May 4, 2024

Musings on the Need for More Faith and Less Religion in a Violent World

By Rudy  Barnes, Jr., May  4, 2024

           Faith and religion are often used interchangeably, but they have different meanings.  Faith is what we believe to be sacred, and has been described as “…being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1)  Religion is a prepackaged and  man-made faith; and while religion requires faith; faith does not require religion.  

            Judaism, Christianity and Islam are all Abrahamic religions that accept Jesus as a 1st century Jewish prophet, who taught that sharing God’s transforming love was the standard of righteousness, not obedience to Mosaic Law.  That radical teaching made Jesus a pariah among most Jewish religious leaders, and ultimately led to his crucifixion.

Most Jews, Christians and Muslims begin their journey of faith in their traditional religions and later begin to question their religion with their personal knowledge, experience and reason.  In his Wesleyan Quadrilateral, John Wesley asserted that the theological task of all believers on their journey of faith should be based on scripture, tradition, experience and reason

Religious beliefs are defined by doctrines and dogmas based on scripture and religious tradition, but personal experience and reason can challenge those religious boundaries on our journey of faith.  That’s common in libertarian cultures with the freedoms of religion and speech, but it’s rare in more authoritarian cultures.

        Jesus was a maverick Jewish rabbi who never taught that he was divine or advocated the need for a new religion.  The altruistic and universal teachings of Jesus are summarized in the greatest commandment to love God and our neighbors, including those of other races and religions, as we love ourselves.

The greatest commandment  was taken from the Hebrew Bible, taught by Jesus and accepted by Islamic scholars as a common word of faith; but its universal moral imperative of religious reconciliation based on God’s altruistic love remains elusive.  That’s most evident in Gaza, where Israel has killed over 34,000 Palestinians during the Israeli-Hamas war.

The Jewish Passover should remind Netanyahu that it was God’s will to liberate Jews from Egyption oppression, and remind Christians that the last supper of Jesus and his disciples was a Passover meal.  Instead, President Bidern assured Netanyahu that he is a fellow Zionist who supports Israel’s war against Hamas and the oppression of Palestinians in Gaza.

The Abrahamic religions have become nationalistic and ignored the moral imperative of the greatest commandment in Ukraine and Israel.  Putin has justified his unprovoked aggression in Ukraine on restoring the ancient Russian empire of Peter the Great, while Netanyahu justifies Israeli violence in Gaza with Zionist nationalism.  Religions have failed to promote peace.  It will take people of altruistic and universalist faith, not nationalist religions, to bring peace on earth.


On The Greatest Commandment: A Common Word of Faith, see

(6/25/22): Musings of a Maverick Methodist on the Church and the Greatest Commandment, see

On Love over Law: A Principle at the Heart of Legitimacy, see

On Christian nationalism, see ‘Demolishing democracy’: how much danger does Christian nationalism pose?  Documentary Bad Faith looks at the history of a group trying to affect and corrupt politics under the guise of religion, by Adrian Horton, The Guardian, 4/27/24, at  See also,

See also, Christian Nationalism, Again, By Carl Krieg, Progressive Christianity. 4 /29/24 at

On Christian nationalism, see 

(3/29/15): God and Country: Resolving Conflicting Concepts of Sovereignty

(5/6/17): Loyalty and Duty in Politics, the Military and Religion

(4/12/19): Musings on Religion, Nationalism and Libertarian Democracy

(7/13/19): Musings on Sovereignty and Conflicting Loyalties to God and Country  

(8/10/19): Musings on Christian Nationalism: A Plague on the Church and Democracy

(8/31/19): Musings of a Maverick Methodist on the Politics of Christian Zionism

(3/26/22): Musings on Civil Religion, Christian Nationalism, and Cancel Culture

(4/30/22): Musings of a Maverick Methodist on the Obsolescence of Christianity in Politics

(11/5/22): Musings of a Maverick Methodist on Jesus, the Church and Christian Nationalism

(11/12/22): Musings on the Need for a Civil Religion in America’s Dysfunctional Democracy

(3/11/23): Musings of a Maverick  Methodist on the Future of Christianity and Democracy

(4/15/23): Musings of a Maverick Methodist on Christian Nationalism and Democracy

(9/23/23): Musings of a Maverick Methodist on Christian Nationalism

On Zionism as Jewish nationalism,see  

(10/28/23): Musings on Zionism, and What It Means to Netanyahu and Biden

(1/6/24): Musings on Nationalism and Universalism in Religion, Legitimacy and Politics

See #45 (10/4/15): Faith and Religion: The Same but Different, at

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