Innovation in Religion

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Innovation in Religion

fschmidt
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Innovation in religion is a very important topic for Undepraved.  The two examples of communities that successfully resist modern depravity both allow innovation in religion.  Does this mean that innovation in religion is good?  No, but it does mean that any community that successfully resists modern depravity must allow innovation, it is just that this innovation doesn't have to be in religion itself.  This brings up the question of what exactly is inside religion and what is outside religion.

Religion gives you religious beliefs and religious practices.  These things are clearly inside religion.  Most other areas of belief and practice are outside religion.  Jesus was a carpenter but Christians don't have to do carpentry as Jesus did.  Muhammad was a shepherd but Muslims don't have to herd sheep as Muhammad did.  The controversial areas are community and government, and my position is that these are outside of religion.  For this topic I will focus on Islam because Islam makes this controversy most clear.

Muslims view Muhammad as a role model to be followed.  But this clearly doesn't apply to all areas, for example shepherding as mentioned.  What about war?  Muhammad led his army.  Should Muhammad be copied here.  Should we be waging war using camels as Muhammad did?  I don't think so.  So how is government different from these examples?  I think is because many things in scripture appear applicable to government, and in some cases scripture actually gives laws of governance.

Before considering this, let's look at the relationship between religion and non-religious areas of life.  For a religion person, his religion should serve as the foundation of everything he does in life.  Religion provides the basic principles and values that can be applied to any area.  Ideally one should combine one's religious values with knowledge in an area and one's intellect to arrive at the best course of action in that area.  I am a computer programmer and I apply my religious values to programming.  But this does not make programming part of religion.

Muhammad was a political leader.  He obviously applied his religious values to politics, but this does not make politics part of religion.  When the Quran says "do not do X" then Muhammad may have applied this principle to make a law saying "do not do X".  But this does not mean that the Quran prescribed such a law.  The Quran did not say "make a law outlawing X".  When the Quran says "do not do X" this means that for Muslims to follow their religion, they should not do X.

What about when the Quran actually prescribes a law?  For example Quran 5:38 says to cut off the hand of a thief.  One has to understand that the entirety of the Quran consists of God speaking Muhammad.  God told Muhammad to implement this law.  Does this mean that it applies to all time?  Consider another example, Quran 2:191 and other similar verses that talk about killing non-believers.  These are taken out of context by people who attack Islam.  These were instructions to Muhammad for specific situations, not a general command for Muslim armies to kill non-believers for all time.  Is Quran 5:38 any different?  It is more general in the sense that it applied to Muhammad's lifetime.  But where in the Quran does it say that anyone besides Muhammad should implement this law?  It doesn't.  This isn't to say that this should be ignored.  The Quran contains both religious rules and specific advice for Muhammad.  The religious rules should be followed by Muslims.  The advice for Muhammad should help identify moral principles.  In this case, the principle is that theft is serious crime and possibly that it would be good for thieves to be permanently identifiable.  But fundamentally the Quran is a book of religion, not governance.

Let's consider one more example, inheritance.  Inheritance is a private family matter that may be governed by law.  As a private personal decision, inheritance falls under religion which can prescribe how its members should behave.  A Muslim should organize his inheritance in accordance with Islamic rules.  But this does not mean that the government is required by Islam to impose these rules.  As long as the government allows Muslims to organize their inheritance in accordance with Islam, the government is not in conflict with Islam.

So what exactly is the relationship between government and religion?  Should government and religion be completely separate?  No because religious should provide guidance in all areas of life including in government.  But this doesn't make government part of religion.  You can be sure that any political leader who is not religious will be a horrible leader.  The last religious president that America had was Ronald Reagan, and uncoincidentally he was also the last good president.  Good political leaders are guided by religion but also recognize that politics is not part of religion.

How is this related to innovation in religion?  Government needs innovation while religion doesn't.  A religion that avoids innovation will remain sound.  But a system of government that avoids innovation will become backwards.  This difference means that if you combine religion and government, than one will suffer.  If you combine them and prevent innovation in religion, then you will have good religion and backwards government.  If you allow innovation in religion then your religion will suffer.

I talked extensively about government because this is a well known issue.  But the same logic applies to communities, and this is how this practically relates to Undepraved.  How should community and religion be related?  Like with government, communities need to be able to innovate to effectively resist modern depravity.  So if community is part of religion, you have the same dilemma.  One or the other will suffer.  But if community is completely separate from religion, then the community has no guidance.  Like with government, the best answer is for community to not be part of religion but to be guided by religion.

Now we can return to the two examples of communities that successfully resist modern depravity.  These combine community and religion.  Because they allow innovation, they were able to develop communities that resist modern depravity.  But because they allow innovation, most of their religion failed.  Most Mennonites became depraved.  For example, the Mennonite church in San Francisco (where I used to live) is part of the Brethren Mennonite Council for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Interests.  Most Mennonite churches are depraved because they allow innovation in religion.  Only a minority of Mennonites resist depravity.  The same applies to Judaism where only the Orthodox resist modern depravity.  The majority of Judaism is part of depraved modern culture.

Governments and communities must innovate as conditions change.  But religion is eternal and is generally only harmed by change.  So the best path is to separate religion from government and community, and to avoid innovation in religion, and to allow innovation in government and community.  This is the Undepraved vision.
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Re: Innovation in Religion

peter_haozhu_hamza
Essentially modern culture is the result of highly innovated Protestant Christian society?

“Before the social justice there was the social gospel. Before the modern progressives there was Christian progressives. Before that it was the main line Protestants. Before that it was the Puritans.”
https://youtu.be/s_XUeqG54nY
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Re: Innovation in Religion

fschmidt
Administrator
peter_haozhu_hamza wrote
Essentially modern culture is the result of highly innovated Protestant Christian society?
Yes.  The difference between Protestants and Anabaptists is that Protestants allow innovation at the individual level while Anabaptists only allow it at the group/church level.  The Protestant approach is so obviously doomed to depravity that it isn't worth discussing.