Did you know that there are 41,000 different Christian denominations or ‘sects’ that can be categorized into five major ‘families’ of churches?
- Catholic Church [50%]
- Protestant and Anglican churches [18%]
- Eastern Churches [12%]
- Pentecostal churches [12%]
- Evangelical (non-Pentecostal) [8%]
Sometimes I smile when I receive a social media post or response from someone claiming that they do not believe in religious fables whatsoever, but only in science. Did you know that “science” too could be categorized as a “religion” in terms of its foundational beliefs or underlying reliance, confidence or credence? This particular religion is called “Secular Humanism” and is defined as “the philosophy or life stance that embraces human reason, ethics, and philosophical naturalism while specifically rejecting religious dogma, supernaturalism, pseudoscience, and superstition as the basis of morality and decision making.”
Of the roughly 7 billion people in the world, the number of combinations and permutations of specific sects or sub-sets of any faith must be well over a million. So when someone says “I believe in God,” I always think of the (Bible) Scripture (James 2:19) that says, “You believe that there is one God? Good! Even the demons believe that — and shudder.” Belief in God, or an alleged belief in God may start an interesting conversation, but that is all, it is only a start, not an understanding.
Social media is full of vitriol when it comes to subjects such as politics and religion. I am guilty myself. A Muslim friend of mine stated, “I believe Jesus was a good man and a prophet.” I responded by saying, “Impossible – if you read His claims He was either a liar, insane, or the Son of God; but ‘good man’ or ‘prophet’ is inconsistent with everything He said about Himself.
I was immediately ashamed of my insensitive response and began to reflect upon what I today consider an acceptable way to engage people in what we, and they, believe. Here is what I have concluded:
- If someone asks about your faith, answer him or her politely and with respect.
- If someone asks you about the “why” of your faith, answer him or her with your reasons, but don’t go into too much detail or send them a link to your favorite faith site.
- If someone shares their faith with you, respect them, because after all, they may turn out to be right and we may turn out to be wrong!
- If someone clubs you over the head with the “science” of evolution and the futility and insanity of “religion,” treat them with dignity and offer friendship. They may someday convert you, or you may convert them, but that should never be the primary reason for friendship. Friendship should be based upon the fact that you both like one another.
- Do not debate. Debate has as its engine arrogance and pride. The reactions you will get are more and different questions, further debate that begins to ‘rathole,’ anger, intolerance or ridicule, none of which you set out to receive in the first place.
- If you believe in God, love your neighbor as yourself, and if they reject your faith, what do you do next? Pray. And then continue to pray.