Holidays Are A Good Time To Know The “History Of God”!

My office is called the Stathas Life Development Center. It is named that for a reason. It is not simply as counseling/therapy office. I believe in, and am committed to, a total wellness approach in assisting people to reach their full potential and optimal happiness.

Wellness, aka holistic health, involves looking at every dimension of an individual’s life. Areas included are physical, intellectual, psychological, social, relational, and spiritual. Yes, spiritual is included. A person’s spiritual dimension, including beliefs and practices, affect emotions and behavior and impact how a person thinks about and relates to others.

My life’s journey in quest of holistic health and understanding its derivatives has included a spiritual quest. It led me to five years of theological and scriptural study in the seminary and an active ministry for a few years as a “man of God”. This spiritual quest has led to an exhaustive study of how the Bible was formed, the development of various religions over the course of time, and assisting people in finding a spiritual understanding that brings out the best of who they can possibly be.

One of the most enlightening books that I have ever read has been “A HISTORY OF GOD” by Karen Armstrong. It was a number one on the New York Times bestseller list for a long time. The research that went into the book was daunting, and a bit exhausting in its depth. But, oh so enlightening!

“A HISTORY OF GOD” traces the evolution of the concept of “God” from the beginning of time through the religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. In its historical roots it is amazing how much the three religions overlap in some basic concepts related to an understanding of “God”. The book also displays the diversity of belief and understanding over time. “God” has been understood in many forms and fashions over history that has resulted in beliefs, dogmas, and practices that have changed and evolved over the centuries.

A common question that is reached by most readers at the end of this reading is: Has “God” changed over time or have people and cultures over time created the “God” that best fits the times? It is a question worth reflection.

Even over the past couple of hundred years you can see how continued separation of beliefs and worships develop through denominational schisms. A brief peek at each religion.

Christianity has grown in many directions since its inception from the life of Jesus Christ.  Up through the Middle Ages the Church was divided between Catholic and Orthodox. Later, Henry the Eighth was disgruntled with the Catholic Church teachings and wanted to marry again though divorced, thus the Anglican Church. The Episcopal Church is a branch off of it.  Martin Luther didn’t like indulgences, the primacy of the Pope, celibacy etc… so he broke from the Catholic Church and created the Lutheran religion. John Wesley, a disillusioned Anglican priest, co-founded the Methodist Church. The Baptist formation is less clear. Most scholars point to John Smyth who in the 17th century started a Separatist  church breaking off from the Church of England. The Bible in its various books, differing within denominations, is the sacred text.

The Jewish tradition has evolved into separated denominations since its formation in 2000 BC. They are Orthodox, Conservative, and Reformed. The sacred texts are  the Torah, Tanakh, and Talmud

The Islam religion was founded by Muhammad in the 6th century. Muhammad was the last of the Judao-Christian prophets who was given the “Word of God” when visited by the Archangel Gabriel. The sacred text is the Quran.This religion also has also gone through its own diverse practices as it has spread over the many countries.

The reason for this treatise is to encourage you, Respected Reader, to know the history of the God you may believe in and to see if it continues to meet your intellectual and spiritual needs. Do the particular representatives, tenets, practices, worship services, etc… challenge you to become the best person you can be?  Perhaps your particular enculturated religion has not been reviewed for the beliefs and practices that serve you and your family. This writing in no way is not to advocate any position but to challenge you to know your spiritual history and that of other spiritual perspectives and make a choice that is right for you. Your spirituality is part of a well “developed” human being.

May your holiday reflection result in a loving spiritual presence with those close to your heart!

“The unexamined life is not worth living”   Socrates

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