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Reflection on Matthew 24:24-26 and Colossians 2:6-12

1.) The Diversity of Religious Expressions that Jesus and St. Paul would have met on a Day to Day basis in that part of the World

Divergent beliefs in religion have always existed since Biblical times. In Matthew 24:24-26 (The New King James Version), Jesus warned his disciples that false prophets who would deceive many were to arise. In previous verses, Jesus had talked of the great tribulation that was to befall the Jews. In the midst of the tribulation, there were temptations to seek a false Messiah. In Colossians 2: 6-12, Paul warned early Christians that they should not be deceived with false philosophy or intellectualism, but they should adhere to the gospel they had received. False teachers adopt Christian terminology and posture themselves as Christians, but in fact, they are not. Paul assured the Colossians that they could not yield to vain deceit and philosophy as long as they were rooted in Christ, had faith, and had been taught.

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2.) Exclusive Claims made by Jesus and Paul in contrast to the Claims of other Beliefs of their Day

Both Jesus and Paul exclusively claimed that true knowledge and wisdom come from Jesus alone, contrary to claims of other beliefs of their day. Jesus had foretold their appearance in Matthew 24. Paul emphasized All wisdom and knowledge are in Christ (Col. 2:2-3). Some people claimed to work for God but they did the opposite. However, they managed to deceive many people.

3.) Pauls and Jesus Identification as the Source of the many Beliefs that were around them

The source of many false beliefs at that time was the devil, just as it is now. His agents gave rise to false prophets who deceived many people leading them into the desert. Magicians and sorcerers managed to draw people into mountain solitudes before the Destruction of Jerusalem. In Pauls's time, false teachings threatened the Colossians. Furthermore, false teachers, especially those who misinterpreted Jewish teachings in cultural and language contexts, claimed to have superior knowledge and misled people. They often had a good disposition and managed to build a following of folks who seemed to benefit from their teachings.

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4.) Reaction to the Exclusive Claims and the Identified Sources of the Diversity of Beliefs?

The devil is indeed the principal source of diversity of beliefs. When people develop a feeling of superiority, they are easily swayed by the devil. Therefore, I recommend that we should always pray for the Holy Spirit to guide us so that we can make true interpretations of the teachings. Also, there are those amongst us who feel that they know everything and they feel they can change anything as they are capable. We should not feel righteous but let the teachings guide us.

People in the USA react to Jesus' and Pauls's claims of diversity in religious beliefs by asserting that people should not blindly follow Judaism and Christianity. Instead, there should be a diversity of religious beliefs because people come from different cultures. Additionally, people should feel independent when thinking and believing in anything they are convinced of.

5.) Reason for Pauls and Jesus Warnings

Jesus and Paul gave warnings to prepare the disciples and early Christians for upcoming events. Many false Messiahs were to appear in Jerusalem working miracles and misleading many people. Christ's words were true as it became apparent that many false prophets appeared in a period between His death and the siege of Jerusalem. Jesus' warnings helped the believers to avoid being deceived like the others.

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6.) Should one have nothing to do with People who do not believe as they do?

One should not alienate oneself from people who do not share common beliefs. One has to communicate with such people, know what they know, what they believe in, and ask them why they adhere to such beliefs and listen to their answers. According to Galatians 6:1, Christians are required to correct sinners gently and teach them about serving God. 1st John 2: 18-23 shows that to avoid spiritual deception, one must develop discernment to other people and the truth about Jesus Christ. He emphasizes the need to guard against unprincipled men who are trying to deceive believers.

7.) My Missional Response to People who are spiritually deceived and are also deceiving others

I would not condemn those who are spiritually deceived but would rather enlighten them with the gospel truth. I would use my evangelical tactics and instill the truth in them so that they can challenge their beliefs themselves. Then, I would urge them to turn and follow the right way.

Furthermore, I would tell this truth to the ones they have already deceived.

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Religion in Todays World

1.) Definition of Terms

i. Existentialism is a philosophical belief that an individual is free and responsible for the determination of his or her development through willful acts.

ii. Constructionism is a theory stating that individual learners construct mental models to understand the world around them.

iii. Deconstruction is a theory of reading that aims at undermining the logic of opposition within texts.

iv. New Religious Movements (NRMs) refer to a modern religious community that holds different beliefs from those of the dominant religious cultures.

v. Adventism is a branch of Protestantism that believes in approaching the second coming of Jesus Christ.

vi. The Great Disappointment is a movement being a result of the failure of the Millerite movement. Miller had predicted that the end of the world was to come during the spring of 1844, and his followers were disappointed when this did not happen. Some of them began organizing different denominations based on his theories.

vii. The book of Mormon is a sacred text of the Latter Day Saint movement. It was authored by Joseph Smith who claims being visited by God. God allegedly told him that all religious denominations are an abomination to Him.

viii. New Thought is a religious movement that believes in the superiority of the power of the spirit as compared to matter. Therefore, given that God is a spirit, He is everywhere and can do anything while the mind has healing powers because it is not physical matter.

ix. Swami is a religious master of the Hindu religion. Such a master holds monastic religious capabilities because he is initiated by a religious teacher.

x. Transcendental Meditation (TM) is a technique for detaching oneself from anxiety and promoting harmony and self-realization by meditation.

xi. Rastafarians are members of a Rastafarian religious movement with a unique code of behavior and dress.

xii. Black power is a political slogan and associated ideologies whose purpose is achieving self-determination for people of African descent.

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xiii. Nation of Islam is an African American political and religious movement, whose goals are to improve the spiritual, mental, social, and economic conditions of African Americans.

xiv. Raelian Movement is a group of people believing that life on Earth was created by extraterrestrial beings.

xv. Human Potential Movement emphasized the development of individuals through such techniques as encounter groups, sensitivity training, and primal therapy.

xvi. New Age Movement is a modern religious movement whose beliefs are based on a mixture of modern scientific proofs, astrology, and mystical beliefs.

xvii. Falun Gong is a modern Chinese religious movement whose beliefs are derived from those of Western New Age movements, Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism.

xviii. Secularization is a historical process through which religion loses social and cultural significance. Thus, the sacred is turned into secular.

xix. Sacralization is the process through which social and cultural believes are turned into religious aspects. To sacralize means to make sacred or imbue with a sacred character through ritualized devotion.

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xx. Globalization is the transfer of cultural customs, religious beliefs, and secular ways of life across the world.

2.) Evaluation of the statement, The Modern World will inevitably move toward the Secular.

Scientific facts contradict religious beliefs. The best example is Galileo's discovery that the world is round which is the opposite idea to what was believed before. Scientific proofs provoke a decline of traditional religious beliefs as people change their views on what they believed in before. Therefore, scientific discoveries have led to the diminishing of traditional religious beliefs.

3.) How Existentialism is equally adaptable to any Religious Expression

Existentialism is equally adaptable to any religious expression because it is about being one's hero without the support of society.

4.) How the View that Truth is Subject to the Experience and Interpretation of the Individual is both an Accurate and Inaccurate Evaluation

The view that truth is subject to an individual's experience and interpretation is an accurate evaluation based on existentialism. One has to experience and interpret what they experienced to form the truth. Conversely, the view is inaccurate, given that religious issues are extraordinary and are beyond man's comprehension. Therefore, there is no experience or interpretation required to know the truth of some religious issues.

The missional approach to this prevailing attitude is to urge people to evaluate the scripture and understand that man's wisdom is way below God's knowledge. Therefore, they should believe in God's word as it is the absolute truth.

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5.) What has made the United States a particular Gathering Spot for NRMs

The United States promotes a gathering of NRMs because of its unique guarantee of religious liberty and its diversity of cultures, races, and ethnicities. The United States is characterized by numerous denominations and religious groups due to the ethnic diversity of the country. Historically, the United States has always been marked by religious pluralism and diversity. Faith is always based on evidence. Therefore, people are keen to avoid blind faith.

6.) Five Theories of Secularization

Durkheims Theory

Durkheim postulated that secular institutions would become predominant as a social division of labor leads to the separation of the sacred from the secular. However, numerous secular institutions exhibit sacralization such as religion-based institutions of learning.

Webers Theory

Weber proposes that the increasing dominance of instrumental rationality in political and economic institutions leads to the eclipse of religious reason. The Vatican is evidence of political and economic institution sacralization.

Marx's Theory

Marx sees religion as more than an ideological system for the justification of class dominance. Conversely, all religions and religious denominations accommodate all classes of people, which is an aspect of sacralization.

Bergers Theory

The theory postulates that all belief systems emanate from intact and plausible structures that are provided through social affirmation. However, most of the countries are pluralized with Christianity, and their systems of beliefs do not rely on such intact and plausible structures.

Spencers Theory

According to Spencer, phenomenal knowledge requires empirical demonstration. However, the current knowledge regarding Christianity is based on beliefs as it is non-empirical.

7.) Impact of Religion upon Globalization and Globalization upon Religion

Religion impacts globalization determining the choice of movement from one culture to another rather than letting fate take the course. Conversely, globalization has a great impact on religion. As people and cultures move across the globe, and as ideas are mobilized and transported by media technologies, religious globalization will continue. There is more interaction between people of different religions than in the past. Religious freedom is a guarantee to believe in what convinces an individual.

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8.) Religion and politics do not mix!

According to the Jews, the statement is ideal as it separates politics from religion. Therefore, religious leaders should not be political leaders. However, governance requires religious guidance and separating the two of them will be disastrous. Conversely, Muslims could argue that politics will have to interfere. However, it is wrong to use religion to perpetuate selfish political agendas. As one who is a missionary motivated by the Gospel of Jesus the Messiah, I would argue that politics can interfere with religion as religion guides, political leaders. However, leaders should not allow their political ambitions to derail them from their religious course.

Christian Sects: How to Respond?

1.) Bare Minimum of Faith when it comes to someone's Salvation

When it comes to someone's salvation, there is no bare minimum of faith required because salvation is gained through grace alone. However, one needs to have faith and believe that Jesus Christ is our savior who died for our salvation.

2.) Sect and Cult

A sect cult of Christianity is a group or religious organization whose central teachings and practices are claimed to be Biblical but in reality, they are not. Members of a cult are controlled exclusively by one man or organization. Cult members have to agree with everything the cult leader believes without challenging their doctrines. They are not supposed to think critically for themselves. They become isolated from family members and often place themselves above the law.

3.) Gods Specialization in happy inconsistencies in my Life as well as the lives of others

God subjects us to inconsistencies in our lives so that we can learn to appreciate His presence and capability. For instance, life is characterized by happy inconsistencies, which makes us realize that we have to endure challenges and have a strong faith so that we can celebrate the ultimate end. Therefore, the lack of happiness is not accidental but is intentional to prepare us for the upcoming glory.

4.) The motivation of a Missional Response from Me

Having known that God has placed happy inconsistencies in our lives, I can ensure any challenges that I face as I evangelize people. I may be doing God's work but still suffer as those who do not even care about God. Thus, it should not mean that God has forgotten me but He has my throne in store, and I should continue doing my job.

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Secularization, Sacralization and the New Spirituality

1.) Examples Sacred is made Secular and the Secular is made Sacred

The best example of the sacred made the secular is sex. Most people ascribe to sex as being secular. Approaching it from God's perspective, sex is sacred. Music represents an example of the secular made sacred in some instances. Music is a source of instruction, inspiration, and hope. Music is a spiritual thing saving souls.

2.) Other Ways that we use Language to Redefine the Religious Meaning

The other way that we use language to redefine religious meaning is due to the change in the meaning of words. Whenever, the meaning of words is slightly changed, especially during translation, religious meanings are redefined. Conversely, in our ascriptions to evangelical or scientist notions or believer or atheist notions, the meaning of religion becomes grounded on something else other than God. 3.) My View on the Presentation that the Contemporary View of Spiritual is less Real or more about Self and less about God

Contemporary spirituality focuses on individual spiritual experience as the starting point for exploration and development. However, its values are holistic. Modern spirituality takes a holistic approach that is open-hearted, seeking to understand many aspects of existence. 4.) Difference between those who see Spirituality as a Self-Based Enterprise and the Follower of Jesus

Those who see spirituality as a self-based enterprise are hostile to religious convictions and expressions in public places while the followers of Jesus who know that spirituality is a God-centered reality are not ashamed of praising Jesus openly.

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