Orthodox or liberal faith

orthodoxe-of-liberale-visie

The difference between orthodoxy and liberalism in religion is about the appreciation of freedom and about the choice between your relation with your God on the one hand or with other people and everyday life on the other hand. Liberal religion however, does not necessarily correspond with more freedom, freedom is also an issue for orthodoxy. Orthodox religion emphasizes good knowledge of religious traditions and also obedience to them, because those faithful who sincerely want a relationship with their God, will do what He asks them to do in the ways as prescribed in the religious revelations. It would be arrogant not to do so and arrogance comes from lack of love. The next question is whether the orthodox believer takes the freedom to display his or her love for God to the rest of the world. If only his own wishes matter, this would just be an issue of honesty and self-discipline to fulfill the required rituals and wear or use the prescribed items. Honesty and self-discipline as a sign of humility and sincere love towards God. An orthodox believer will see a hiding of religious worship as an act of hypocrisy and self-deceit, but also as an act of disobedience to the foremost important authority we have: God. After all none of us have seen God and we cannot proof the non-validity of traditions and rules, we are small in the universe and don’t know much, God however is omnipotent and knows best what is good for us. In the orthodox view following traditions and rules is therefore in our best interest. However, the possibility to display orthodox religion is limited by other people and their beliefs. In a pluralistic society this is an issue still non-settled. Which religious practices can be allowed and where? So orthodox believers find themselves restricted in certain freedoms and they have to find emergency clauses in their religious systems that allow them to skip these acts of worship at a certain time and place.

Different is the situation where orthodox religion is mainstream and part of the political and legal system. In this situation it is natural and easy for the faithful to practice worship, sometimes it is even compulsory by law. Orthodox believers, however, do not necessarily disapprove of this compulsory character. They see their political leaders also as leaders in religion who should enforce practice of religious rules on society in order not to disintegrate and protect society and individual people from misbehavior. God after all commands the faithful to make sure His will is carried out as prescribed and let justice this way prevail. The society should be a reflection of Gods plan. Religion has to offer the issue of how to deal with minority thinkers. To what extend can they express themselves, occupy high positions and acquire land and also if it is possible to choose another religion. The attitude to minorities is an important bottle neck for the success of the orthodox religious state, because it is the community’s first display towards the bigger world.

Liberal faith prefers to emphasize the individual and his or her personal, self-developed faith. Traditions and rules still play a role as a historic reference worth to study and a collective asset necessary to bind the members of the community closer. They are considered teachings that form the identity of the individual and the community. But liberal faith does not prescribe strict obedience to rules and tradition. Liberal faith tends to emphasize our not knowing the value of religious sayings, we don’t know how much of them really is of divine provenance and we do know that many communities don’t follow our traditions and rules. In order not to offend those with other ideas, religious worship should not be enforced on people and not be practiced outside the own community. Secularism is therefore more often found among liberal minded societies, however, not exclusively nowadays.

At first sight liberal faith sounds more tolerant and open than orthodoxy, but this may be deceptive. Whether people are open and tolerant is a result of not fearing other ideas and people. Fear may smother broad mindedness in the core. Another factor necessary to keep an open mind is willingness to gain knowledge. Study of any book or profession or travel to other places may develop the mind and this attitude can be found among liberal and orthodox people. The opposite of fear is acceptance of others without loss of own identity and allowing public expression of other people’s ideas and ceremonials is a sign of open mindedness. It is best to admit that not every liberal or secular society possesses this tolerance.

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