|Posted on June 21, 2010 at 4:58 PM|
It is most refreshing and inspiring to me to discover and experience that the basic attitude of Spiritualism as a religion is one of open-mindedness. In my experience, one of the biggest problems with many religious institutions is the concept of exclusivity. Religious exclusivism is the mindset that claims that one particular faith has a monopoly on the highest truth, and considers followers of other religions to hold invalid beliefs, considering them inferior, wrong, or deluded, or assessing the behavior of their adherents as immoral or heretical.
Most religions that I have been involved in hold this position, which I find very disturbing. Religious exclusivity ultimately leads to religious intolerance, which can result in fights between different factions in a religion, excommunications, persecution, religious wars, and even mass murder or genocide against persons of other faiths.
I have experienced no such tendency in Spiritualism. On the contrary, I find Spiritualism to be a common-sense religion that recognizes that what we embrace as true today might change tomorrow as our life experiences and personal studies lead us to see things differently. Where many religions become locked in a box that holds their doctrines to be absolute and infallible, Spiritualism recognizes that we may discover new truths in the future that may require us, if we are intellectually honest, to adjust or even discard old beliefs in favor of greater truth.
Many religions invest a great deal of energy trying to convince others that the founder of their faith holds a unique and irreplaceable place in the scheme of things, and that failure to follow the founder’s teachings will have dire consequences. In many cases, the founders are given god-like status.
Spiritualism bows down to no founder, and reserves its reverence for God only. It recognizes that no matter how psychically gifted a man may be, he is in the final analysis simply that –a man. Being human, founders may also succumb to human weaknesses, and it would be folly to place absolute faith in them.
Other religionists overemphasize the meaning of spirit communication; someone receives a message from spirit and impulsively makes important life decisions that may or may not be beneficial to them. Spiritualism takes a more realistic view, and advises us to take a common-sense approach in our analysis of spirit messages.
Some religions claim that only their founder or other institutional authorities are qualified to understand the truth or God’s will, and teach their adherents that it is spiritually dangerous for them to consider other ideas. Spiritualism actively encourages its members to ask questions and to increase their knowledge by studying, even the teachings of other faith traditions. It teaches people to be unafraid in the pursuit of truth, but courageously follow wherever the path may lead.
It has been a pleasant surprise to me to find that Spiritualism takes a realistic, levelheaded, and rational approach to the religious life. Again, it is refreshing to discover a religion that advocates respect and tolerance for all faith traditions, emphasizes humility, and promotes love and service to others as the highest calling.