Saturday, November 17, 2012

Fr Georges Massouh on Religiolatry

Arabic original here. In the Arabic, Fr Georges uses a primarily Muslim religious vocabulary, which should tip the reader off to the point he's trying to make....

Man as a Slave to the Law

Religious moral and ethical concepts and their requirements have been turned on their head. They have deviated from the path that God desired for them. Where these laws, judgments, and commandments were set down to illustrate for man the ways of the exemplary life, they have become chains that shackle man and enslave him to the religious institutions to which they belong.

People of religion all say that religions were made for the service of man, and not man for the service of religion. Man is the pinnacle of creation and the most noble creature. God created him "in His image and likeness" and made him "His representative on earth." He entrusted him with the entire world. The existence of man preceded religions by millions of years. Among all the creatures of the earth, only man has been promised eternal life by God. All things will be destroyed, the religions say, and only God and those humans whom He chooses to live in His company in paradise or the kingdom.

"The Sabbath was made for man. Man was not made for the Sabbath" is a new rule brought by Christ in the face of legalists and literalists who did not realize God's true purpose for the law. This is why Christ reminded them that God said "I desire mercy and not sacrifice." That is, of the priority of man and the necessity of serving him ahead of ritual practice and applying laws. Man goes before the law, not the opposite.

However, the realities of history do not live up to what is required by the foundational texts and theological theory. History shows us how concepts were turned on their head, since instead of man being the focus of concern for religious leaders, he became a malleable tool in their hands. They exploited the religious feelings of their followers and manipulated them, under the guise of defending religion, in the service of their political or military alliances with sultans, kings, princes, and rulers. In this way people came to die for religions and not for God, and there is a big difference between these two things. Religions that were made in principle for the service of man make man into their servant when they turn into ideologies that must be defended at any cost. The conflicts that we have seen over the course of history and up to our own day had religion as their basic motivating factor, which brought about under its slogans wars between nations or within the same country.

In all of these wars, man was crushed in the name of religions. Instead of being the master of creation, as God desired, he became a slave to his religious institutions, their leaders and legal scholars and priests. Man became a slave to his sheik or his teacher, like a novice who has no will of his own, like a ring on the finger of his guide.  Man became a means rather than being the purpose. Man's dying for religion became the purpose and the purpose stopped being life for the sake of man.

Instead of God being the object of worship and veneration, religion takes God's place. Shirk is not only man adopting another god besides God. Shirk is also religion or dogma becoming an object of worship beside God. God created man free, but man enslaves himself by his own will to his religion and his dogmas. Religions will have no real meaning if man is not liberated from worshiping them and if worship is not limited to God alone who has no partner.

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