The Maze of Religion
Since the realm of science cannot discover or answer the meaning or purpose behind man's existence, people over the ages have turned to the one and only alternative source possible. Religion.
Yet every religion proposes a different approach at finding "God." Every theological belief system out there thinks they are exclusively right.
If you have ever carried on a conversation with any person who is strongly religious or belongs to a specific church, you have probably made the remarkable discovery that they ALWAYS believe that their beliefs and convictions are true, and everybody else is wrong.
On this redundant point the entire religious basis of truth must surely break down and collapse. Everybody cannot possibly be right! Instead of leading to clarity, so many persuasions have simply muddied the water. No wonder numerous people in today's society are skeptical and cynical. They honestly don't know what to believe.
As a society, we have ceased to believe that we can be certain of anything other than ourselves.
As you comprehend this website—it will become exceedingly apparent that the answer to life's big question is going to require something over and beyond man's capability. It is going to require something that goes beyond science and religion. Reality and truth must be found outside the box of man's intellectual thinking mechanism. It cannot be achieved by curiosity and determination. Something that is beyond any of us, something that is supernatural, will have to reach down and pull back the curtain. There is no other way to get beyond the maze of religion. All of man's attempts to figure out the meaning to life are futile.
So let us begin our discussion on religion with a spectacular analysis of two of the world's great belief systems. The principles of logic presented here can be applied to all religious factions. We present the following for no other reason than to simply to make a point.
Catholics vs. Mormons—
The scene is St. Peter's square in Rome. Standing in front of the viewer is one of the most awesome structures ever built by man—the "mother of all churches"—the Holy Roman Catholic Church. No one who watches the news can doubt the worldwide influence and significance of the pope, whom Catholics believe to be "infallible" and the very "Vicar of Christ" upon earth. According to Catholic tradition, the apostle Peter was the first pope. As one drives up the miles long boulevard to St. Peters, there are massive buildings on the right and left that in centuries past, housed the ambassadors of all the nations and kings of the world, who came and submitted to the authority of Rome and the pope.
It is estimated that there are over 2 billion Christians living in the world today. Almost half are Catholics. The word catholic means "universal and all inclusive." The Catholic church regards itself as the only bona-fide representative of Christ upon earth. All other Christian or protestant churches (the word protestant means "to protest"), are considered wayward daughters who must surely repent and return to the mother church.
The scene now changes. A Catholic dedicatory mass is taking place in St. Peter's basilica, as the pope stands on the high altar beneath the massive dome. Stretched out on the floor beneath lay the bodies of dozens of young men. They have traveled to Rome as the new inductees into the catholic priesthood, which now comprises almost half a million priests world wide (400,000 to be exact). They have given up marriage and family to live a life of celibacy in complete dedication to God and service to their church.
Unlike most Christians, the Catholic church does not believe that the Bible is the sole authority. Instead, they follow the Bible PLUS church tradition. There are hundreds of teachings and doctrines within the Catholic church (including many long forgotten superstitions) that are extra biblical—all adopted by papal decree down through the centuries. As recently as the 1500's, the Church had people murdered and literally burned at the stake for teaching that the earth revolved around the sun. That policy was finally changed in 1835.
Along with all of its dogma and tradition, the Catholic church believes that they are the only true way to God—the sole authority and mediator between God and man. One cannot be saved or enter heaven unless he/she follows the precepts and teachings of the Church of Rome. One billion people living on earth follow this premise with all of their heart—believing that their eternal destiny rests upon obedience to the law of this institution. They attend catholic mass on a regular basis, go to confessionals where behind a veil their sins are confessed to a priest who then prays to God for their forgiveness. Upon death, after they receive the last rights by a priest, they must go to a place called "purgatory" where their remaining sins are purged before they can finally enter heaven (another catholic teaching not openly taught in the Bible).
Please understand that the purpose here is not to belittle Catholics. Many are precious and sincere people. The point we are seeking to make, is that here exists a religious system, one that has evolved over hundreds of years and dominated kings and nations—where one billion individuals believe that this is the true and only way to God.
Once again the scene changes. The year is 1989, and the author of this website is attending the open house for the new Portland, Oregon U.S.A. temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (the Mormons).
The line of spectators stretches for blocks as the public gets their first view of the new 40 million dollar marble structure with six towering spires. It looks like a fairy tale Disneyland castle, a gorgeous windowless structure where no expense has been spared—everything is marble, gold leaf, and the most expensive woodwork. It was built to easily last 1000 years. The temple has over 250 rooms in it, most of which were designed to hold secret ceremonies and initiation rights, baptisms for the dead, eternal marriages, etc. The people who walk through this day are required to cover their shoes with surgical moccasins. No one speaks out loud. Just before the structure is dedicated, all the brand new carpeting will actually be ripped out and replaced (to "cleanse" the temple of the "gentiles"), and then only privileged Mormons with a temple recommend will be allowed to enter.
This is just one of over 100 similar temples worldwide, and many more will be built. The Mormon Church now boasts over twelve million members, almost six million of whom reside in North America alone. Due to its vast network of young missionaries, Mormonism is one of the world's fastest growing religions. It is also one of the wealthiest with assets into the billions of dollars. As with most all religious institutions, money plays a huge role. Today, in America and around the world, religion is big business.
It all started back in the early 1800's, when a young 14 year old boy by the name of Joseph Smith in upstate New York, was supposedly visited by two men whom he claimed were Jesus and Father God. Young Joseph was told that all religions and churches were false (including the Catholic church), and that he had now been given the keys to the "restored Gospel," which for some reason had never been completed at Christ's first coming. Later, he supposedly received numerous visitations by an angel named "Moroni." He was instructed by the angel to dig up some gold tablets buried thousand of years earlier that would finally reveal to the world God's perfect plan.
According to the story, the young boy took the gold plates and by wearing special glasses called "urim and thumin," he was able to translate the "reformed" Egyptian symbols into what is today known of as the "Book of Mormon." When he was finished he returned the golden plates to the angel (no linguistic scholar has ever been able to validate any of this).
The Book of Mormon describes in detail a massive and modern civilization of large cities stretched across North America. Mormons believe that the American Indians are actually Jews and that Christ came to North America and preached the gospel to these "Jews" two thousand years ago (anthropologists have biologically proven that American Indians have no relationship to European or Middle Eastern Jews but originated from the oriental race). Yet not a single major city or complex civilization described in the Book of Mormon has ever been discovered by any archaeologist (except for the Maya ruins in Mexico).
Note: Numerous skeptics believe that much of the Book of Mormon was an early American novel written by a man named Solomon Spaulding, that was never published before he died, and Joseph Smith plagiarized and reworked it after it was stolen from a Pittsburg, Pennsylvania printing shop by a man named Sydney Rigdon. In any event, there are many questions and lack of total verification concerning the Book of Mormon. Of major importance is another work by Joseph smith that apparently destroys his credibility 100%—his "translation" of some ancient Egyptian burial documents he purchased in 1835 in Kirtland, Ohio, that were wrapped around mummies in a traveling road show. Joseph declared that he had come across the actual hand written documents of Abraham, written by his very "own hand on papyrus," some 2000 years before Christ, which Joseph Smith "translated" into "The Book of Abraham." This work appears in The Pearl of Great Price (the other book the Mormons regard as Scripture, and equal in authority to both the Bible and the Book of Mormon) ~ see www.carm.org/lds/ldspapyri.htm and www.watchman.org/lds/abraham2.htm). Every renown scholar who has examined these actual original documents, rediscovered in 1967 at the Metropolitan Museum of art in New York City, along with Joseph's own personal handwriting, have declared them as a complete hoax. They are nothing more than standard Egyptian burial documents called "the book of breathings" that existed at least 1500 years after Abraham even lived. They have absolutely nothing to do with Abraham. An hour long documentary exposing this fallacy, called "The Lost Book of Abraham," aired a few years ago on national television (www.bookofabraham.info).
Based upon this supposed vision of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon, and a few faithful followers, the Mormon Church was born. The small sect moved to Kirtland, Ohio after being persecuted, and were eventually driven from there to Nauvoo, Illinois, where Joseph Smith was murdered. A man named Brigham Young took most of the remaining Mormons to Salt Lake City, Utah, where the sect eventually built their massive Salt Lake Temple and presently have their world headquarters. Today, Brigham Young University (BYU) has over 30,000 students.
Joseph Smith reportedly had 23 wives, and Brigham Young married as many as 60 individual wives ("for eternity"). In fact, Joseph Smith taught that the only way to attain unto godhood was through multiple marriages, a practice that was later banned by the Mormon Church due to political pressure from the U.S. government, which then allowed Utah to become a state. In Utah today, there are an estimated 40,000 polygamous marriages by Mormon fundamentalists (the FLDS, or "Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints" still practices polygamy).
Mormonism likes to proselyte Christians by representing itself as just "Another Testimony of Jesus Christ." Even though Mormons claim to follow the Bible (it is only one of five works they consider Divine), Mormonism is NOT a monotheistic religion. All genuine Christians and Jews believe there exists only One Creator God. Mormons teach that there is no one single God in the universe—that the universe is full of billions of gods. Mormons teach that they themselves are "gods in embryo," and that each Mormon may eventually become a god—godhood is simply a sliding scale of attainment. Upon death, if they have been faithful to their church, they will go to "heaven" and advance one more step on their journey to becoming lords of creation. That is why marriage is so important to Mormons and one of the major reasons they build temples. According to them, marriage is for eternity, and this sealing can only take place in a Mormon temple on earth, where upon death, couples will then have "celestial sex" and populate their very own planet somewhere out in the universe (no joke—this is emphatically taught by Mormons).
Mormons teach and believe that the heavenly father, is a man/god named "Elohym" who came from a planet that revolves around a star named "Kolob." His oldest two sons were Jesus and Lucifer (who later became Satan and the devil). All the people born into this world are the spirit children of Elohym and his thousands of wives. He sent them into this world to see which of his oldest two sons they would choose to follow and obey, either Jesus or Lucifer.
Joseph Smith was a Mason, and much of the Mormon temple rituals were lifted from the textbook of Freemasonry (www.irr.org/MIT/masonry.html). The Mormon temple has been set up to hold all sorts of initiation ceremonies in this godhood progression process, where Mormons are given secret names, learn secret angelic handshakes and passwords, so that upon death they will get past the angelic security guards. During one ceremony Mormon men are actually given a secret name for their wives, which they are never to divulge or utter until the day of resurrection when the husband calls his wife out of the grave to be his celestial bride.
Before a Mormon goes into the temple proper, he must first be bathed in a special ceremony where all the various body parts are washed and anointed by temple workers and prayed over. It is during this ceremony that Mormons are given special underwear that they must wear at all times during their lifetime, to protect themselves from evil spirits. The underwear has various "occult" symbols woven into it.
Again, it should be pointed out that in North America alone, there are more than six million people that believe this religion. If you are interested in learning more, there are hundreds of websites that discuss Mormonism in detail.
Now here is the important fact to realize in all of this. There are thousands of doctors, lawyers, businessmen, even congressmen and senators, that are devout Mormons and follow these beliefs. These are NOT a bunch of religious kooks and weirdos. These are people like U.S. senator Orin Hatch, Massachusetts governor and recent presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, superbowl quarterback Steve Young, Masters golf champion Mike Weir, former CBS anchor Jane Clayson (and of course the Osmonds). These are normal, law abiding, fun loving, everyday people, who are patriotic, are family oriented, don't smoke or even drink coffee, and who might be working at an office desk right next to yours. Mormons will adamantly refuse to discuss the above beliefs with "unbelievers."
The Reason for This Discussion
It is not the purpose of this website to debate the worlds religions. We shared these interesting facts simply to illustrate an objective and staggeringly significant point.
Both the Catholic and Mormon religions cannot be right. Someone must surely be wrong. Millions of people (on one side of the belief ledger or the other), are following fiction and fantasy. Simple logic will tell any thinking or logical person that someone has got to be haywire—God cannot possibly favor both Catholics and Mormons. In fact, what we will discover is that neither of these religions is true, especially Mormonism.
Both religions follow completely different ways and means of attaining salvation and trying to earn God's favor—there is virtually no similarity between the two belief systems. Each system believes that they represent God exclusively, and demand absolute submission by their members (and of course the payment of tithes). Catholics and Mormons quite literally live on totally different planets. Each would regard the other as not only false, but headed for perdition and God's judgment. Just one example is the crucial issue of the Divinity of Jesus. Catholics, like all Christians, believe in the full divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ. Mormons adamantly do not. Their definition of Jesus is entirely different than mainstream Christianity. They do not worship the same Jesus (he is only an advanced "god/man" with others having preceded Him and higher in rank (comment: this destroys the very first cause position as Creator that the Bible claims Jesus holds from eternity past—see Col 1:16, Isa 9:6, Joh 8:58, Rev 21:6, Heb 7:3).
One Point Three Billion Muslims
We can now begin to get the picture. This whole argument can be carried on to numerous other religious factions. What about the 1.3 billion Muslims worldwide who follow an entirely different premise yet? Here, there is not even the slightest relationship with Christianity.
Picture the Hajj, an event that takes place every year in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, as two million pilgrims from around the world move as a swarming mass of humanity around the Kaaba, a stone building containing the "black rock" at the center of the great Mosque of Mecca.
None of these white robed Muslims have any substantive knowledge of either Roman Catholicism or Mormonism. The teachings of neither have any influence on their lives (or visa versa). Yet they are totally devout in following a completely different faith/premise and "road to salvation."
About 1400 years ago the "prophet" Mohammad wrote the Quran (or Koran), which is the Muslim Bible. The word Islam means "submission." It is the most monotheistic religion in the world, i.e. worships the one invisible God "Allah." Unlike Christians, Muslims do not believe that God ever had a Son. (Note: Christians believe that their very salvation and ultimate eternal destiny rests exclusively on faith in the only begotten Son of God (see John 3:16).
Perhaps no members of any religion are more devout than the Muslims. Like every other religious system, they are divided among themselves, particularly the Shiite and Sunni branches of the religion. Most are peaceful people. The more radical elements promote Jihad (or a holy war), against all western and Christian/Jewish influences. Of course we all witnessed the radical extremism that manifested itself on 9/11. Muslims are so strong and sure of their faith that most would be willing to die in a heart beat. Many teach that the only sure path to paradise or heaven is by martyrdom.
We could continue to discuss the millions of people who belong to the other religions. (www.adherents.com/Religions_By_Adherents.html)
The New Age Religions
Of special note here, are all the more recent Eastern mysticism and new age beliefs that have infiltrated the West. Many of these beliefs are not well organized, yet loosely followed by millions of people. (In some instances people can almost invent their own religion.) A good example of this type of thing would be Shirley McClain. Also, scientology fits into this category. Another fast rising interest is in Kabala, or the secrets of ancient Jewish mysticism, much of which originated in Babylon.
And then there is the link to the deeper and darker side of things, with numerous occult practices, Wicca, witchcraft, even Satanism, etc.
The Christian Maze
Perhaps no religion has more factions within itself than protestant Christianity.
While most Christians agree on the major points, there are numerous sects whom mainline Christians (even Catholics), would consider as aberrant or perhaps even cultic. A few examples would be the Jehovah Witnesses, the Seventh Day Adventists, Christian Science, etc. Also included, are numerous and smaller radical apocalypic groups such as David Koresh and the Branch Davidians (from the Waco/FBI mass suicide incident a few years ago). All these groups believe that they are the sole beneficiaries of God's favor.
Within mainstream Christianity are the liturgical churches, Methodist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Episcopal.
Also fundamentalist/evangelicals factions such as numerous Baptist groups, Brethren Churches, Nazarene, etc.
Various pentecostal and charismatic groups have become huge in recent decades. The Assembly of God, Church of the Fousquare, United Pentecostal, and the Vineyard Churches, etc. Most Christian television today is promoted by the various pentecostal and Charismatic groups.
Great diversity and vastly differences of opinion exist between various denominations within protestant Christianity. Many follow entirely different theologies or systems of interpreting the Bible. There is little consensus or any sort of centralization between all the factions—sort of a theological "wild west." Thousands of apologetic web sites exist which lambaste and blast apart the teachings of others within Christianity, as being either false or heretical—attempting to prove that they themselves are exclusively right in both their doctrine and interpretation of the Bible.
Conclusion on Religion
At this juncture, we must ask ourselves a poignant question. If there truly is a God in heaven above, why has he allowed mankind to flop and flounder in such spectacular fashion? If there is one thing that can be said about the topic of religion—it is a realm of both hysteria and mass confusion. The only thing that is sure is the fact that nothing is sure. As one well put axiom states— "there is no idea so absurd that some people cannot be induced to believe it."
When it comes to religion or spirituality, anything is possible. People are capable of believing—with every ounce of their soul and over their entire lifespan on earth—something that is little more than fiction and fantasy. Watching a catholic mass with all the pomp and ceremony, bishops and cardinals dressed in colorful robes, fancy hats, gold chains and crucifixes, and all sorts of regalia, along with the Pope sitting on a throne... comparing all this to the Mormon temple rituals, with all the "priestly" temple garments and secret ceremonies and oaths in special ornate sealing and celestial rooms... one can only draw the conclusion that all of this is little more than a grown ups version of make believe. It has little or nothing to do with the God who created the universe. In fact, most all of it is nothing but a flat out delusion.
There is a definite reason why all this religious preponderance and confusion has happened, and later this website will pull back the curtain and explain why. For now it is simply important that you understand one thing. Nobody out there has a lock on truth. There is no religion, there is no organized church, there is no one belief system—in and of itself—that you can depend on 100% for a full and complete understanding of truth. No, not even fundamental/evangelical/historical Christianity. Although many people in Christian churches are truly saved and know God personally, churches everywhere are full of thousands of people who do not truly know God, who have never been truly transformed by the Holy Spirit of the Living God (many attend mostly for social reasons or because it makes them feel good).
Here at Angelfall we are going to look past the world of religion, and enter a whole new realm of objectivity. And by God's grace, we WILL find some definite answers.
From the time of the book of Genesis, when God drove man out of the garden of Eden, He has always protected the tree of life and His eternal knowledge, with a flaming sword pointed in all directions.
"So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way of the tree of life. (Genesis 3:24).
Since that time no one has ever been allowed to get near it. And there is a definite reason. Later we will find out why.