Question: Has humanity outgrown faith-based institutions?
Jeff Scholes - Agnostic
Jeffrey Scholes, Ph.D., is an associate professor of philosophy and the director of the Center for Religious Diversity and Public Life at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.
I think “outgrown” is a problematic word here. It implies that the role of faith-based institutions in many lives was a stage to be moved past; outgrown. And hence church, generally construed, is a dated relic that thinking humans should put aside once and for all. As long as religion/spirituality is around, there will be a need to gather together and worship, pray, meditate or perform rituals. Now the precipitous decline in the numbers of self-identified Christians in the U.S. is translating into far less attendance at faith-based institutions. However, if we either broaden the meaning of “institution” or replace the word altogether, we’ll likely find that very little has been “outgrown.”
Ahriana Platten - New Thought/Unity
Dr. Ahriana Platten is founder-executive director of In Good Faith, leads Unity Spiritual Center and speaks around the country on the topics of interfaith and intercultural understanding.
I believe we’ve outgrown the type of faith-based institutions that have, over centuries, pitted us against one another in a “my-God-is-the-right-God” battle of scriptural references. That said, I don’t believe we have scratched the surface of the wide and expansive field of spirituality that helps us to understand our interconnection with everything around us. Today’s seeker is looking for his/her/their own personal experience of something Holy and worthy of reverence. Religious institutions are going through a metamorphosis inspired by the needs of the communities they serve. Spirituality and science are dovetailing in a way that crosses religious lines of separation, uniting people around principles such as authenticity, sustainability and wholistic living. It’s a time of spiritual evolution.
Jim Daly - Christian
Jim Daly is president of Focus on the Family, an organization dedicated to helping families thrive. He and his wife are raising two boys. Visit focusonthefamily.com.
Faith is something mankind can’t live without. That’s what the Bible means when it says that God has “set eternity in our hearts” (Ecclesiastes 3:11). Augustine wrote that there’s a gaping hole at the center of every human psyche that only the Lord can fill. Everyone has to believe in something — whether it’s Jesus, Krishna, self, science, or law and order. Faith-based institutions are just one of many ways in which people express their faith and apply it to the challenges of living. Like all other institutions, they represent a specific and finite response to an environment. They come, go and change with the times, but the impulse toward faith never goes away.
Ray Hendershot - Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
Ray Hendershot has served on a mission to England, has been a bishop, and has held other key leadership positions in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Currently, he works with other faiths in service to our community.
As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints we are taught to follow the example of Jesus Christ, who taught his followers to be kind and helpful to others. We are to forgive others of mistakes that they may make and be good examples of Christ in all our activities. George Washington made the statement, “Religion and morality are the essential pillars of civil society.” Today, more than ever, we need religious institutions to teach and encourage the moral behavior that our society is based on and that is essential to our democracy. As members of our faith, we are encouraged to attend church weekly and receive instruction on following the example of Jesus Christ in our lives.
Join the conversation at InGoodFaith.org.