What is a Belief System?
Published 15 Mar 2017
From the dawn of the humankind history faith had played the vital role in the life of people. It was faith that helped them survive the hardships, protected them during the long windy dark nights beside the fire, it was the thing that made them continue forward when all the energies seemed to have been lost. The faith is composed of many small elements, small persuasions, the facts that have no real evidence as the basis, but people still take them for granted. Belief system is the phenomenon that organizes all this small facts, principles and persuasions into the full concept, the one that has the defined goals and methods of reaching them. The belief system has the rules its adepts have to follow, it usually explains the origins of those rules and the history of their appearance, it talks about the countenance that is presented to those who fulfill them, and the measures taken towards those who fail to do so. Mary Pat Fisher, the author of the book Living Religions says that every religion is a belief system, but not every belief system is a religion.
Personally I was raised Catholic, but after reading The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz, The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield, & The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown, I have become more moral and spiritual than religious. I question women’s roles in the Bible, Koran, and Torah. At the moment I cannot say I am an adept of this or that religion, but the beliefs I share do compose a religious belief system. I believe that a high deity exists, the one who created this Universe, and who set the rule people have to follow for to ensure their safe and happy being on this planet, and that gives them the chance to continue their existence even after death. I realize that the commandments found in the Bible are just the guidelines for our behavior, and that the most important principles of the existence that corresponds to the God’s intentions towards us were given by Jesus Christ. They are to love God and to love those who are near you. I believe that love is the kernel of the contemporary Christianity, all rules given in the New Testament are just retelling of this two postulates. I believe it’s of more important to live according to the spirit of the laws that God gave to us, than to live precisely to its letter.
As you may’ve noticed my particular belief system is a combination of classical Catolicism, the interpretation of Bible by the religious philosophers and my own thoughts about the origins and destination of this particular religion. My parents raised me as a Catholic, I had to visit church every Sunday, but I never considered this to be boring. I’ve always seen the rules given in the Bible as useful recommendations that mostly allow leading happy and long life on our planet without hurting people who dwell around. Thus I’ve tried to live up to the expectations of my parents, who hoped I would grow up to be a faithful Catholic. To be honest I’m not really sure I’m a Catholic now, but it also would’ve been wrong to say that I’m not. I agree with all the principles given in the Bible, and I try to live according to their recommendations, but after reading The
Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz, The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield, & The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown, I in the same time, understood that the intentions you had when acting were sometimes even of greater importance than the action itself. I found out that the blind posteriority to the Bible principles and rules was not the thing that God wanted from us; he rather needed the followers who understood what lied behind those rules; people who saw the spirit of the commandments behind their letters.
Personally I see a lot of benefits in having my particular belief system, as it is more flexible than the traditional religions, it lives me the place for my own apprehension of God and of his intentions towards us, his creations. My belief system allows me to analyze the words of God, instead of following them word by word or use the interpretations that are provided by the church officials. In my opinion every person has to read the Bible f himself or herself, and make is/her own conclusions about the God’s intentions concerning us, people.
My beliefs allow me to be guided by the spirit of the God’s will rather than by its letter. Now when I do something I analyze my intentions and motivations for doing it, and it sometimes turns out that the things that are considered inappropriate by many Catholics do not carry anything sinful or bad, but some of the actions that seem to be totally innocent are sometimes the real sins, considering the intentions and the thoughts that accompany this or that move. The advantage of my belief system is also that I know what God actually wanted from me, and for what purpose were the commandments designed.
It’s obvious that the life for those who are persuaded they are guided and protected by the deity is easier than for the atheists. I have the ideals I aim to reach, and I have the reasons for to aim to reach them. Besides, I have the vigor to run up my goals, as God empowers me. I have the goals such as the mental and spiritual development, and I am aware about the methods of accomplishing this development.
The disadvantages of my belief system also exist, like that most of the Catholics disagree with my religious views, and some of my friends even consider them to be heterodox. Some people I communicate with consider me to be the non-religious person, as they have the stereotype of the Catholic, and I do not coincide with it. When most people hear about my beliefs, they say it is too complicated for them, and that everyone who considers himself to be a “real Christian” has to live strictly according to the commandments found in the Bible.
As I was actually raised as a Catholic, tradition plays a considerable role in my belief system. In my opinion tradition creates a kind of the bond between the generations of the believers, and between the believers in different parts of the world. I think it is good and inspiring when people know that their parents and grandparents followed this tradition and their kids will follow it after their death. (like celebrating Sunday as the Lord’s Day or kneeling in the church.)
As I’ve read some books of the philosophers of the past and the contemporary times, I’m sure that there were people before me, who chose the same path as I did, those, who longed for mental and spiritual development in the same time knowing that fulfillment of the principles provided by God is the best way to reach them, it’s just the way to do it that has to be found. I consider myself the bearer of this tradition, and I’m proud with my religious views and goals.
For most of the world religions traditions are the way to help the followers of this or that teaching to feel themselves protected, to sense the unity of all the believers worldwide. For example, in Catholicism, the traditions are the parts of the religious customs, part of the postulates that exist in the borders of the Catholic faith are also just traditions. Traditions help people feel themselves protected, they make the belief system more structured and more understandable for their adepts.
We live in a world where we have to communicate with various people every day. Every one of them has his/her own set of beliefs, and it would be harmful for the cooperation to offend the religious feelings of the person we are trying to communicate with. For to avoid it, it is needed to be acquainted with the basic postulates of the most widespread religions, about the restraints they put on their adepts, and about the things that the followers of those religions can consider offensive. Besides understanding the basic principles of the religion your acquaintance possesses will allow to interpret his/her actions in a right way, and to understand his/her intentions and motivations better.
Personal religious beliefs have always been for me one of the most complicated topics to talk about, as it is hard to explain people the peculiarities of your belief system. I hope I managed to do it correctly in this paper.
- Fisher, M.P. Living Religions (5th Edition). Prentice Hall, 2002, ch.1-2