A personal relationship with God is more important than being member of any denomination

A woman told on the channel of “Back to Jerusalem”: “To young people, I think it’s so easy in our society to focus on yourself, you know, it’s so easy to try and make your life what you think it should be, and especially if you know Jesus it has to be bigger than ourselves […]. Allow yourself to be a radical Christian that goes against the grain […]” [To young people. Back to Jerusalem, 8 March 2021. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RuyeDIiYkk8, retrieved on 18 March 2023]. Though I generally agree with this statement, there is one word which bothers me, and it is obviously the word “radical”. Because radicalism is always problematic as it takes the freedom of choice away and therefore limits the freedom of others which is not what God wants. Leo Koguan equaled God with love and explains the existence of the universe through a loving God. Existence according to him is defined as following: “Existence IΨ(CTE) is the fetus of time Ψ(iτL, Lm) and time Ψ(iτL, Lm) is pregnant with Existence IΨ(CTE). […] The Qbit (00, +, -) is our Original Zero (00) that splits into Our Ancestor FAPAMA Father (+) and FAPAMA Mother (-) who sing, dance and exchange their FAPAMA memes, and then Existence + one baby FAPAMA Qbit (00, 1, -1) emerges from Non-existence and every absolute digital time T” [Leo Koguan: The Yellow Emperor Hypothesis. Presented at the conference “The Yellow Emperor’s Thought versus the Hundred Schools of Thought in Pre-Qin Period” on 13 September 2014]. God embraces all civilizations and as such, they are one great family in harmonious unity with diversity [廖凯原:轩辕召唤《轩辕4712中华共识》拟稿. 中国法律史学会轩辕4712年年会. 2015年.], so I think that one can say that there is the one and only God who created human-beings in His likeness as He assures in the Bible, and as all of us are in His likeness, we have to respect all people on this planet. We have diverse civilizations, different beliefs and mentalities, but this is all fine, there is no need to follow one particular denomination. So any form of favoring one religion or one denomination over others leads us away from love.

But what we want of course is a permanent state of peace, where everyone can live in harmony and this harmony does not appear when we enforce a religion on others and tell them that only in this way they receive salvation. And Leo Koguan rightfully points out that “The Giving first and Taking later is the operating system of LOVE […]” [Leo, 2014: 7]. This means that we have to get away from our egocentric views, in which we place ourselves in the first place, instead we have to think bigger, bigger than ourselves. So to do a service for the society, we first have to give, so that we can take later. We first have to sow the seeds before we can harvest anything. “The Dao’s unfolding can be observed in everything and its principle applied to everywhere between heaven and earth” [The Yellow Emperor’s Four Canons, 18 (transl. Lu Sherwin). Cited after: Leo, 2014: 3]. And of course, the Chinese term Dao is equal to God, so God’s work can be felt everywhere, we are always connected to Him, there is no separation between Him and us, despite the fact that He resides in the world of ideas while we reside in the perceptual world.

As Brother Yun explained perfectly, if I understood him right, God cannot do anything with perfect people, but only with imperfect ones. Our failures, our setbacks, our unbelief – this is what He can change and which He is going to use for His glory! [When Christ Jesus sets you free you will be free indeed – Testimony of Heavenly man Brother Yun. Tamil Christian Sound Doctrine Resources-King of King’s Christ Jesus Vision Inscribed In Touch, uploaded on 27 January 2014. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=at1CaBmTWUg, retrieved on 18 January 2023.] I personally think that no human-being is perfect because only God is perfection, so what can we learn from Brother Yun’s statement when he talks of perfect people? I think that many people do not want to admit that they are imperfect. They try to hide their imperfections. Whether they try to hide bodily imperfections by using cosmetics or immaterial imperfection by hiding their weaknesses. The first step towards salvation is to admit that one is imperfect! We also know this from Buddhism: The first step to enlightenment is accepting suffering as a truth. And what causes suffering? Our ignorance, arrogance, jealousy, etc. So only if we admit our suffering, we can work on it. And if we work on our defilements, we can become better human-beings. But at no point, we are perfect!

In this regard, Brother Yun’s theology is very interesting because he focusses on a personal relationship with God, the focus on a personal piety puts the individual in the spotlight, which is typical of East Asian religion. For instance in Buddhism, one can only reach enlightenment on one’s own, in Confucianism one is obliged to fulfil one’s duties and obligations, each on one’s own in the context of one’s relationship to another person. So it is not about going to church every Sunday to find salvation, listening to preachers to find salvation, etc. In the past, many people went to church just that other people could see that they went to church, so they had a good standing. But this is nothing more than hypocrisy. Thus, what one is doing to connect with God is more important than the visibility towards others. As mentioned before, the personal relationship with God is a very important element of Chinese Christianity. It was already popular in the theology of Ni Tuosheng, known as Watchman Nee in the West. He emphasized on a personal spiritual experience, the personal relationship with God shall be achieved through prayer, Bible study, and meditation. Both, Ni Tuosheng and Brother Yun emphasize on the power of the Holy Spirit. And as I stated before, the Holy Spirit is the divine essence!

Now being a pious believer in God through a personal relationship might lead to opposition from both, those who go to institutions of denominations and regard community life a pre-condition to be a good believer, and those who reject God and try to delegitimize religious views as something progressive and useful for society. If we take a look at Brother Yun’s theology, then opposition – and in some parts of the world even persecution – is a natural part of the process; it can be used by God to refine and strengthen the faith of believers. A problem however is his exclusivism to Christianity. Here we are again when it goes to the question, how extreme is tolerant enough to respect other religions and other views. Exclusivism, in my opinion, is always bad because once again, God did not allow so many different religions in this world to separate them between right believers and wrong believers, but this diversity is wanted by God!

And this is an important point of my Judeo-Buddhist philosophy! We shall get in touch with God through reason, and we shall always reflect critically. We can ask God everything, and we are also allowed to doubt Him. Doubt is an important part in the process of purification. So to find God, we shall not run after others, but strive for Him ourselves. God opens His arms to all of us, and not just to the believers of one church. Now what is my Judeo-Buddhism in a nutshell? “My Judeo-Buddhist philosophy tries to connect the wisdom of Judaism and its monotheist God with the wisdom of Buddhism, teaching the need for enlightenment. Both, Judaism and Buddhism are actually very closely related in content” [Timo Schmitz: “For wisdom is a defence”. Manderscheid: Timo Schmitz, 2023, p. 63]. The only major difference is that Judaism insists on one God, which is the ancestral God of the Israelites, while in Buddhism atheist, monotheist and polytheist branches exist. Now what is Buddhism? Tam proposes that “Buddhism means staying away from the (three) evil deeds, following good behavior and purifying one’s thoughts. The three evil deeds or three poisons are ignorance (moha), desire (raga), and hatred (devesa)” [cited after Timo Schmitz: What is Yogacara?(24 March 2018). In: Timo Schmitz: A Divinely Way to Philosophy, Vol. 1. Trier & Vachendorf: Graf Berthold Verlag, 2022]. Now what we have to understand is that ignorance and hate are not something natural, but something which exists in us and most importantly through us, because we create our reality in our mind. Our feelings which we associate with something are not objective but come through us. In fact, we as the subject interpret the object in our mind and through our interpretation, we create our own individual reality. “As limited-beings, our mind is also limited, but since we strive for wisdom and want to reason, we conduct philosophy, the highest discipline of all reasoning” [Schmitz, 2023: 63]. And this is the important point: We ought not to follow blindly any preacher or guru, but we shall reflect on the world ourselves: We shall use our own reason. Because reason is a gift of God!

And in using our own reason, we are able to establish an intimate relationship with God. And here, my Christian friends, we are at the very point: of course you believe that salvation is only possible through Jesus Christ, but I think that salvation is possible for everyone no matter whose religion he or she is following. What matters is that we realize God’s way, that which the Chinese call Dao. It is not the one who says “I am a believer in Christ” who has an exclusive path to salvation, but the one who tries to connect with God to realize His way and live righteously. So yes, it is important to go against the grain! It is important to stay truth to one’s faith and one’s opinions! It is important that in times of mass media, we do not follow blindly the others who swim with the stream, because they do not dare to speak out what they really think. You can advocate your beliefs, your religious feelings, your world view – but with modesty! Extremism did never help us in this world, because it only takes the right to opposition away. So same as you should allow yourself to go against the grain, so you should allow others to do the same, even if they do not share your beliefs.

Living a pious life practically means to be compassionate towards everyone and not just to those who agree with you and share your views! In times where everyone stays in his own bubble, avoiding a radicalization is important; the right to dissent is more important than ever before, because our bubbles have a positive feedback function, which means, we think that everyone always thinks the same than us, but this is just a fiction. Our society is extremely pluralistic and many people think differently – and this is quite fine!

Timo Schmitz, 26 March 2023


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: