How Much Deviation from Religious Doctrine is Acceptable? Essay

2493 Words 10 Pages
Central to any religion is a unified set of beliefs that is shared amongst all its followers. These can range from stories about the origin of the universe or the lives of prophets or other important religious figures to sets of rules governing how you live your daily life. It is these beliefs that define who is a follower of that religion, and deviation from them could result in a person being outcast, persecuted, or even put to death in various areas and time periods. However, these beliefs are by no means universal. Interpretations of religious doctrines may strongly differ even between members of the same religious sect. These issues are very relevant even to non-believers as they have a strong influence on people’s opinions of …show more content…
Christianity can be divided into three main denominations: Catholicism, Protestantism, and Eastern Orthodox. The doctrines of each of these divisions are based on the books of the Old and New Testament. Although their central texts are almost exactly the same (a few books are different), their interpretations of them differ greatly. Each asserts that their own interpretation is the only correct one and that all other doctrines are false (this is slightly less true of many protestants, owing to the lack of a central protestant church). Obviously, the most central part of Christian belief is the teachings of Jesus Christ, as described in the four Gospels. In the Book of Mark, believed to be the earliest of the four, it states “He who believes [the gospel] and is baptized will be saved, but he who disbelieves it will be condemned” (p106). This immediately creates an ideology based entirely on one’s faith rather than reason or even one’s actions. Jesus himself says “All their sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men… but whosoever shall blaspheme against the Holy Spirit hath never forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin” (Mark p71). This allows a system to be set up which requires above all a rigid belief in a central doctrine, deviation from which is punished by eternal damnation. It is then very easy for the church to present one interpretation which it deems correct and feel justified in enforcing strict adherence