All of these Christian sects, as with all religions, have traditions. Although traditions normally stem far back in the past when a religion began, they are always changing and new ones forming that better conform to the changes in society. Religious belief systems and the accompanying traditions about such essential issues as slavery, women and even same-gender relationships, for example, have changed in many Christian religions. Yet traditions, like belief systems, are ingrained in many religions and their practices, and thus not always easy to change.
Nor, is it necessary that they do so in all cases. Religious traditions can be a positive or negative influence. From a positive standpoint, they keep families and groups of people together. They give stability and consistency to life over a person's life, from birth through death, and to groups of people from one generation to the next.
However, other religious traditions can negatively impact society. They can keep groups of people separate, by making one religion feel superior to another. This makes this religion treat others as different and inferior. Traditions that do not change along with the changes in society become stagnant and can become barriers and hinder the order of society. Major divisions can occur within a society that are difficult to repair. Throughout history, there have been belief systems and traditions based on those beliefs that have been very destructive. Today, terrorism is taking religious traditions to an extreme; in the past, the Inquisition, for example, was doing the same.
It is not easy, as noted, to change beliefs, since they are so engrained in religious practices and traditions. Yet, over time, they can be changed with effort. Religion, since it plays such a major role in all cultures, can make a tremendous impact for change. Religious leaders must take a stand and also encourage their followers to the same against any negative beliefs and traditions and toward replacing them with positive and uplifting ones. The goal is to release the tensions that exist among different religions. It is by interpreting the scriptures and the traditions that come from these interpretations in a positive direction. It also takes standing up against the negative values and practices within the society.
Jacques Dupuis and Mark Helm, as well as others, called for the Christian understanding of all religions, even those that are not Christian. They suggested eliminating exclusivism and pluralism and supporting a trinitarian theology of world religions. They are committed to Christ's teachings and share the belief that religions have a positive place with God's providence. They argue that all religious traditions must be considered on their own. Dupuis related that a Christian religious theology must demonstrate that those participating in other religious traditions, along with Christians, share together in the reign that God has created throughout history through Jesus, and that the Spirit of Christ is present and operates among them. Helm reinforced through his book, the Depth of the Riches: A Trinitarian Theology of Religious Ends, that religions create and mold different expectations and mindsets. Through a continuum of religious choices, people in each of the religious traditions become who they are. Their lives are shaped to agree and conform to the religious end they hope to achieve. Heim attests that God will honor each religion's expectations
Everyone has different beliefs that are formed from childhood. It is up to each person to turn any negative beliefs into positive ones, which are much more constructive for society. This is not easy, since beliefs are strong. But it is possible to change and, following the Christian moral code, understand and accept the differences in other religious belief systems.
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Bowker, J. (1997) World Religions. New York: DK Publishing
Dupuis, J. Religious plurality and the Christological debate (1995). Focus. 15 (2-3). Retrieved October 9, 2009. http://www.sedos.org/english/dupuis.htm
Heim, M. (2000) the Depth of the Riches: A Trinitarian Theology of Religious Ends. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdman's Publishing Co.
Johnstone, R. (2006) Religion in Society. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.