Read a Book Excerpt

Now Featured at the Patheos Book Club

Does It Really Matter What I Believe About God?
By David H. Maxfield

Book Excerpt

The purpose of this book is to help you understand God, your relationship to God, and why it does matter to God, what you believe.

The book is divided into sections, then chapters. The sections correspond to the chart in the introduction under "Where are you in relationship to God?" The chapters are either about a specific religion or belief system like: Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, etc., or they may be about a subgroup. For example, Christianity is a belief. Under that general heading there are many religious groups identifying themselves as "Christians." Often they agree on basic principles, but there are subgroups with significant differences. As we shall see, there are major differences between what Catholics, Protestants, Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons believe.

Sometimes a religious group could fall into multiple categories. For example, Mormons identify themselves with Jesus Christ, but unlike others claiming to be Christian, they are polytheistic, believing in many Gods. In addition to that, their ultimate goal is exaltation, to achieve Godhood. This should not be confused with others who believe they are either emanations from God, or that one day they will reach a point of becoming one with God, monism. For Mormons, their goal is to become a God, just like God the Father, their creator.

Others like Hinduism and Buddhism have some common beliefs like karma and reincarnation, but they are exact opposites when it comes to God. Hindus are polytheistic while Buddhists are seeking a state of enlightenment, nirvana, where ego is extinguished. Buddhists believe that ultimate reality is an impersonal void or emptiness.

Then again, Buddhists like Christians, Jews, Muslims, and more, can be broken into at least two or more subgroups. Therefore, it is more important to try to look at one's beliefs rather than some label, which is why this book is broken down by section.