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Author Topic: Omnism  (Read 1165 times)

Donal2018

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Omnism
« on: October 05, 2019, 02:30:22 pm »
So I just recently came across the term "Omnism", which is essentially a belief that there is truth in all religions. I have used the term "Universalist" for my own similar views (that there is meaning in all religions; truth is more fact based and objective in my book, whereas meaning implies a certain amount of subjectivity). So I was wondering if anyone had any opinions on this term and the idea behind it. I am not saying that all religions are "true", but rather that all have "meaning". This can include non-belief also in my book.

Donal2018

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Re: Omnism
« Reply #1 on: October 05, 2019, 02:34:15 pm »
So I just recently came across the term "Omnism", which is essentially a belief that there is truth in all religions. I have used the term "Universalist" for my own similar views (that there is meaning in all religions; truth is more fact based and objective in my book, whereas meaning implies a certain amount of subjectivity). So I was wondering if anyone had any opinions on this term and the idea behind it. I am not saying that all religions are "true", but rather that all have "meaning". This can include non-belief also in my book.

Here is a link to the Wikipedia page for anyone interested: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Omnism

RandallS

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Re: Omnism
« Reply #2 on: October 05, 2019, 03:41:19 pm »
So I just recently came across the term "Omnism", which is essentially a belief that there is truth in all religions. I have used the term "Universalist" for my own similar views (that there is meaning in all religions; truth is more fact based and objective in my book, whereas meaning implies a certain amount of subjectivity).

One of the founders of TC, Ann Wilson, was an Omnist. Unfortunately our original DelphiForums forum is impossible to usefully search unless you have a paid Delphiforums member or you could probably find a lot of discussion on Omnism there.
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Donal2018

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Re: Omnism
« Reply #3 on: October 05, 2019, 04:06:59 pm »
One of the founders of TC, Ann Wilson, was an Omnist. Unfortunately our original DelphiForums forum is impossible to usefully search unless you have a paid Delphiforums member or you could probably find a lot of discussion on Omnism there.

Yes, thanks for the comment. I am not too techie and am not a Delphiforums member. Too bad that those posts are not in an accessible archive. I have been using the term "universalist" for a long time, but lately the term "omnism" was brought to my attention.

Karhunvatukka

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Re: Omnism
« Reply #4 on: October 15, 2019, 01:47:38 am »
So I just recently came across the term "Omnism", which is essentially a belief that there is truth in all religions. I have used the term "Universalist" for my own similar views (that there is meaning in all religions; truth is more fact based and objective in my book, whereas meaning implies a certain amount of subjectivity). So I was wondering if anyone had any opinions on this term and the idea behind it. I am not saying that all religions are "true", but rather that all have "meaning". This can include non-belief also in my book.

I think "Omnism" is a great term to use! And I think I subscribe to this belief as well.

The trouble with using the term "Universalism" to describe this concept is that it's already used to refer to the subset of Christians who believe that all humans go to heaven - "Universalism" being shorthand for "universal salvation".

I belong to a Unitarian Universalist congregatation, and it's interesting that modern-day UU theology is very Omnist. Our guiding principles explicitly say that we draw wisdom and inspiration from *all* the world's religions. But the UU name comes from the merging of two explicitly Christian sects - Unitarians, who rejected the idea of the Trinity, and Universalists, who rejected the idea of hell. There's one older guy who grew up in a Universalist church, before the merger, who keeps having to explain to people that the "Universalist" part of the name is a Christian concept. At this point, I'd say there's only a small minority of our congregation that identifies as Christian at all.

arete

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Re: Omnism
« Reply #5 on: November 07, 2019, 01:22:52 pm »
there is truth in all religions
Yes. As I understand it, if the theory is true, then it's religion. If it's false, then it's a cult.

Jainarayan

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Re: Omnism
« Reply #6 on: November 14, 2019, 10:28:06 am »
So I just recently came across the term "Omnism", which is essentially a belief that there is truth in all religions. I have used the term "Universalist" for my own similar views (that there is meaning in all religions; truth is more fact based and objective in my book, whereas meaning implies a certain amount of subjectivity). So I was wondering if anyone had any opinions on this term and the idea behind it. I am not saying that all religions are "true", but rather that all have "meaning". This can include non-belief also in my book.

Personally, I don't think there's much of a difference in the meaning behind universalism/-ist and omnism/-ist other than a new name for an old idea. Sometimes when a word or name gets overused or becomes hackneyed, and loses its punch, a new name or word is coined.

I'm Hindu, but I believe all religions are valid for their followers. Islam is perfectly valid and truthful... for a Muslim, but not for a Buddhist, Sikh, or Hindu. Hinduism is perfectly valid and truthful for a Hindu, but not necessarily for a Christian or Jew or Muslim. And so on. It's the parable of the blind men and the elephant. Each blind man perceives only one part of the complete elephant. Likewise, limited humans can perceive only part of the Truth. Verse 10.164.46 of the Rig Veda is an example of universalist/omnist thinking...

índraṃ mitráṃ váruṇam agním āhur átho divyáḥ sá suparṇó garútmān
ékaṃ sádvíprā bahudhā́ vadanty agníṃ yamáṃ mātaríśvānam āhuḥ

They called him Indra, Mitra, Varuṇa, Agni; yea, he is heavenly Garuḍa, who has beautiful wings.
That which is One, the sages call by many names; they called him Agni, Yama, Mātariśvan.

The text could have easily said
índraṃ mitráṃ váruṇam agním āhur átho divyáḥ sá suparṇó garútmān
odinam yeshvam allaham deuṣam ca
(my faux Sanskrit inflecting)
ékaṃ sádvíprā bahudhā́ vadanty agníṃ yamáṃ mātaríśvānam āhuḥ

They called him Indra, Mitra, Varuṇa, Agni; yea, he is heavenly Garuḍa, who has beautiful wings
Odin  Yeshua Allah and Deus
That which is One, the sages call by many names; they called him Agni, Yama, Mātariśvan


However, there's a difference between universalism/omnism and syncretism/eclecticism. Universalism and omnism are easy enough to hold as beliefs and philosophies; syncretism and eclecticism are largely all but impossible to practice. Confusion and conflict can set in.
śivāya vishnu rūpaya śivaḥ rūpaya vishnave
śivasya hridayam viṣṇur viṣṇoscha hridayam śivaḥ
Vishnu's appearance is Shiva; Shiva's appearance is Vishnu
Vishnu is the heart of Shiva; Shiva is the heart of Vishnu - Skandopanishad
 

PerditaPickle

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Re: Omnism
« Reply #7 on: November 17, 2019, 03:24:14 pm »
So I just recently came across the term "Omnism",

When I first saw your thread on the forum I couldn't help thinking of Omnianism from the Discworld   ;)

I see that a good little discussion ensued, however.

As I understand it, if the theory is true, then it's religion. If it's false, then it's a cult.

This got me thinking...  If the adherents of a cult believe it to be their religion, then it must have a level of truth at least for them, mustn't it?

How would this then dovetail with the concept of Omnism (if at all)?

(I realise that cults generally have an element of removal of free will where their recruits are concerned, alongside other undesirable practices.)
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arete

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Re: Omnism
« Reply #8 on: November 20, 2019, 02:57:41 am »
This got me thinking...  If the adherents of a cult believe it to be their religion, then it must have a level of truth at least for them, mustn't it?

How would this then dovetail with the concept of Omnism (if at all)?

(I realise that cults generally have an element of removal of free will where their recruits are concerned, alongside other undesirable practices.)
A cult's ''truth'' is a deliberately distorted reality, as I understand it. People choose if they want to follow the cult's ''truths''.

ehbowen

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Re: Omnism
« Reply #9 on: November 20, 2019, 06:48:09 am »
A cult's ''truth'' is a deliberately distorted reality, as I understand it. People choose if they want to follow the cult's ''truths''.

The definitions which I prefer and use (in a Christian context) are:
  • A denomination is a sub-group of Christianity which holds to most/all Generally Accepted Christian Tenets but also is willing to extend recognition and forbearance to other denominations which may differ with it in details. Lutherans are a denomination. My own Southern Baptist Convention is a denomination.
  • A sect is a sub-group with Christian overtones which states as an article of doctrine that they alone hold the truth and that no other religious organization can hold God's favor or approval unless it is in fellowship with them. I see Roman Catholicism as a sect.
  • A cult is a group which may or may not have Christian trappings, but whose distinguishing characteristic is a charismatic leader (or founder) who can do no wrong and is above criticism and, in many cases, questioning. I see the Mormons as a cult. This definition also could apply to Islam.
Again, these are my personal usages of the term. Nothing about them is "official".

So I just recently came across the term "Omnism", which is essentially a belief that there is truth in all religions.

But if a statement is 90% true, and 10% false, it is false. (Or so says the scoring guide for the SAT!) From my perspective it's not surprising that there are many partial truths out there; as someone else observed, "People need to be reminded more often than they need to be taught." My goal is to find and eliminate the errors, which I believe is best done within the context of Christianity...but not by slavish adoption of any individual theologian's or denomination's conclusions. I accept the words of Scripture as God's revelation of himself to mankind...but I remain prepared to question anyone's assumptions regarding those inspired words.
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Jenett

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Re: Omnism
« Reply #10 on: November 20, 2019, 08:13:22 am »
The definitions which I prefer and use (in a Christian context) are:

Do you have sources for these, beyond your own usage?

I don't have time or spoons to dig into this in detail today,  but the Wikipedia page for sociological classifications of religious movements (reasonably well cited in this case) suggests that the common sociological divisions of religious groups breaks down rather differently (most notably, that one definition of a sect is that it's a breakaway from larger religions.) It groups the Roman Catholic church as a church or eccelsia, and Baptists, among others, as a sect.

The page also notes the significant issues with this kind of typology in the first place, especially the further you get from Christianity.
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ehbowen

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Re: Omnism
« Reply #11 on: November 20, 2019, 12:03:51 pm »


Do you have sources for these, beyond your own usage?
Not published sources, but I have heard several Protestant ministers (mainly of a Fundamentalist persuasion) use the same or very similar terminology.

I agree that you get into the weeds quickly when/if you make an issue of such terms, so I seldom do. My main reason for bringing it up now was the previous discussion of "cults;" I wanted to make the point that in my view the defining characteristic of a cult is the charismatic leader/founder who is above criticism. This, in my view, is true whether the group in question is small or large. Our family has personally had dealings with a cult of four members, total...check the literature for "shepherd cults."


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Re: Omnism
« Reply #12 on: November 20, 2019, 01:01:13 pm »
A cult's ''truth'' is a deliberately distorted reality, as I understand it.

Ah, well put (tho I do accept that this may not necessarily be so for all cults - I'm thinking of some of the more well known ones, whose flaws(!) are also generally very well known).
"Everything's made up of elements, right? Earth, Water, Air, Fire and... sunnink. Well-known fact. Everything's got 'em all mixed up just right."
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arete

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Re: Omnism
« Reply #13 on: November 21, 2019, 03:29:46 pm »
The definitions which I prefer and use (in a Christian context) are:
  • A denomination is a sub-group of Christianity which holds to most/all Generally Accepted Christian Tenets but also is willing to extend recognition and forbearance to other denominations which may differ with it in details. Lutherans are a denomination. My own Southern Baptist Convention is a denomination.
  • A sect is a sub-group with Christian overtones which states as an article of doctrine that they alone hold the truth and that no other religious organization can hold God's favor or approval unless it is in fellowship with them. I see Roman Catholicism as a sect.
  • A cult is a group which may or may not have Christian trappings, but whose distinguishing characteristic is a charismatic leader (or founder) who can do no wrong and is above criticism and, in many cases, questioning. I see the Mormons as a cult. This definition also could apply to Islam.
Again, these are my personal usages of the term. Nothing about them is "official".
And what about non-christian background?

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Re: Omnism
« Reply #14 on: November 22, 2019, 01:44:27 pm »
The page also notes the significant issues with this kind of typology in the first place, especially the further you get from Christianity.

Though it doesn't touch on the rather important point from a pagan perspective that "cult" is the correct terminology for "the formal attention and care paid to a god in an organized setting".  (Particularly applicable to the Religio, of course, being Latin-derived, but other temple-oriented practices refer to the cults of gods.)

(I often use "cultus" rather than "cult" when talking about this, to bump back to Latin and thus more reliably hit the actually relevant meaning, but I am regularly reminded that that is where the pejorative usage comes from whenever it comes up.  The cult - the cultivation, the culture - of care for the divine got lost, because obviously those people doing serious formal rituals to polytheistic gods were deluded nitwits under the sway of some creepy high priest, right?  And "mystery cults", whoooeeeee, those are obviously rot, right?)

(Which isn't to say I don't point people at, say, the Bonewits cult evaluator when relevant.)

We don't have an alternate word for the abusive religious group thing, but I think as a pagan that it's worth being aware of the way the word is often relevant to our practices as either devotional polytheists or as mystery religion practitioners in a basic anthropological language sense, and not get too enthusiastic about the pejorative usage.

ReligiousTolerance.Org has a bunch of stuff that's worthwhile further reading, and tends to come down hard on the side of "'Cult' is a word for religious practices someone don't like (usually because they're non-Christian and therefore defined as Bad rather than because of nefariousness)".
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