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Author’s book explains the difference between religion and knowing God

POSTED: November 5, 2011 1:30 a.m.
/For The Times

Steve McSwain, former Baptist minister and author of "The Enoch Factor," will come to Gainesville on Sunday to discuss his idea of religion as a unifying force for peace rather than a divisive doctrine.

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Instead of being the tie that binds humanity together, Steve McSwain says religion sometimes becomes a wedge that drives people further apart.

"Instead of peace and tranquility, religion has become a circus of endless activity, beliefs, dogmas and doctrines that are more divisive — as well as dysfunctional — than unifying and healing," says McSwain, an author and former Baptist minister.

"What must end is this insanity of thinking, ‘We’re right. You’re wrong. We’re the chosen ones. You’re not.’

"I mistakenly thought being a Christ follower was subscribing to a certain set of beliefs, holding membership in a Christian church, or both. When I awakened, this all changed. I now realize there’s a day and night difference between labeling yourself a Christian and living a Christ-conscious life."

McSwain shares his religious "awakening" in his recently released book, "The Enoch Factor," which he will discuss during his visit at Unity of Gainesville Church, 3361 Clarks Bridge Road, at 11 a.m. Sunday.

"The message of the book is that God, Source, whatever you wish to call the intelligence behind, beyond and within all that is seen and unseen is knowable within and beyond spiritual traditions," McSwain said.

"The book points out how misguided religion has become in all of its expressions — not just in Christianity, but in Hinduism (and other religions) as well. I’ve studied all the religions of the world, and all of them — if they’re not very careful — will become a stumbling block rather than a pathway into self-awareness and divine consciousness."

According to the Rev. Sydney Magill-Lindquist, the pastor of Unity, McSwain’s analysis of world religions is just what they’ve been seeking.

"One of the things we have been working on is finding the inter-faith perspective. When you find the same message in so many different faiths, guess who’s doing the talking. It’s God," Magill-Lindquist said.

"When you find that, it deepens your own faith. (McSwain) will share with us his journey in finding that message."

McSwain says studying other religions is what helped strengthen his own Christian beliefs.

"My Christian faith has become more meaningful to me than at any other time in my life, but it isn’t a club I use to coerce others to convert to my way of thinking," McSwain said.

"I’m free of believing that Christianity is the only way to know God. Furthermore, being a slave to churchgoing and church dogma isn’t a prerequisite to knowing God.

"The only place you need to go to know God is within."



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