One of the major differences among spiritualism and most other religions is that spiritualists are held personally accountable. There are nine principles that are recited at spiritualist church services. The one that deals with personal responsibility is:
Each person is responsible for their own happiness or unhappiness as they obey or disobey natural, physical and spiritual laws.
This principle is very closely tied to the Eastern concept of karma. What happens in your life is directly tied to the actions that you take.
The other principle that ties an individual’s personal responsibility to society is found in the statement:
The highest morality is contained in the golden rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
If you are personally responsible for your actions, and you are expected to follow the golden rule in how you treat others, you are now tightly constrained upon the spirit path. You are expected to “do the right thing” and you are accountable if you don’t.
The bright side of the concept of personal responsibility is that “original sin” does not apply. Adam and Eve’s sins cannot be transferred to you. Spiritualist believe that when you leave this life you will have a life review that examines in detail the consequences of your actions in relation to yourself and every other being you encountered while alive. Your progress on the spirit path is directly related to the actions and consequences of this lifetime.
Spiritualism does not believe in the transference of sin, and it does not believe in the transference of salvation. There is no “get out of hell free” card in the spiritualist deck. Each person is responsible for their own actions, and each person is accountable for their actions.
The Christian Spiritualist Temple is somewhat unique in combining spiritualism and Christianity. We look to the teaching of Jesus in the context of the following verses from Matthew 22:36-40 (NIV).
36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Rejecting original sin and rejecting salvation through believing that Jesus can take on your sins is clearly outside the fundamentalist viewpoint of what it takes to be a Christian. Personal responsibility excludes both concepts. You make your bed, and then you have to lie in it. Many will find this bed to be uncomfortable.
The choices that we make determine the life experiences that we have. Free will dictates that personal responsibility be taken or there will be total anarchy in the society. The golden rule together with personal responsibility creates an environment that functions in accordance with the natural order.
There are those that believe that their faith in Jesus will save them. According to James 2:14-15 (NIV), it is said:
14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them?
Spiritualists stand behind their principles of personal responsibility and the golden rule to determine how they should live their lives to progress spiritually. We also believe that any religion has merit so long as it leads its members to treating each other and themselves according to the golden rule.
At the most fundamental level, personal responsibility is a key differentiator of spiritualism from many other religions. We embrace the words often attributed to Buddha, “Work out your own salvation with diligence”. Go with grace and peace.