You've probably heard of a lot of other "isms" when it comes to beliefs. There's agnosticism (not sure if there is a God), theism (belief in one or more Gods), monotheism (one God), polytheism (many gods), deism (belief that there is a God, but he's not personally involved), and even atheism (belief in no God). Get ready to add a new ism to your vocabulary: omnism.
It's actually not new; the term was coined back in 1839 by Philip J. Bailey in his poem "Festus." But in the new millennium, the time seems to be ripe for the concept to catch on.
What is Omnism?
Omni means 'all'; in turn, omnism is the belief in all.
All of what, exactly? It's the belief that all religions have a point. That (according to the Oxford English Dictionary) everything has a "single, transcendent purpose or cause uniting all things or people."
The Omnist, being the opposite of dogmatic, holds an open mind when it comes to spirituality and religion.
Where does Omnism stand?
Like all other isms, monism is a position; not a religion in itself. There are no specific teachings, no rituals and no particular sets of beliefs that omnists follow. It’s more of a way of thinking and a way of approaching religious teachings. Omnists beliefs generally fall under two main trains of thought.
The first is that all religions and belief systems have some truth-- like life, the universe and everything (even God) is part of some grand cosmic puzzle, and each religion has a few of its own pieces. When people focus too intently on their few pieces, they're missing the bigger picture-- the grand scheme of things.
The other train of thought is that omnism is the complete opposite of dogmatism. Dogmatic religions have virtually ruled the planet for centuries now, laying down principles and beliefs from holy scriptures that were held up as unquestionable and inerrant truths. In this day and age, it gets harder and harder for people to force themselves to stick to the writings in ancient texts as literal and infallible-- we want to respect their wisdom but many people can no longer take them as incontrovertible fact.
The Omnist, being the opposite of dogmatic, holds an open mind when it comes to spirituality and religion. They're open to that wisdom, to the truths found within the different systems, without holding one as more valuable or superior.
The funny thing is, a lot of people who consider themselves spiritual but not religious, who feel they are spiritually eclectic and progressive, are often omnists who never even heard the word.
Why omnism works today
In this particular era, omnism seems to work for a lot of people. We live in the information age and more diverse times. We get to meet people of other religions and see they aren’t lunatics or monsters. We bust the stereotypes so that we can live together peacefully and learn to appreciate what we can about each other’s beliefs. We have the internet, we can download volumes of books in minutes and learn about different beliefs. We can share experiences and respect that we all have had the kinds of experiences to which we can relate.
On top of that, we can no longer ignore facts in favor of scripture. We have come too far in our studies of science, history, psychology, culture, etc. to ignore facts or take things on assumption of scriptural accuracy. Religions that require us to abandon that knowledge and reason are illogical to us, yet many human beings still find they have faith in something greater than themselves. Omnism works because the very root of it is to have an open mind, to think, to explore and to make sense of it all using multiple sources.
This could be the new way many spiritual people learn to express themselves, and is likely something we’ll see people of all faiths moving toward more and more in the coming decades.