BRIAN’S QUESTIONS – OTHER RELIGIONS AND “OURS”

Brian’s Question –  Do you think we could learn more about the history of the world by communicating between religions, to fill in the gaps, instead of trying to figure out which one is right? The arrogance that Faith instills in mankind is powerful and has caused many wars over many years, but would it not be more beneficial to cross-reference?

First of all, I would agree, how people understand their faith can (and has) produce(d) great arrogance. I am not certain whether the arrogance of one’s faith has been the cause of many wars or just the arrogance of men who think they know all there is to know about their faith.

I am somewhat curious about your question itself. What are the “gaps?”  It’s difficult give a clear answer because it is unclear what you mean by that. Does this mean things that are explained in one faith and not in another? Does this mean that you believe that each faith has part of the truth, but not the whole truth and that somehow if we had the whole truth every one would “see the light” and live by the light?

Here are some initial thoughts on your question:

Knowing the truth (i.e.,, seeing the light or have the knowledge that comes from that truth accessible) does not mean that all of us would choose to live by the truth.  There is a little problem called sin, inherent, according to the Bible, in each and everyone of us.  The famous anglocatholic scholar, G.K. Chesterton once wrote: “The doctrine of original sin is the only philosophy empirically validated by centuries of recorded human history.”

Then there is the sociological evidence about the impact of sin upon people’s decision-making.  Rebecca Manley Pippert has written “Human beings have an amazing capacity for denial and rationalization.” In other words, we are perfectly capable to denying obvious truth–especially when it challenges our personal assumptions and preferences.  We are can see our lives as exceptions to every rule, because postmodern people see truth as relative, subjectively based on experience instead of eternal, grounded in an objective fact that is beyond our personal definition or control.

The next observation is that sometimes there is only one right answer. And whether people like it or not, it is not Christians who say that Jesus is the only way to God. It is Jesus himself.  “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except by me.”

Final observation. To quote Henry Blackaby, “Truth is not a fact. It is a person.” Christians believe that they have a relationship, not a religion. The relationship is with the Living God, the Resurrected Jesus.  It is more than simply a set of facts that we have acquiesced to for our own good.  It is a Person who has transformed our lives.  It is more than information, it is a lifestyle that has reasons beyond bullet points in an argument.  Blaise Pascal said it best, “The heart has reasons that Reason does not know.”

This question probably has more to it from your perspective so send me your comments and I will try and expand into a more appropriate answer.

(C) 2011 by Stephen L Dunn
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