Friday, April 25, 2008

One-way signs on the road to God

If life is a highway and God is our destination, there are an awful lot of one-way signs along the road.

So is there only one true religion? I just came across a passage that addresses that contentious issue in "The Soul of Christianity: Restoring the Great Tradition" by Huston Smith. After pointing out that every religion claims superiority, he writes:

"...revelations are for the civilizations they create, and within each the truths revealed are absolute and can brook no rivals. There is no dissembling here: when a man says that his wife means the world to him, he is not claiming that she should mean the world to other men. Moreover, underlying the 'relative absolute' in his assertion, there is an absolute Absolute: he does believe that all men should feel for their wives the love that he feels for his wife. In our multicultural age Christians are coming to understand this point."

He then gives several examples throughout history of Christians maintaining the integrity of their own traditions while honoring other paths to God for other cultures, and concludes:

"These examples betoken a new mood in Christendom, a more conscious, general recognition that though for Christians God is defined by Jesus, he is not confined to Jesus."

That makes sense to me. It shows how you can be a passionate follower of one faith without assuming every other faith is nonsense.

What do you think?

17 comments:

D.J. Williams said...

I think that though it makes sense to Hudson Smith, to you, and to many others, it doesn't make sense with the Scriptures. Jesus claimed an exclusive divinity, a divinity that was indeed confined to himself. He not only said, "If you've seen me you've seen the Father," (John 14:9) but also, "Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me," (John 6:45) and "I am the way, I am the truth, I am the life - no one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6). Some will argue that many who follow other religions go "through" Jesus without ever realizing it, but if that is the case, then Jesus was a horrible communicator, for his disciples began their preaching with a Jewish people that was very religious and continued throughout the Hellenistic culture of the Roman empire, which was quite religious indeed - to the point that Christians were derided as "atheists" because of their rejection of all other gods but the true God.

If you're going to make a pluralistic faith out of Christianity, you've got to co-opt Jesus to do it.

Soli Deo Gloria

Danbo59 said...

Jesus is One with God and the Holy Spirit. If one finds God, one finds Jesus and the Holy Spirit, and vice versa.

God wills that all men be saved.

Religion would do far better to preach inclusivity rather than division.

Danbo59 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Danbo59 said...

..and before anyone tries that old Jesus came to divide, not to unite argument, let's remember that He was God. He came to divide -- he didn't bequeath that responsibility to man(kind).

Dan
"Scripture, Tradition, Magisterium -- Three Sources, One Truth."

Lazarus said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lazarus said...

God is the candle inside a multi-colored lantern, we may all see a different color of light, but the light we see is the same light.

In my opinion, many people misunderstand the quotes attributed to Jesus in the New Testament and take them far too literally, leading them to believe in an exclusivity in Christianity. That's just my opinion. I still view him as a great master and savior, although I think mainstream Christianity has failed miserably to deliver the light to the world He intended.

Anonymous said...

This is a major difference between monotheism and polytheism. The polytheists are much more tolerant of other religions. In fact, they often absorb new gods from new cultural contacts, such is the case with Hinduism.

That's just not as true of monotheists. Their absorption of new gods is done an entirely different way. The Catholic Church has relied on saints for this purpose (though they often deny it, it's basically true).

Nearly every other form of monotheism relies on splinter groups (Shiites, Sunnis, Baptists, Lutherans, etc.)because they really cannot tolerate internal division over their "one god" idea very well.

They don't give their gods different names because that would be forbidden. However, over time, they do allow modifications. They rarely like to admit that this happens (or, rather, prefer to claim that they have a more "enlightened" view than those in the past), but it does.

In most of Christianity, religious worship and attributes given to both God and Jesus have changed.

They are both much less authoritarian than in the past, Jesus is almost portrayed as a big brother "buddy" nowadays. This became necessary in the 1960's as popular culture began to draw young people away from traditional religion.

So out come the guitars, pool tables, and basketball courts in the local churches as well as a cooler, updated Jesus to draw in the crowds once again.

Religion is very market driven.

Anonymous said...

I think lazarus is on to something. Everyone sees a slightly different color light. Of course, there is no telling how many light sources are actually behind all that colored glass.

Anonymous said...

There is a lot of truth to the idea that religions are customized to fit certain cultures. Even within the same religion that is true.

Islam was/is primariliy a vehicle for spreading Arabian culture, as Christianity became a way of spreading western culture.

However, the Islam of Saudi Arabis is quite a bit different from the Islam of Indonesia and the Christianity of Europe is quite a bit different from the Christianity of the Americas.

Christianity has both prosperity theology and liberation theology.

You may not be able to pick and choose your god, but you can pretty much pick what part you want to emphasize.

Anonymous said...

Christianity is falling apart at its seams. No one can tolerate its unvarnished message today. It's all sugar coated by morons like Joel Osteen. All the oneway signs have been replaced by people running in circles chasing their own tails.

Gamecock said...

First of all Jane, I consider your blog a real blessing in my own Christian walk and stand in awe of your Christian spirit and your gifts, both spiritual and intellectual.

Now, to the issues. Preliminarily, I would never pass judgment on a whether a particular person is Heaven bound (we don't have a "soul meter") and I believe, as the Bible teaches, that God speaks to all men in all places, and, as recounted in Hebrews justifies men by faith in him.

Is there one true religion?

There is one God. There is one Church. But as to "true religion", I hesitate because I consider that term a bit vague.

Do I think that religions other than Christianity teach truths? yes

But I think that only Christianity proclaims the ultimate truth of salvation in Jesus Christ and that the confessions of other religions are obstacles to salvation.

That every religion claims superiority is irrelevant.

God is. There is truth and there is un-truth. A religion that claims truth is superior.

The Bible rejects any claim that God's revelations were only for particular people. Isaiah proclaims that Israel was to be a light unto the nations.

Jesus directs us to Go Ye unto all the nations and preach the gospel of salvation.

We are to proclaim the gospel, not convert by force.

We are to honor man's free will, which means that we must honor that free will manifested in other religions.

D.J. Williams said...

Dan said...
"Jesus is One with God and the Holy Spirit. If one finds God, one finds Jesus and the Holy Spirit, and vice versa."

Dan, consider what the Holy Spirit says through the apostle John in 1 John 2:23...

"No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also." - 1 John 2:23

If you believe Scripture to be truth, and you believe that people can be saved (which is the topic under discussion in 1 John 2)without expressed faith in Jesus Christ, then what does this verse mean?

Lazarus said...
"In my opinion, many people misunderstand the quotes attributed to Jesus in the New Testament and take them far too literally, leading them to believe in an exclusivity in Christianity."

If those statements Jesus made were not meant to indicate an exclusivity to his message, then could you explain textually what you think they do mean? If you're going to suggest that Christians have been misinterpreting specific passages of Scripture for millenia, I think it's only fair to ask for what you feel is the correct interpretation so that both can be fairly evalutated on a textual and exegetical basis.

Soli Deo Gloria

D.J. Williams said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
D.J. Williams said...

Oops, hit the button twice.

Soli Deo Gloria

Danbo59 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Danbo59 said...

DJ said, ""No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also." - 1 John 2:23"

In order to deny the Son, you must know the Son. I speak of those who don't know the Son. You can't deny someone you don't know.

You're gonna be mighty suprised when you get to heaven and see all those good, God-loving non-Christians.

Scripture, Tradition, Magisterium

D.J. Williams said...

Danbo said...
"You're gonna be mighty suprised when you get to heaven and see all those good, God-loving non-Christians."

Romans 3 doesn't seem to know of such a category. How do you interpret that text? In fact, Paul preached Christ to people in Acts 17 that he himself described as "very religious." Peter and James preached to the Jews, who even believed in the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob. Why were they wasting their time with people who were already "God-loving non-Christians?"

Soli Deo Gloria