Friday, October 20, 2006

One Way or Many?

I have been doing a little bit of reading about whether or not religious truth is relative or whether there has to be one solid truth. I most definitely believe there is one truth (The only way to God is through Jesus Christ's death on the cross, burial and resurrection). Here is an article I found as to why there can only be one way not many.

Why Is Christian Doctrine Exclusivist?
by Daryl E. Witmer

Perhaps the simplest answer to the question above is: "Because Christian doctrine is true, and all truth is exclusivist." If something is true, then it's opposite must be 'excluded' as false.

Another answer: "For the same reason that all religions either directly or implicitly hold that their teaching and position is exclusively correct."

Hindus with whom I have met have claimed that their faith is really "open source" — that any and all religions can be a valid way to God. But they have then explained that position to mean that the evangelical Christian view about Jesus being the only way to heaven is wrong and unacceptable.

I once served as pastor of a congregation meeting in a building owned by the Unitarian-Universalist Association (UUA). The UUA publicly made much of the fact that they were all-inclusive, welcoming everyone. But one day they went to court to seek the eviction of those of us who held that Christ alone is the way of salvation. It seems their inclusivism had limits.

Did you know that Islam is also exclusivist? The Qur'an (3:85) says: "If anyone desires a religion other than Islam (submission to Allah), Never will it be accepted of him; and in the Hereafter he will be in the ranks of those who have lost."

Kenneth Wapnick of the Foundation for A Course in Miracles recently disparaged the world of "absolute truth" and "seeming certainty" where 2+2 always equals 4 as being "wrong-minded." He denunciated a world that "follows specific laws and is regulated by adherence to form..." He rather advocated a change in our belief that there even is such a thing as a 1+1=2 reality. But one wonders if he is "absolutely" "certain" of that.

The reason that even those being critical of doctrinal exclusivity end up being exclusivist themselves is because truth itself is exclusive. No one can live consistently in a world where 1+1= anything that you want it to be. And any good student of comparative religion will tell you that every significant religious system, not just Christianity, assumes an exclusivist doctrinal stance to one extent or another. God is either one with creation as monists claim, or He is not. You can't have it both ways. Either Jesus was merely human as Jews claim or He was fully God. You can't have it both ways. Either Moroni was an angel of truth as the Mormons claim or he was not. You can't have it both ways. Either there is no such thing as objective moral sin as New Age thought suggests, or there is such a thing. You can't have that both ways. Either Christ really was historically crucified and raised from the dead as Christians teach, or He wasn't, as Muslims claim. You can't have that both ways.



george wesley said...

Hi Annie,

Very relevant subject. I have been running some posts about pluralism and relativism on the my blog Baha'i Views. The Baha'i Faith rejects materialist, exclusivist, AND the pluralist/ relativistic approaches to truth. To quote one recent commentary:

"Baha'u'llah emphasizes both the validity and the unity of all religions,describes religious teachings as historically specific, and rejects any notion of the finality of divine revelation, while declaring the equality of all human beings and enjoining fellowship among all the religious communities. ...

Neither the categories of exclusivism and fundamentalism nor those of pluralism and postmodernism are adequate to capture the complexity and novelty of Baha'u'llah's message...."

This continues to be such an interesting subject for me. You inspire me to try to find new ways to address it on my blog.

It was great being with all the Gig Harbor Dannells and Halls for Taraz and Megan's reception today.

Bonita said...

Just as there are many trails through the woods, there are many paths to God. Even in Christianity there are many paths within the body of the Church, whether Protestant, Lutheran, Catholic, Congregational, Baptist, Amish, Mennonite, Latter Day Saints,etc. I can only suppose that all denominations try to do right, provide leadership, and console the mind and spirit of man.

adannells said...

Thanks George and Bonita for commenting! :)

Bonita- The point that Mr. Witmer is making is that if all those paths supposedly lead to God but are contradictory to eachother (which they are in many ways, most of all contradictory in the belief of who or what God is) then they cannot all be true. Only one can be true.

On your comment that Christianity has different paths, first one must define what is true Christianity. True Christianity is believing that salvation is through faith in Christ alone. Not by good works or anything good that man might do. We are incapable of earning our way to heaven. That is why God sent His Son to be the perfect sacrifice and complete the atoning work of salvation through death on the cross so that He would take the penalty, the wrath of God, for us. And if we believe in Him and that He rose again then our sins are covered and God sees us covered with Christ's righteousness and therefore we will go and spend eternity with God in Heaven. Even though we may not ever be perfect on this earth Christ's righteousness is covering us and "if we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." 1 John 1:9 We are then able to have a personal relationship with God. The Bible says that we can know Him intimately and that is what He desires for us. There can be no greater joy than to know God personally. This is true Christianity. So if any of these denominations teach differently than salvation through faith alone in Christ alone then one must question whether or not it is true Christianity. Within true Christianity there is only one way to God. "Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction (eternity in hell), and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life (salvation), and there are few who find it. " Matthew 7:13-14