These guys say it well – and substitute Christian for Jew and this could be any church I know…
I’m no scientist – and in addition I’m a tad wary of mixing science and religion. My point of view has generally been that “science” can describe the “what” and perhaps the “how” – whereas faith primarily describes the “why”. So I don’t need to prove anyone wrong about evolution or any other theory of how the physical universe works – I just think that whatever we can deduce from our observations, there is also a non-physical, let’s call it spiritual, dimension to the universe that interacts with the physical dimensions. And I think that that dimension is also “observable”, at least by its effects (which is basically how we observe the physical universe, by the way), despite the best efforts of the materialists to say it isn’t. Nevertheless: I found this article a bit fascinating, if only because it confirms Shakespeare’s conclusion that “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” See what you think – (and thanks to www.danieljoachim.org for the pointer).
Some people are hard to love. But we have to – I mean, that’s what Christianity is all about, right? Particularly hard to love are all the people I don’t know except by their opinions. And there are lots of them, and a lot of them are Christians. And there are some Christians with whom I really, profoundly, disagree. It’s not that they’re not entitled to their views – the problems start when they suggest that I’m not entitled to mine. It’s really not easy to greet someone as a brother or sister in Christ while they are condemning you as a heretic. One such is the author of the web-site Jesus-is-Savior.com. This sounds like a great web-site, doesn’t it? A web-site proclaiming the love of God in Christ for the salvation of the World. And that is indeed what Jesus-is-Savior.com wants to be:
This website is a pulpit, a VOICE reaching around the world. By the grace of God, this website is presently receiving over 315,000 visitors per week. That’s more members and visitors than most churches could see in a hundred lifetimes. Praise God! I thank God for giving me the humble opportunity to influence people for Jesus Christ in this needy area.
But if that is what you want to do – then why oh why oh why must you fill page after page condemning more than half the Christians of the World as heretics or blasphemers? Here’s an example:
Many heresies have crept into our churches because of corrupt versions of God’s Word, especially the damnable New International Version (NIV). Why would anyone use the NIV? Our Final Authority on ALL matters of faith and living is the inspired and preserved Word of God, which in English is our beloved King James Bible.
There is a whole page devoted to the NIV, with a pretty picture of a couple of corrupt clerics conspiring with the Devil to promote their book:
There is another page devoted to Catherine Booth, co-founder of the Salvation Army and staunch defender of women’s right (and duty!) to preach the gospel. Not only is Catherine described as «a blaspheming liar», but William «compromised his beliefs to appease the wickedness of his wife» and preached a number of heresies (another web-page lists the supposedly heretical teachings of the Salvation Army) and apparently The Salvation Army is «in bed with Rome». The Roman Church, of course, being heretical by definition.
I could go on – the web-site does go on, at depressing and judgemental length, although to be fair to the author, he claims to be «as narrow-minded as the Bible» and nothing more. As far as I can gather (his name appears on some pages but not others), the author is David J. Stewart, about whom I know absolutely nothing except what he writes. What he writes makes him hard to love. But then he also writes
… the entire Bible is based upon the FACT that God loves mankind, so much so that God the Father sent His only begotten Son into the world to suffer and die for our sins
And that opens up a whole new perspective. Because that is the whole point. All of us, fallible, misguided, weak-willed people – God loves us! So David – whoever you are. You probably don’t care what I think of you or your web-site. You may call my beliefs heretical if you wish, and I can call yours misguided. But apparently we agree about this one amazing fact: God loves mankind and sent Christ into the world to save us all. And because we agree on that, I wish you all God’s blessing, and hope that all the thousands that you say read your web-site will be able to filter out all the opinions – and just accept the love of God in Christ. Because in the end, that’s what it’s all about. Not that the other stuff doesn’t matter. It just matters less.
“The truth about religion is that there is no one Truth but rather multiple versions of many possible truths.” Gary Laderman in The Huffington Post Depending on your point of view, this is simply a truism, or the greatest fallacy of our time. What is certainly true (if we can talk about certain truths) is that there are “multiple versions of many ideas which claim to be true”. Some of these are mutually exclusive: Either Jesus Christ is the eternal God incarnate, or he was a relatively enlightened but ordinarily mortal Jewish preacher who has been dead and gone for centuries. Both of these could be true. Both have advocates who claim that they are true. But they can’t both be true at the same time – and, as Laderman writes in the Huffington Post, those who believe the one have to learn to live with those who believe the other without starting wars.
Is it nevertheless legitimate to talk about “one Truth”? Well, it must be. Because the consequence of my believing in Jesus as God incarnate is that the other “possible truths” are in fact not true. I know that I cannot “prove” this in terms of scientific method. I also know that the circumstantial evidence that I could adduce can be explained by other “possible truths”. My evidence might stand up in court, but I would need a sympathetic jury, and a good prosecutor could pick plenty of holes in it. In fact, from one point of view (as the late Douglas Adams wrote in “The Salmon of Doubt”), God is no longer “the best explanation we’ve got” but “something that would itself need an insurmountable amount of explaining”. Now I don’t know about “insurmountable”, but I recognise that many aspects of what I believe will need some explaining for many people. Of course some (like Douglas Adams and his friend Richard Dawkins) aren’t very interested in the explanations anyway.
But the point is that either they are wrong and I’m right – or I am wrong and they are right. Either way there is only “one truth”, but in the end none of us are going to know which it is until… well, if you agree with Douglas Adams then you’re never going to know because when you die, you die, and there will be no great revelation of The Truth for anyone. If you agree with me, you will know you were right at the final judgement. If we’re wrong, we’ll probably never know…
So, contrary to Gary Laderman, there is “one Truth”, we just don’t know what it is. Mutual respect means recognising that fact and listening to what people have to say, however much we disagree. What it doesn’t mean is giving up on what we ourselves believe, making a sort of existential soup of all the available ideas, or treating as “true” ideas that we believe to be false. We don’t know who’s right, but we are entitled to believe what we believe, and to tell others about it, and to argue our case with those who disagree.