Truth in an Increasingly Pluralistic Society

“For most of us truth is no longer part of our minds; it has become a special product for experts” – Jacob Bronowski

“Truth matters more than man…” – George Steiner

I’m merely an infant as a Christian!  However through my experiences trying to discuss my faith with both believer and unbeliever alike there seems to be one issue that so many want answers to.  This question is rooted in the ever-increasing pluralistic worldview.  In today’s world to say that what I believe is correct while someone else’s beliefs are wrong is considered… well… wrong!  Somewhere along the line it has become politically incorrect to declare something as being the TRUTH.  What’s more, it seems that when trying to discuss these oh-so-very important issues on faith and life there is far more heat generated than there is light.  For us to learn we must be patient.  We must listen to each other.  Most importantly we must dialogue about the issues and process the words fully with open minds!   Below I am going to try and tackle the issues of absolute truth in a pluralistic worldview.  I’m not going to cut any corners so this might be a long ride but one well worth your time.

At the risk of offending some readers I’m just going to jump into the issue at hand.  Jesus says “I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.”  (John 14:6 NIV)  Then Peter, speaking of Jesus, tells us “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”” (Acts 4:12 NIV) 

This is the TRUTH. 

I am claiming this as FACT. 

I know it may seem wrong to many of you for me to make a truth claim.    But I know without a doubt in my heart, soul, and very much in my mind that this is unequivocally TRUE.  By stating this I am also fully implying that Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha), Confucius, Bodhidarma, Muhammad, Songtsan Gampo, Charles Russell, Gerald Gardner, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, L. Ron Hubbard, and even our beloved Oprah Winfrey were and are… wrong.  This is not to say that some of what they taught and teach isn’t “good” or “nice”.  In the end though, no matter how “good” or “nice” it sounds it is still… not the truth!  There’s no grey area, no picking and choosing of teachings that best suit our lives.  Plainly, there is but one TRUE God and the only way to God is through Jesus Christ. (For more on my beliefs look HERE.) 

In G.K. Chesterton’s 1909 Orthodoxy he writes about the modern rebel or activist.  Although over 100 years have past since he penned this it is still so relevant:

“But the new rebel is a skeptic, and will not entirely trust anything. He has no loyalty; therefore he can never be really a revolutionist. And the fact that he doubts everything really gets in his way when he wants to denounce anything. For all denunciation implies a moral doctrine of some kind; and the modern revolutionist doubts not only the institution he denounces, but the doctrine by which he denounces it. Thus he writes one book complaining that imperial oppression insults the purity of women, and then he writes another book in which he insults it himself. He curses the Sultan because Christian girls lose their virginity, and then curses Mrs. Grundy because they keep it. As a politician, he will cry out that war is a waste of life, and then, as a philosopher, that all life is waste of time. A Russian pessimist will denounce a policeman for killing a peasant, and then prove by the highest philosophical principles that the peasant ought to have killed himself. A man denounces marriage as a lie, and then denounces aristocratic profligates for treating it as a lie. He calls a flag a bauble, and then blames the oppressors of Poland or Ireland because they take away that bauble. The man of this school goes first to a political meeting, where he complains that savages are treated as if they were beasts; then he takes his hat and umbrella and goes on to a scientific meeting, where he proves that they practically are beasts. In short, the modern revolutionist, being an infinite skeptic, is always engaged in undermining his own mines. In his book on politics he attacks men for trampling on morality; in his book on ethics he attacks morality for trampling on men. Therefore the modern man in revolt has become practically useless for all purposes of revolt. By rebelling against everything he has lost his right to rebel against anything.”

The idea of TRUTH regarding almost any subject matter has fallen by the waste side.  Nowhere more is this exemplified than in the subject of religion.  Yet as a Christian, this is exactly what my faith contends.  In fact it is the only religion that makes that truth claim and produces solid evidence on it’s behalf!

Let’s look at the teachings and logic of the New Testament to first learn what it is I, as a Christian, belief, assert and defend. “Remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.” (Ephesians 2:12)  Here, Paul is reminding the new followers of Christ about what life was like before their salvation.  Paul uses the opening chapters of his letter to the Romans to show just how fallen humankind was.  In Romans 1:20 he writes ”For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”  He also reminds us that God’s moral law has been written on the hearts of everyone in Romans 2:15 as it was written in stone in Exodus.  God offers us all an everlasting life in eternity through His general revelation in nature and conscience as long as we respond to it appropriately.  This is made clear in Romans 2:7.  Sadly ever increasingly, people of today choose to brush God aside.  They choose to give in to sin’s temptations and temporary fulfillment.  Take a look at Romans 1:21-32.  What we must now realize is that we are all fallen people.  We all sin and in Romans 3:9-12 Paul tells us this.  Paul then clearly addresses an issue that has been raised so many times in my presence.  He tells us that simply living righteously is not enough.  “Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God.  Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.” (Romans 3:19-20)  This is where Jesus Christ enters into the picture.  Rob Bell on page 107 of Velvet Elvis says it so well “Humans are guilty because of our sin, and God is the judge who has to deal with our sin because he is holy and any act of sin goes against his core nature. He has to deal with it. Enter Jesus, who dies on the cross in our place. Jesus gets what we deserve; we get what Jesus deserved.”  It is through Jesus we can be saved and spared an eternity of death.

It is completely clear what we have been taught by God in the New Testament.  One, the entire human race is without exception sinful.  And more importantly two, the uniqueness of Jesus Christ’s death and His resurrection provide the only salvation from our sins.

Paul’s claim to knowing the truth literally cost him his head.  What we often forget is that what he and the other apostles were preaching was considered even more absurd in the years following Jesus’ crucifixion than it is today.  The apostles and early Christians were persecuted and killed for there beliefs conflicting with the polytheistic Roman Empire.  Their lives where threatened because of their refusal to believe in the major religion of the day yet they still embraced Jesus and accepted His grace.  Through their undying faith, Christianity soon spread throughout the empire.  To Europe it was clear that because of the universality of the Christian doctrine it had to be true.  Meaning, how could what so many believe to be true be false. 

It wasn’t until the European Expansion that people came to doubt Christianity again.  For three hundred years the world was becoming much smaller through advances in knowledge and technology.  New continents, new civilizations, new races were discovered.  And with them came all new customs, new beliefs, and new religions!!!  News of these new cultures brought something else as well.  It was clear that the majority of the world was not Christian.  In fact most had never heard of Jesus Christ.  This realization had affected religious thinking in many ways. 

First, it made religious beliefs relative to one’s circumstances.  Contrary to what was previously believed, faith in Jesus Christ was not the religion of the whole world but in fact segregated to a very small part of it.  No religion could possibly claim to be universally true.  Each newly discovered land and people group believed and served a God the was best for them at that time.  Even more, it made the Christian view seem cruel, closed minded!!  The people of the time were asking how faith in Christ could be the only way in a world so large and Christianity so underrepresented and exclusive.  Enter the enlightenment rationalist!!  The thinkers of the enlightenment then brought questions regarding the fate of the thousands or millions of people who not only don’t believe in Jesus Christ but who haven’t ever heard of Him. 

All this happened between 1400 to the 1700.  Today we have the internet, cable, telecommunications.  We live in a far smaller world than the people of the enlightenment.  With the advances in technologies we have also become aware of the diversity of mankind and over time we have again subscribed to religious pluralism.  And many of the same issues have arisen.

Let’s now look at these issues most commonly brought by the religious pluralist and see if there are answers to them.  The most popular is that by believing Christianity as being true and the only way to God, that person is undermining or negating the importance of all the other world religions.  It’s also asserted that the Christian is immoral, arrogant and closed-minded because of the exclusivity of their claim and anyone who disagrees with that claim is mistaken.  As we will see, this objection is completely illogical.  Here the pluralist is trying to oppose a position by speaking to the character of the individual holding it.  This is an ad hominem argument.  You cannot declare something false wholly because of the character of the persons believing it to be true.  Even if all Christian’s were found to be immoral, bigoted and closed-minded it would do nothing to the claim that Christ is the only way to God.  The truth of a position is completely independent and separate from the individual who holds the belief.  In asserting this, the pluralist is also assuming that all believers are arrogant and immoral because of the claim.  What if the particularist has searched high and low for the answers, looked into every question that has arisen and come to the conclusion that Christianity is true.  I am a perfect example of this and during my search I have found that God has given us the most amazing gift of all through Jesus.  Am I arrogant and closed-minded for believing this in all honesty?  Lastly, this argument when applied inversely works against the pluralist!!  See, they believe their view to be correct and all the other views to be false, especially the particularist’s.  If holding to a belief, which many other people disagree with makes you arrogant and closed-minded then the pluralist would be just as arrogant and closed-minded as the particularist.

There is also another objection brought by the everyday pluralist, one of relativism.  Often times it is suggested that our religious beliefs are what they are because of where we are born, leading to the contention that Christian particularism cannot be true.  An example of this would be… Say I was born in China, more likely than not I would subscribe to an Eastern religion.   This for some makes Christian beliefs untrue.  This is known as the genetic fallacy.  Here the pluralist is trying to falsify the truth claim of the Christian by criticizing the way a person came to the claim.  In this instance, where he was born.  However, and I think we will all agree, where or when one is born does not make their beliefs necessarily true or false.  For example, if you were born in pre-1400 Europe you would probably believe the Earth to be flat.  Now, does this somehow make the fact of the Earth being round any less true?  I really don’t think so.  There is one more thing to mention in regards to the genetic fallacy.   The particularist can use the same logic and argue that the only reason the pluralist holds that view is because of the time and place they were born.  If they had been born in Turkey more than likely he/she would subscribe to the Muslim faith and they themselves would be a  religious particularist.  By using their own logic, it would be acceptable for me to assume that the only reason the pluralist holds that view is because they were born into twentieth century America.  Again by using their own standards their views become false.

These two issues, in my opinion, aren’t the “real” issues though.  Once discussed, I think we start to open up the door to the more sophisticated problems the pluralist has with the truth claim of Christianity.  I think that the main issue people have with Christianity is the condemnation of all people how do not subscribe to that particularistic view, in this case Christianity and the whole hell thing!

This is where we run into the issue of an all loving, all powerful God sentencing  His people to hell.  How could this be?  By God sending people to hell He couldn’t possibly be all loving.  If God was truly all loving He would save everyone and not send anyone to hell…  Wouldn’t He?  Let’s look what God says about this:

“The Lord is not willing that any should perish but that all should reach repentance” (2 Peter 3:9)

“He desires all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4). 

“Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign Lord. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live? “ (Ezekiel 18:23)

“For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent and live!” (Ezekiel 18:32)

“Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, O house of Israel?’” (Ezekiel 33:11)

Three of the above passages of scripture are God speaking to Ezekiel.  It is clear that God is trying to get everyone to turn from there sinful nature and walk with Him.  From the text it seems to me that God is almost pleading with His people to live righteously.  You see, God gave us freewill.  If you use that gift from God to turn from him, it is of our own volition and the resulting consequences are our own.  God does not send anyone to hell.  In fact we end up sending ourselves by rejecting Christ’s sacrifice for our sins.  We have the option to freely choose where we are to spend eternity, heaven or hell.  Even more amazingly, God not only wants everyone to be saved but he actually grieves the lost!!

OK, so God doesn’t want anyone to go to hell.  And, because of our freewill, it’s impossible to “make” us all believe.  But isn’t a sentence of eternal hell a bit much?  This is the next question at hand.  Sure, no one commits an infinite number of worldly sins.  Even the murderer/rapist doesn’t deserve an eternal sentence.  So, shouldn’t hell be more like a jail instead of a prison.  You know, short term stay.  Or like a treatment facility?  Shouldn’t the punishment fit the crime?  Actually, if we look at the crime it does.  We also see that the pluralists focus has shifted from God’s love for us to His sense of justice.  To the pluralist hell is now longer incompatible with God’s love but His justice. 

Here are two possible answers to this objection to God.  First, it was stated that no one commits and infinite number of sins in their life and if no single crime constitutes an eternal sentence, then how can God justify sentencing people to eternal hell?  This has a simple explanation:  It is true that no single crime committed here on Earth deserves an eternal sentence.  It is also true that even if counted and summed all of one person’s sins still equal a number less than infinity but we are over looking something.  What if that person continues to sin while in hell?  What if once committed to hell the person continues to turn from God and reject Jesus as savior?!  This is an eternal cycle of sin and thus an eternal cycle of punishment is warranted.

A second solution, in case the first does nothing for you would be the following.  Does every sin only have a finite punishment?  I mean, worldly sins like adultery, theft, lying, even murder and rape should have a finite sentence.  But these aren’t the sins that keep us away from God.  Jesus Christ washed us of all those sins.  It is through Him we have been forgiven of these and given the chance of eternal life in the first place.  Those debts in the eyes of God are paid when you turn to Jesus.  But the refusal to accept that sacrifice and rejection of Christ is the rejection of God Himself for which has infinite repercussions.  All the crimes and sins in the world stacked end to end can’t compare to the rejection of God’s love and sacrifice.  Let’s look at Mathew 22:34-38 “Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together.  One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: ‘Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?’  Jesus replied:  ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.’”  To reject God is a sin only measured by infinity!  So, the penalty of an infinite sin to be infinite is a just sentence.

Another objection to the Christian particularist is the issue of people who have never even heard of Jesus Christ and the Christian faith.  What happens to them?  It’s often taught that these people are automatically sentenced as sinners.  You have no idea how many times I have heard people, Christians at that, answer this question incorrectly and doing our faith a great disservice!!  When faced with tough questions such as this one, as Christians, we have to look to the Word of God for an answer.  In the Bible, God is clear that He does not judge people who haven’t ever heard of Christ using the same criteria as He does people who have.  It would be unfair to judge someone because they haven’t placed their faith and life in Christ’s hands if they haven’t ever heard of Him.  Instead God judges them by their adherents to His general revelation in nature and conscience that He placed in everyone’s soul.  In Romans 2:7 it says “To those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, He will give eternal life.”  This is very definitely an offer of salvation to people who have never heard of Jesus Christ.

One side note that has to be mentioned:  This does not mean that people are and can be saved apart from Christ!!!  And this is huge!!  What God is telling us is that people with no knowledge of Christ’s atoning death can benefit from it.  A great example of this would be the salvation of Job from the Old Testament.  He obviously had no knowledge of Jesus Christ since Jesus hadn’t come yet.  What saved him is he had a relationship with God.  In all reality there could be people just like Job, living in the corners of the globe where The Good News of Jesus hasn’t reached yet.  Job was exceptional and to be honest I very seriously doubt that there are many Jobs in the world today but that’s nether here nor there.  The point of this is that God has offered salvation universally to us all through His general revelation in nature and conscience.

Please understand that these are just possible answers to the main objections brought by the religious pluralist to the Christian particularist.  You may have answers of your own or maybe these ones may not do it for you.  You may also have some more questions and please ask them.  Maybe I can answer them!!  I don’t have all the answers and everyday I discover new and beautiful things about our loving God.  It’s in the questions where truth is found.  Sean Penn has said, “When everything gets answered, it’s fake.  The mystery is the truth”

So, with that I think we’re done!!  This has been a long one but I really think it’s so important to address the issue of religious plurality!!  And even more it’s important to show that the Christian belief is in fact logical and entirely possible.  Over the past few pages we have seen that the Christian Gospel is not disproved by the worlds diversity!!  For me it reaffirms the Great Commission and drives me to spread the Good News!!!  For me, for the first time in my life I see TRUTH!!!!

“The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands.  And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else.  From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.  God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.”  Acts 17 24-27

 

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10 Comments

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10 responses to “Truth in an Increasingly Pluralistic Society

  1. Katrina

    Can you explain what it is that you are reading at the moment and how/why you decided to write about this?
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    K, right now I’m actually reading a few different books. “Wild at Heart” by John Eldredge, “Un-Christian” by David Kinnaman and “Scaling the Secular City” by JP Moreland.
    I’ve recently read “Jesus Among Other Gods” – Ravi Zacharias, “Velvet Elvis” by Rob Bell, “Blue Like Jazz” by Don Miller and “Beyond Opinion” by Ravi Zacharias. There are a few other’s I’ve read over the last year or two as well. And the Bible is a nightly read!

    As far as why I wanted to hit on this issue, it’s a mix of things. This is one of the issues I most struggled with in my faith. I still do, and through research, talking to people, listening and writing I am able to answer a lot of the questions I have. It’s also important to write about the issue of plurality and my Christian world view because I’m finding most people who do think about this issue only get a onesided answer. We live in an increasingly secular world and to get a good, logical and rational answer from a Christian perspective is becoming harder and harder to find. Most people in our generation don’t have an accurate picture of what Christianity is and because of that they have a very negative view of Christianity. I know I did!! This is due largely to the fault of Christians, so it’s important to express the truth and show that my faith is completely rational and has a solid foundation. Christianity has effected me and my life in ways that are so hard to explain. My heart and intellect have been touched like never before and it’s important to share that with everyone. Lastly, it’s my hope that some people who aren’t Christian, or maybe doubting visit this site. And maybe they find an answer to a question they can understand. Maybe they realize that there is truth in the world. Then just maybe they will resopond to that truth and find life like never before.

  2. nanis

    Wow. I am stunned. I need to reread and think a bit longer on this before I write a real response.

  3. nanis

    Okay, I’m ready.

    Your evidence is flawed.

    You cannot say something is true, and then prove it by restating it. God is true because God says he is true…. Proof must be more solid than that. There is no proof, that is why it is called faith.

    I believe in science. I believe that when something is proven scientifically, I would do well to believe it. Little by little, science is explaining away the mysteries of our world. People once feared thunder, and attributed it to Thor; Poseidon controlled the sea; Iris brought the rainbows. They feared eclipses, and plagues, and droughts, deducing that these were the work of the gods. We now know that there are logical, scientific explanations or those phenomena, so they are no longer only the realm of the gods. They are earthly, worldly, explainable things.

    What we cannot explain is the start of life, or the end. We cannot explain good and evil to sufficiently be satisfied. Therefore, we attribute them to God.

    I am not disallowing your belief. I hope you are right about an afterlife, and the rewards to good Christians. But I do not accept as proof that Jesus “said so”. That is not proof. Thus, we are back in the realm of faith.

    I see nothing wrong with having strong faith, but when you substitute the word “truth” for “belief”, you are in danger of becoming a bigot.

    You have presented a thorough and thoughtful argument, but it is flawed. You use the tenets of the bible to support your arguments, and to “prove” your case. Yet the bible is only a book, written by men, as are the books cherished by other religions. The Buddhists, Islamics and Hindus all have books that support their cases. Each one supports its own set of beliefs, and all claim to be “true”. So you are essentially saying that your truth is truer than their truth.

    Kind of silly to do that, isn’t it.

    Is it not better to believe your truth, and allow others to believe their truth, without judgment?

    ”Judge not, lest you be judged.” And I believe that comes from the bible as well.

    MATTHEW 7:1-5:
    “Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull the mote out of thine eye; and behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast the mote out of thy brother’s eye.”

  4. nanis

    I would like to add that I respect your beliefs, and am truly happy for you. I just want you to be careful not to cross that line of judging others.

    You are doing a wonderful job of exploring and examining your religion, and that is a good thing. As you said, the more you read and write and discuss with others, the more you will learn. I am very proud of your zeal.

    ————————————————-

    What a fantastic comment!!! I will write a more formal response in a bit!! What does need to be said is that by humbly expressing my beliefs and explaining myself I don’t feel I’m judging others. The scripture you used is fantastic but there is a lot more to it than “Don’t judge people”. I’ll explain. Oh, I wasn’t trying to prove or disprove the existence of God, rather the article was to give a logical explanation to a few of the many objection raised by pluralists. Also, the logic is sound. We will take closer look in a little bit.

  5. Katrina

    Thanks for replying. I asked you to explain the foundation and source of your thoughts because I find what you wrote a little hard to follow (not the arguments, but the personal part of it). It would be easier for me to understand if you wrote more on the lines of – “I read this and here are my thoughts” and “I agree with this person and disagree with this person because…” I suppose I was looking to read about how you came to believe these things that you have read and been told as fact. That may not have been your intention, though.

    ———————————————————————–

    Thank you for reading it!! Yeah, that issue can be a little difficult to follow at times but so important to talk about. As far as “the personal part” I’m not sure what it is you mean. If it is to here I came to be a Christian, that will be one of my next entries. It’s taking a while to get down. To address what it is I’ve read, what I agree with and what I don’t… I guess this is a culmination of many books, weekly church services, tons of podcasts, discussions and so many online articles. There isn’t really one place I can point to as far as this blog. I can point you to Ravi Zacharias’ website at http://www.rzim.org. He is brilliant and much of what I have learned has come from him and his ministry.

  6. Katrina

    It is easier for me to describe what I am saying in academic terms. I think that there is a difference between a research paper and a thesis. A research paper is a compilation of information from various sources. A thesis is that (and perhaps the exploration of dissenting opinions), the examination of empirical evidence, and also some affirmative statements/conclusions drawn from the data and sources. When I read what you wrote, it seems to me as if it is a research paper – a compilation of other people’s thoughts – with a jump to the conclusions but no description of how you got there. (It is 2am; this may not make great sense.) I wonder when and how you reached the point where you chose to believe that these things are true. Perhaps in a future post…

    ————————————————————–

    Okay, I see what you are asking and to be honest I don’t think you could fit this entry into either one of your defined categories, Thesis or Research Paper. You see, I would say this is an apologetic piece in which I am trying to take a specific argument used against my faith and logically work through it. With this I should say that you are right in that the thoughts and ideas expressed are not original, however, they are not specifically from one or two or three sources. You see, my thoughts start with life’s meaning and the reading of the Bible and from there I look to answer the questions that are raised both in my mind and in the mind of others. In the search for answers, for truth, I have read a great number of sources, both from religious and secular scholars. I discuss these with my pastor and my friends. I have attended meetings and seminars. Listened to countless podcasts. It’s then through the internalization, rethinking and asking of these questions over and again that I have formed the world view I hold today. Maybe this will help: Say you were to write a letter to me trying to show not how you came to believe in something but what it is you believe and why my view against yours isn’t accurate. For example being vegetarian and defending that ideal to the scrutiny of non-vegetarians. You might briefly go through what you believe and why you believe it but the majority of the time would be spent comparing vegetarianism to that of a meat saturated diet and trying to show that veggies are just as acceptable and healthy as meat. Even more specifically, maybe I say that you can’t get enough protein with veggies alone. You know this to be false and through your writing focus on showing me why. It wouldn’t be a research paper or a thesis but your thoughts, which came from somewhere other than yourself but I don’t think you could point to a specific source.

    Does this make sense to you?! It may not! I am trying to write my story of how I grew to know God and what has happened to me over the last two to three years but it’s taking a while. It’s also fairly long. But soon you should have something to read!

    Lastly, thank you so much for reading and commenting!! It excites me to know end and I love hearing your thoughts and trying to answer your questions!!!

  7. jonjonjon

    Sorry for the delay in the response to your comment. Please forgive me if this gets lengthy and if I field the issues out of order. Also please understand that thousands of books have been written on these subjects. To completely cover each in a blog is impossible. However we can take little peaks into each and possibly address further issues as they arise.

    Firstly, maybe the actual point of what was written has been missed. My goal was in no way to prove or disprove the existence of God. That is for a blog to come. What is being addressed are two popular objections brought by the pluralist to the Christian particularist. Ultimately, the co-existence of an all-powerful, all-loving God AND the logical existence of a hell. No where was there the assumption that “God is true because God says He is true…”

    The article started by declaring what I believe as truth and then exploring what the Bible says about the subject. This was done with the purpose of expressing to the reader where my beliefs lay not why I believe what I believe. Also keep in mind that because of my beliefs I can not believe other world views and religions to be true. A foundation of beliefs has to be laid before we can discuss this issue. Within the first few paragraphs we also look to the Bible to get a base of logic and relate it to modern thinking, to show that the questions being asked and objections posed have been around for centuries. We then looked at two specific arguments against the truth claim of Christianity. It is through the use of logic we provided answers to the objections. The arguments of ad hominem and the genetic fallacy were used to support my position. No where was the Bible cited.

    From these two arguments we went to the underlying third argument: The co-existence of an all-powerful, all-loving God AND the logical existence of a hell. Scripture was used to explain God’s position not to prove His existence! In order to address a biblically based issue one must look to the Bible for what is actually said, as you did by providing scripture at the end of your comment (we’ll get back to that). Next scripture is provided to show that God in no way wants people to suffer an eternity in hell. We have to see what God says about the subject matter before a case can be made either way. You see, the argument brought by the pluralist has origins in the Bible and therefore we must look to the Bible to answer it.

    Moving on, I think your comment actually goes to prove much of what was said. By claiming that truth is found in all religions, my beliefs and Christian world view are being dismissed as false, as are all other particularistic religions. Do you see what has happened here? In the quest to be all excepting you yourself are undermining and actually disallowing every major religion in the world today! By declaring the beliefs of Christianity “silly” you have become the aggressor which so many pluralists think they fight against. You’re declaring your view as truth!

    Let’s take a look at the scripture you’ve provided! Mathew 7:1-5 from the King James Version! I’m glad you used scripture for a number of reasons. First, it goes to the fact that we as humans have something in us that we all feel. You and me, Dan, Katrina! Rheanna and Val. We all feel a sense of right and wrong and I can tell you that it isn’t rooted in science. The only place I have found an answer to where that feeling is rooted is in the word of God. Now that’s truth.

    Not only did you pull out a wonderful passage, but you pulled it from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Let’s look at the New Living Translation version:

    “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.
    “And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.”

    Now, can we dig into this and extract anything more than “Don’t judge people”? I think we can. In the first few lines Jesus is telling us to examine our own lives instead of judging others. What could He have meant by this? I think Jesus is helping us see that it’s often the traits in others that bother us most that are the habits we exemplify! Personally when I am with someone and notice negative traits, in all honesty I begin to notice that they are similar to the traits I posses and want to shed the most! Also, very simply, the verses are saying that we should judge ourselves before judging others. It is not say to never judge others as you have implied! What’s more is that when Jesus says “Do not judge others” He is speaking of the hypocritical judgmental attitudes directed at others with the purpose of tearing them down to build up oneself. In no way is this a blanket statement to overlook hurtful or wrong behaviors of others. He is telling us to be discerning and not negative. Later in His sermon at 7:15-23 Jesus says to expose false prophets!! He is telling you to expose these men who are fake and tell others about them so they don’t follow the false teachings and suffer severe consequences. So by expressing my Christian views in a humble but straight forward way I think Jesus is and will be pleased with me. ;o)

    I would also like to pose the question of how you can use scripture from the Bible to prove that the Bible has no divine authority or isn’t the truth? I don’t think you can. People seem to think that doctrines as “Judge not, that ye be not judged” and “Love thy neighbor” are some how rooted in common sense and will continue to be followed as we gradually move away from God. “Love thy neighbor as thy self” is widely believed to be a moral imperative which everyone can except and try to follow without religious faith. As if it were a belief that came naturally. This in and of itself is one of the biggest errors of our time! No moral doctrine comes naturally. The very word doctrine implies that it has to be taught. It can only be taught if enough people understand the theories that hold it up and can instill the consequences into their minds. I believe that the further from God we move, the few people there will be to guide and teach these doctrines and the more morally corrupt we will become. This is what’s happening in America today!! “Love thy neighbor” is a commandment from God not some obvious statement. The only reason it makes sense in the first place is because it was written on the hearts of man by God following the first commandment “Love thy God”. God commands these things of us not to be an oppressor but for our own good, for the betterment of humankind. We have to obey it because it’s true!!! It’s only true because of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ upon the cross. You see, the shift of my generation is clear. There is a void left that is too big to fill. It seems to me that we are never satisfied because we are trying to fill that void by looking to the self.

    The final issue I want to address is your belief in science! This should really be a blog of it’s own and may turn into one but I feel the need to briefly discuss it here. Before we look to your statement we should first see where science begins. I will begin by asking how the universe began. I think we all accept the current theory of the Big Bang to be the beginning of the physical universe. But what happened before the Big Bang? Most scientist will agree that everything was reduced to a singularity. By definition a singularity is the point at which all of the laws of physics break down. So with the laws of physics broken, the laws of science disappear and we see that the roots of this belief are actually rooted in something non-scientific. I have heard this point brought to some very respected scientists, you know what their response was? They say that they “refrain a selective sovereignty over the imposition of their discipline.” How convenient! I’m not saying you agree with that statement but it speaks to the completeness of science and the attitude of the people behind the thoughts so many believe to be undoubtably true.

    You mentioned that “[You] believe that when something is proven scientifically, [you] would do well to believe it.” I would tend to agree with you accept what about all the science that has been “proven” only to be shown false at a later time? Your implying that it is best to believe a scientist. A person who has been schooled in a certain area of science and conducts experiments. That is a perfectly acceptable view but let me propose something better. What if science only improves our view of religion? What if science goes to show how unbelievably thorough and beautiful God truly is? I love science and I think that science reaffirms my Christian world view. There is a major movement within the science community of former nonbelievers “converting” to Christianity!! Why do you think this is? I would also challenge you to explore the contributions made to science by believers?

    Modern science is rooted ultimately in the ideas of Christian theology. The history of science and theology goes way, way back and if you look at the history the relationship is anything but hostile! Sure, from time to time there will be flare-ups, some being given to science and others to theology. The history between the two is incredibly complicated and I can’t do it justice right now, right here. I will try to write something on it in the near future.

    OK, I am done I think! I want to end saying thank you so much for being supporting me!!! You have no idea how much your comments mean to me!! I do think it one of the most important things in life to discuss these issues with you though!! Thanks again!

  8. From your response: “By claiming that truth is found in all religions, my beliefs and Christian world view are being dismissed as false, as are all other particularistic religions. Do you see what has happened here? In the quest to be all excepting you yourself are undermining and actually disallowing every major religion in the world today! By declaring the beliefs of Christianity “silly” you have become the aggressor which so many pluralists think they fight against. You’re declaring your view as truth!”

    First, I apologize for using the word “silly”. Bad choice on my part.(Katrina pointed that out to me right away, but I could not edit my comment.) My intent was to say that saying your book is more true than someone else’s book was pointless and unhelpful.

    In answer, I do not disallow religion of any kind. I guess my major point is that there is a difference between “faith” and “truth”, and that must be acknowledged.

    Faith in your religion, and the rightness of it, is admirable. I respect that. But calling it “truth” while dismissing others does not have a basis in logic.

    In saying that I am “declaring [my] view as truth!”, you are missing my intent. I believe my view to be one of acceptance. I believe what I do, you believe what you do, and someone else has another belief entirely. None can be labeled as “truth”. Each is a “belief”.

    “I would also like to pose the question of how you can use scripture from the Bible to prove that the Bible has no divine authority or isn’t the truth?”

    My point is that the Bible is an authority that you respect, and I was utilizing that to explain my point. I do not intend to say the Bible is not “true”, though that seems kind of irrelevant. I am saying that the Bible is one of many pieces of literature that instruct humans on ways to be good people. You choose that book; I may choose another, but in my view, all of our books are okay, because they all induce us to be kind and loving and good.

  9. jonjonjon

    Let me first say that there is no need to apologize, I completely understood what was meant and took no offense to it. Secondly, I don’t think it is either pointless or unhelpful to declare the Bible to hold more truth than other religious literature. I feel, through careful research and reading of materials that what the Bible reveals is in fact truth. Logically speaking, I contend that my claims are sound. For me to deny the truth claims, that would be illogical.

    See your truth claim is that “[you] do not disallow religion of any kind.” And “…calling it ‘truth’ while dismissing others does not have base in logic.” Where is logic being violated in my claims? My faith, as any particularistic religion has a truth claim. By saying the truth claims of these religions are faith not truth you are in turn disallowing those religions. That is the logical out workings of your statements. Don’t be mistaken, you are making a claim to knowing the truth as much as anyone else. As far as the acceptance issue, it’s interesting that it isn’t seen how the view to be all excepting is denying many views. Think about it. You are saying that every way to God is true, while the same religions you are speaking of are claiming theirs to be true, and all others false. Because of the law of non-contradiction your statement is falsified and not logical.

    Ultimately the problem we are having here is dealing with truth, the truth claims of religious particularism. Jesus said “The problem in your life and mine is not the availability or lack of availability of truth, it is the hypocrisy of our search.” On my journey over the last few years I have had to ask myself some very difficult questions. One of the most important answers I’ve found is that the life and sacrifices of Jesus Christ justifies the truth claim of the Bible.

    The final issue I want to attend to is your last comment regarding the Bible. You see the Bible is not simply “one of many pieces of literature that instruct humans on ways to be good people.” The Bible is inspired by God and if not the most influential, one of the most influential pieces of literature in history. It’s not simply an Idiots Guide To… or an instruction manual. The Bible is unique and proclaims the truth. These truth claims are exemplified through out, one of my favorites is in John 18. Here Jesus, talking to Pontius Pilate says “…I was born and came into the world to testify to the TRUTH. All who love the TRUTH recognize that what I say is TRUE.” This is a very powerful moment. Pilate then asks of Jesus “What is truth?”, turns his back, and walks out. I have a feeling that if Pilate had just stuck around a few more seconds we would have seen something amazing.

    I will address these issues in a new blog, hopefully this week.

    G.K. Chesterton said, “God is like the sun. You can’t look at it but with out it you can’t look at anything else.”

    Thank you again for reading and commenting. This is actually what I love to do!! Now, if I could only get paid to blog!!!

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