Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Three Blind Men and an Elephant

Three Blind Men and an Elephant

One of the most frequent criticisms I hear regarding Christianity is its claim to exclusivity. Is there really only one way? Is there really only one God? Does Christianity really exclude all who refuse to believe this? By definition, a Christian can't possibly claim Christianity if he is not a follower of Jesus Christ. There are stark differences between Jews, Muslims and Christians. Those major differences revolved tightly around the person of Jesus Christ.

C.S. Lewis pointed out the 'absurd' claims of Jesus. Jesus said he was the 'son of God.' He said that he was a mediator between God and man. He said that his death would make man's salvation possible and he would go to prepare a place for man in his eternal home. We can only conclude three things. Either Jesus knew what he was saying was false and he was a liar, or he had no idea that what he was saying was false, making him a lunatic or he told the truth, making him, indeed, the Son of God. Those who don't accept Christ as the Messiah will often claim he was a 'good teacher'. If he wasn't the son of God he was a liar. No liar can be a 'good teacher.' Lunatics don't make good teachers either.

Many in our world today embrace the idea that religious differences are the source of friction that leads to culture disagreements and even war. Who would disagree? Radical Muslims hate Americans because they perceive deep and troubling differences in our laws of morality. The suggested solution is to eliminate all religions thereby paving the way to peace on earth. Millions in the last century lost their lives as the world's demagogues attempted this very thing. Killing off Christians is like trying to stomp out ants in an anthill. The more you stomp the more they appear. Christianity will never go away and it will never be eliminated by any form of government!!

It is interesting to observe how carefully politicians will tip-toe around the issue of religion in an attempt to pacify those who oppose exclusivity. They often discuss their Christianity only when it’s convenient and they 'hide it under a bush' when they are speaking to a crowd who would condemn exclusivity. When I hear some say that all religions are equally valid, they all worship the same god and basically teach the same thing I want to gag. Do they really want to claim that Jim Jones' group and other sects that lead their followers to child sacrifice and mass suicide are in no way inferior to any other faith?

The most common argument against exclusivity is the story of the blind men who 'see' an elephant. One man grabs the elephant’s trunk and says, "This creature is long and flexible like a snake." Another grabs the elephants leg and says, "This creature is round and firm like a tree." A third slides his hands along the side of the elephant and says, "This creature is large and flat." The claim is that no religion can be superior to any other because the religions of the world can only grasp partial truth, not whole truth. Anyone who declares to know truth is considered arrogant and ignorant..

How can anyone who makes such a claim know it to be true unless they see the whole truth, how can they say that no one else sees the whole truth? If the truth is that know one knows the truth, are they not contradicting themselves by claiming to know at least one truth: that know one can know the truth? Which group is being arrogant here? Are they not saying, "All claims about the truth are questionable accept the claim I am now making; that no one can really know the truth"?

At the risk of sounding arrogant and ignorant, I am a strong advocate of exclusivity. I believe this because the Christ I follow said, "I am the way, the truth and the life: No man cometh to the Father except by me." It sounds exclusive because it is. If we are followers of Christ we will be devoted to the exclusivity that he taught.

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