So much religion, so little truth
A radio report this morning spoke of the upsurge of interest in religion in communist Viet Nam. As a result of government indulgence, many religions, new and old, are flourishing in the new atmosphere of live and let live. Who can help but applaud the loosening of restrictions, the freedom to worship as one wants. And if one accepts the premise that “the truth” is as expansive as the ocean, with each droplet representing a distinct truth, then logic would allow every dish in the religious smorgasbord to contain some of those droplets. In fact, virtually any philosophical school of thought cannot help but have at least a few nuggets of truth — a system of ideas would have to be mighty unlucky not to strike gold occasionally. With this sort of thinking under their belt, many people believe that all religions are equally valid, and that, if heaven, or nirvana, or whatever you want to call it, actually exists, then you can't help but get there so long as you sincerely embrace some ideology with a strong “god component” — many paths, one heaven.
But can such an optimistic outlook be justified? Truth is, the application of simple logic leads inevitably to another conclusion — they can't possibly all have “the truth”. The simple truth is that no amount of trial and error can possibly find a way to put all the alleged “truths” from every religious school of thought together into a recognizable picture. Unlike in a jigsaw puzzle, the pieces just won't go together. The Catholic dogma that Mary is the mother of God cannot find any common edges with Islamic teachings about Allah; nor can a fit be achieved by putting any number of pieces in between. The worship of ancestors that underlies all religious ideologies in Viet Nam will not reconcile with biblical teachings about the dead, no matter how much skill one applies or jiggery pokery one tries.
Though infinite items of truth exist, only one system of beliefs can possibly be
sufficiently coherent to be called “the truth”. Readers of the Bible know that it, uniquely, claims to have the truth about the origin and ultimate purpose of man. The only other text on the track in the truth derby is the Koran, yet it's so far behind you can't even call it a race. However, as we all know, those thousands of denominations that claim to represent biblical teaching are hopelessly tangled in a knot that defies any sword of Damocles to undo. All agree that God so loved the world He gave Jesus Christ in atonement that all who believe in Him may be saved, but they cannot agree on what it means to believe in Jesus.
What to do? Relax. But how can you relax in light of the distinct possibility that your concept of believing in Jesus is deficient? I have strong convictions about what it means to follow Jesus Christ, but I recognize they could be quite wrong. After all, like you, I don't agree with everybody else who claims to follow Jesus as to the nature of true discipleship. We can't all be right. So how can we relax? Here's how:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ… having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth — in Him (Eph. 1:3, 9-10).
These verses reveal the Great Secret — in His time and way, God will succeed in gathering together all who have ever lived (except, of course, for those who reject His offer) “in Him”. No matter what they believe now, all will in due course understand “the truth”. I'm just as confident that you will enter the unimaginable bliss of the kingdom of God as I am about my own salvation. God sent Jesus into the world to save it — and He will succeed! Only those who knowingly reject the grace of God will miss out.