This one’s a real hot potato. And it’s not something you hear so much from ancient religious institutions… rather, it’s simply the ‘politically correct’ way to talk about spirituality these days.
It tends to be expressed something like this: ‘You’ve got your truth, and I’ve got my truth. You find a faith that works for you, and I’ll find a faith that works for me.’
Well here’s my question:
How many conflicting versions of the truth can actually be true?
I’m not going to use this space to promote an agenda today — or to push any specific claim of Ultimate Truth. I’m just going to highlight a very simple, logical reality that each of us, in our search for Truth, must recognize. Pardon me if I offend you, but I’m going to put it bluntly.
It’s impossible for all religions to be true.
In other words, if Islam is essentially true, then Buddhism, Hinduism and Christianity are not. If Buddhism is essentially true, then Islam, Christianity and Hinduism are not. And so on.
How can I say such a thing? Because if you *really* study these religions, it will become clear that each makes bold, fundamental assertions about reality that are not compatible with the others.
For example, Hinduism states that divinity is present in everything. Christianity, Judaism and Islam all assert that God is distinctly separate from what he has created. The implications of these different views run very deep, and they are fundamentally incompatible. It’s logically impossible for both views to be true.
So why bring this up, anyway?
Well first I have to make a confession. I would *like* to believe that all religions could be true. I would personally *like* to believe that all paths lead to God. It feels good. It’s a kinder view of the world. It puts everyone on equal footing.
But it just doesn’t make sense.
Truth is, by nature, exclusive. There are always more wrong ways to do just about anything than right ways. There are always more wrong answers to any given question than right ones.
And you know what? This really raises the stakes. It puts a real sense of urgency in our search for truth, because it shows that if we’re not careful, we can fall for a half-truth.
On the other hand, if you diligently search, seek out the facts, and your spiritual journey brings you to a place where the pieces fit in place – if everything makes logical sense and it feels right in your heart – then you should not hesitate to share your joy with others.
OK… now let’s stop right now and make something very clear:
If we possess the truth, it doesn’t give us the right to be unkind to those who disagree. It didn’t give Bin Laden the right to declare Jihad, hijack airplanes and fly them into the World Trade Center. It didn’t give so-called ‘Christians’ the right to kill people in the Crusades. It doesn’t give us the right to be disrespectful or violent.
What it does give us is the right – and the confidence – to go out into the marketplace of ideas and *see* if our Truth stands up to hard scrutiny.
C.S. Lewis was talking about this very thing when he said, ‘You don’t need to defend a Lion. You just need to let him out of his cage.’
If you really do have the truth, then you have nothing to fear. You don’t need to burn books or censor speech. Truth is its own best defense.
In our modern, sophisticated culture, spirituality gets locked up in a cage. It’s a taboo subject. Discussions about religion are not considered ‘polite conversation.’ So nobody talks about it.
The result? People don’t talk to each other. They live in fear and isolation.
Some folks harbor ideas and notions that make absolutely no sense, but because those ideas are never brought out into the light of day, they’re never questioned.
Others have great wisdom, but they’re afraid to share it with others!
In your search for the truth, then, know that you’re not just looking for something that sounds good. As with any other kind of truth, it may *not* feel good all the time. Know that you’re looking for something definite, something that will by nature make some pretty bold claims.
Also, please understand that if someone tells you they possess the truth, they’re not being arrogant. Fact is, they’re either sadly deceived or else they’re right. You can’t put someone down for being deceived, and you can’t fault someone for being right!
The real challenge is to discern the difference.
Tomorrow I’m going to cover Lie #6:
‘The Bible is out of date, inaccurate and over-rated. People in the 21st century are way too smart for that.’
Thanks for sticking with me.