I once had an interesting conversation with a woman who prided herself on being intelligent, open-minded, inclusive and tolerant – which is fine depending on our definition of those words- who told me that people should be free to believe anything they want to believe….
Up to a point I agree with her, and so does my God. So far as I can tell, we are not forcing anyone to believe anything. But the conversation didn’t end there. As is my style, I employed some rather extreme hyperbole, and asked if she thought it was alright for someone to believe that God was a teapot. She enthusiastically affirmed that people should indeed be free to worship a teapot if they so desired.
Now, I’m a tea lover. I’ve been drinking tea since I was eight years old, and there’s nothing better than having a pot of tea, some good company and a few cookies or biscuits, depending which side of the “pond” you’re from. However, I would certainly draw a line at worshipping the teapot. Not only so, but if I were to start worshipping one, I hope that someone would come to my rescue and explain to me that a human being designed and made the pot, that it had no mind or power of its own, and that I was wasting my time. The person who would go to that trouble would be a caring one, and a true friend.
What I am saying is that some things are true, and some things are not true, no matter how much we want them to be, or think they should be. I”m also saying that we need to be pointing people in the right direction, and not be intimidated by those who say we are being “judgmental” by suggesting that worshipping a teapot is a complete waste of time.
I recently received an email from an old friend of mine (no I’m not referring to my good mate Terence) who condescended to advise me that I needed to open my mind up. I need to take in whatever the world has to offer in the way of beliefs, philosophies, gods, and isms., because, you see, the Christian gospel is just too small and limiting. It’s too narrow and exclusive. This friend assumes that I have just not been initiated into the cacophony of voices and the panoply of spirituality and thought that is available. How many times have I heard such advice! I liken this kind of reasoning to wandering around a large store, and saying “Hmm…let’s see now… I’ll have a little bit of this, and a little bit of that. Oh I quite like that, but that looks disgusting. Hey- that’s a fantastic teapot…!”
It shouldn’t be a matter of what we like or dislike or think should be: it’s about truth and reality.
In this post-modern world where nothing is true and everything is true, (except for the Christian gospel of course), very nearly all my old friends have ascended to some higher level of thought and understanding. This understanding almost universally includes reincarnation and the feeling that everyone’s spirit is ultimately heading in the same direction, whether they know it or not. We’re all “one” with the universe. George Lucas’ “force” is not only with us, it’s in us, around us. It is us. We’re all on some kind of a journey. Nobody really knows where or how, and nobody has anything resembling evidence: it’s all about what “must be” because, well, it just “must be”. It’s all so much bigger than we are that, well, we can’t define it or locate it.
According to my enlightened friends, I’m missing out. I’m deficient. I’m uninitiated. I’m in the dark. I’m intolerant. I’m ignorant. I’m bigoted. I’m living in the past. I’m not evolving; in fact I’m holding back the evolution of mankind. I’m not embracing the Age of Aquarius. I’m clinging to an antiquated and disproved religion. I’m too narrow.
Well, I say Praise God for that!
My friends seem to have forgotten, or didn’t notice in the first place, that I traveled on that open, inclusive road for some time. I had the highs, the epiphanies, the hallucinations, the out of body experiences and the wild times. I learned about the middle way and the universal consciousness. I sang and danced to George Harrison’s song in praise of Krishna. I dabbled in reincarnation. I was force-fed evolutionism at school and on TV. I believed in ghosts, and the “chariots of the gods”. Every time I went to the movies to watch “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” I wanted to climb into the screen and go up in that mother ship and never come back.
The current and politically correct consensus on belief is that all “roads” lead to the same destination, and we’re all on our own “journey” to that destination. This is very much akin to the Hindu umbrella of beliefs in which you can choose to believe in no gods, one god, ten gods, or a million gods, depending on your preference, so long as you are sincere and devoted to your path. You can worship an idol or probably a teapot if you so desire.
I do know a little about Pantheism, Pan-spermia, Polytheism, Paganism, Pan-Galactic Gargle- Blasters and some of the countless other “isms” and things beginning with “P”, and I’m aware that they do all have at least one thing in common: they’re all opposed to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Their adherents believe that the gospel “must” be wrong, because it is so narrow and exclusive. The Christian God is far too small and judgmental. The Christian “religion” is far too new. Its beliefs are too uninspiring.
How can a God who created the universe and everything in it, which itself “cannot contain him” be too small? How can a God who designed and made DNA, dinosaurs, deltas, dragonflies and diamonds be uninspiring? How can a God who knows all things be too narrow? How can a God who willingly died at the hands of his own creation in order to give them eternal life be too exclusive and too judgmental? How can a God who created time, space and matter be too new?
Mike Warnke once observed that some people are so narrow that they can see through a key-hole with both eyes. Please God deliver me from ever being that narrow. Of course the opposite of that is being so open-minded that your brains may fall out. I’m still broad minded in the things I feel free to be broad minded in. I have far wider tastes in music, art and literature than anyone I’ve known. I’ve traveled a little: I’ve strolled around the Parthenon in Athens; I swam in the Dead Sea, the Red Sea, the Mediterranean Sea and the Pacific Ocean; I’ve been to the top of the Eiffel Tower and I’ve hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon.
But my friends are right on one thing: the gospel is narrow. In fact Jesus said it this way:
“Enter through the narrow gate, for wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Matthew 7: 13-14).
In case this was not clear enough, he also said:
“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).
Like Christian in Bunyan’s “Pilgrim’s Progress”, I have purposely chosen the narrow way to Life. I did travel for quite some time on the broad road, and it gave me no benefit whatsoever in this world, or for the next. I have chosen the narrow way, and having been on it for thirty one years I am still convinced I’m going the right way, while all my old friends continue on the road to destruction.