We Bible believers are commonly confronted with aggressive arguments against our monotheism, and yet we’re also told that all religions are worshipping the same God…
(EYEPHONE: “Spinoff” Evergreens +)
The logic goes like this:
“There are many different gods in the world, and many different philosophies, therefore it’s wrong to try to claim that your idea of God or your way to life and enlightenment is the right one or the only one. There are many roads to enlightenment, or to heaven, or to spirituality, or to God, and we are all on our own path to the same destination…” (whatever that may be).
The “all roads lead to God” assertion is an argument which attempts to rob me of my convictions by claiming that all beliefs are equally valid without consideration of their veracity or merit.
What about the group of 39 people known as “Heaven’s Gate”, who in March of 1997 beamed themselves up to a space ship hiding behind the Hale-Bopp comet by killing themselves: were they on a valid path to life, heaven and enlightenment? What about those who murder others brutally in order to receive direct entrance into the presence of their god, with attendant submissive virgins and other abundant blessings- are they on a valid and acceptable path to life, heaven and enlightenment? If they are, I for one don’t want to go to there to be with them.
If everyone is going to heaven or an afterlife, except perhaps Adolph Hitler and your least favorite politician, how will life be any better in heaven than it is on earth now? There are twenty-five thousand murders a year in the United States alone: is that how heaven will be for all eternity? Surely not! If everyone is going to heaven will it not be filled with arguments, violence, greed, selfishness, bribery, friction, division and theft? I would rather not go there either, thank-you.
And if someone or some force is going to make a judgment of some kind as to who should go, will it be your god or mine, or perhaps some baby-eating frog-god, or the cleansing effect of Samsara-the wheel of perhaps thousands of painful reincarnations?
What is “heaven”? Is it freedom from rebirth and oneness with Brahma, or is it enjoying the company of seventy-two perpetual virgins, or hanging out on some distant planet with hyper-intelligent aliens, or being present and in continual worship of Jehovah, or joining the ranks of heroes in Valhalla? How can it be all of these things at the same time?
Some people will tell you that there is a god of rocks, and some will tell you that rocks are one with God-that nature is god- and others believe that God created rocks and is separate from them. How can all three be right?
Some say that god is an impersonal force in all of nature, and others believe that god is a person who created nature and is separate from it. How can both be right?
Some people think that God now condones and blesses gay marriage and others believe that homosexuality is and always has been an “abomination” to God: how can both be right, unless God is schizophrenic or can’t make up his mind?
I once spoke with a very lovely and polite young woman from India. She told me that her family has ten gods. Under the umbrella of Hinduism you can believe in one god, ten gods, or millions of gods, so long as you are sincerely devoted to your chosen path. Imagine a world, a universe, in which there are millions of gods. How are they all going to agree? How are they all going to work together to create and maintain an orderly universe? Surely they would all have to be in perfect harmony and unity in order to function? (think “parliament” or “congress”). Surely they would have to attempt to choose one from among them who would have the final say? Surely they couldn’t be like the Greek pantheon, in which gods bicker, fight and take offense at each other for virtually no reason?
Imagine a nation like the United States or Russia having a thousand presidents: how would anything ever be achieved apart from argument and fighting? It’s difficult enough with one president! Can you imagine President Reagan sharing his position with President Obama, or vice-versa?
If there is a real God he, or if you like “it” or “she”, must have certain characteristics. Just as a man cannot have black curly hair, and red hair and blonde hair, so a real God cannot be both infinite and finite. He cannot be both precocious and all-wise and merciful. He can’t have several unrelated names. He can’t have a hundred different and contradictory plans for mankind. He, she or it must have particular characteristics, and they must be characteristics which will enable him/her/it to successfully create, sustain and manage tasks far beyond our abilities.
Picture yourself on a road in Japan. You’re on highway 197 going west. You want to go to London England by car and you’re convinced that all roads lead to London. But you’re on an island, and twenty-five miles after passing the city of Yawatahama your car falls into the sea…plop. It doesn’t matter how much you sincerely believed that that road leads to London: it does not. You need to catch a plane or a boat, no matter how averse you are to the thought of flying or sailing. And if God is real, there must be similarly clear-cut lines between what is factual despite your sincerely-held beliefs, and what isn’t.
Try driving down a road which is sign-posted “Dead-End” and you are likely to be needing a farmer to come and pull you out of the middle of a field. Just as there are sign-posts on roads to guide us in our cars, so there are signs in our universe and our world, in history, nature, science and archeology which guide us in making a wise decision for our future spiritual direction.
The charge is often made-usually to the Bible believing Christian only-that it’s not possible to know that your way is right and that others are wrong, so we should all just give up our pet ideas and get along: I disagree. The Bible claims to tell us the truth about life, the universe and everything, and there are ways of testing that assertion.
In previous posts I’ve outlined some of the “signs” which I personally have concluded are real, tangible, reasonable guides for my own spiritual convictions. As an example see “Why I believe in God”: https://nickyfisher.wordpress.com/2012/02/26/why-i-believe-in-god/
Or read “Is God a Teapot?” https://nickyfisher.wordpress.com/2012/04/03/is-god-a-teapot/
Going back to “hair” for an analogy, if you said that my son has black hair, and I said he has brown hair, and someone else said he has blonde hair, and someone else that he has red hair, not only can we not all be right, but I’m more likely to be right because I have seen my son. I can attest to you with confidence that he has brown hair, and no matter how vehemently you assert that he has red hair or all colors of hair, I can stand my ground, and also try to convince you that you are wrong and I am right.
The Bible claims to be the inspired Word of God, and attests confidently to a personal, loving, all-powerful God who created all things, and who sent his son into the world. His son is named, and his actions and words while on the earth have been recorded. You can either choose to reject that testimony, or you can embrace it and hold fast to it, since it entreats you to hold fast to it as though it were your life. In fact, it is your only way to life.
I have chosen by both faith and reason to believe that the Bible is the revealed, inspired Word of God. If you try to convince me otherwise, you are actually attempting to convert me to your idea of God, are you not? Why is it that it’s fine to “believe whatever you want to believe”, but it’s not alright to believe the Bible? Why is it that the only explanation for our existence and prescription for our health and healing that’s politically incorrect is the Biblical one?
The Bible is very clear on the subject of plurality:
“I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God” (Isaiah 44:6b);
“I am the way, and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6);
“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts4:12);
“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).