On a weekend when the world remembers the 9/11 that made that date infamous, many questions remain unanswered.
My concern is that there are answers that remain unquestioned.
Coexist. This sounds so terribly profound and noble. Even the graphic is inspiring. In one word we have Rodney King’s plea from a decade earlier – “Can’t we all just get along?” Well, I suppose that depends what you mean.
- Can we accept one another as humans with inherent value? – I would hope so.
- Can we tolerate viewpoints and lifestyles different from our own? – We should.
- Can we live out our own beliefs without injuring or belittling others in the name of our beliefs? – Most of us do, except for the occasional misguided zealot.
- Can we accept that we are all climbing the same mountain, even though we may be choosing separate paths? – No. This is where we must part company.
The term for this sentiment is religious pluralism. It means ‘acceptance of all religious paths as equally valid, promoting coexistence.’
So – does this hold up? Is there more than one way to God / heaven / enlightenment? I say absolutely not. Sometimes things that sound like good ideas simply don’t work. Religious pluralism is nonsensical.
Let’s start here in case you are new. I am a Christian. I believe in Jesus Christ, that he was and is God, that he came to earth as a human, that he died and rose again, and that only through him can we achieve right standing before God. I am aware of the charges that this sounds intolerant and arrogant. I get it, but I don’t think it holds up. First off, no Christian has warrant to be intolerant or arrogant. We are just beggars telling other beggars where to find bread.
Is a view arrogant if it is correct? If I tell a child that 2+2=4, am I being arrogant and intolerant of other views? Of course this is silly. If a position aligns with reality, then it is not arrogant – it simply is.
But isn’t it intolerant to say that other ways are illegitimate? Tolerance is overrated. Claiming all religious paths lead to God is like saying that all exits off of all highways lead to the same Cracker Barrel.
Merely asserting something does not make it so. A bumper sticker is not an argument. Let’s turn this around. Isn’t the person who claims they are superior to all religions being more arrogant than the proponents of those religions? And if someone demands that we accept pluralism, aren’t they being intolerant of all religions at once? This is not about arrogance or intolerance. This is about truth.
The hijackers who brought this tragedy to our country believed in certain truth claims. They believed in God. They believed they were doing his will. In fact, they believed he would honor them for what they did on 9/11. Do the pluralists want to label this expression of worship as equally noble to the ways that adherents to Judaism or Hinduism attempt to honor God?
The fact is, the claim of religious pluralism is nonsense.
Religious pluralism cannot possibly be true – it is a logical impossibility. Some examples:
- God either is one of a kind, one of many, or not at all.
- Jesus either was God in flesh or he was not.
- God is either a personal being, or he is not.
- God cannot be both a trinity, and an antiquated notion.
- If any religions hold these opposing claims (and they do), then they cannot all be right. It is possible that they are all incorrect, but it is not possible that they are all correct.
To the claim of religious pluralism, author Steve Turner wrote the following:
“We believe that religions are basically the same…
they only differ on matters of creation, sin, heaven, hell, God, and salvation.”
In other words, the only things that religions disagree on are the things that actually matter.
The argument for religious pluralism commits suicide. It defeats itself. Let’s follow the logic: If all religions are true, then Christianity is true. If Christianity is true, then Jesus is the only way. If Jesus is the only way, then not all religions are true. Houston, we have a problem.
The issue is not faith, but the object of our faith. If faith saves us, then the Muslim hijackers are superstars in heaven today. They had so much faith in their beliefs that they died for it. I can admire their conviction, but it’s meaningless if the object of their allegiance is worthy. Hundreds died trusting that the Titanic was unsinkable. Faith is only valuable if it is well-placed.
I believe we are all seeking something. Apologists call it the argument from desire. We want to know that there are answers. We want to believe in a place where there is no more pain or suffering. We hope that those who perpetrate evil will be brought to justice. We long for these things and more. But just because all people seek something, that does not mean they have all found the same thing. Two plus two does not equal seven. Not all roads lead to the Cracker Barrel.
On this weekend, it is easy for many to fall into the old routine of bashing Islam. Muslims are evil and should be expunged, they will say. Religious pluralists sporting the COEXIST sticker have no basis to object to their murder and destruction. Christians do. Not because Muslims are evil. Not because we are right and they are wrong. Christians believe that Jesus Christ came to earth, simultaneously both God and man, and made the way for humanity to be reconciled with God. But this reconciliation is not on our terms. God made us. He provided the way. So only He gets to determine the terms.
All paths do not lead to eternal peace. They do all lead to God, but only for a moment. All of us, hijackers and victims alike, will appear before the holy God to answer for our rebellion. Our beliefs do not save us. Only Jesus is the road that determines where each of our individual ‘Ground Zero’ experiences will take us after death.
NOTE: On this difficult weekend, many of my friends have also written their thoughts about the questions that surround 9/11. I encourage you to visit their blogs as well!
- Atheism, Evil and Ultimate Justice
- Resources on the Problem of Evil
- Evil’s Three Faces and a Christian Response
- Where Was God on 9-11? A response to Rabbi Kushner
- Did God Allow the Attacks on 9/11 for a “Greater Good”?
- The Two Ground Zeroes
- America After 9/11: Is Religion Evil?
- 9/11: “Full Cognitive Meltdown” and Its Fallout
- On September 11th, 2001 harmless things became fearful
- 9/11: Where Is God During A Catastrophe?
- Christianity and 9/11: Guilt by Association?
- Suffering and the Cross of Christ
- Remembering 9/11: A Young Californian’s Perspective
- Possible Worlds: The Need for Moral Choices and Consequences
- Ground Zero: Why truth matters for preventing another 9/11-style attack
- If God, Why Evil?
- My 9/11 Memorial: Christianity Offers Authentic Hope In The Face Of Suffering