(Continued from Part 1)
To continue… If it’s true that no one person or religion has cornered the market on the truth, then there are probably at least three concerns that come to mind:
- Why bother picking one religion over another to follow if there isn’t one, true religion?
- If you believe in God, wouldn’t God make it clear what we should believe and therefore not play games with us and provide us with a clear path, a one, true religion?
- Isn’t the position that there is no such thing as one true religion actually setting itself up as the view of “the way things are”… the truth? I touched on this last one earlier but I suspect it needs more discussion.
For the first and second issues, why pick one religion over another if there is no one, true religion and wouldn’t God provide us with a clear path. Well, first of all, it doesn’t follow from the thesis that if no one has the corner on the market regarding the truth that there is no such thing as the truth, or no such thing as one, true religion. What does follow is the thesis that, since no one has the market on the truth, then we cannot claim to know or have the one, true religion. This doesn’t mean that our religion does not have any truth value at all… it means, rather, that while it does contain the truth, the truth is bigger than the container we are carrying it in. We need a bigger container than we currently have. That container gets bigger over time… as time passes and our knowledge increases, so does our understanding of the truth. As our knowledge increase, it also widens to include other insights into the truth. These other insights are often found in religions other than ours, so in a real sense our understanding of the truth grows in many ways. In the words of St. Paul,
9 For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; 10 but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known., [1 Cor. 13:9-12 NRSV – The Holy Bible]
So when we see God face to face, in that time when all things are clear, we will not have any doubt about what the truth is. And on our journey to this moment, God provides us with all we need to find our way. God’s grace is sufficient, and our tools for preparing ourselves for the face to face vision of God, our religions, are sufficient, albeit flawed. God works with all of us where we are to call us forth into the radiant beings that we truly are meant to be. God doesn’t flatten us all out into one person, or type…God meets us where we are and leads us to where we can all, together, stand in the radiant light of truth.
So to the third issue, isn’t this view a truth claim itself? Doesn’t it undercut the thesis that no-one posses the truth in it’s entirety? It’s a truth clam, but it’s not a claim that is impervious to change. It is addressing method, not content. It’s not affirming one religious view against another, but rather is a claim about how the true religion will be discerned. It’s a method that is being argued for, not an argument for a religion. If this method proves to be fallacious, then it will become clear, in the long run. The discernment of truth is often a process that requires time and patience.
So, hopefully this reflection is of some value to you… if not, then that’s fine. I am confident that the truth does win out in the end… but it is my hope that I am able to stand with it when it does.