WHY do I keep engaging people in these topics? More to the point, why do I keep engaging people in these topics and then allowing myself to be frustrated and disappointed when the conversations go badly?
I’m engaged in an exchange about religion on a friend’s facebook page, begun when that friend wondered why, exactly, some of us are still wondering about whether or not Obama is a secret Muslim (and what difference that would make). One of his facebook friends said this:
Tom says it well in his last statement here. Accepting that society is pluralistic is one thing…embracing it as a Christian is yet another. To embrace it is to deny that there is any truth in this world and in essence, to reject God. There’s either truth or there isn’t. Doesn’t mean it should be used for discriminatory purposes of course, but it’s a fine line between accepting something as commonplace and here to stay and embracing it as being true.
to which I replied:
…. but what if the “truth” is that there are many paths up the mountain? What if the “truth” is that there are as many ways of experiencing divinity as there are individuals having those experiences? Why does it have to be “my way or the highway”?
which got me this:
Which mountain are you talking about? And what highway? I’m not sending anybody to the highway because they don’t believe what I believe…nor am I going to use Christianity as a weapon to discriminate against those that believe what I beli…eve. Not in a job setting or otherwise. What I am referring to is the idea that one can be a Christian and believe in pluralism. Can’t happen. The two cannot co-exist. When Jesus says “I am the way, the truth, and the life…no one comes to God except through me”, that rules all other possibilities for me. For you? You can believe what you wish. My comment was primarily to Eddie about being a Christian. Celebrating diversity of culture is a good thing. But, a Christian cannot celebrate other religions. Be kind to people in other religions? Yes. Treat them with civil equality? Yes. Embrace the idea that there are many truths? No. That would be an abandonment of one’s Christian faith.
So I said this:
I think that’s the part I have trouble with. Doesn’t excluding someone’s faith (and thereby believing that they can’t attain the same kind of relationship to the Divine that you have) necessarily put you on an unequal standing with that person?
to which he replied:
Chili…what are you suggesting that I am excluding someone from? As I said, I would not use my difference in belief to discriminate. Are you suggesting that Christians should believe that there are other paths to God besides Christ?
It’s …not realistic to think that we can be on “equal standing” with everyone from a beliefs standpoint. All we can do is not use our beliefs as a weapon to exclude others from places or positions they are qualified to be a part of. You can believe someone’s faith is built on a faulty foundation, but still treat that person with respect. The two are not mutually exclusive.
I don’t subscribe to the belief that everything is truth. I don’t think you have to subscribe to that to be a person who respects others.
Here’s me again, trying to clarify my point:
The way I see it is like this; if someone believe that the only way to divinity/salvation/whatever is THEIR way, and I don’t believe as they believe, than we are inherently unequal by nature of their not being able to accept that my path to the divine may be different – but just as valid – as theirs. In that scenario, I am less than they simply by virtue of the fact that they are going to God and I, in their belief, am not. How do we relate to one another as equals if this is something that they truly believe?
Here’s his most resent response:
So, you want me to lie? To say I hold another’s belief to be valid when I don’t? If you are looking for someone who matches your beliefs step for step in order to relate to them, you’re going to be one lonely person. No one holds every beli…ef of another to be valid. That doesn’t mean they can’t be friends. Eddie doesn’t see every belief I have to be valid and vice versa…we are way different in that respect…and yet we are great friends.
A Christian cannot hold a belief apart from accepting Christ as being a valid path to salvation. To do so is to deny the very essence of the Christian faith. I believe there is no other path…and therefore I don’t find other paths to be valid. Now, certainly Christians differ on plenty of things…but on the path to God, Christ is the only way and that cannot be compromised for the sake of anything.
I’m not trying to be hard on you, but no one sees another as equal to them on most issues. Doesn’t mean they always see themselves as better…just different. Only in a world of complete moral relativity can such thinking make sense.