Sunday, September 25, 2011

Aren't all religions the same? (The Reason for God part 8)

(I'm reading through Tim Keller's book "The Reason for God" and taking my small group through a DVD study based on the book. Over the next few weeks, I'll be blogging about the book, the study, and the discussions occurring in my group.).

This week, we're tacking the topic of exclusivity.  In my years of working in collegiate ministry, before coming to work at Grace Fellowship, I frequently ran into this type of objection to Christianity.  It gets voiced in different ways, such as:

  • "All religions are basically the same"
  • "There can't be one 'right' religion, that's intolerant and close-minded"
  • "All religious paths are equally valid, they are like multiple paths up the same mountain"
  • Religious exclusivity leads to intolerance, division, and even violence.  The view that their is only "one way" is bigoted and extremist."
And so on.

In "The Reason for God", Tim Keller admits that religion often creates a slippery slope in the human heart.  Those who think they have "the truth" look down on others who don't.  Those who think their practice of the truth will somehow save them and make them right with God feel superior to those who don't believe as they do. This can lead to self-righteousness, divisiveness, and aggression towards others. 

In response to this, our culture has proposed three solutions to the divisiveness of religion:

1.  Outlaw religion:  Religion is too destructive.  The world would be better off without it.

2.  Condemn religion:  Criticize it so heavily that it will be emotionally and psychologically undesirable to hold to any strong, exclusive belief.

3.  Privatize it:  You can believe it passionately, even evangelize for it, but keep it out of the public square.

All three of these solutions to the damage that religion can cause are being promoted in our world.  Do you think that any of them are effective?

Keller, while acknowledging the destructiveness of religion, claims that none of these can deal effectively with the divisive tendency of religion.

What do you think?  Are any of these solutions valid?  Would you propose something different? 

1 comment:

J at www.jellyjules.com said...

I feel strongly that religion and government should be separate. But I don't think it needs to be kept out of the public square. Those are different issues.