by Joe McKeever
A lady wrote to the editor of our local paper the other day, upset that someone suggested homosexuality is forbidden in the Bible. "My God," she wrote, "is a God of love and not a God of judgment."
Now, the lady is free to worship whomever she pleases, and if she wants to make up her own god who will let her do as she will, well, it's been done for thousands of years. My only question to her is "Where did you find this God without standards?" Certainly not in the Bible. Open it at any page and you will see this God makes demands on His people. He sets limits on their behavior and holds them responsible.
I suspect the writer created her god from her own imagination. This puts her lord in the same class as a rag on a stick in Botswana, a volcano in the South Pacific, or a statuette in a Singapore flat. God-making has a certain appeal-your creation can look like anything you choose and it approves whatever you want to do.
Not long ago, local citizen Ray Whiting wrote to our editor taking issue with a letter from Gary Hanberry who had claimed, "The Jesus of the Bible is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, and is compatible with no other religion." Mr. Whiting responded, "It is my belief that the Jesus of the Bible is merely the retelling of the ancient sacred myths of divinity, told and retold through the ages in every language and every culture. The Jesus depicted in the Gospels is an image compiled from the earlier myths, not a real person who walked the earth 2,000 years ago." He concluded, "I would suggest to Mr. Hanberry that his version of Christ is both shallow and impotent. If his Christ cannot embrace us all, his Christ is insufficient for the need. On behalf of all Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus, Jews, Wiccans, (and) pagans I beg him to find a bigger Christ."
I'd like to ask Mr. Whiting where exactly he located this Christ who embraces all religions without expecting anything from any of them. Certainly not in the Bible. And, since the Bible is the only book on earth giving information about Christ, how did he manage to find a Christ different from the one presented there?
Anyone doing even a cursory reading of the Gospels sees that the story of Jesus is presented as historical fact. He lived in this place, at this time, with these people. The men and women who knew Jesus and followed Him told others who passed the word on to others who told their friends. The process has continued right down to the present day. With the ancient myths and fables, a story was repeated around campfires and dinner tables for a few generations, and then died out because it was only a tale. It had no basis in fact and the people found no reason to prolong its existence.
Mr. Whiting insists Truth must accommodate all the religions of the world, otherwise it is not Truth. What fascinating reasoning. Only in religion-and in no other field of inquiry known to man-would we claim that all beliefs are equally valid and demand that they be given a place at the table, so to speak.
Try that on medical science. All schools of medicine must teach voodoo, quackery, superstition, and opinions as well as the proven principles of sound medical practice. The primitive who rubs dung on an open sore and drills holes in skulls to cure headaches is given the same hearing as the head of Johns Hopkins or Sloane-Kettering. Value judgements are out; everyone qualifies as an authority.
Try it on the physical sciences. Every opinion carries equal weight. There are no right answers and no definitive way to determine the orbit of a planet, the makeup of a chemical compound, or the formula for unraveling a math problem. Pity the astronaut who climbs into a rocket-ship and stakes his life on the collected ignorance of every person in the world with an opinion on physics.
Only in matters of faith do we insist there can be no Absolute Truth, that those who claim to possess Truth are narrow and selfish and bigoted, and that whatever "works" for a person is by definition "true." In no other area of life would we fall for such foolishness. Not in the kitchen where we insist on standards of cleanliness and tastefulness, not in construction where workers must follow regulations to make buildings safe and dependable, nor in matters of health or safety or a thousand other fields. Yet, claim you have found Absolute Truth about God and you are automatically branded as shallow and narrow.
Narrow is actually the right word. Scientists have observed that all truth is narrow. Two plus two always equals four. The space shuttle's descent from orbit must coincide with an incredibly narrow slit in time and space, otherwise the mission fails spectacularly. The nuclear power plant a few miles up the river follows complex and strict guidelines. The manufacture of medicine is a precise business. An organ transplant follows exacting procedures. Truth is always narrow.
The Lord Jesus said, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me." What could be narrower? In so few words, He has presented Himself as the only Savior and ruled out every other religious alternative in the world. He said, "No one knows the Father except the Son, and those to whom I reveal Him." Either Jesus is the only way to God or He is the world's greatest egomaniac and not to be believed on anything. (John 14:6; Matthew 11:27)
Make no mistake-the issue is Jesus. Whether He is who He claimed to be or just another religious charlatan is a question every person must answer. But, please note, the Scriptures are not neutral or ambiguous on this subject.
"In the past, God spoke to us in various times and ways through the prophets. But lately, He has spoken to us through His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom He made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of His being, sustaining all things by His powerful word." (Hebrews 1:1-3)
We conclude with a word from the inimitable C.S. Lewis. In a letter to a friend who had questioned the deity of Jesus, Lewis wrote: "what about Mark 2:18-19. (Jesus had said, "No one need fast while I am here.") What man can announce that simply because he is present, acts of penitence, such as fasting, are off.' Who can give the school a half-holiday except the Headmaster? The doctrine of Christ's divinity seems to me not something stuck on which you can unstick but something that peeps out at every point so that you'd have to unravel the whole web to get rid of it." (C.S. Lewis's Case for the Christian Faith, by Richard L. Purtill, p. 48).
The early Christians put it succinctly: "Jesus is Lord." He is indeed.