Friday, 15 October 2010

Path(s?) up a Mountain

All paths lead to God, don’t they? That was the question posed at a sermon I attended at church. Picture a mountain if you will, with God at its heights and us at the base. There are many paths from where we start, many ways that we can live our life but only one path will enable us to complete the climb. Only one path can draw us close to God.

Some people claim that all the paths up the mountain reach the top and that from the bottom we can simple not tell. That is true, we can only have knowledge of the mountain from someone who was once on top and able to look down and see all the routes and whether or not they reach the summit. In Christ we have such a person, God incarnate, he who was once high humbling himself and coming to us at the bottom of the mountain.

Whether you believe that or not, it is certainly true that Jesus considered himself the only ‘path up the mountain’.

“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well” John 14:6-7.

Likewise the founders of other religions would have denied that other religions were true. In Islam, Muhammad taught that the teaching of Judaism and Christianity had both been corrupted and that he had been given the true revelation of God. Buddha decided that Hinduism was wrong and so founded Buddhism. Thus to say that you follow one of these religions and still claim that all ways ‘lead to God’ means that you do not truly follow the teachings of your faith. Thus it is predominantly agnostics who hold this view.

The main objection to the fact that one religion can lead to God seems to be (at least to me) that it is a particularly arrogant claim. To essentially say that this religion is correct and all the others are wrong stinks of unacceptance. This however misses the point; the arrogance of a claim does not impact upon its validity. I, for instance, could say that I’m absolutely great at maths, the fact that I’ve made this statement doesn’t alter my mathematical ability one iota, I either am, or I am not.

A second argument against this objection is that in saying that my belief (that there is only way ‘up the mountain’) is wrong they themselves are making an equally arrogant statement: namely that they are able to perceive fundamental truths better than anyone one of that faith.

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