Wednesday, August 3, 2011
One blind man grabs the tusk and says, "An elephant is like a spear!" Another feels the trunk and concludes, "An elephant is like a snake!" The blind man hugging the leg thinks, "An elephant is like a tree!" The one holding the tail claims, "An elephant is like a rope!" Another feeling the ear believes, "An elephant is like a fan!" The last blind man leaning on the elephant's side exclaims, "An elephant is like a wall!"
This parable is often used to illustrate a view known as religious pluralism. Like the blind men, no religion has the truth. Rather, all religions are true in that they accurately describe their personal experience and the spiritual reality they encounter, given various historical and cultural backgrounds.
There are various types of religious pluralism, but one way to define it is as follows: "the view that all religious roads - certainly all major or ethical ones - lead to God or to ultimate reality and salvation."1 This idea is commonly reflected in such statements as "All religions basically teach the same thing" or "All roads lead to the top of the mountain."
The elephant parable, while attractive to many, suffers from a number of problems:
Tuesday, August 2, 2011
Wayne Grudem does an excellent job of tackling this question in his book Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine.
As Grudem notes, the answer to the question "Are there degrees of sin?" may be "yes" or "no" depending on what one is referring to. In order to answer this question properly we must differentiate between two different consequences of sin: (1) legal guilt and (2) the results in life and in relationship with God.
In terms of legal guilt, or our legal standing before God, all sin is the same. Wayne Grudem explains:
In terms of our legal standing before God, any one sin, even what may seem to be a very small one, makes us guilty before God and therefore worthy of eternal punishment...Therefore, in terms of legal guilt, all sins are equally bad because they make us legally guilty before God and constitute us as sinners. (See Rom. 5:16, Gal. 3:10)1
Monday, August 1, 2011
Author: Mark Mittelberg
Publisher/Year: Tyndale, 2008
With so many religious beliefs and ideologies in the world, how does one go about choosing a faith? Why should we even choose a faith? And if we decide to choose a faith, are some ways of choosing better than others? To put it another way, everyone believes something. Moreover, we all believe we are right (that’s why we believe the things we do)! But since people believe contradictory things, not everyone can be right. So how should we decide what to believe?
Mark Mittelberg addresses these questions and more in his book Choosing Your Faith…In a World of Spiritual Options.