“All men, by different paths, seek the same God.” Years ago, when I first heard this phrase, I thought it sounded pretty plausible, intelligent and seemed to have a ring of inclusion for those trying to make sense out of the many religions in this old world of ours. I don’t think it does. I’ll get to this in a few minutes.
There has been an almost universal thinking process that requires us to take a look at what we hold dear and believe and try to remove or dilute anything that might just offend, exclude or separate any outsider. That can translate into a word that seems to be embraced by the casual observer. The word is “compromise.” Compromise sounds so nice and inoffensive. Religiously, churches have tried to nail down whatever just might isolate the sinner from the saint, the non-believer from the believer or the church goer from the, “I wouldn’t go inside even if you threatened me” individual. Maybe, Presbyterians could change their image from the “frozen chosen” to the “embraceable you,” the Baptists from, “We don’t dance or drink” to “a little wine is just fine and let’s try Folk Games,” and the Methodists from, “John Wesley’s Quadrilateral,” to “whatever feels good.” By making our religious requirements more relaxed, we can advocate a policy that says, “From a list of religious choices, pick the ones that are comfortable and exclude those that just don’t feel good.”
Just think, our churches will grow exponentially and we’ll have the happiest folks you’ve ever seen!
When I worked for old James Cash Penney at store 1459 in Huntington, W.Va., the first thing the boss told me was to memorize the Motto, “Always first quality.” I did a research paper on the company while I was in college and found that Mr. Penney never failed to check out every prospective manufacturer’s selling points. One seller came by his store in Wyoming and declared, “Our white goods are guaranteed to have less than a five percent shrinkage!” Mr. Penney bought 10 yards of cloth from several samples and measured each sample. He took these samples and washed them just like any housewife would with plenty of soap and hot water. After every one of these samples were hung on the line and dried, they were measured the second time. If the salesman’s promise was accurate — no more than 5 percent shrinkage — he bought all the cloth he needed. If not, the salesman was sent packing. Let me tell you, I was always proud to say, “I work for J.C. Penney!”
How can any Christian possibly believe that any religion — no matter how sincere or dedicated — seek the God of the Bible when that religion follows a path of violence, hatred, exclusion, isolation, Gnosticism, narcissism and above all Biblical ignorance? Even worse, why not just read the Bible as though it is nothing more than religious literature and then include only those parts that make us feel good, promote psychological health, give us a warm fuzzy or two and exclude those parts that demand absolute allegiance to the God who declares, “You shall have no other gods before me,” and, “You will not add to or take anything away from Scripture.”
Where are we in this great plethora of religious diversity? We don’t give excuses or homogenize our faith! We follow the commands of the Son of God who is quoted in Matthew 28:19, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you...”
The final answer to my first paragraph is, “No! There are not many intellectual, experimental, watered-down, compromised paths to the one God!” That path has already been paved by Jesus Christ, so step out in faith.