Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Blind Men and the Elephant

Today, our post-modern, post-Christian culture rejects the Christian's claim that Jesus is the only way to the God and they loudly disdain our views as narrow and exclusive. They argue, "All religions give us insight into some aspect of God. There are many paths, but all eventually lead to heaven."

To illustrate this, the story of the blind men examining an elephant is often given. Remember the story? One blind man felt the side of the elephant and proclaimed it like a wall; another examined the tail and said it was like a rope, another the trunk, who said it was like a pipe. On and on they describe inadequate and limited views of the elephant. They try to make the point that all are correct and that they each reveal some critical truth. The jump is then made to world religions with the claim that all religions teach us some truth about God.

I was listening to Tim Keller, author and pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian church, speak on this topic of Christianity's exclusive claim. He makes some great points and I am stealing his words here. He references Leslie Newbigin (also an author, a bishop and missionary from the Church of Scotland) who points out that the real point of the story is constantly overlooked: The story cannot be told except by someone who can see the whole, otherwise you don't know the men are blind. The only way you can say other religions contain partial truths if you see the whole elephant and if you claim that all religions just see a part of the elephant, it negates your own argument! It is an arrogant claim to have the kind of knowledge you are criticizing.

In this same vein, Christians constantly hear the argument that our claim to exclusivity is narrow. Keller points out that facts aren't narrow; they are simply facts. It is a fact that if you don't eat, your body will shrivel and eventually die. To believe a fact is not narrow. Jesus claimed to be God. If his claim is true (fact), then a belief in that truth is not narrow. If Jesus Christ is God, to live without him will result in malnutrition of the soul, and eventual spiritual death.

Just something to stir your thoughts on a cold winter day in Virginia....


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Prayer of a Martyred Zimbabwe Pastor

The picture above is of a mass gravesite in Zimbabwe, an attempt by a poor country to

bury the dead from a cholera outbreak. I added the photo only
because it helps provide some color to the prayer I've chosen as today's blog post.
This prayer was found among the possessions of a Zimbabwe pastor who was martyred
for his faith:

I’m part of the fellowship of the unashamed. I have the Holy Spirit power.
The die has been cast. I have stepped over the line. The decision has been
made—I’m a disciple of his. I won’t look back, let up, slow down, back
away, or be still. My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, my future is
secure. I’m finished and done with low living, sight walking, smooth knees,
colorless dreams, tamed visions, worldly talking, cheap giving, and dwarfed

I no longer need preeminence, prosperity, position, promotions, plaudits,
or popularity. I don’t have to be right, first, tops, recognized, praised,
regarded, or rewarded. I now live by faith, lean on his presence, walk by
patience, am uplifted by prayer, and labor with power.

My face is set, my gait is fast, my goal is heaven, my road is narrow, my
way is rough, my companions are few, my Guide is reliable, my mission is
clear. I cannot be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, turned back,
deluded, or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the
presence of the enemy, pander at the pool of popularity, or meander in the
maze of mediocrity.

I won’t give up, shut up, or let up until I have stayed up, stored up, prayed
up, paid up, preached up for the cause of Christ. I am a disciple of Jesus.
I must keep going until he comes, give until I drop, preach until all know,
and work until he stops me. And, when he comes for his own, he will have no
problem recognizing me. My banner will be clear.