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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

There can't be just one true religion

Over the years, I have come across this idea repeatedly: "Each religion sees part of spiritual truth, but none can see the whole truth."

Tim Keller in his book, "The Reason For God," writes:

"Sometimes this point is illustrated with the story of the blind men and the elephant. Several blind men were walking along and came upon an elephant that allowed them to touch and feel it.

"This creature is long and flexible like a snake" said the first blind man, holding the elephant's trunk.

"Not at all - it is thick and round like a tree trunk," said the second blind man, feeling the elephant's leg. "no, it is large and flat," said the third blind man, touching the elephant's side.

Each blind man could feel only part of the elephant - none could envision the entire elephant.

In the same way, it is argued, the religions of the world each have a grasp on part of the truth about spiritual reality, but none can see the whole elephant or claim to have a comprehensive vision of the truth."

But then Keller goes on with some very powerful thoughts:

"This illustration backfires on its users. The story is told form the point of view of someone who is not blind. How could you know that each blind man only sees part of the elephant UNLESS YOU CLAIM TO BE ABLE TO SEE THE WHOLE ELEPHANT!"

In other words, he concludes, "How could you possibly know that no religion can see the whole truth unless you yourself have the superior, comprehensive knowledge of spiritual reality you just claimed that none of the religions have?"

Good stuff.

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