Perhaps you've noticed that there are similarities between religions. It's certainly something that media and school syllabi want to push, from a misguided notion that if we're different, we can't get on. (Did papering over the cracks ever help a couple live together?) But maybe you find it reassuring - there's some spirituality, then, and we can choose what suits us.
I wonder if you'd think the same if I paid you a bundle of various fake £20 notes. Would you be reassured that they're so similar, there must be some value in all of them? Or would it set you to want the real thing, the genuine article that's behind their mimicry?
Dan Strange, in the latest Table Talk podcast:
Religion and religions are idolatrous responses to God's revelation. But because of the nature of idolatry (as it's painted in the Bible), idols, or idolatry, is always counterfeit on something that is true. Idols don't work out of nothing: they are copies, they are mimics. And so with anything that's a copy, or mimic: if I have a fake £20 note, there are lots of ways in which it resembles a real £20 note - you'd expect to see some similarities! But at the end of the day it's a copy, it's a fake. And I think that any response to God that is not worship of the Truine God of the Bible, God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, YAHWEH, of Jesus Christ, is an idolatrous response to God.
'In everything God creates, he has his fingerprints in all creation. So everyone (even if they've never heard of Jesus Christ) who has ever lived is always in a relationship with God: they are born in that relationship. We are made 'in God's image', so it's not as if we are wandering around wondering if there might be a God or not. The fact that we're created by God, in that sense, I'm happy to say that we have a God-shaped hole: we are made to worship the living God.
'But Romans 1 tells us, with that revelation, what have we done? Have we accepted it? No. We have suppressed that truth; we have exchanged it for other things. So, interestingly, when I as a Christian, go to talk to someone who's a Muslim or a Buddhist, I believe they already have a relationship with God. They are already suppressing the truth: they already know God in a certain sense. But at the same time, they know God so much that they are without excuse: they are responsible.
'So I want to say that any response to the living God of the Bible that is not worship in the way that God has proscribed (cf the first commandment, the second commandment) is an idolatrous relationship, and people have to turn around (repent), and believe the true things about God, and supremely, in the gospel of Jesus Christ.'
Listen to the podcast for more, on...
- Is it a problem for Christians that religious beliefs contemporary to Israel were similar?
- Did religions evolve from primal beliefs, or degenerate?
- What does Dan mean by making up a word to say that religions have 'remnantal' truth?
- And how are human beings like the Borg, in how we use truth? [Trust Dan to have a StarTrek reference.]