Religious Stew

By Gregory Koukl

The great philosopher Socrates once counseled, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” The theological parallel is just as valid: The unexamined faith is not worth believing. Sadly, this advice is often ignored.

A letter to the editor of my local paper is a case in point. Responding to a previous letter by a Christian, one woman ended her comments on religious tolerance with this unusual benediction: “May God, Allah, Buddha, Yahweh, Jehovah, Cosmic Consciousness, and ‘All That Is’ bless you.”

Her gesture was genuine and gracious, an example of the tolerance she wanted to promote. No deity need take offense; all were included in the pantheon of possibilities. Yet it was a statement made without thinking. It was an example of an unexamined faith filled with inaccuracies and contradictions.

Buddha was a man who died, and dead men bless no one. Yahweh or Jehovah (both are variations of the same Hebrew word) is the personal name of the Lord God of the Bible, but according to His own statements He is a jealous God, as is Allah, the God of Islam. Neither would give their blessings to those who split loyalties.

Out of courtesy to Eastern religions, the author mentioned cosmic consciousness. Invoking the favor of an impersonal force, however, is much like saying, “May electricity bless you,” or “May gravity smile on you today.” Blind forces cannot act in a benevolent way; only persons can. “All That Is” suffers from the same drawback. If everything is doing the blessing, then what is left to be blessed?

This woman’s confusing theology is characteristic of most who espouse the current form of religious pluralism — the view that no religion is objectively more true than any other. Nevertheless, one point ought to be obvious: Everything can’t be true.


Religious Stew – Christian Research Institute