The great American author, Flannery O’Connor once made the assertion that “Christianity is worthless if it is not true.” Though I believe O’Connor is spot on, there are many modern people that would not agree.
I remember a man telling me that even if Jesus did not rise from the dead, he would still be a Christian. I think he liked all the emphasis placed on love and all of the niceties of the Christian faith. It clearly made him feel good. If Jesus was not God, it was not a big deal to him.
This has caused me to wonder if modern people care that much about spiritual truth. Does it really matter if what I believe is true as long as it meets certain needs in my life?
Back in my early years of college I was a spiritual pluralist. I believed all religions had different elements of truth and they all lead to the same divine being who was out in the universe.
I then took a comparative religion course and something struck me very powerfully. All the major religions of the world claimed to be true, but they all were so contradictory. For instance, when it came to the Godhead, they all disagreed.
The Muslims believe in Allah, one God.
The Christians believe in the Triune God, that is God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit.
The Hindus believe there are millions of Gods.
Buddhists do not believe there is a transcendent being. It is an atheistic religion.
I was astounded. All of the great world religions claimed to be true, but the laws of logic say this is impossible. The bottom line is that one of them can be true, or none of them are true, but all of them can’t be true.
Looking back, I am not sure this bothered many of my classmates nor my professor. As a result, I find myself in Flannery O’Connor’s camp – if any religion or spiritual teaching is not true, it is worthless.
In reference to this, C.S. Lewis said that we are becoming as narrowly practical as irrational animals. He said that when lecturing to popular audiences of well-educated people, he found it almost impossible for them to understand that he recommended Christianity and its teachings because it was true. He found that they, however, were not interested in truth or falsehood. He said “They only want to know if it will be comforting, or inspiring, or socially useful.”
Lewis goes on to say that we must remember that the ultimate criteria is not the religion that makes me feel good, or that I prefer, or which I think is most beautiful, but the one that is true.
This struggle people have with spiritual truth seems to be part of the human condition. In II Timothy 4:3,4 the Apostle Paul speaks of people who are not interested in truth and sound doctrine. Instead, in order to suit their own desires, they gravitate toward teachers who “tickle their ears” and teach them what they want to hear, that which pleases them. In the end, Paul says they “turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.”
Human beings seem to have a most unusual relationship with the truth. We love the truth when it leads us in a direction we want to go. On the other hand, we balk at it and turn away from it when it leads us to a place we don’t want to go. What we fail to realize is that the truth protects us. It leads to our well-being. Distorted and false beliefs can be so destructive and generally we are not aware of them until we get burned by these false beliefs.
For this reason I contend the healthiest approach to life is always follow the truth, wherever it leads you. This of course applies to every area of your life.