The Importance of Authentic Truth

Not all beliefs can be true.

The statement “all beliefs can be true” logically cancels itself out, because if it were true, it would mean the belief “not all beliefs can be true” is as true as the belief “all beliefs can be true”.

You are here in the religion forum of a philosophy site. The main concern here is what really, truly matters. If two beliefs about what really, truly matters contradict eachother, they cannot both be true — they cannot both really, truly matter.

If you believe something really, truly matters, and someone else shows you that your belief is not true (hopefully in a loving manner, and because they believe it really, truly matters that you know the truth), it is going to pull some emotional triggers — even if you come to agree with them.

When you talk about beliefs with your friends, and some of those beliefs contradict eachother, there are two possibilities: all are false, or only one is true. Contradictory beliefs cannot all be true, but they all may be false.

If something is true for one person, it is true for every person. Truth is not subjective, it does not depend on a person’s believing it in order to be true. The truth of a belief does not depend on whether or not it has positive results, or whether or not it would hurt your friends’ feelings to know it was false. However, if a belief is true — it will have positive results: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Gal. 5:22-23).

Beliefs about what really matters must both be logical (mind) and resonate (heart)… or they do not represent the Big Picture (truth and love). This has nothing to do with the logical fallacy where a person’s emotions are manipulated rather than providing good reasons for accepting a conclusion. I just wanted to be sure you understand that. Consider this quote from Ravi Zacharias’ “Jesus Among Other Gods” — it concerns answering the question of evil and suffering…

The explanation must meet both the intellectual and the emotional demands of the question. Answering the questions of the mind while ignoring shredded emotions seems heartless. Binding the emotional wounds while ignoring the struggle of the intellect seems mindless.

One’s religious or spiritual beliefs are about the fundamental nature of reality. If their beliefs reflect the fundamental nature of reality, their beliefs are true. If two beliefs contradict, only one can be true.

For example. God concepts. Pantheists believe God is in everything, and that you yourself are God. Monotheists believe God is one, and that you are a creation of God. Atheists believe there is no God (limited to their concept of God), whereas nontheists (not self-titled) have no God concept whatever. Polytheists believe there are multiple gods. Not all of them can be correct — not all of them reflect the fundamental nature of reality.

This matters because if you don’t have the correct concepts, you will never realize why you exist in the first place — you will never appreciate the gift. You will miss the point.

If man decides what is “right” — there is no “right” apart from man. There is only a “right” apart from man if it is “right” despite man’s acknowledgment — only if there is “right” because it is part of the fundamental nature of reality — the Big Picture. If you don’t see the Big Picture, you don’t see “right” — and your whole life reflects that. If you settle for something besides the Big Picture (a cheap imitation), you might do some nice things in your life, but at the cost of never seeing the Big Picture.

That is why there is evil in the world. Because the blind do not yet see, or opt for a cheap imitation.

Those who see the Big Picture worship Him — sacred love. “Only when holiness and worship meet can evil be conquered,” (Zacharias). With all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, all your … strength.

The mixing of synchretism is not really a true mixing, because incompatible stuff is thrown out. Neither of the original belief systems remain in tact when they are mixed. Buddhism and Christianity do not fit perfectly together. Here is a lengthy explanation…

The Buddhistic world view is basically monistic. That is, the existence of a personal creator and Lord is denied. The world operates by natural power and law, not divine command.

Buddhism denies the existence of a personal God.

There are those who deify the Buddha but along with him they worship other gods. The Scriptures make it clear that not only does a personal God exist, but He is to be the only object of worship. “‘You are My witnesses,’ declares the Lord, ‘And My servant whom I have chosen, in order that you may know and believe Me, and understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, and there will be none after Me'” (Isaiah 43:10 NASB). “Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel and His Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: ‘I am the first and I am the last, and there is no God besides Me'” (Isaiah 44:6 NASB). “‘I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before Me'” (Exodus 20:2,3 NASB). “Then Jesus said to him, ‘Begone, Satan! For it is written, “You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only”‘” (Matthew 4:10 NASB). “Jesus therefore said to them again, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before Me are thieves and robbers; but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he shall be saved and shall go in and out, and find pasture'” (John 10:7-9 NASB).

There is no such thing in Buddhism as sin against a supreme being. In Christianity sin is ultimately against God although sinful actions also affect man and his world. The Bible makes it clear, “against thee, thee only, I have sinned, and done what is evil in thy sight” (Psalm 51:4 NASB).

Accordingly man needs a savior to deliver him from his sins. The Bible teaches that Jesus Christ is that Savior and He offers the gift of salvation to all those who will believe, “The next day he saw Jesus coming to him, and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!'” (John 1:29 NASB). “And she will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for it is He who will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21 NASB). “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23 NASB).

According to Buddhist belief, man is worthless, having only temporary existence. In Christianity man is of infinite worth, made in the image of God, and will exist eternally. Man’s body is a hindrance to the Buddhist while to the Christian it is an instrument to glorify God.

… “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?” (1 Corinthians 6:19 NASB).

Another problem with Buddhism is the many forms it takes. Consequently, there is a wide variety of belief in the different sects with much that is contradictory. John B. Noss makes an appropriate comment:

“The rather odd fact is that there ultimately developed within Buddhism so many forms of religious organization, cultus and belief, such great changes even in the fundamentals of the faith, that one must say Buddhism as a whole is really, like Hinduism, a family of religions rather than a single religion” (John B. Noss, Man’s Religions, New York: Macmillan Company, 1969, p.146).

With these and other differences, it can be seen readily that any harmonization of the two religions simply is not possible.
— pp. 320-321 “Handbook of Today’s Religions” / McDowell, Steward / Thomas Nelson, 1983).

The doctrine of reincarnation, of paying your debt of karma/kamma (karma/kamma is known to Jews and Christians as the debt of sin — but they see the consequence as death, complete separation from God, rather than seeing the consequence as…), having to suffer through another life (although an infant has done nothing to earn your debt… and what debt did the first human incur?) — completely misses the point.

What oxygen is to the body, the Bread of Life is to the soul. Without that bread, all other hungers will be improperly perceived. In fact, in like manner, the absence of that bread over a prolonged period makes the bread itself seem worthless. Life is meant to be lived with the fulfillment of the one need that defines all other means of fulfillment and the one love that defines all other loves. … There is an old adage that says you can give a hungry man a fish, or better still, you can teach him how to fish. Jesus would add that you can teach a person how to fish, but the most successful fisherman has hungers fish will not satisfy. … It is not Buddha who delivers you; it is his Noble Truths that instruct you. … By contrast, Jesus did not only teach or expound His message. He was identical with His message. “In Him,” say the Scriptures, “dwelt the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” He did not just proclaim the truth. He said, “I am the truth.” He did not just show the way. He said, “I am the Way.” He did not just open up vistas. He said, “I am the door.” “I am the Good Shepherd.” “I am the resurrection and the life.” “I am the I AM.”

In Him is not just an offer of life’s bread. He is the bread. That is why being a Christian is not just a way of feeding and living. Following Christ begins with a way of relating and being.

Let us use Buddhism as a specific example. It is a system that is gaining a following among many in Hollywood. It is often very simplistically defined as a religion of compassion and ethics. The truth is that there is probably no system of belief more complex than Buddhism. While it starts off with the four noble truths on suffering and its cessation, it then moves to the eightfold path on how to end suffering. But as one enters the eightfold path, there emerge hundreds upon hundreds of other rules to deal with contingencies.

From a simple base of four offenses that result in a loss of one’s discipleship status is built an incredible edifice of ways to restoration. Those who follow Buddha’s teachings are given thirty rules to ward off those pitfalls. But before one even deals with those, there are ninety-two rules that apply to just one of the offenses. There are seventy-five rules for those entering the order. There are rules of discipline to be applied–two hundred and twenty-seven for men, three hundred and eleven for women. (Readers of Buddhism know that Buddha had to be persuaded before women were even permitted into a disciple’s status. After much pleading and cajoling by one of his disciples, he finally acceded to the request but laid down extra rules for them.)

By contrast, in a very simple way Jesus drew the real need of His audience to that hunger which is spiritual in nature, a hunger that is shared by every human, so that we are not human livings or human doings but human beings. We are not in need merely of a superior ethic, we are in need of a transformed heart and will that seek to do the will of God.

Jesus also taught and held up a mirror, but by His person He transforms our will to seek His. It is our being that Jesus wants to feed. Christ warns that there are depths to our hungers that the physical does not plumb. There are heights to existential aspirations that our activities cannot attain. There are breadths of need that the natural cannot span.

In summary, He reminds us that bread cannot sustain interminably. He is the Bread of Life that eternally sustains. And He does it as no other has ever done.

— Zacharias, “Jesus Among Other Gods” p. 87, 89-90 / Thomas Nelson, 2000.

One cannot confirm the absence of a self while individualizing nirvana, and one cannot talk about the cessation of suffering [ after so many reincarnations ] without also giving the origin of the first wrong thought. Buddhism has an intricate set of rules and regulations because it needs them. As a nontheistic path, it is a road strewn with kamma. It recognizes evil and then, fatalistically, shuts its eyes to it, seeking escape.

— Zacharias, p. 123 (ibid).

Buddha, a human, had a beginning, and died (it’s up to God what happened after that). Jesus before His incarnation did not have a beginning, and He rose from the dead and has no end (“Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up”). He said, “I have come that [you] may have life” (John 10:10).

[Jesus’] life has always been regarded as the purest that has ever been lived. On numerous occasions, His antagonists were challenged to bring some contrary proof against Him. They were never able to besmirch His pristine life. He challenged His adversaries to lay any charge of sin at His feet. As we progress in this book, we will see how hard they tried.

By contrast, no other individual has ever elicited such accolades. By their own admission, this includes Mohammed, Buddha, and Krishna. Their lives and their struggles are recorded within their own scriptures.

How does Buddha measure up against the standard of personal purity that Jesus set? The very fact that he [claims to have] endured rebirths implies a series of imperfect lives. When he left his home in the palace, turning his back on his wife and son, it was in search for an answer. He did not start with the answer. His “Enlightenment” was an attainment. Even taken at face value, it was a path to purity, not purity per se.

Jesus did not begin His mission by leaving more comfortable surroundings in order to gain enlightenment so that He would find the answer to life’s mysteries. That was the origin of Buddhism.

His strong and unequivocal claim was that heaven was His dwelling and earth was His footstool. There never was a time when He was not. There never will be a time when He will not be. His was a positing of truth from an eternal perspective that uniquely positioned Him.

— Zacharias, pp. 40-42 (ibid).

There is an old adage that says you can give a hungry man a fish, or better
still, you can teach him how to fish. Jesus would add that you can teach a
person how to fish, but the most successful fisherman has hungers fish will not
satisfy.

Getting Behind the Scenes

There is a second but not so obvious truth. “I am the Bread of Life,” said Jesus. “He who comes to Me will never go hungry, and he who believes in Me will never be thirsty.” Notice the power implicit in the claim.

At the heart of every major religion is a leading exponent. As the exposition is studied, something very significant emerges. There comes a bifurcation, or a distinction, between the person and the teaching. Mohammed, to the Koran. Buddha, to the Noble Path. Krishna, to his philosophizing. Zoroaster, to his ethics.

Whatever we make of their claims, one reality is inescapable. They are teachers who point to their teaching or show some particular way. In all of these, there emerges an instruction, a way of living. It is not Zoroaster to whom you turn. It is Zoroaster to whom you listen. It is not Buddha who delivers you; it is his Noble Truths that instruct you. It is not Mohammed who transforms you; it is the beauty of the Koran that woos you.

By contrast, Jesus did not only teach or expound His message. He was identical with His message. “In Him,” say the Scriptures, “dwelt the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” He did not just proclaim the truth. He said, “I am the truth.” He did not just show a way. He said, “I am the Way.” he did not just open up vistas. He said, “I am the door.” “I am the Good Shepherd.” “I am the resurrection and the life.” “I am the I AM.”

In Him is not just the offer of life’s bread. He is the bread. That is why being a Christian is not just a way of feeding and living. Following Christ begins with a way of relating and being.

–from Ravi Zacharias’ “Jesus Among Other Gods” (89-90, Thomas Nelson).

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About Maryann

Maryann Spikes is the past President of the Christian Apologetics Alliance. She blogs at Ichthus77, and loves apologetics and philosophy. In particular she loves to study all things Euthyphro Dilemma and Golden Rule. A para-educator (autism) for five years, she holds a Certificate in Christian Apologetics from Biola University, an AA in Humanities via Modesto Junior College, and moonlights as a freelancer. You can follow her on Twitter @Ichthus77, connect with the Ichthus77 community on Facebook, or look her up on Google+.
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