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prov·o·ca·tion - something that provokes, arouses, or stimulates. pant - to long eagerly; yearn. a collection of thoughts intended to provoke and inspire. these posts are hoping to encourage people to think, especially Christians, and pant even harder for the waterbrooks of the Lord. If you are not a believer in Christ Jesus, I welcome your perspective and encourage your investigation on these matters.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

RP: Inverting the Telescope: The Practice of Pluralism

RP is the category of posts at P&P which deal with my thoughts on religious pluralism. As a young kid, one of the coolest things I had to play with was a nifty G.I. Joe binoculars. I would use them to spy on my brother when he was chasing me or when we were playing "Hide and Go Seek". I amazed that, while he was so far away, I could look through these lens and he would appear as if I could poke him in the eye! Then curious one day, I decided to invert the binocular and look through it the other way, and to my surprise, everything that was really close all of the sudden was microscopically distant. Even my hand outstretched look like a mile away. Such a simple thing now fascinated me then, and well, still does today. In numerous messages, I have heard John Piper speak of what it means to "magnify" God or "give Him glory." He uses the illustrations of the microscope and telescope. Let me share with you how he describes it in Don't Waste Your Life: It (glorify) is more like the word magnify. But here we too can go wrong. Magnify has two distinct meanings. In relation to God, one is worship and one is wickedness. You can magnify like a telescope or like a microscope. When you magnify like a microscope, you make something tiny look bigger than it is. A dust mite can look like a monster. Pretending to magnify God like that is wickedness. But when you magnify God like a telescope, you make something unimaginably great look like what it really is. With the Hubble Space Telescope, pinprick galaxies in the sky are revealed for the billion-star giants that they are. Magnifying God like that is worship. (32) So Piper makes it clear that in one sense you blaspheme God and the other you simply put him on display as an act of worship. It is all in how you look through the lens. As Christians, we are called to glorify God in everything we do. We are to be the lens in our world which "telescopes" the majesty and magnificence of our glorious God. When they see us, they are to see Christ "up close and personal." Whatever we do in word or deed, all of our lives should put God on display, to make Him look good, to be a telescope for our world to see and savor the greatness and grandeur of God. Yet for the pluralists, the practice has been just the opposite. They have inverted the telescope, and by their philosophies, presuppositions, and practice, they have intentionally tried to distance God so far away that it would be impossible for anyone to see Him, much less know Him. They argue that God cannot be known through direct/divine revelation, but rather we are only able to perceive God through our own culture or "life narrative". They say that God Himself cannot be known, because he exists in another world, which Kant calls the noumenal world, while we as humans exist in the phenomenal world, and those worlds are irreconcilable. They are forced to say that the Incarnation of Jesus Christ is a myth (The Myth of Christian Uniqueness by John Hick and Paul Knitter), for that would bridge the gap and tear down the dividing wall between us and God. They discredit propositional truth argue that truth is only and entirely personal, thus subjective (whatever you want it to be). The only thing that can be known about God is what we can learn from one another's perceptions, since God is the Ineffable Real or Unknown God whose transcendence no one can apprehend. God, therefore, is incapable of being revealed, received, or responded to; rather, we are left to ourselves to guess who God really is. Piper arightly calls this wickedness and blasphemy, for so pluralists do so intentionally and willfully. Forced to bring all religions to the table and consider all of them viable paths to God, they have brought close religions while at the same time driving God far off. By their inversion of the telescope, they have brought perversion in theology, though many of them still call themselves "Christians". Ironically enough, one of the main reasons why they are pluralists is that all religions may be considered equally accessible to God, yet in their very assertion, they could not be driving God farther away. In this short span of time on this earth, we have few moments compared to eternity to shed light on the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ and manifest the hope of glory of "Christ in us". It should be our expectation that Christ would be "magnified in our body, by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." If Christ is our lives, then there is no other way than to "telescope" the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Why, you might ask? Because "no man can come to the Father, except through Me" (John 14:6). Yes, there is still no other way but directly, exclusively, uniquely, and supremely in the Lord Jesus Christ. While pluralist are playing "Hide and Go Seek" with God, we are to offer clear lenses wherewith the world can see God for who He really is - Jesus Christ, Son of Man and Savior of the world.


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