Truth and Religion

Religion is about truth. It sounds strange to have to assert such an obviousidea. But in our day it needs saying. For, today, it is quite acceptable forreligion to be about community, or for religion to be about cultural identity, butit is unacceptable for religion to be about truth.You see, truth carries with it the notion of its opposite, falsehood. And we arequite squeamish about saying this or that religious doctrine is false, lest weoffend this or that religious adherent. For sure, concern to not offend iscommendable, but not when it comes at the expense of emasculating thetruth.This contemporary squeamishness about truth in religion is not shared byreligions themselves. In fact, all major religions make exclusive claims totruth.

A brief summary of the claims of Jesus Christ in contrast to other religions makes this quite clear. Jesus repeatedly talked about the supremevalue of truth, and made numerous powerful claims to it. Of Himself, he said,”I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” ( 1: John 14:6)

I am the Truth

Just look at the implicit claims in that statement. First and foremost, Heasserted that there is only one way to God. That shocks postmodern moodsand mind-sets. Hinduism and Bahaism have long challenged the concept ofa single way to God. The Hindu religion, with its multifaceted belief system,vociferously attacks such exclusivity.

Jesus also stated that God is the Author of life and that meaning in life lies incoming to Him. This assertion would be categorically denied by Buddhism,which is non-theistic if not atheistic. Jesus revealed himself as the Son ofGod who led the way to the Father. Islam considers that claim to beblasphemous. Jesus claimed that we can personally know God and theabsolute nature of His truth. Agnostics deny that possibility.You see, every religion makes claims to truth—and claims to truth thatexclude the truthfulness of other religions. Even Bahai, which claimsuniversal inclusivism, excludes the truthfulness of religions that claim thattruth is exclusive.

This brings me back to my original statement: religion is about truth. To pretend otherwise is just that, to pretend. And in matters as momentous asreligion, it is perilous to pretend.I make this point not to give opportunity for pride, but to clear away the hazethat today surrounds thinking about religion. For clear thinking is imperativein matters as important as these.