The Falcon | Volume 83, Issue 53
Joy, goodness can be found elsewhere, too
By SHANE PECH,
Published: May 23 2012
That ďall truth is Godís truthĒ is an immensely popular maxim among Christians ó so much so, in fact, that many would be surprised to learn that this phrase is nowhere to be found in Scripture.
Its conspicuous absence from the text notwithstanding, most Christians seem to reference this saying operating from the assumption that faith gives Christians a monopoly on the truth. Thatís simply not the case, and itís difficult to emphasize enough how damaging that mindset is to the world and Christianity.
All of us have heard some variation of this sentiment: non-Christians are to be pitied, because their happiness must merely be an illusion.
Not only do Christians claim that the unsaved lack access to long-term joy, but they even go so far as to claim that non-Christians can never be truly happy at all.
That they canít be happy, though, is ultimately secondary to the fact that theyíre unable to be good.
Too many Christians insinuate that any good deed on the part of the unsaved is somehow tainted ó either because the unsaved are incapable of pure motives or because some sort of atheist-slime gets all over everything (Iíve never really understood this argument). If we arenít pitying or dismissing non-Christians, weíre actively distrusting them. Iíve actually heard Christians say they wonít vote for Mitt Romney merely because he is Mormon.
They are seemingly unconcerned about his policies or abilities. Now, Mitt Romney may not be a good example, but isnít our arrogant insistence that goodness only comes from faith in Christ bound to lock us out of some otherwise well-qualified leaders?
By the same token, isnít our patronizing dismissal of any real goodness from the unsaved causing us to miss out on a lot of good role models? One neednít be a cynic to realize that the Christian faith isnít exactly manufacturing good role models.
Even if many saved people are out earnestly making the world a better place, we certainly arenít exposed to them regularly, and thatís unlikely to change. Instead of teaching our children that they should only look to Christians for how to live, what if we told them that even the unsaved have some good ideas about certain elements of living well?
We would do well to admire the peacefulness of Buddhists or the earnest, hardworking nature of most Mormons, without thinking to ourselves that they secretly have ulterior motives for their seemingly righteous acts.
Why? Because this quite simply isnít the case. Christ himself never seemed to question that those outside the faith could be earnest in their good deeds.
In fact, the only people whose motives he ever thought to question were the elite in the faith.
What if we did the same? What if we thought to question the over-pious instead of the under-churched? Wouldnít we necessarily draw more to the faith through our humility, while refining those within it with our correction?
Christian exclusivism is nothing new. Even Christ identified himself as the only way to the Father. What he didnít do, though, is set himself up to be the only way to happiness, or good deeds, or sincerity; because, ultimately, God is not threatened by others exhibiting those traits. We shouldnít be either.
Staff reporter Shane Pech is a senior creative writing major at Seattle Pacific.
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