Monday, October 14, 2019

Anonymous Asks (62)

“Does it really matter what you believe as long as you’re sincere?”

This is a curious question in that one would almost never think to ask it about anything other than religious belief.

Consider what happens if I go for a drive at high speed on a dark and stormy night and decide the sign that says “Bridge out!” is a hoax. The sincerity of my belief in a functioning bridge cannot stop what inevitably happens next. Consider what happens when a general sends his armies east instead of west because he believes sincerely that is the direction the attack will come from, and instead is attacked from the west. Again, the intensity of the general’s convictions has no bearing whatsoever on the end result. Reality will be what reality will be, regardless of what men and women think about it.

What the question presupposes is that God is uniquely uncaring about how men and women approach him. That is an assumption which cannot be defended from the Bible.

Sincerely Wrong

We don’t have to look far for examples:
  • Cain sincerely believed his offering was as good as Abel’s, then sincerely believed that taking out the spiritual competition would somehow improve his situation. He was wrong about both.
  • Nadab and Abihu were not suicidal. They sincerely believed offering unauthorized fire would somehow end well for them. It didn’t.
  • Saul sincerely believed that keeping his army united was more important than following God’s instructions about how sacrifices were to be offered. It wasn’t.
  • Uzzah sincerely believed the ark of the covenant needed to be steadied so it would not fall, so he reached out and touched it, and God struck him down instead of thanking him for his helpful gesture.
In every case, the strength of a person’s convictions about how God could safely be approached had nothing to do with reality. In every case, approaching God the wrong way ended badly.

Nothing Magical

In fact, there is nothing magical about belief. A person who places sincere faith in a lie is acting ingenuously, but nothing more. It is the object of faith that makes belief either virtuous or vain, not its intensity.

If God had not bothered to give specific instructions about how he is to be approached, perhaps the method by which we come to him would not matter. But in fact God has been very specific about what he will accept; every bit as specific as he was in the Old Testament about what constituted an appropriate sacrifice and how the ark was to be transported: he accepts those who believe in and obey his Son. For the man who attempts to come to God any other way, “the wrath of God remains on him.”

The Baha'i faith teaches the essential worth of all religions, implying there are many ways to God. Christianity certainly teaches no such thing. The Lord Jesus himself said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” That’s a pretty unequivocal statement, and there are only two ways we can look at it: either he was right, or he was not.

If he was not, then there is nothing about Jesus worth following. If he was, then there can be no question of approaching God any other way.

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Image courtesy Kantiki [CC BY-SA 3.0]

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