Why I Am A Christian (5)

The gospel makes open-minded people. I don’t mean to say that gospel makes people for whom all truth claims are valid and equally right. I think that is a twisted definition of open-mindedness. It opens the mind precisely because it claims to be the True truth. There is a challenge here, of course. It is hard not to become unloving or arrogant in the way you communicate when you are convinced that what you think is right, and thus, what it would be better for everyone to think. However, understood rightly, the gospel makes us people who, rather than being territorial and arrogant, are:

1. Quick to love truth wherever it is to be found,
2. Free to pursue and encounter new ideas,
3. Have respect for other traditions and ideas.

Why?

1. In the Biblical worldview there is no truth that does not belong to God – that does not find its home and origin in him. It is not just “Christian truth” that is tied to the Christian God. If God is really the creator of all the world and everything in it, then he is not just a territorial deity whose realm does not extend past certain boundaries. It is all his. It is all borrowed from him, so to speak. This means that Christians should expect to encounter truth apart from the setting of the whole Christian framework. They should be the first to love it wherever they encounter it, and love it deeply, because they deeply love the God to whose realm it belongs.

2. If that is true then you can move through life and encounter new ideas, new experiences, new cultures and discern the falsehood as well as the truth in them. Christians do not have to be defensive and fearful, but should joyfully explore the world God has made. This reverses the paradigm that says the best place for Christians is sheltered away from the world where they will not be touched by (and cannot touch) the things that are false in the world. The place for Christians is in the midst of those things. That is woven into the very fabric of the identity of the church. The fact of the incarnation demonstrates that – at the heart of the Christian religion is a God who loved the world so much as to enter it although there was falsehood in it, and love it and work to save it. Christians ought to be so deeply rooted in the gospel that leaving places where there is only agreement is not a thing that holds any fear, but the gospel strengthens them to take those risks.

3. The Christian gospel contains God’s revelation of himself to mankind and tells the story of how, in Jesus, God is reconciling the world to himself, but nowhere does it affirm the idea that because salvation exists in the Christian gospel alone that wisdom exists only within Christianity. Quite the contrary. And so Christianity gives solid grounds for increased respect for the wisdom contained in other traditions and religions. On top of that, it gives solid grounds for loving and respecting those who follow different traditions, because the same God that made the world made them also. All people, no matter what they believe, are made in God’s image, and as such ought to be honored.

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