Narrow Minded or a Triumphalist?
“It’s so easy to become narrow minded. So easy to become triumphalist in our own approach in our own religion that to be aware of the way that God expresses Himself in so many languages is essential to becoming Christian” – Preacher, The Church of Conscious Harmony
I heard the above statement on an audio file on the Internet. Several people that I personally know have, evidently, given themselves over to this particular “church” (which really looks more like an eastern cult, in my opinion) and the philosophies that it espouses. I’m writing these things to rebuke the madness of the person who made this statement and to warn those who listen to him to take heed lest they follow in the same path of ignorance. So, in the next few paragraphs, I want to analyze what has been said here and see what can be made of it. Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Let’s examine these ideas and see if they are worth believing.
First, the speaker says, “It’s so easy to become narrow minded.” What is narrow mindedness, I wonder? If narrow mindedness means that you believe that truth exists and that God expects you to follow it in your life, then I guess I’m narrow minded. If narrow mindedness means that you don’t believe everything that every religion has ever perpetrated, then I guess I’m narrow minded. If narrow mindedness means that you don’t believe that truth is found in the multiplicity of beliefs from all of the other religions in the world, then I guess I am narrow minded. In fact, it’s great being narrow minded. I don’t have to worry about getting a ticket when I stop at a “Stop” sign because I’m narrow minded enough to obey the law. I don’t have to worry about getting my neighbor’s wife pregnant because I’m narrow minded enough to believe it is a sin to commit adultery. I don’t have to worry about the consequences of prolonged drug use, smoking, drinking, etc., because I’m narrow minded enough NOT to do those foolish things. I’m just narrow minded enough to be faithful to God and as a consequence, my wife, my family, and my Christian friends whom I love. If that is what it means to be narrow minded, then yes, I am guilty and (in the parlance of McDonald’s) “I’m lovin’ it!” This way brings TRUE peace with God, family, and friends because I will always act in a way that is void of absolute/objective offense. To so live is to truly love and fulfill God’s moral standards (Romans 13:8-10).
But second, I would say that it is NOT easy to be narrow minded. The narrow way is the straight way, the tight way, the difficult way. According to Jesus in Matthew 7:13-14 and in Luke 13:24 Jesus says that many will seek to enter the narrow way, but will not be able. The narrow way is the difficult way and it is NOT easy to be narrow. The person who tells you that it is easy to become “narrow” is a liar. When you are narrow, you’ve excluded all of these other false beliefs and because you have excluded them, you have judged them and the people who believe them. So what do they do? They attack YOU, the person who has accepted truth and call you “narrow minded” and all sorts of other names because they can’t deal with the fact that you have THE TRUTH. Argumentum ad hominem – because they can’t deal with the truth, they attack the man. Does that sound like the easy way? Does that sound like an “easy thing to do?” It is not. Why? Because everyone that you have “judged” is now seeking to “prove” that you are wrong and trying to get you to renounce your beliefs. How does it feel to have the majority of the people in the world attacking you? Not very good, but that’s exactly the kind of life that Jesus lived and in living, suffered, and died, and that is exactly the kind of life that He calls us to live as well (Galatians 2:20). Peter said, “Wherefore let them also that suffer according to the will of God commit their souls in well-doing unto a faithful Creator” (1 Peter 4:19). What did Peter mean by that? He meant that if you suffer for the cause of Christ, don’t worry. God knows about your suffering and He will take it into account one day. Be content knowing that God is on your side and that you are doing right because with God we are ALWAYS in the majority! Nevertheless, we must, for the present, endure the ridicule, attacks, jokes, and the same old tired arguments from those who have given up and caved in to the pressures of the world. No, being narrow isn’t easy, not one bit.
But third, what is the opposite of narrow? Is it not wide? Broad? What exactly would a person who calls someone narrow minded have them to do? Accept just any and every belief that comes their way? Hold out for the possibility that those beliefs aren’t necessarily wrong, but that they are perhaps the RIGHT beliefs to have? What do I do when I admit the possibility of the contradictory? I become irrational and in essence, if I am going to accept anything, the truth is that I will believe NOTHING. You see, to truly believe something means that you don’t believe other things. And when you say that you don’t believe other things, guess what you have become? That’s right, you’ve become narrow minded, the very thing that you say you ought not to be. I have to say that I’ve grown sick and tired of people saying that I’m narrow minded when they, all along, are practicing the same thing in saying that I’m narrow minded. What hypocrites these individuals are who say such. Do they not see that they themselves are guilty of the same thing when they proclaim the narrow mindedness of others? The bottom line is that you either believe something, or you believe everything/nothing. Now what you are, the reader, going to do? Are you going to be a responsible person and believe the RIGHT things or are you going to be irresponsible and not believe anything? That system is going to bring you nothing of value. How are you going to be able to trust your “friends” who believe everything/nothing at the same time? Why would one of them not turn and stab you in the back for whatever reason the moment presents? There is absolutely nothing to keep them from doing that because they have no principles or morals upon which to stand up and say, “This is right; this is what I believe.” Yes, that is the “broad way that leads to destruction.”
Next, this person says, “So easy to become triumphalist in our own approach in our own religion….” I suppose by “triumphalist” he means to conclude that one religion is better than another and that in so concluding that you have “triumphed.” Of course, he talks about “our own approach” and “our own religion” as if these things are merely subjective and that one cannot obtain absolute and objective truth in such things and such matters. I’m sure that he doesn’t believe that any one religion has absolute truth over any other religion. (Makes you kind of wonder why he is even preaching if he doesn’t believe that he is right, doesn’t it? But that’s the ridiculous nature of the Post Modern/Existentialist approach to religion these days. It doesn’t matter if you’re right or wrong, it’s simply the attempt at being spiritual that somehow counts.) But let me ask myself whether I am triumphalist. Yes, in fact, I believe that I am triumphalist and I will not apologize for being that way. I believe that is exactly the right way to be. In fact, the New Testament teaches that the faithful Christian is triumphant. 2 Corinthians 2:14 says, “But thanks be unto God, who always leadeth us in triumph in Christ….” Paul was a triumphalist as was Jesus. He triumphed in that he overcame death, was resurrected, and is now sitting on the right hand of the throne of God reigning as King of kings and Lord of lords.
But let’s ask another question. Is it “easy to become triumphalist?” Again, I say that it is not. The truth is that triumphing is a very difficult thing to accomplish. Ask the Olympic Athletes who train and work and sweat in order to win that gold medal if their triumph was easy. Ask the M.D. who has just completed his residency after having gone through medical school and passed his state medical exams whether or not his triumph was easy. Ask the mother who carried a child in her womb for nine months and delivered whether her triumph was easy. Ask the father who has raised his children for all of the years they were in his house and has finally seen his last graduate college, marry, and settle down with a new family whether his triumph was easy. So also in religion, there is a right way and there is a wrong way; when one finds the right way and accepts it and lives by that way every day of his life, he triumphs, but it is not easy to triumph; it requires discipline, hard work, perseverance, patience, and many other qualities that we value because we know that individuals who have such qualities in their life triumph!
But what is the opposite of triumphing? It is failure. Is that how we want to be in religion? Do we want to be failures? I submit that that is exactly the kind of thinking that this person would accept. He wants you, your friends, and everyone you know to be a failure when it comes to religious matters. He doesn’t want you to know the truth; he doesn’t want you to believe in absolute and objective truth; he doesn’t want you to live a principled life. Why is that? Because to live such a life would be to condemn all those who are not living that way and he can’t stand that; no he won’t have that at all. This person doesn’t want to elevate those who are failing to lives of success, but rather, he wants to destroy the successful to bring them down to the level of the failures. Does that sound like the religion that Christ brought? It isn’t even close to it. Christianity is about taking those who have failed in life and bringing them into success, those who have been defeated and bringing them to triumph. However, this process must be done not through our own subjective and varying standards of right and wrong, but through the absolute and objective standard of truth that is revealed in the Christian scripture. By following the plan that is laid out in the New Testament individuals may, in fact, leave behind lives of dismal failure destroyed by the consequences of sin and begin new lives, lives of true freedom and liberty, lives that glorify and honor God and lives that become successful and triumphant. This, however, isn’t done simply by believing anything and everything that comes along. One must be principled. One must believe the truth and one must act upon that truth in one’s life every day to live in a way that is absolutely morally correct. This is why John could say in 1 John 5:4 “… and this is the victory that hath overcome the world, even our faith.” Yes! FAITH is the victory and faith must be lived to be true faith. Yes, I am a triumphalist and I proudly proclaim that Christianity, as revealed in the New Testament, is the best; in fact, it is the ONLY religion that is worth living but not because it is “my own religion and my own approach,” but because it is absolutely and objectively right; it is the religion that comes from the mind of God and so it must be followed and practiced.
Finally, the speaker says, “that to be aware of the way that God expresses Himself in so many languages is essential to becoming Christian.” I’m sorry, but this person has absolutely no idea what Christianity is about. God doesn’t speak to us in “so many languages.” He speaks to us only one way and that is through His Son, Jesus (Hebrews 1:1-2). Peter had an opportunity to hear from God in many different languages on the mountain where Jesus was transfigured, but the voice that came out of heaven said, “THIS is my beloved Son; HEAR HIM.” The force of that statement is that we must hear Jesus and Jesus alone. Peter in Acts 4:12 said, “And in none other is there salvation: for neither is there any other name under heaven, that is given among men, wherein we must be saved.” There is no other than Jesus; there never has been, there is not today, and there never will be. Those who say that “God expresses Himself in so many languages” speak out of ignorance and know nothing, and I’m sure they would be happy to admit that.
Let’s take that premise for a moment and see where it ends up. If we assume that God indeed does express himself in so many languages, then the “language” that I am using right now is one way in which God is expressing Himself. However, the words that I am writing here are saying that this concept of God expressing Himself in so many languages is false. Hence, the premise, “God expresses Himself in so many languages” is false, because one of the languages in which He is expressing Himself is my language which says the premise is false. The statement is self contradictory and absolutely false. The person who perpetrated it should apologize for saying it and leading people into error for encouraging it. This is the basic premise of pluralism, the idea that truth is to be found in the multiplicity of opinion and not in any one particular source or religion and it is completely contradictory. Those who accept the contradictory nature of it are irrational and have abandoned the basic principles of thinking, the mind which man was created by God to use, to accept it.
I find nothing useful in this statement at all. In fact, I find this statement to be exactly the opposite of what the speaker of this statement intended to communicate. He wanted to communicate “open mindedness” but he has only become close minded himself. He wanted to communicate the error of being triumphalist in religion, but he has only elevated his own thoughts in triumph over others. He wanted to communicate God’s speaking to man in many languages, but he has only said, “Listen to God through me only.” He wanted to communicate a fundamental principle of Christianity, but he has only communicated that you can believe whatever you want and do whatever you want because there are no principles. In other words, he has said that the only essential is that there are no essentials and to that I say, “Sir, you are a liar.”