Answering 7 Myths of Oprah and the “Many Ways to God” Worldview
Dont get me wrong. This is not a blog against Oprah, and everything she has done; and she has done many great things. But, when it comes to religion and faith, her position does not align with the word of God.
Certianly, Oprah is not alone in her position. She speaks for the culture we live in, a culture in which tolerance is the highest virtue, and any claim to exclusivity when it comes to faith is firmly rejected and opposed.
This blog answers 7 Myths often spoken by Oprah, and other pluralists who believe that there are many ways to God.
Here is a short video, where Oprah objects to the belief that Jesus is the only way to what she calls “God,” and this blog attempts to answer her fallacy.
“All religions are equally valid and basically teach the same thing.”
a) When skeptics say that, they really mean only some of the religions; they don’t count the sects that teach and practice child sacrifices, Nazis, and the leaders who lead their followers to massive suicide. By already excluding some religious groups and only including the religions that fit “some” frame work, the skeptics are themselves making a religious statement, and therefore, discredit their own objection.
b) When the pluralists make such a statement, they distort the claims of world religions by imposing their views upon them. Theylll typically describe God as “all loving God of the Universe…” But:
- Buddhists don’t believe in a personal God
- Judaism/Christianity/Islam’s God is not just a God of love, but also has attributes of justice, strength, and judgment.
c) When skeptics make that statement, they are saying that DOCTINE is unimportant;
- Insistence that doctrines do not matter is really a doctrine itself.
- They hold a “specific view” of God (that He is not fully unknowable, distant)
- They believe their view of God is correct
- Yet the skeptics forbid others from claiming that their view of God is correct
d) When other religions are placed in the same category as Christianity, the skeptics don’t fully understand the “Uniqueness of Jesus,” when compared to other religious leaders. Surely, no one debates the existence of Jesus. Atheists, Muslims, Buddhists believe Jesus existed. And most people like some of his teachings (the teachings about love, generosity, and not being a judge). But, Jesus made some radical claims, and, if one is to believe Jesus existed, he must deal w/ the claims Jesus made. Here are 2 examples in scriptures:
John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (Interestengly, these words were spoken to Thomas, who then went on to India, a land of 330 million different gods, so preach on the exclusivity of Christ).
* John 10:33 The Jews answered him, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God.”
Muhammad, Buddha, Confucius, the Dalai Lama – none of them claimed to be God. That is what separates Jesus, and that’s what offends so many people.
* Other religious leaders say, “Follow me and I’ll show you how to find the truth.”
* Jesus says, “I am the truth.”
* Other religious leaders say, “Follow me and I’ll show you the way to salvation.”
* Jesus says, “I am the way to eternal life.”
* Other religious leaders say, “Follow me and I’ll show you how you can become enlightened.”
* But Jesus said, “I am the light of the world.”
- living a perfect life (Pilate couldn’t charge him with anything),
- embodying the attributes of God,
- fulfilling dozens of prophecies written hundreds of years before Jesus came
- performing great miracles in broad daylight, in front of skeptics
- demonstrated his mastery over nature
- demonstrated his mastery over sickness
- demonstrated his mastery over death by bringing Lazarus back to life
- Jesus fulfilled his own prediction by being resurrected from the dead, which was witnessed by 500 people.
e) When such a statement is made by skeptics, they don’t understand the big difference in teaching between major world religions. Every other religion is based on people doing things to earn God’s favor:
- Tibetan prayer wheel
- give alms to the poor
- avoid eating certain food
- perform a # of deeds
- go through a cycle of reincarnation
These are all just attempts to reach God. In Christianity, Jesus Christ is God reaching out to us. Christianity teaches that we cant do anything to reach to heaven, Jesus did it for us. This difference is highlighted in a unique, similar story that is written in the Bible and in Buddhist literature, the story of the the prodical son. In both stories, there is a son who is rebellious, leaves home, eventually sees his error and returns. But the ending of each story is stratically different. In Buddhism, the son is required to work off the penalty through years and years of servitude. In the story shared by Jesus, it ends by the father welcoming son, and giving him a ring, undeserved forgiveness, grace.
“Each religion sees part of spiritual truth, but none can see the whole truth.”
Ever heard of blind people being introduced to an elephant? Whatever part of the elephant the blind person was holding (nose, tail, stomach, ear), that is how the blind person explained the elephant. But, a person who could see the whole elephant would know that all such descriptions are inadequate.
But to make claim that “each religion sees only part of truth” must be made by someone who sees the whole truth, the whole elephant. And according to the statement above, NO ONE has that ability. Therefore, it is only an appearance of humility to say “one religion only sees part truth”, because its made by one who thinks he sees all.
You are NARROW MINDED if you believe there is only ONE WAY to God.
Yes, IT IS narrow minded to say Jesus is the only way. But, it is just as NARROW MINDED to say THERE ARE MANY WAYS TO GOD. In other words, all views are narrow minded. Post modern skeptics and pluralists criticize all views except their own. By accepting pluralism, you are not embracing openness, but rejecting one own’s tradition for another, the pluralists.
Skeptics believe that any claims to a knowledge of God cannot be true, and is therefore narrow minded. But this objection is itself a religious belief. It assumes that:
- God is unknowable,
- God is loving but not wrathful,
- God is an impersonal force rather than a person who speaks in Scripture.
- All of these are unprovable faith assumptions.
Doubt, like faith, has to be learned. It is a skill. Don’t fall for a pluralist’s desire to teach you to doubt.
“All moral and spiritual beliefs are the product of our CULTURE AND UPBRINGING.
In other words, we believe what we believe only because of where and to whom we were born. For example, if you were born in Morocco, you wouldn’t even be a Christian, but rather a Muslim.” It is also true that if the pluralist had been born in Morocco he probably wouldn’t be a pluralist.
Certainly, there is truth to the fact that where and to whom we are born does in fact have an impact on who we become, and possibly what we believe. But, for some reason, everyone agrees that the children of Nazis should step away from the belief of their parents, and the children of sect leaders who are leading masses to commit suicide should also change the beliefs of the family they were born into. The reality is that we are all taught truth-claims of some sort and it is very hard to weigh them responsibly, but we have no alternative but to try to do so.
Whatever the belief of the family we were born into, our “faith” must answer the questions of:
- Origin (where do we come from)
- Morality (where does morality come from)
- Meaning (what is the purpose of life)
- Destiny (where are we going? What happens after death?)
I believe that when these questions are weighed responsibly, it will lead to Jesus.
One cannot criticize another religion
The idea that it is wrong to criticize another religion is deeply rooted in Western traditions of individualism. Critics say that it is egocentric to claim that our religion is superior to others. Yet isn’t that very statement egoistic?
In the west, tolerance is the most upheld virtue when discussion of God and religion arises. Such “tolerance” that says “respect, and don’t say anything negative or make judgment on a religion that is not your own.” But, aren’t we already making judgment on a religion by not supporting/following it? If an atheist is not become a Muslim, isn’t he already making a judgment about Islam? The issue is not whether or not we should make judgment on a certain religion, but on what grounds we should do so. Here, the words “origin, morality, meaning, & destiny” come back to mind.
That statement in itself is a RELIGIOUS, & hypocritical statement.
- Religious because the skeptic is making a claim that religion, and doctrine is not that important.
- Hypocritical because the skeptic is TALKING, and wanting his opinion on faith to be heard in the public square. At the same time, he wants to prohibit anyone else with a different opinion on faith to share it in public.
It doesn’t matter what you BELIEVE as long as you are SINCERE.
Sure, we must all be loving, kind, respectful, and sincere. But, those attributes do not get us into heaven. Jesus said these words, “On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’”
The debt of our sin is not solved when we are loving, kind and sincere. We need Jesus and His atoning sacrifice.
ANY SCRIPTURES THAT SPEAK of JESUS being the only way? Here is a small sample:
“This is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life” 1 John 5:11–12.
And again, “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” John 3:36.
“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12
For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men–the testimony given in its proper time. 1 Timothy 2:5-6