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Monday, October 31, 2005


Mono means one, phobia means fear, we live in a time and place where there is an increasing fear of claiming uniqueness, of claiming one way, one truth, one life (technically monophobia is the fear of being alone).

Monotheism is being redefined by Monophobics. We live in a world in which there is so much diversity that we live by the equation that there must be an equal amount of tolerance. Tolerance is defined for us by popular culture as open-minded, all-embracing, empathetic, inclusive, non-judgmental, understanding, gentle, caring and sharing. A tolerant person is committed to accept a large variety of beliefs and behaviors. Of course even the most tolerant of modernists must accept a point of censure lest society turn to anarchy.

Ravi Zacharias wrote,
“We are living in a time when sensitivities are at the surface, often vented with cutting words. Philosophically, you can believe anything, so long as you do not claim it to be true. Morally, you can practice anything, so long as you do not claim it is a ‘better’ way. Religiously, you can hold to anything, so long as you do not bring Jesus Christ into it. If a spiritual idea is eastern, it is granted critical immunity; if western, it is thoroughly criticized.”[1]

The problem has gone far beyond what it is in particular that a person is claiming to be the exclusive, absolute truth. Merely claiming that there is exclusive, absolute truth is no longer tolerated.

Let us briefly define what we mean by absolute, as in absolute truth. If something is absolutely true this means that it is true whether you like it or not, whether you believe it or not, whether you disagree or not, whether you would prefer that it be different or not, and whether you know about it or not.
A perfect example is the question of whether the Earth is round (spherical) or not because there was a time when there was a large majority of people in the world who believed that it was flat. These people believed that it was flat with all of their knowledge, with all of their conviction, they had faith and were sincere about this belief, it was their truth.
Do these facts mean that the Earth is flat? No, despite all of their belief, faith and sincerity it was not true. And so we find that the Earth is round regardless of what anyone thinks about it, how they feel about it and whether they would like it to be a different shape. Our opinions are irrelevant because truth is true.

Monotheism is the belief that there is one God and only one God, not two or more, but one. To believe in one is to deny two and to deny two is to be intolerant. Intolerance is defined for us by popular culture as close minded, rejecting, exclusive, judgmental, hateful, uncaring and hoarding. By definition, monotheism necessitates intolerance.
Of course, polytheism is intolerant of monotheism. The most basic mathematical equation and the most basic law of non-contradiction states that “A” cannot be both “A” and “non-A” at the same time. “A” is either “A” or “non-A.” If there is one God then there cannot be two or more. If there are two or more, then there cannot be one God. If there is one God and this one God has described for us one truth, then there are not two or more truths. If there is two or more truths, then there is not one truth.
If there is one God and this one God has described for us one truth and this one God has done so in one scripture, then there are not two or more valid scriptures. If there are two or more valid scriptures, then there is not one valid scripture. If there is one God and this one God has described to us one truth and He has done so in one scripture and this one scripture defines one way to salvation, then there cannot be two or more ways to salvation. If there are two or more ways to salvation, then there is not one way to salvation.
A true monotheist must, by definition, believe that any god but the one God is a false god. Any truth but the one truth is a false truth and therefore, not true. Any scripture but the one scripture is false and therefore, not true scripture. Any way to salvation but the one way to salvation is a false way and therefore, does not truly offer salvation. One does not come to such determinations by prejudice or blind faith but by factual evidence.

I have discussed Messianic-Judaism with an old friend whom I met long ago in private Jewish school. With a hopeful gleam he stated, about myself, that at least I was not the kind of person who tells people who believe unlike I do that they are wrong. I explained the simple mathematical and logical formula stated above, “A” cannot be both “A” and “non-A” at the same time. Simply stated, if 2 + 2 = 4 and at school, our children are being taught that 2 + 2 = 5, we ought to speak out. If it is intolerant for me to claim one truth why is it tolerant when I am told, “No, you are wrong there is not one truth”?

A monotheist is not to be intolerant in a harsh and hateful manner, rather a monotheist is to hold to this belief and to “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” (1st Peter 3:15). Even the most tolerant are intolerant of the intolerant. The uniqueness or exclusivity of the Judeo-Christian faith is not based on human merit, achievement or intellect. Rather, it is based on God’s sovereign provision of salvation.
Jesus’ statement, “No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6) is an absolutely essential fact in the Christian faith. It is a fact that has brought along with it the often-leveled charge that states, “How could a loving God offer one single way of salvation?” This writer, for one, cannot answer this question, as he has not yet figured out why God would offer even one single way of salvation.

Consider the following metaphor. You are in a burning building. You are asleep, not knowing that there is a fire. You are awakened by the firefighters bullhorn. They are yelling for you to get out, “Go to the third window on the second floor, we have a ladder waiting for you!” You yell back, “No, all windows lead to the outside. I’ll take which ever one I please!” They yell back, “The building is starting to collapse and we have only one ladder!” “How could you only have one way out?!” you yell. They reply, “Please hurry, take the way out, our Fire-chief has died trying to get you out, there is only one way!”

In order to placate the Monophobics, some who claim to be monotheists have redefined Monotheism as Henotheism, the belief that there are many gods, yet only one of them is to be worshipped, or the belief in one god yet without denying that there might be others. Some apparent monotheists claim that all that counts is that one is a monotheist. In other words, some who claim to believe that there is only one God believe that all people who believe in one God are on the same path.
Even if the God believed in by the various monotheistic religions are different and claim to be the one and only God, even when the truth as revealed by the monotheist’s God differs. People who hold this view are willing to draw the line and say that, for example, Hinduism is wrong because Hinduism worships some 330,000,000 deities, yet for a true monotheist two gods is just as bad as 330,000,000. And if we believe in the one true God, what of it?
The Bible says, “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder” (James 2:19). If we only go as far as intellectually saying, “Yes, I believe in God, the one God of the Bible” or if we believe but do not repent, do not change our lives, then we have only gone as far as taking on the theological viewpoint of a demon. This is because the demons know the truth, they were in heaven with God, they know who Jesus is, and yet they do not repent. They tremble because they know what awaits them on the day of final judgment and yet they have rebelled forever.

Dr. Laura Schlessinger is a media personality who considers herself to be a practicing orthodox Jew and often encourages people on her advise program to convert to and or to participate in non-monotheistic religions and cults (for the sake of family unity). How can a person who believes with all of her heart, mind and strength that there is only one God, encourage the corruption of monotheism?
Hers is supposedly the same God who said, “You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3). (Note that some liberal orthodox Jews believe that the Old Testament is for Jews and all gentiles are free to do as they wish as long as they are righteous. But what does that mean if we cannot define righteous without the Jewish Scripture?). This is the very height of absolute-exclusivity.
How can a person who believes that the one true God has given specific commandments encourage people to live according to the teachings of false religions and cults? It is because she has traded true Monotheism for Pietism, the false doctrine of works based salvation that states that as long as people are good or righteous they will get to heaven. Good, according to whom? Whose definition of righteousness? There is no generic good and bad. Good and bad, right and wrong, righteousness and sin, true and false, are all defined by God Himself.

As we become more and more accepting we loose our ability to reason and recognize contradiction. When a person is not rooted in a faith they have no manner of proper discernment. For example, we throw around the word good without considering that it is the very standards by which we define good that determines what good is. Am I good when I compare myself to the evening news? Yes, by those standards I am very good. Am I good when I compare myself to Christ’s spotless life, His life long service of others, His humility, His death for me? No, by those standards I fall infinitely short.

Once a certain person got upset at me for sharing my faith with him. He explained that he had his own beliefs. I responded by stating that I was now upset with him because he holds to beliefs that he believes are enriching his life and satisfying his soul and yet he was not sharing those beliefs with me. He said that he would do so. May of 2002 makes it two years that I have been waiting. Maybe his truth was only important enough to quiet me down. If you believe that you know the truth you should share it. However, if all beliefs are relative and equally valid, then nothing really matters but our own subjective beliefs.

The reason for being hyper-tolerant and Monophobic is that if we believe that one thing is true, we must by definition believe that other things are not true. We might go as far as respecting the right of everyone to hold to their own beliefs, since God has given us free will. But we cannot respect all beliefs, especially not if those beliefs are a blatant deviation of the truth as revealed by God. The hyper-tolerant, in order to make nice, are not willing to cut anybody out of the realm of truth, good or right (except those holding exclusive views, which of course makes the hyper-tolerant just as exclusive).

Arguments that claim to prove limitless options always take us back to square one, literally with only one option. Here are some examples:
The general argument that states that there is no absolute truth is perhaps the strongest argument for the fact that there indeed is absolute truth. By stating that there is no absolute truth, one is instantly admitting that there is. After all, in order to make the statement, one must believe that it is absolutely true.
They are saying that it is absolutely true, that there is no absolute truth. Maybe there is only one absolute truth and that is, that there is no absolute truth. Now that is arrogant and intolerant. How could it be absolutely true that there is no absolute truth? Therefore, we see clear proof that there is absolute truth and we humans long for it. Moreover, if truth is not absolute it must be relative yet, if it is relative then even the statement truth is relative is a relative statement and therefore, not necessarily true. [At the end of this article we provide a mock conversation regarding these issues.]

Some would believe that anything and everything is true, that the possibilities are infinite and equally valid. If the possibilities are infinite and equally valid then we must, by definition, accept as true and valid the one infinite possibility that states all things are not possible and that there is only one truth.

Other conclusions reached by the hyper-tolerant are likewise faulty. As it is said, “To each his own” and “Everything in moderation.” This is used to mean, do not judge because everyone has their own way. And that we may do as we wish and that even if we do not like what someone else is doing, we would never tell them that it is wrong. We would just tell them to moderate their behaviors. Let’s draw these philosophies to their logical conclusion. “To each his own” therefore drunken driving is acceptable, after all, it is a choice that an individual has made and we believe in people having their own way.
“Everything in moderation” therefore, spousal abuse is acceptable, in moderation of course. No, indeed this sort of all-inclusive, non-judgmental, anything goes philosophy is very dangerous and unrealistic. One popular response is that a person can do as they wish as long as they are not hurting anyone else, the myth of the victimless crime. Even if all you are doing is getting high on drugs at home by yourself, since drug dealing is a pyramid scheme, in reality, you are supporting the top dealers of the world. You are personally sponsoring assassinations and all that goes on in the top levels of drug cartels.

One of the saddest outcomes of Monophobia is when believers are unwilling to proclaim the truth and are unwilling to pass judgment on falsehood. We are called to pass righteous judgments, not hypocritical judgments (see Matthew 7:1-2; Luke 6:37; John 7:24; 1st Corinthians 14:29). For example, we can judge doctrine but cannot judge the motivations of a persons heart.

There is an all too often expressed statement to the likes of “We believe this and you believe that, we disagree and that’s all right.” This might keep smiles on peoples faces, but it blatantly goes against the entire Bible. It is only through extreme relativistic Monophobia that we could say that we do not care and therefore, everyone is right in their own way. Recently, a friend found himself in a conversation with a fellow traveler on an airplane. The young lady he spoke with said, “I believe in absolute truth, but what is true for me might not be true for you.” This is the very height of subjective-relativistic ideals. Truth is reduced to personal likes and dislikes just like ice-cream flavors. As we have seen, it is not true that there are multiple truths.

It is a pure contradiction in terms for a believer to refuse to judge and proclaim the truth. It is a negation of the command to “Go out into all the world and proclaim the gospel to all creation” (Mark 16:15). If we are not to judge and spread the good news, then for thousands of years our Jewish and Christian martyrs have shed their blood in vain. Moreover, Jesus was wrong to send us out. Would a true believer have told Jesus, “Not so Lord, you are wrong, we cannot go out and proclaim the good news, that would be intolerant.” Would a true believer have told our Jewish and Christian martyrs, “What you did was nice and all, but you wasted your lives in living and dying for the truth, after all, we cannot impose our beliefs upon others.” If the martyrs had accepted this Monophobic attitude, Judaism and Christianity would not exist.

Consider how utterly intolerant and closed-minded atheism and other religions are as wisely pointed out by C. S. Lewis and Ravi Zacharias:

C. S. Lewis wrote:
“If you are a Christian you do not have to believe that all the other religions are simply wrong all through. If you are an atheist you have to believe that the main point in all the religions of the whole world is simply one huge mistake. If you are a Christian, you are free to think that all these religions, even the queerest ones, contain at least some hint of the truth. When I was an atheist I had to try to persuade myself that most of the human race have always been wrong about the question that mattered to them most; when I became a Christian I was able to take a more liberal view.”[2]

Zechariahs wrote:
“Hinduism and Bahaism have long challenged the concept of a single way to God. The Hindu religion, with its multifaceted belief system, vociferously attacks such exclusivity. Jesus also stated that God is the Author of life and that meaning in life lies in coming to Him. This assertion would be categorically denied by Buddhism, which is a nontheistic if not atheistic religion. Jesus revealed Himself as the Son of God who led the way to the Father. Islam considers that claim to be blasphemous. How can God have a Son? Jesus claimed that we can personally know God and the absolute nature of His truth. Agnostics deny that possibility…Buddha was a Hindu before he rejected some of Hinduism’s fundamental doctrines and conceived in their place the Buddhist way.”[3]

There is only one God, one way, one truth and one life. He is Jesus the Messiah, no one comes to the Father except through Him.

Here we present a mock conversation (though highly based on real conversations I have personally had) between two people who we’ll call person “A” and person “B”:

A—“You cannot tell people that they are wrong.”
B—“But what if they are wrong? Besides are you saying that I am wrong for telling people that they are wrong? How come you get to do it to me but I cannot do it to you?”
A—“Well the reason that you cannot tell people that they are wrong is that you cannot push your beliefs on other people.”
B—“Then why do you do it?”
A—“I do no such thing.”
B—“Sure you do. You have a belief that states that it is not right to push ones beliefs upon others and you just pushed that belief on me.”
A—“But you cannot tell people that they are wrong and you cannot push your beliefs on them because we cannot truly know anything.”
B—“Are you sure about that?”
A—“Yes, and I’m offended by your claim to absolute knowledge. You can’t know everything!”
B—“I’m sorry that you are offended but you are an adult and I’m sure you’ll get over it, let’s escape the realm of pure emotion and reason this thing out. I am not claiming to know everything I’m just claiming that when I test my beliefs against everything we know; history, science, rational, etc., it passes the test every time. Also consider that your claim that I have no such knowledge is also claim of absolute knowledge since you are so sure that there is no way that I could have such knowledge. But let’s get back to your point, it seems that you are saying that the only thing we can know for sure is that we cannot truly know anything. Well then we must revise that statement, because if we can know that we cannot truly know anything then there is something which we can truly know, namely that we cannot truly know anything.”
A—“The reason is that there is no absolute truth.”
B—“Is that true? I mean do you know that for sure? You see, you just made an absolute truth claim. Or is the only thing that is absolutely true the fact that there is no absolute truth? Again, we must revise the statement, because if it is absolutely true that there is no absolute truth then we can no longer say that there is no absolute truth.”
A—“The problem is that by claiming that there is absolute truth you are limiting things and the fact is that anything is possible.”
B—“Are you saying that all things are possible and that the possibilities are infinite and all equally acceptable?”
A—“Yes that’s it.”
B—“In that case one of those infinite possibilities, which we must accept as valid, is the possibility that not all things are possible.”
A—“But all religions teach the same thing.”
B—“Not only do all religions not teach the same thing, but all the religions do not even teach that all religions teach the same thing. And since religious claims are generally exclusive then by definition the cannot all be true.”
A—“Now you are being judgmental.”
B—“So are you, first you are judging me as being judgmental and you are also judging judgment as being wrong.”
A—“Still, people should think for themselves.”
B—“But I can no longer do that because if I do I would be doing what you told me to do. In reality I agree that people should think for themselves but do you see the point?”
A—“No, because I’m not telling you what to think, I’m just telling you to think for yourself.”
B—“Yes, I understand that but the fact is that the process of a person thinking for themselves would begin by listening to you, taking your advice and doing what you said to do.”
A—“Well, to each his own.”
B—“To each his own? Do you mean that rape and child abuse is perfectly acceptable?”
A—“No, of course not!”
B—“Then you should no longer say to each his own because that is not what you mean.”
A—“Well then, everything in moderation.”
B—“So again, is rape and child abuse acceptable as long as a person moderates themselves in raping and abusing?”
A—“Come on now, that is not what I mean.”
B—“In that case you should no longer say everything in moderation because that is not what you mean.”
A—“You are just being intolerant.”
B—“So are you since you are not tolerating me. Are you really tolerant if you do not tolerate the intolerant? If you do not tolerate the intolerant then you are being intolerant yourself.”
A—“But the point is that you can do whatever you want as long as you are not hurting anyone else.”
B—“So as far as ourselves it is o.k. to hurt or do anything we want to ourselves.”
A—“Yes, but again only if you are not hurting anyone else.”
B—“I would question just how useful this ideal is considering that according to you all morals are relative and therefore, when you say that people should not hurt each other it is the individual who decides what it is to hurt a person. But tell me, why is it o.k. for a person to hurt themselves?”
A—“That’s their business, not mine.”
B—“That’s a very pessimistic and selfish worldview. Besides, it seems to me that you are assuming that what a person does, even to themselves, will not affect anyone else but no man is an island. Everyone has parents, siblings, friends, co-workers, or even perfect strangers that will ultimately be affected by what a person does to themselves privately. For instance, someone using drugs privately still had to buy them and the dealer bought them from a smuggler and the smuggler from a violent drug cartel.”
A—“Still, it is not only their business but I also think that whatever two consenting adults do is none of our business.”
B—“The problem is that there are no private acts between two consenting adults. For instance, when two consenting adults decide to partake in a supposed private act of intimacy sometimes it results in an abortion in which the two adults are hardly affected while the innocent third party is killed. Or AIDS could be contracted and third parties could die. But let me ask you something if we cannot tell people that they are wrong and we cannot push our beliefs on other people and we cannot truly know anything and there is no absolute truth then why is it wrong to hurt other people?”
A—“If you hurt someone else then according to karma that hurt will come back to you at some point.”
B—“So in other words the bottom line is that we would really be hurting ourselves by hurting others, but you already said that a person should be allowed to that whatever they want to themselves. It seems that according to your view hurting others is not wrong because the only reason that we should not hurt other people is so that we do not get in trouble either through karma or through the law of the land. Again I must say that this seems awfully selfish.”
A—“Ultimately, we can in fact know that it is wrong to hurt others because we learn that from the only source from which we learn all things, from nature.”
B—“I just don’t see it, when we look at nature we see animals killing each other, in order to eat each other, in order to breed and make more animals that will kill each other.”
A—“You must understand that we have now evolved beyond that and we have technology to manufacture food and so on.”
B—“But while we may no longer need to kill each other any more, if we did kill someone it would not be wrong. There would be no moral problem with doing it. You must understand that nature is general revelation and it can lead us to admit that there must have been a designer but nature alone does not teach morals which is where special revelation comes into play.”

[1] Ravi Zacharias, Jesus Among Other Gods (Nashville: Word Publishing, A Thomas Nelson Co., 2000), p. Introduction-vii
[2] C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, (New York: The MacMillan Company, 1960), p. 29
[3] Ravi Zacharias, p. 5

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