All things are ours? Share your thoughts

March 16, 2007 at 10:37 pm Leave a comment

velvetelvis.gifIn Velvet Elvis, Rob Bell spends a significant chunk of one chapter discussing the idea that truth is bigger than a particular religion.

“Anybody,” he says, “is capable of speaking truth. Anybody, from any perspective, from any religion, from anywhere.”

And when someone does speak truth, according to Bell, we ought to claim it, regardless of their background or their perspective:

As a Christian, I am free to claim the good, the true, the holy, wherever and whenever I find it. I live with the understanding that truth is bigger than any religion and the world is God’s and everything in it.

As part of this discussion, Bell analyzes 1 Corinthians 3:22-23, which says that “everything belongs to you, and you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God.” He takes this to mean that the world is God’s, that the world is saturated in God’s presence, and that we are therefore free to embrace truth wherever we find it, whether within or outside of Christianity.

Christianity: The only truth?

I’ve been mulling over this idea for weeks and am not sure quite what to do with it.

As Bell notes, one of the things that discourages people (especially younger generations) from accepting Christianity is the perception that Christianity claims to be the only source of truth.

For example, John 14:6 says that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life—and moreover, that he is the only way: No one comes to the father except through him. To some readers, such a statement implies that Christianity asserts a monopoly on truth.

bible3.jpgUnfortunately, when young people have been trained to think of Christianity as the source of truth, it is easy to become very disillusioned with Christianity once they move out into the wider world. After all, in the wider world, there are a lot of people outside of Christianity who certainly appear to know at least some truth—and they might know certain truths that one wouldn’t necessarily find in the Bible or in Christian circles.

This creates a dilemma: Does one accept truth where one finds it, or does one shy away from the idea that non-Christian sources might be able to contribute to our understanding of truth?

Bell maintains that we can and should embrace truth regardless of the source. Jesus might ultimately be the way, the truth, and the life, but we can still recognize that other people know some aspects of truth.

In other words, all things are ours. We claim truth wherever we find it.

Not sure about this…

But like I said, I am not sure. Such an attitude would seem to require abandoning the defensive stance sometimes associated with Christianity (you know, the attitude that you get when you think of putting on the armor of God and defeating the powers of darkness). It would require lowering the barriers between Christian and non-Christian culture.

Is this a good thing—or a foolish thing?

Share your opinion: What is the proper meaning of “all things are yours”? How should Christians respond to the idea that there is truth outside of Christianity?

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Profile

profile.jpgI am working on my M.A. in Religion at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan. Besides having a big interest in theology, history, ethics, and the deep stuff of life, I am also very fond of Mediterranean food, snow, and the color red.

Email me: jamie.kiley@gmail.com

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