Saturday, October 20, 2007

We All Can't Be Right

Recently, there was a change in leadership over the editorial section, of our local newspaper. In years past, the editor welcomed my responses to commentary that contained spiritual subject matter. It appears that the new leadership is open to anything--anything but the gospel. So, beginning with this post, whenever my local paper decides to print commentaries touting the "spirit of the age," I will continue to send my letters to the editor; and I will also post the articles and my responses, here.

The format of these editorial blog posts is simple. I will post the editorial or commentary in its entirety, which will be followed by my response. My responses will be limited to 300-400 words, as required by the local paper.

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Your Truth May Not Look Like My Truth
Commentary by Phil Rizzo
Wednesday, October 3, 2007

What are the objectives of religion? It seems to me that inasmuch as it is our nature to be drawn to comfort, (joy, good feelings), and away from pain, (anxiety, anger, sadness), then it only follows that religion would be designed to add to our comfort and reduce our pain. There must be some reasons why so many people are drawn to religion, especially in the United States. It must bring some comfort to many. It must relieve pain.

What does religion provide that elevates its adherents and make their lives more joyful?-It creates a dogma or set of beliefs that promise to bring comfort either now or in the hereafter.

An adjunct to church, mosque or temple attendance is the social life it creates and the good feelings that may result from being with others of the same beliefs. It provides a place to promote joy through the celebration of marriage, rituals and deal with the evidence of death.

But religion's most poignant offering has to do with something deeper, more compelling: our relationships with others. We are called upon to care for, or better, love our fellow man. As we develop in our spiritual lives it becomes clear that loving is not always easy. Something gets in the way.

But to capture this reality according to some religions one must do something even harder: Wake up! Eastern teachings suggests that waking up, becoming more conscious of our thoughts and behavior, is what we may be here for. Accordingly, adherents need to monitor their thoughts and behavior, which ultimately will bring them comfort and true peace of mind. Christians, Jews and Mohammedans each have similar objectives, approached in their own unique ways.

So as one becomes more self-aware, he or she may acquire the wisdom that goes with it and enjoy a more meaningful life. One may chose to discard major tenets which seem irrational and substitute others that fit better as one advances on his or her spiritual path. Some become, in the pejorative, recovering examples of their former belief system, while others are born again into a new awareness that makes it possible to throw off the scourges of addiction. They may be physically or mentally healed.

Some beliefs are actually scary, and one would wonder why people cling to such bizarre schemes that seem to have nothing to do with making one a better, more comfortable, more loving person. Some find comfort in obeying rules from holy books. Some reject them.

Perhaps we are lulled into complacency and the appeal of easy answers. Most of us don't like to think about such things much, do we? Eastern teachings suggest that all the answers are within us. Christians find the Bible's answers in the words of Christ or luminaries of the Old Testament. Grace takes care of lapses in behavior or thought. Jews find comfort in the Torah. Mohammedans find direction in the Quran.

Roads to happiness come through leaps of faith for some - and for others, listening to what goes on inside the self and reflecting the good, the caring, the loving that permeate every atom in the universe waiting patiently to be called upon for its expression. But there are many spiritual roads to happiness, as the words from Sheri Reynold's book, A Gracious Plenty, poetically suggests:

Your truth may not look like mine, but that is not what matters.
What matters is this: You look at a scar and see hurt,
Or you can look at a scar and see healing.

Phil Rizzo is a Santa Clarita resident. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.

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We All Can’t Be Right
Written in response to Phil Rizzo’s October 3 column, “Your Truth May Not Look Like Mine”

Contrary to Mr. Rizzo’s thesis, God is not a pluralist. God is not ecumenical. God’s tolerance has limits. While God is gracious, merciful and kind, His tolerance will come to an end. “Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead” (Acts 17:30-31).

Jesus did not believe as Mr. Rizzo believes. Jesus did not believe in the humanistic, relativist adage “your truth is your truth and my truth is my truth.” Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (John 14:6). Jesus was not a pluralist or an ecumenicist.

You are just like me, Mr. Rizzo. You have broken God’s Law and sinned against Him. It doesn’t matter whether or not you believe it. What matters is whether or not it is true. Your only hope is to repent and, by faith, receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior—the one who took upon Himself the punishment you and I deserve for breaking His Law when He shed His innocent blood on the cross, and defeated death when He rose from the dead. The truth is this. “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey they Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (John 3:36).

If what I’ve shared with you, Mr. Rizzo, isn’t true, then it will mean nothing to you in eternity. But if what I’ve shared with you is true, then your eternal destination hangs in the balance; and I don’t want you to spend eternity in hell. I hope you will consider these things.

1 comment:

Pastor Ralph said...

Tony,
I just wanted to encourage you by telling you that I read your response to Phil.

I'm pretty sure you will not see your response printed in the paper---but let me know if they do.

Thanks for sharing the message clearly. Hope to see you again soon.