The other night I was talking with one of my daughter's friends. He is a young man about 20 or so. Knowing I am a minister, he told me why he doesn't attend church. His explanation went something like this.
"All the churches claim to be the true church. They condemn the other churches as false. They can't all be right. So they all must be wrong. I lost interest."
I remember thinking that very same thing for a long time. This mutual condemnation can be observed between Christian denominations and between Christians of the same denomination. The same is observed between religions as well.
How do we reconcile this? How can we appreciate the "truth" (if that is the correct word) of our own tradition as well as the truths of other traditions?
Marcus Borg in The Heart of Christianity uses an image from merchandising. He first of all says that all religions point to something "more" than what we observe. There is more to the universe than meets the eye. The fascination with the more leads to religious belief and practice. Borg suggests that there is a reality to this more. This more is the wholesale God. The specific religions sell various retail gods. It isn't that each one isn't true, it is just that they are packaged differently and sold in different outlet stores.
When I think of it this way, I can still practice my particular faith (ie. purchase from my favorite retail outlet) knowing that even though my store looks very different from my neighbors' stores, we are purchasing the same thing.
Matthew Fox says something similar with a different image, One River, Many Wells. I don't have to stop going to my well. But I go with an awareness that others have wells that draw from the same river.
Shalom, Salaam, Peace,