Monday, April 7, 2014

God's inclusive inspiration

"Ask pardon of your Lord and then turn unto Him (repentant). Lo! my Lord is Merciful, Loving. "

“Verily, that which is with God is the best for you, if you but knew it: all that which is with you is bound to end, whereas all that which is with God is everlasting.”

“ Yea, thou art merciful unto thy children when they cry unto thee, to be heard of thee and not of men, and thou wilt hear them.”

“...when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God."

Shall we care to speculate whence these verses derive? Contrary to a prima facie assumption, these verses are not from the Bible. The first two derive from the Koran, and the latter two from the Book of Mormon.
What is a Christian to make of these verses above? Is he not to agree with them? Is it not true that (as the Christian believes) God is merciful and loving, as the Koran says? Is it not true that those in service of fellow human beings are also in service of God almighty? Of course the Christian will uphold such truths regarding the nature of God. Yet, simply because other self-proclaimed holy books occasionally hit the bulls-eye regarding the character of God, this is not enough for one to grant those books the same divine status as the Bible. For there are still a multitude of verses in these aforementioned books that most Christians would adamantly disagree with. Fair enough.

However, is it not at least the case that some of these holy books are also inspired in some sense—though perhaps to a lesser degree—by God Himself? The Christian might cringe at such a thought and retort that “the Bible is the only inspired Word of God”. Yet, what exactly the word inspired means is by no means agreed upon by Christians—even fundamentalists. So if this is the case then how can we rule out a priori that other books such as the Koran, or the Book of Mormon, do not contain some hint of divine inspiration? I maintain that we cannot.

But, let us tread a step further. As I articulated above, Christians will no doubt uphold the aforementioned verses as valid reflections of God’s nature—that is, they will agree that God is merciful, loving, everlasting etc. It might seem that identifying the truth of these verses is no big deal—for an occasional true proposition about God in a written book does not necessitate that said book be labeled holy. But, an interesting question can be raised here: where does truth come from? Surely all truth derives from God himself? Just as all being, goodness, love etc., derive from God, it seems that truth must also derive from the same source. Doesn’t James 1:17 state “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning”?

But, if every good thing, which must include truth, comes from God, then surely any valid proposition regarding the nature of God must come from him as well. For where else are we to find a wellspring of pure goodness? This leads us to the conclusion that the aforementioned verses, along with hundreds like them, must ultimately derive from God. How then can we deny that these verses are not in some sense inspired by God?
I maintain that these verses are indeed inspired by God. And if they are inspired by God, then we can reach an interesting inference regarding God’s revelation: God has indeed revealed his truth outside of the Christian religion. And if this is true, then it’s time we take a closer look at religious inclusivism.

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