A.W. Tozer suggested that Jesus was either perfectly loved or perfectly hated, but that He never provoked indifference. No doubt, it was statements like the following that fueled Tozer’s observation:
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6 NIV).
With this proclamation, Christ effectively removed the middle ground. Was He really the only way to the Father? If so, what of the other ways and those who walked them? And if not, if He was mistaken or blatantly misleading,Â could anything else He said be trusted?Â
The Bible’s full of thorny verses, statements that force us into a corner, resist spin and minimizeÂ wiggle room. Recently, I’ve been contemplating one such verse, brought on by a very unlikely person.
One of my co-workers, a good-natured, fun-lovingÂ but crude, alcoholic fella whom we shall call Dick, approached me the other day and said, â€œIâ€™m going back to church.â€ Well, Iâ€™ve been praying for and witnessing to Dick for the longest. So youâ€™d think I would be ecstatic, right? The problem is, Dick has returned to the Mormon church.
Though The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints professes to be a Christian group, its central beliefs veer radically from historic Christianity. Among the offending LDS doctrines is the belief that God (more commonly referred to as â€œHeavenly Fatherâ€) is an exalted and glorified man, and that he has a physical (albeit immortal) body. Furthermore, it is also taught that qualifying Mormons can become gods, just like the Heavenly Father, in the next life, and produce spirit offspring (presumably to populate another earth.).
Here I’ve been encouraging Dick to seek God, and he does . . . by going back into a false religion. Question: Can a person find God — the real, biblical God — inÂ the Mormon church? In fact, the questionâ€™s much broader: Can a person find God in any false religion?
And this is where said thorny verse draws blood.
You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart (Jeremiah 29:13 NIV).
The principle riddles Scripture: God is not a respecter of persons; if anyone, anywhere at any time seeks Him with all their heart, they shall find Him.
As the Scripture says, â€œAnyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.â€ For there is no difference between Jew and Gentileâ€”the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, â€œEveryone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.â€ (Romans 10:11-13 NIV)
Everyone? Shouldnâ€™t there be some qualifiers to this? It seems far too . . .Â liberal. Donâ€™t they need to give upÂ drinking, smoking and heavy metal to be saved? Shouldnâ€™t they attend catechism or receive training in Christianese? And musnâ€™t they leave the Church of the Poison Mind?
Pascal suggested that there are only three kinds of people in the world:
Pascal called the first class â€œreasonable and happyâ€ – reasonable because they seek and happy because they find. He calls the second class â€œreasonable and unhappyâ€ – reasonable because they seek and unhappy because they have not yet found. He calls the third class â€œunreasonable and unhappyâ€ – unreasonable because they do not seek and unhappy because they do not find. Peter Kreeft writes, â€œThe greatest difference is not between those who have found God and those who have not. This is only a temporary difference, for all in the second class will get into the first; all seekers will find. The greatest difference is between the seekers and the non-seekers, for that is an eternal difference.â€
If this is true, it means there is hope for Dick. Of course, as he seeks God, I will trust that God will guide him to truth and away from error. And it appears this process is beginning because, these days,Â Dick is irritable, unfulfilled andÂ reasonably unhappy.