When I hosted the audience talk back after the play “This Beautiful City” one of the more frustrated (perhaps angry) responses from an audience member was about the “only one way to heaven” issue. One of the audience members said: “I’ve completely distanced myself from my right wing Christian friends because they believe there’s only one way to heaven. I’m not interested in talking to them, discussing the issue, or having any kind of relationship until they agree that there are many ways to heaven.” My first response was that from a guy seeking more tolerance, that was a very intolerant statement.
He sounded pretty definite that he wants the right to believe what he believes, but doesn’t feel that I have the right to do the same. At that point, the conversation ended, because he wasn’t willing to go further. It was an interesting moment.
This is becoming a serious issue in a post-modern culture, where truth is relative. But part of tolerance is allowing others to believe what they want. And yet, I’ve been accosted many times with people absolutely outraged that Christians have the audacity to believe that God might have a pre-determined pathway to eternity. The hostility is mostly aimed at Christians, although many other religions teach their pathway is what works. (Just try to tell a Muslim there are multiple ways to heaven, and see his reaction.)
Tolerance folks. Oddly enough I’m finding more Christians exhibiting it theses days. Have Christians abused it? Absolutely. But so has everyone. I mentioned to the audience that after shooting film in more than 40 countries, I’ve discovered it’s not being a Christian that makes you wacky – it’s being a human being. I have yet to find the organization that doesn’t have a few nuts – Christians, atheists, democrats, republicans, Shriners, hippies, doctors, teachers, Muslims, Buddhists – you name it and you’ll find a few oddballs.
Let’s lighten up and let people believe what they believe. And don’t be so offended when they share their story with you. That subject, I’ll deal with next…..