Yesterday, I suggested that God gives some information to some folks and not the complete story, then gives other, but equally incomplete information to others, with the idea that we pool our knowledge to find more complete understanding and thus bring glory to God. It is an understandable step, then, from that to ‘all roads to God are one,’ so that the exclusivity of the Gospel is weakened.
I do not take that step.
Rather, I see the revelation of God (the Scriptures) to the people of Israel as the linchpin or key to the general revelations that the rest of the world’s cultures have been given. Without something to use as an anchor or framework to hold human knowledge and understanding together, we face the certainty of getting things put together incorrectly, and increasing conflict when the pieces don’t fit together.
I do not believe it is an accident that God placed Israel in the Middle East, near the cradle of civilization, at the crossroads of three continents, so that every culture, whether through trade or war, had to go through that area to reach elsewhere. Israel is at the heart of information exchange for the vast majority of human history, leaving the opportunity for the Jews to witness to the special revelation of God, and in turn apply it to the wisdom and understanding of the nations, and re-disseminate it back to them.
Did they take advantage of the opportunity? Not so well, but not so incompletely either, as their influence has been so much larger than one postage stamp sized country has ever had a right to.
Not only are they placed strategically, but God chose that place for His incarnation, and at a time when the dominance of the Romans lead to an overall peace like the world had never seen, the Pax Romana, with good roads to facilitate a quick spread of the message. There was relative peace, which left people with the luxury of time to consider higher things than mere survival, and the freedom to travel relatively unobstructedly throughout the known world to share it.
Finally, God in the Scriptures repeatedly declares His intent to redeem nations, tribes and tongues; in short, cultures, wisdom, knowledge and understanding. Perhaps, then, we as Christians need to do more listening to others, and filter what we hear through the Scriptures and the indwelt Spirit. Perhaps God is less concerned with conversion and more with redemption. Perhaps if we trusted God’s leading more, and feared going astray less, the power of the Gospel would be more evident, and we would see what real transformation looks like.