Is all spirituality okay?

Questions about God, the Bible and the Christian culture

(Click here to read Monday Musings ... the place where I discuss the thinking that went into this article.)

Question: I have read many profound texts from China and India: Dao de Jing (Daoism), The Analects of Confucius, Bhagavad Gita, and Upanishads, etc. One can’t help but be awed by their insights into human nature, and the very nature of existence. So, I often ask myself, can God, being the Author of the cosmos, His purview all planets of all galaxies, and so certainly of all Earth, impart wisdom to anyone with an open spiritual eye?

It seems to me the wisdom of God will flow to all who “plug in”. God wouldn’t withhold wisdom from any sincere heart. So can we reasonably assume that God did so to North American medicine men, Lao Tsuu, Gautama Siddhartha, and Indian sages? That he did not inspire Chinese, Indians, Native Americans in the same way as Jews should be no surprise. Jewish culture and history and the theology that arose would be utterly meaningless in another culture.

I just feel when I am reading Buddhism or Daoism that, wow, this is so divine. It sounds like the voice of God in another context. Just universal truth from another time and place, but the same Source.

Answer: Greetings friend. Thank you for asking such a God-probing — make that revelation-probing — question. God is a spirit being (John 4:24), and a lot of his revelation is spiritual. So, where does this leave evangelical Christianity whose mantra is that Jesus is the only way to God? (Acts 4:12). Surely, this is the question of the week!

I want to begin a little strangely, though... by jumping out to another ministry and then coming back. Reasonable Faith Ministries has a five-minute video on what happens to those who have never heard of Christ. Their presentation is an important part of my answer, so please indulge me by clicking here — then coming back!

Human beings are (famously) “made” in God’s image (Genesis 1:26). But what does this mean? Well, all answers to that question are speculative. The Bible, the cosmos and metaphysics have data, but none of it answers this question directly. I have a few ideas that will impact your question, so let me share them.

First, we are volitional creatures. We have free will. Animals only “sort of” have free wills... in that they act instinctually. This is appropriate to their nature... and their nature is amoral. When animals kill each other, that is not murder. When humans do the same thing, it is murder. That is the second important feature of humanity: like God, we are moral... and we are responsible to act morally with or without the Bible (Romans 2:14-15).

Third, we are ontologically spiritual. Human beings — and only human beings — have the capacity to be the children of God spiritually (John 1:12) ... to be regenerated by the Holy Spirit (John 3:3; Titus 3:5) — and here is the answer to your question. Our ontological spirituality makes us spiritually aware... but not spiritually correct. So, God is indeed the author of all spirituality. We are the ones who mess it up... and it would be a mistake to say that since God gave us spiritual capacity that everything we have done with that capacity is somehow okay. It is not. Let’s look at Romans 1:18-25.

[18] The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, [19] since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. [20] For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

[21] For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. [22] Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools [23] and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

[24] Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. [25] They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.” (Romans 1:18–25, NIV).

There is enough information (light, revelation) in the physical universe for people to know God well enough to avoid condemnation. But how people respond to that light is not on God; it is on them... and it is presumptuous to say that God is okay if they worship birds, animals, or reptiles as long as there is a spiritual component.

So, I agree with the premise of your thesis: all spirituality has its source in God. But the free will of human beings means that they are free to use this gift to sacrifice their children to Molech if they so choose! (1 Kings 11:33). But there is no acceptable version of this “spiritual” practice... and all spiritual skewing points back towards Molech.

Now, you will rightly say that sacrificing children is on the far end of the spectrum from Taoism, Buddhism, etc. — and you would be right. But, if you draw a line from the perfect spiritual revelation in Jesus Christ to Molech, Taoism and Buddhism would be somewhere down that line. They are lesser in spiritual truth — plus, they are a diversion.

As Christians, our objectives are to grow in grace and the knowledge of Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18) and make other people his disciples (Matthew 28:18-20). These are very specific targets. Therefore, our energies should converge on Jesus Christ, not diffuse from the Father.

That’s what “open” spirituality does. It has a point source at the creation of human beings, but it radiates out like a cone and becomes diffuse. God wants the opposite: he wants us to take the diffuse information from the cosmos, morality and metaphysics and focus it on Christ. He wants us to take the broadest data sampling and bring it back to the point that is Jesus Christ. That’s the biggest problem with open spirituality. Its processes are backward — and all but one of its results are wrong!

But ultimately, the Bible plain old condemns alternate spiritualities. Paul says that’s where the real battle lies... in spiritual realms (Ephesians 6:12). What would he be talking about if there were not a right and a wrong to it?

He also called the devil a deceiver (2 Corinthians 11:14). Satan is in the habit of taking good things — like food, sex and spirituality — and not so much destroying them as steering people in directions that are away from Christ.

I know “the devil” sounds like a fairytale with these types of discussions, but that’s his edge. I think a lot more people do not believe in Satan than do not believe in God (1 Peter 5:8). Perhaps this is why you dared to broach the idea that if it is spiritual, it is acceptable. This is like your wife broaching the idea that she’d like to bring another man into your marriage on the basis that all love is acceptable. It's not.

 

(Mainsail Ministries articles often have a preamble where I discuss the thinking that went into them. These are called Monday Musings — and if you haven’t read the one associated with this article — consider doing so at the following link: 20220418 How should we handle alternate spiritualities? ).

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