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Topic: Harmony and Diversity

Truth and Harmony

by Darrel Cline

In another article (083) we raised a critical community-concern question about the possibility of harmony within a community of religious diversity. We asked if it is possible to have community unity in the face of the various teachings of the religious groups within the community. We gave two ways unity can exist within that diversity: 1) If no one holds their doctrines as more important than community harmony (let's set aside those teachings that divide us and just love one another), harmony can exist; and 2) If everyone in the community has a deep sense of personal significance and security (so that differing personal opinions do not ruffle feathers), harmony can occur.

The facts are, however, that these two options are never the case in any community that has religious diversity. Let me go on to say that we mentioned last time that there was a third possibility for unity in the face of religious diversity. It is that harmony can exist if everyone who values unity above doctrine is willing to go along with those who have unyielding convictions--i.e. they sacrifice theirs because the others won't--and those who have unyielding convictions are all of the same group. But, this option won't work either. Sooner, or later, someone is going to get tired of always being on the losing end of the relationship. That's when the harmony falls apart.

So, what we see is that it is impossible to have community harmony in the context of religious diversity--if the diversity is a matter of critical concern.

There are teachings that are not as critical as others, such as whether the Rapture is going to occur before, during, or after the 70th Week of Daniel. But, there are teachings that are watershed doctrines which cannot be yielded up without destroying the system of faith of those that have them. For example, there are those who teach that the new birth occurs at the point of water baptism, and others who adamantly deny that possibility. Now, since the new birth is the key to entrance into the eternal life of God, this difference is no slight matter. One group, or the other (but not both), will end up in heaven and the other in hell. Truth is like that. It cuts through to the core and divides all those on its side from all those opposed to it. Since God is Truth, someone is going to spend eternity in heaven, based upon belief in the Truth, and someone is going to spend eternity in hell, based upon belief in a lie.

This brings up a major observation: Truth is more important than harmony when the truth in question is a matter of eternal life or death. What difference does it make that the community had harmony in time if its inhabitants all end up in Hell for eternity? Those that try to make this world their experience of Heaven (getting along with everyone and establishing harmony by that means) end up making their experience of Hell eternal. On the other hand, those who are willing to put up with the hell that others give them in this world for the sake of the truth, end up experiencing heaven forever. Truth is the dividing element.

Which side are you on?

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This is article #084.
If you wish, you may contact Darrel as darrelcline at this site.