William Hamilton: Many paths or just one?
Grand County, CO Colorado
At some point, after humankind realized that birth would eventually lead to physical death, up sprang the hope of some kind of spiritual afterlife. In other words, find Salvation. So, over the course of history, humans have sought to figure out the path to Salvation. As it turns out, humans have come up with lots of variations on what they think is the “true” path to Salvation. But what if there are several paths to Salvation?
John 3:16 [KJV] starts out: “God so loved the world.” Hold the phone. To love this world in the state it is in has to be a galactic case of bad judgment or a colossal exercise in tolerance and forgiveness. Either way, Christians believe God sacrificed the life of his only Son so that humankind could find the path to Eternal Life. Again, it’s Salvation.
Unfortunately, wars are fought because one group of Salvationists thinks their path to Salvation is the only true path and those who do not believe in their particular true path deserve to be punished for their “disbelief” in forms that range from burning-at-the-stake to blowing up the World Trade Center.
Our Founders were well aware of this phenomenon when they adopted the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which reads, in part, as follows: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” The Founders, all men of religious faith, wanted to encourage the free exercise of religion; however, they wanted to make sure that no particular brand of religion would be imposed on anyone the way that King Henry VIII imposed the Church of England on his subjects.
In other words, the State was not to be used to compel a particular path toward Salvation on anyone. The Founders, however, did not mean for Church and State to be mutually exclusive. Church and State can operate in the same arena. It is just that one cannot have power over the other. Religion can have its place in the public square; however, all religions must have equal access to the public square.
Some on the Far Left are agnostic or atheists to the point that they want to ban all religion from the public square. Ironically, their agnosticism or atheism becomes, well, a “religion,” which, even more ironically, is protected by the First Amendment. Then, there are those on the Evangelical Right who are so convinced that their path to Salvation is the only true path that they can’t bring themselves to vote for someone who follows a different path.
The French mathematician-philosopher Blaise Pascal (1623-1662), conceived Pascal’s Wager, which suggests it is better to believe than not believe. Pascal put it this way: “If you gain, you gain all. If you lose, you lose nothing. Wager then, without hesitation, that He exists.”
Today, it is interesting how some mainstream-media pundits show more tolerance for NFL players who brawl in night clubs, or even a quarterback who was imprisoned for torturing dogs to death than they show for Tim Tebow, the second-year NFL quarterback who openly gives thanks to his Creator for the blessings he has received. Tebow seems impervious to his critics perhaps thinking of Matthew 10:33 [KJV]: “But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.” This was Jesus’ way of saying: “Watch your mouth.”
Everyone, of course, is free to believe or not in a Creator who bestows blessings. That’s the beauty of the First Amendment. Meanwhile, Pascal’s Wager might be a good bet.
Nationally syndicated columnist, William Hamilton, was educated at the University of Oklahoma, the George Washington University, the U.S Naval War College, the University of Nebraska, and Harvard University.
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