Hi folks! This is perhaps my first "SHADOW" tier content when I actually go deep into philosophy and life. I have such thoughts every single day as I not only go through life as a musician but as a human being. You are MORE than welcomed to question, critique, challenge. That's the whole point. But as you can understand, it is NOT for everyone. ;)
The following thoughts are in response to the above video on Facebook. Here's the link: What Entitles Christians to Believe Christianity is the Exclusive Means to Truth?
For some context, I am a practicing Muslim and a student of religion and I try to really go deep in religious studies. I do have several comments on how Mr. Zacharias distinguishes between the various frameworks he has pointed out: Christian, Islamic, Pantheistic, and others.
Please forgive me if I do not manage to explain myself clearly in texts. First of all, I believe that he managed to capture the surface of the true Islamic framework. It is perhaps not a fault that he did not come to a similar conclusion on his version of the Islamic framework as with his version of the Christian framework of reality. Forget what we know of Islam based on conventional and current teachings. There is a branch of Islamic studies called Tasawwuf (or Sufism) which consists of four levels of knowledge/understanding: Shari'at, Tariq'at, Haqiq'at, and Ma'rifat. To simplify things, it is in line with what Mr. Zacharias shared:
Shari'at - the basic laws (Origin)
Tariq'at - logic, and reason behind the laws (Meaning)
Haqiq'at - the personification of the laws (Morality)
Maa'rifat - transcendence from the laws (Destiny)
I am sure that with a proper and deeper understanding of the teaching of Islam, Mr. Zacharias would have come to the same conclusion. Unfortunately, the teachings of Tasawwuf are not readily available anywhere and even the majority of Muslims do not have access to such teachings and thinking abilities.
For now, let's focus on this particular verse, John 15, Jesus said:
1 I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.
2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful.
3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.
4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine."
His statement on "Fundamentally different but at best only superficially similar" is understandable in his worldview. His earlier statement was perhaps the proper way of phrasing still-- Religions are fundamentally similar but superficially different. Most or all religions point towards the same thing (fundamentally similar) but were derived based on human perspectives (superficially different). And with human perspectives, we humans aren't perfect in both boiling down knowledge and teachings and transmitting them to another. Everyone can look up at the sky and say it is blue and "teach" their kids the same thing. But what makes us so sure that our "blue" is the same "blue"? What is the color "blue"? What about those with colorblindness?
Next, pantheism. His statement (or rather Jesus's) on the two commandments, particularly on loving thy loving as you would love yourself. That is the fundamental teaching of pantheism as their framework is "God is everything, and everything is God". Pantheistic religions extended their framework to consist of ALL creation as God which is fundamentally in line with the two commandments. In Islamic teachings, the fourth level, essentially teaches "God is in me, and I am in God" which supports both the pantheistic framework, John 15, AND John 14:6.
My last bit of comment is in the video titled: What Entitles Christians to Believe Christianity is the Exclusive Means to Truth? This is logically wrong as in Christianity, there exists plenty of 'exclusive' truths such as Catholicism, Protestantism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Anglicanism, and more. In Islam as well, Sunnis, Shias, Ahmadiyya, Kharijites, and many more as well. In Judaism- Orthodox, Reformed, Haredi. In Hinduism, Vaishnavism, Shaivism, Shaktism, and Smartism. All claimed exclusivity so which is THE "exclusive" truth?
My apologies for such a long message and I hope it is useful for anyone. My deepest respects to Mr. Ravi Zacharias for spreading peace in Christianity and to all my brothers and sisters for experiencing God's gifts in this world. We do not have a wrong perspective of God, we just have different perspectives. :) <3
To understand how I see the concept of "God", please feel free to visit The Idea of "God" in Various Religions
Note: This episode is 40mins long.