In the most recent episode of Drunk Ex-Pastors the topic of narratives came up. My contention was that if there is an idea or line of thought that is almost universally recognized, then odds are that the idea is actually true.
For example, if the knee-jerk attitude of most people is that we ought to love our neighbor, then there is a high likelihood that “Love Thy Neighbor” really is a core tenet of human morality and religious ethics.
But what if a particular idea is central not only to one specific religion, but most of them? Does the fact that most religions teach their members to love their neighbors make it more likely or less likely that “Love Thy Neighbor” is true? If, say, most pagan mythologies teach some version of a creation narrative, or of a deluge ordeal, or of a dying and rising god, does this lessen the likelihood of the truth of Christianity’s teachings about these topics?
(By the way, this was the crux of C.S. Lewis’s objections to the Christian faith: He argued at length with J.R.R. Tolkien about this issue, insisting that the fact that other religions have a flood narrative makes Christianity immediately suspect, to which Tolkien responded that it’s actually the other way around. Pagan myths about a flood bolster Christianity’s narrative rather than destroy it, since if there was a worldwide flood, we would expect pagan religions to contain the event as part of their own folklore.)
This is why I am not afraid of other religions or mythologies. Generally speaking, they teach things very similar to what Christianity teaches. The same can be said of many secular worldviews — it’s not like Christian believers have cornered the market on caring for the poor, living lives of sacrifice, or loving those different from us. If such ideas and lifestyles are truly good, then we should expect them to be prized by the average man. After all, we share a common nature with all people — human nature — which grace doesn’t destroy or abolish, but builds upon and seeks to perfect.
In fact, it’s when you think that your religion puts you at odds with all ideas that didn’t originate from within your walls that you need to start to worry, and wonder whether your faith is making you less human rather than more.
I’d call such a situation the result of bad Christology, but come on. You already knew that. . . .