The Curse of Religious Diversity

By Wayne Jackson

Jim Minter, a former editor of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, produced a brief essay (12/1999) which was published in The Atlanta Journal. It was titled, “Which Version Should We Teach?”

Mr. Minter, an entertaining writer, commences with a complaint about all of the controversy over prayer in the school. He frankly complains that it’s beginning to get on his nerves. It bothers him that there is vigorous opposition to a simple prayer at a football game. It aggravates him that others are upset if a school posts a copy of the Ten Commandments in a high school hallway, reminding youngsters that it’s wrong to steal, kill, and commit adultery, and suggesting that it is good to honor one’s parents.

He reflects upon the dark days of World War II, when our fathers and brothers and neighbors were away in distant lands, risking their very lives for American values. Then, he says, students in school unhesitatingly bowed their heads in prayer, and nobody dreamed it was unconstitutional. Now, he sadly notes, everything is so different.

Minter recalls the simpler days of his early youth. He grew up in a small Georgia community where there were only three churches—the Methodist Church (to which his family belonged), the Baptist Church, and then, down the road there were the “Holy Rollers” (as he prefers to designate the Pentecostals).

Oh, we had our differences, he muses, but they were insignificant. “[O]ur preacher dipped his hand into the finger bowl and sprinkled, while they [the Baptists] had to come up to Uncle Walter Burch’s wash hole and go all the way under, with their clothes on.” Such trivialities are scarcely worthy of notice, he suggests. Of course he does not explain why some Bible commands are insignificant (e.g., the imperative to be immersed in order to enjoy salvation—Acts 2:38; Romans 6:3-4), and others (e.g., refraining from theft) are to be respected.

Now it is different he observes, with obvious distress. The gentleman is frustrated because there’s a section on Peachtree Street in Atlanta that has so many churches it’s called “Jesus Junction.” Why there are Catholics, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Mormons, and even Hindus. It’s a maze of religious confusion, a Baskin-Robbins of sectarian flavors!

Surely now, therefore, we will be forced to keep religious devotions out of the schools, because nobody knows “which version” we should teach.

Jim Minter’s befuddlement is understandable, though regrettable. It is understandable because folks are confused. They see a variety of religious movements, each claiming to represent religious truth, yet they are ridiculously in contradiction. Any schoolchild knows that such fails the test of fundamental logic. Two plus two cannot equal four and three at the same time. Baptism cannot be both immersion and non-immersion.

It apparently never occurs to many that there is a solution to religious division. It is possible to return to the source of the pure spiritual refreshment (God’s Word), therefrom to slake the spiritual thirst.

The New Testament knows nothing of a divinely-approved “religious diversity.” This ideology is the curse of the age, the mother of infidelity. Jesus’ prayer for religious oneness had as one of its designs the aim “that the world may believe that thou [the Father] didst send me” (John 17:21). The opposite implication is all too clear.

And so, because of this religious conglomerate (of which God certainly is not the author—1 Corinthians 14:33), men (like Minter) opt for leaving all spiritual values out of the school environment. Just abandon the kids to the “libertarians” who teach them they are “naked apes,” who provide them with birth control devices (suggesting they might be well-advised to practice “safe sex” if they are so inclined), and who encourage them to use clean needles if they must do drugs.

What a mess! Is there so little common sense left?

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About the Author

Wayne Jackson has written for and edited the Christian Courier since its inception in 1965. He has also written several books on a variety of biblical topics including The Bible and Science, Creation, Evolution, and the Age of the Earth, The Bible on Trial, and a number of commentaries. He lives in Stockton, California with his dear wife, and life-long partner, Betty.