“You speak to me as though I understand them,” said the Priestess.
“You just said you studied them!” Ethan was growing frantic. “You told me all this stuff about them, and now you say you don’t understand them?”
The Priestess smiled. “I said I have studied them. I did not say I understand them. I would not worship them if I could understand them. That which can be understood does not deserve to be worshipped.”
I was driving home from work when I realized the Priesthood of the Cloud had better theology than I do, if only in one small area. As a dangerous cult so addicted to power that they’re willing to poison their own bodies to get it, they’re one of the main antagonists in my post-apocalyptic pirate novel The Marian. They worship creatures from another dimension, they rip souls out of bodies…and they understand something about faith that I’ve always struggled with.
I threw in this line of dialog as soon as I recognized this in the Priesthood. I wasn’t trying to make a statement by having a vaguely occult group say something that I believed to be true and deeply important. I just thought it was a cool concept, and it made sense for the Priestess to say it.
But as I’m working on the sequel to The Marian, I’ve found another line pop up, this one from a different antagonist. It happened the same way. I realized this group understood something better than I did, and I threw the line in. I thought the concept was true and important. I also thought it would be artistically dishonest to have the line come from anyone but this particular antagonist.
So at this point, my bad guys are better theologians than my good guys, if only in a couple small areas.
And that’s kind of how it goes in real life, isn’t it?
I realize “bad guys” is an awful way to refer to people of other faiths. I certainly don’t see people who believe differently than I do as villains to be vanquished. This is a caricature of a connection, but I think you get where I’m coming from. If you look hard enough, you can find something in just about any other faith that its followers get better than many – if not most – Christians.
And that’s okay.
As a Christian radio guy, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve quoted someone on air and gotten a phone call that goes something like, “Don’t you realize he’s an atheist/Muslim/convict/Calvinist?” The implication is that if they’re Not On Our Team, they can’t get anything right.
But here’s the deal: Christians don’t have the market cornered on truth.
Now PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE don’t stop reading here. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that the only way we can make things right between us and God is through his death and resurrection.
But Christians don’t have the market cornered on truth.
Christians can be wrong about things. I know I get stuff mixed up all the time. In the same way, Buddhists and Muslims and even that pastor you just can’t stand will occasionally get it right.
And that’s okay. Christianity doesn’t depend on Christians getting it “more right” than others. In fact, Christianity is made up of people who can’t get it right. We’re all broken, sinful people who need someone bigger than us to fix our core problems.
So, yes, look to other Christians for examples on how to live your life. But pay attention to members of other faiths, even if you have to take their beliefs and actions with a grain of salt. Your faith can handle it, because your faith is based on someone who is unshakable.
Your faith is based on the only one who really does have the market cornered on truth.