Winning Hearts and Minds

The late Isaiah Berlin is quoted in the New York Review of Books on October 18, 2001, as having scribbled in a note to a friend: “Few things have done more harm than the belief on the part of individuals or groups (or tribes or states or nations or churches) that he or she or they are in sole possession of the truth: especially about how to live, what to be and do—and that those who differ from them are not merely mistaken, but wicked or mad and need restraining and suppressing. It is a terrible and dangerous arrogance to believe that you alone are right, have a magical eye which sees the truth, and that others cannot be right if they disagree.” 

We are to respect diversity, of course. But the God who created all of this wonderful diversity was nonetheless very specific about universal truths. After all, “truth” that is not universal—applicable to all people everywhere—is not truth but opinion. Religion that is not based on truth is therefore merely opinion and has no moral force. 

God says that His teachings, as recorded in the Bible, are the source of universal truth. Yet much of it has been misapplied. Throughout history many of those who claimed to subscribe to its message did not live by it. Often war, torture and murder were used to force individuals and nations to accept Christianity—the very opposite of the message Jesus Christ and the prophets before Him proclaimed. 

In the end, living a life that brings the joy, peace and love that humans universally crave will do more to convince a mind than any sword could ever do. When God’s instruction for all humanity becomes a way of life that we, individually, choose to live, then perhaps others will want to follow that way because they can see from our example that it works.