On Tuesday, a celebration was held at the White House for the Muslim observance of Ramadan.  In his speech for thewhite house occasion, President Obama continued his effort to find common ground for the nation’s various religious views.  To support his point, though, he chose an ill-advised quote from boxer Mohammed Ali: 

“A few years ago, he explained this view – and this is part of why he’s The Greatest – saying, ‘Rivers, ponds, lakes and streams – they all have different names, but they all contain water. Just as religions do – they all contain truths’. . . They all contain truths.  Among those truths are the pursuit of peace and the dignity of all human beings.  That must always form the basis upon which we find common ground.”

All citizens in a society built on the principle of freedom of worship should respect and tolerate one another.  The freedom of others to worship as they see fit should ensure the same freedom for you and me.  But quotes like Ali’s feed a dangerous notion that all faith systems eventually lead to the same place.  They may all contain some truth, but they cannot, by their own admission and beliefs, all lead to God.

How can Christianity’s claim that Jesus is the only way to God possess the same validity as Islam, which claims that Allah has no son?  They may share some teachings on peace and human dignity, but you can only follow one to reach God.  Follow the other and you will perish.

In his defense, the president was making a political point of seeking harmony in a pluralistic democracy.  But when he publicly declares his approbation of a statement that sounds like “all paths take you to heaven”, many untaught souls can be led astray.  It would be better if our leaders stuck to their calling of protecting freedom, not making theological commentary.  The president will not say (nor is it his role to say) things like

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.”  John 14:6, 7

. . . and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.  However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. . . For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.  Romans 8:8, 9, 14

Enter the Church.  It is our responsibility, as well as God’s plan for societal Christian education to rightly divide the Word of truth for the world around us.  This includes our political leaders.  The Church must be proactive in going to lawmakers to share the truth of the gospel, praying for receptive hearts.  The Church should be the theological gatekeeper to see that a loving, but accurate message is clearly presented to the world.

Each time you see President Obama on the news, breathe a prayer for his spiritual inner man.  “This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth”  1 Timothy 2:3, 4.