is better, German or English? Latin or Greek? French
question. Meaningless question. Language is not a competition,
except for linguistic chauvinists. Different languages
are merely different ways of accomplishing the same
end - communication. Every language has its own cultural
history, its own distinctive sound, its unique verbal
within languages, there are wide variations. There are
hundreds of dialects within China, for instance. Regional
differences in spoken English in the US help tie a person
to the area in which he was raised. Personally, I love
to hear someone from Scotland or Ireland speak. Their
version of my mother tongue is much more musical than
what I hear in the States.
are spiritual languages. Which one is better? Christianity
or Islam? Hinduism or Judaism? Baha'i or Shintoism?
Dumb question. But here you will find people much more
willing to express an opinion as to the superiority
of their particular language.
don't hear people talking about the one true human language,
except perhaps English speakers. And maybe the French!
But people are quick to assert that their faith system
is the only true religion. And this arrogant attitude
has been responsible for most of the wars in recent
history. If there is no "best" physical language,
there is no "best" spiritual language either.
When we finally learn this truth, we will have reached
a new stage in the evolution of the human race.
recently bumped into an old friend, a conservative pastor.
He knew of my journey down the long road into heresy,
and had some questions about how we could have started
from the same spot and yet ended up so far apart. What
I said was somewhat startling to him - God no more cares
what religion we profess than what language we speak.
Imagine God refusing to let us into heaven because we
spoke German instead of English. Heaven is not an English-speaking
place. Nor is it a Christian-speaking place. One of
the things that got me kicked out of the ministry was
my assertion that God is not a Presbyterian! People
don't want to hear that.
We are told that in the spirit world people communicate
with their minds, without the need for speech. In this
format, you know every thought and intention of the
one with whom you are communicating. Compared to that,
human speech is very inadequate and misleading. The
Bible says that on the other side we will know as we
are known, thoroughly and openly. Here, we often use
words to disguise meaning and intention, rather than
to clarify them.
languages of religion often have political and ego-based
agendas. They are not interested in advancing the view
that we are all brothers and sisters, regardless of
our linguistic differences. They too often preach that
God only loves those who speak a particular language.
We need to begin seeing religions as wedges of an enormous
spiritual pie, a pie which would not be complete without
any individual piece, but a pie in which no one piece
is large enough to be the whole.
try to convert people to our religious mother tongue
because other languages are seen as threats. If they
are true, then my way of speaking about God might be
wrong. Yet, we study other human languages for a variety
of reasons - to appreciate their culture and literature,
to make possible better communication, and to create
a closer world community. This is precisely what we
need to do with the variety of spiritual languages.
Each one of them has something valuable to give us,
and because there is only one God, all of those gifts
come from the same God.
heard a program this morning which said that Benjamin
Franklin contributed to the building funds of every
church in Philadelphia. He did so because he believed
that any organization which advanced the common good
deserved his support. When we grow up enough to see
that French and Dutch are equally valuable ways to communicate,
we will have gone a long way toward establishing the
Kingdom of God on earth.
John W. Sloat 2007