Saturday, May 25, 2024

A conscientious response to the new Meditation Room

Entitled “Meditation Room Reinforces Inclusive Faith-Nurture”, a recent article in the Silliman website described a meditation room that had been put up in the campus as a “space where Sillimanians can deepen their relationship with the Creator in a solemn environment that nurtures their individual faith commitments.”

Immediately, I had concerns of conscience in the context of Silliman being a Christian university. When the article mentions that the meditation room is meant to reinforce inclusive faith-nurture, what does “inclusive” mean? If by “inclusive” it means  we are kind and fair to everyone regardless of religion, it is not applicable to our institution. The university has never been known to tolerate discriminatory acts such as being refused of employment, given bad grades, or subjected to physical and verbal abuse simply by virtue of one’s religion.

Another important question is: does the meditation room being inclusive mean only? If so, why are both a table and a chart of the Golden Rule bearing symbols of different religions? There is evidence to think that “inclusive”, as used in the article, is actually not derived from “inclusiveness” but from the highly technical theological word “inclusivism”, a philosophy that posits all religions and gods as equally true. Whether or not this reflects part of how the university currently views its Christian identity, it seems to be an appropriate time for a short piece on why, from a Christian perspective, all religions cannot be one and the same.

Of course, I cannot blame non-Christians if they believe in this theory of inclusivism. However, for Christians, we cannot make that same claim and still serve Christ, because it was Jesus Himself who said in John 14:6, that He is “the way, the truth, and the life”, not “a way, a truth, and a life”. And if that was not clear enough, the next sentence goes on to quote Jesus Himself saying, “No one comes to the Father but by Me.”

This may seem quite narrow-minded, but it was also Christ who said, “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” This quote from Jesus is from Matthew 7:13-14, right after the verse on the Golden Rule. And if this seems rather unpopular or out of vogue with the world, we are also comforted by Christ, who taught, “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adult-erous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels” (Mark 8:36-38).

I do not doubt that the intentions behind the meditation room were good and honest. But Christians do not need to put up a room for it because we are already called to be good to all people regardless of religion as a natural response to how Christ has been so good to us. You do not have to buy into inclusivism in order to have good healthful friendships with people of different faith.

If the university collectively tolerates this radical inclusivism, it will mark a great departure from its Christian roots and heritage. Steps like these echo stories of other schools which were once established with a strong sense of Christian mission and only found themselves a hundred years later disavowing the very Christ that inspired their inception, such as Harvard, Princeton, or Yale.

But in Christ, and in His Word, we find the saving truth of the Gospel. This Gospel contains what God has done to forgive sins and bring us out from darkness into light, from blindness into sight, and from death into life. Inclusivism, because it attacks the validity and reality of Christ, obfuscates and obscures the purity and clarity of His Word, hindering others from the truth that will set them free. Hence, I do a greater service to my non-Christian neighbors when I do not shy away from the truth that saves me because it also saves them.

If our approach to Christianity is more academic or philosophical, then things like inclusivism could make sense. But if we are Christians because of the reality of Christ who actually died and rose again to save us from our sins, inclusivism is not a position we can hold with a grain of authenticity or honesty. If everything is true, ultimately nothing is true. Over our souls and over this university, Christ is Lord of all, or not at all.

*The writer is a graduate of Silliman University College of Law, a former senior debater of the Silliman University Debate Society, as well as a former Features Editor, Senior Writer, and Columnist of the Weekly Sillimanian.


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