Bernie Sanders appears to have stirred up quite the hubbub over his conversation this past week with Russell Vought. Mr. Sanders questioned Vought's Christian beliefs and specifically suggested they should disqualify him for public service. He didn't like the fact that Vought believed that the adherents of other religions were "condemned."
Christians across the country have responded with outrage. They didn't like Mr. Sanders' opinion that Vought's views are incompatible with what this "country is supposed to be about." Fox News reporter Todd Starnes called it a "viscous attack." Others have quoted the Constitution Article VI about "no religious test" being required for public service in office.
Frankly, I think all these responses have utterly missed the point.
Take a breath.
We need to step back for a moment and realize what was really going on in that conversation.
Mr. Sanders was NOT attacking Christians or Christianity. Someone please pick up a copy of Fox's Book of Martyrs. Or visit the Christian Martyr's website. Or read the Gospels and Acts. You will find plenty of examples of attacks upon our faith. This wasn't one of them.
But Mr. Sanders was attacking something.
Mr. Sanders was attacking truth.
You see, what Mr. Sanders fails to realize is something which ALL Christians and Muslims BOTH know: we can't both be right.
Bernie said “In my view, the statement made by Mr. Vought is indefensible, it is hateful, it is Islamophobic, and it is an insult to over a billion Muslims throughout the world.”
But the hilarious irony of Mr. Sanders statements is that Christians, Jews, Muslims, and even Atheists all get something that Bernie does not. We ALL know that we can't ALL be right.
This principle isn't fundamental to Christianity. This principle is fundamental to truth itself.
If Christianity is true, then Muslims are condemned. If Islam is true, then Christians are condemned. If Atheists are right then we are ALL condemned for the foolishness of our faiths. This is a plain and incontrovertible fact which the sacred texts of all religions assert.
And, with all due respect to Russell Vought, he missed an opportunity to explain this.
When Bernie Sanders asked him if he thought all Muslims and Jews were condemned, he should have answered with an enthusiastic, unmistakable, loud and clear "YES! Of course! Just as they think that I'm condemned!"
Vought could have quoted the Quran if he liked: "But those who disobey Allah and His Messenger and transgress His limits will be admitted to a Fire, to abide therein: And they shall have a humiliating punishment."
Or he could have quoted the Bible "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him will not PERISH but have everlasting life."
Religion assumes the existence of truth.
Thus Christianity, as nearly ALL of the major world religions, is an exclusive religion.
This is because truth, all truth, is exclusive.
If anything is true, then something is false. And things cannot be both true and false at the same time and in the same relationship.
So when Mr. Sanders balked at the idea that anyone could hold to a faith that claims exclusivity, he was actually taking his aim at a far more fundamental idea than Christian doctrine. He was questioning the very possibility of truth itself.
And, my friends, when we reject the idea of truth, we reject hope. Where there is no truth, there can be no true comfort.
C.S. Lewis said it well "If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair."