When I was 12, I had to memorize the poem “The Blind Men and the Elephant” for a school competition. I’ve never forgotten it.
Six blind men describe with great certainty the mighty elephant, each touching only one part of it, never the whole animal. The one part they do experience and describe seems very accurate, but their overall conclusions about the whole elephant are wildly and laughably distorted. They assume their experience and viewpoint is the totality of the creature. No doubt, six religions were formed that day.
I call that Partial Truth. Truth frees us, but Partial Truth makes us prisoners to lopsided and distorted viewpoints and agendas of men and women, no matter how well intentioned, who believe their Partial Truth is The Whole Truth. Many sincere people believe and act like the one small part they have touched and described of the mystery of our ineffable (indescribable) and cosmic God is The Whole Truth about this God who is in love with all.
Most systems of the world–especially the religious ones–flourish on Partial Truth. It’s fatal to any system to let followers who have never touched more than the trunk, suddenly discover that there is a tail or an ear or a tusk. Or that there might even be an amazing creature far greater than anyone has ever imagined.
Before you keep exploring a relational, supernatural Kingdom of God that has been freely offered to ALL and a King of a Kingdom who really loves ALL, count the costs. You may find yourself labeled as the enemy, or a heretic. And when your religious system no longer has use for you, you may find yourself shunned and shamed for daring to believe there is more than the tail the denomination or political party or economic system is peddling. This is particularly ugly in our religious systems because here it is done in the name of the One who has come to set all free. (History does not lie.)
The poem ends telling us that the six blind men “fought loud and long, stiff and strong” to advance their particular view of the elephant. Make you think of anything happening in certain circles today? If it does, the poem’s ending should be taken to heart:
“…each was partly in the right,
And all were in the wrong!”