Pastor Stephey Belynskyj conducts confirmation classes for his church. The class begins with the display of a jar full of beans. He asks his students to guess how many beans there are, and on a big pad of paper he writes down their estimates. Then, next to those estimates, he helps them make another list: their favorite songs.
When the lists are complete, he reveals the actual number of beans in the jar. The whole class looks over their guesses, to see which estimate was closest to being right. Belynskyj then turns to the list of favorite songs. “And which one of these songs is closest to being right?” he asks. The students protest that there is no right answer. A person’s favorite song is purely a matter of taste.
Belynskyj, who holds a Ph.D. in philosophy from Notre Dame asks, “When you decide what to believe in terms of your faith, is that more like guessing the number of beans, or more like choosing your favorite song?” Always, Belynskyj says, from old as well as young, he gets the same answer: Choosing one’s faith is more like choosing a favorite song.
When Belynskyj told me this, it took my breath away. “After they say that, do you confirm them?” I asked him.
“Well,” smiled Belynskyj, “First I try to argue them out of it.” (Tim Stafford, Christianity Today, Sept 14, 1992, pg. 36)
In the spiritually relativistic society we live in, I’m willing to bet that there are many people who would read this story and wonder, “Why would the interviewer’s breath be taken away? Of course, choosing one’s faith is more like choosing a favorite song than attempting to find the absolute answer to the number of beans in a jar!” This I find very disconcerting. I’ll explain why.
If you embrace spiritual relativism … In other words, if you believe that all religions are equal and that all roads lead to heaven, then you must believe that none of the religions who claim to be the only way are true! “Well, that aspect of their religion is just wrong!” On what basis do you make such a claim? Your belief in relativism disqualifies you to make an absolute statement like that!
Spiritual relativism is self-contradictory. It’s illogical and results in confusion.
I understand how our society has embraced it though, for now man is free to live as he pleases. Man can now scoff at the notion of a just God who will hold him accountable for his actions.
The interviewer in the story claims his breath was taken away. You know what takes my breath away? God providing a way of escape from the coming judgment, for He is not only just; He is also love. God is just and God is love.
What is just? “God presented Christ as a sacrifice to atone for our sins. He did this to demonstrate His righteousness… so as to be just and the One who justifies those who have faith in Christ.” (Romans 3:25-26).
(To be justified by God means He sees me just-as-if-I’d never sinned! Glory! If you have faith in Jesus, you are justified!)
What is love? “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son Jesus Christ as an atoning sacrifice for our sins (1 John 4:10).”
What is truth? Truth is a Person. “I AM the Truth! And, by the way, no one can come to the Father but through me, because I am also the Way.” – Jesus (John 14:6, paraphrased)
Anyway, that’s what I happen to believe. How about you?
— Paul and Danica Bartelme have been married for 22 years and have three children age 12 years and under. Jacob (12), Lily (11), and Luke (9). They’ve been residents of Escondido for 11 years and love Harley motorcycles and good music. They pastor Escondido’s very own Sanctuary Church.