The “Blind Men And the Elephant” is an old Indian parable from the Buddhist Canon which tells of a group of blind men that encounter an elephant for the first time in their lives. Each man touches a different part of the elephant and they end up disagreeing violently about the nature of the elephant
This parable is often used as an analogy about religion, the point being that since God is infinite and we are finite, we are limited in how we perceive Him, and are thus bound to have different, but equally valid perceptions of Him.
Six blind men wanted to “see” an elephant so they might understand the great beast. In the poem, one of the men walked into the elephant’s side and he quickly concluded an elephant is like a wall. The next blind man touched the elephant’s tusk and supposed the animal was very much like a spear. The third grabbed the trunk of the elephant and thought he resembled a snake. Another, having felt the elephant’s leg, assumed the pachyderm had a striking similarity to a tree. The fifth, having touched the elephant’s ear, believed him to be like a fan; and the last blind man, holding onto the elephant’s tail, assumed the great beast resembled a rope. The poem says, “… each was partly in the right, And all were in the wrong!”
The poem’s author concluded, “So oft in theological wars, the disputants, it seems, rail on in utter ignorance of what each other means, And prate about an Elephant not one of them has seen.”
The author wanted everybody to understand the fallacy and foolishness of blind humans who have never really, truly, seen God, trying to explain and convince others that they have a thorough understanding of God and His actions.
Is this a valid analogy? Is Christianity just one of many possible routes to God?
All Perceptions Are Not Equal
The thing about this analogy is that there is in fact a correct reality (the elephant) and that the blind men were all incorrect (to varying degrees) about their perception of that reality. In other words, not all perceptions are equally valid. Furthermore, if a sighted man came along, and was able to prove his seeing credentials, then we might be inclined to give his description of the elephant more weight. Christianity differs from other religions because its Founder claimed to Know God in his fullness and not in part.
So what about Jesus’ credentials? Why is Jesus more believable than the mystic down the road who claims to have seen “God” in the form of a giant bunny rabbit? Let’s take a brief look at the evidence.
The Popular Mindset
The popular mindset is that when it comes to God, we are all blind men and women, groping in the darkness for that which can never be truly known or understood.
We have all been burned by deceivers in our lifetime. Once upon a time you trusted a politician who said he would make things different, but he turned out to be an Eliot Spitzer. Once upon a time you believed you were getting the best deal on a car, but you soon learned the salesman was crowing like Peter’s rooster. You used to believe the advertising agencies which rolled out a flock of ex-fat people to show-and-tell you how this diet or that exercise program would make the pounds melt away. You believed them until you got out a magnifying glass and read the microscopic disclaimer which read, “Results not typical”? No wonder most folks don’t like it when someone makes a sweeping statement or gives an all-encompassing promise.
That’s one of the reasons why some people don’t believe in Jesus. They think he simply claimed too much. He claimed to be God, to reveal God, to be our Savior from sin, to come to this earth and die for our sins and rise from the dead, and is coming back again one of these days to set up his kingdom on earth.
“Preposterous! Outlandish! Ridiculous!” the cynics say.
Don’t miss the forest for the tree here. Don’t miss the obvious. First of all even though these blind men didn’t get it right, that doesn’t mean there wasn’t an elephant there that day. There was!
Secondly if the fellow who had hold of the elephant’s trunk, or leg, or tail, or tusk, had taken the time and felt further, he would have been confronted by the truth; he would have left his misconceptions behind and he would have believed that which was right.
Thirdly, the Holy Spirit who reveals God to us through Jesus Christ and the scriptures is neither blind nor limited in his perception of God.
Don’t Confuse Me With The Facts
The primary evidence for Jesus historical existence is the Gospels. There are ten outside ancient sources that mention his existence as well as the Bible.
Jesus Himself claimed to know God and be God. He was what he said he was and verified the same with a life of purity, prophecy and miraculous deeds.
Critics say that Jesus was just a wise man, but erroneously deified by his followers either intentionally or unintentionally.But history (Example, Watergate Scandal) show that people do not die for lies and deliberate falsifications,
It is true that Jesus lived in a superstitious times but neither were people such fools who did not know the difference between death and a dead man coming back to life; especially Roman soldiers who were professional executioners.
But what about those who claim that the Bible is full of errors? Are there not contradictions in the Bible? There certainly some things hard to understand; but we have a Bible that is 99% accurate. The few inaccuracies are copyist errors that have nothing to do with morals or doctrine. The 35,000 extant copies do not all make the same mistakes and so from these a very accurate Bible has been passed down to us.
All religions undoubtedly have some element of truth about God in them, but they are too diametrically different in so many way that they cannot all to be equal in truth. God himself took the initiative to reveal himself unto us. We are not blind men groping in the dark when we have the scriptures opened before us. We are people walking in His light. It is impossible for us to know conclusively what God is like unless He reveals Himself to us, and this is precisely and uniquely what He did via the Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ and the Scriptures. (Out of the mouth of two or three witnesses is the truth confirmed.)
Jesus asked one blind man what he wanted him to do for him more than anything else, to which he replied, “Open my eyes Lord that I might see.” He still performs that miracle today to those who ask him
He’s Only A Prayer Away!
In His Great Love