The Reverend Clovis Jones was clearly upset about something, but was trying to focus on the movie Texas Buddha had rented. At a break point in the movie, TB paused the movie and asked the reverend what was on his mind. After some hesitation, Reverend Jones admitted that he was concerned about his daughter Amy and her drift from what he had taught her about God.
“I want her to be open-minded. I really do. I want her to learn about the wonderful world religions you talk about…” the Reverend’s voice trailed off.
Texas Buddha went to the refrigerator, grabbed a Lone Star and handed it to his friend, “But?”
“But, I worry about her. I know this is crazy, but Jesus said he is the only way. I don’t’ believe you are going to hell or anything, but why would Jesus say that if it weren’t true?”
TB thought a moment, “Is it possible that Jesus was talking about something bigger than organized religion?
“Like what?” The Reverend asked, trying not to sound desperate.
“Have you ever seen a Russian nesting doll? It is one large doll with successively smaller dolls inside it. Sometimes there can be ten or more dolls nesting inside a big one.”
The Reverend tried to picture such a doll. “And?”
“When Jesus says he is the only way, there are two different ways we might understand him. He might be saying he is like the smallest doll which excludes all the others, and so we must reject other religions to choose him. Or, he may mean that his way is like the largest doll which includes all the other truths, in which case we must prioritize little truths to fit within larger truths. Perhaps he is saying that only a religion of universal love can hold all the world’s truth.
“If you could only give Amy one of those two dolls, which would it be?”
Without saying a word, Reverend Jones nodded and went out into the woods to think.