Oh, the ubiquitous telephone. For some of us it is the greatest invention ever (right after the television remote control, thank you very much), but for others it is the bane of our existence.
Personally, I love being able to call my wife from anywhere. “OK, I’m on Aisle 7. Which tomato sauce am I supposed to get? Oh … tomato paste. So, which brand of tomato paste? … Eight ounces or sixteen ounces? …” I still manage to come home with the wrong can, but that’s beside the point. The phone is a wonderful tool, even though I often catch myself yelling in my head: “HEY, BUDDY, IF YOU GET OFF YOUR PHONE, YOU’LL SEE THE LIGHT IS GREEN! ”
When Alexander Graham Bell patented the telephone in 1876, people immediately recognized it for the unique invention it was, but they didn’t see as it something people would regularly use. For example, the White House installed a phone a year later—one phone—and it was only used for emergencies.
Many did see the money that could be made off the telephone, and so the lawsuits began. One man, Elias Gray, made have had a legitmate complaint—others were working on the idea of transmitting sound—but in the end, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Bell as the first to legitimately create and patent a telephone.
For eleven years, Bell and his young company, the American Bell Telephone Company, faced 587 lawsuits. Many of the plaintiffs had good arguments (but still lost) and others were just downright silly. One such plaintiff was a man who came in with his version of a phone which he claimed was the first. However, when he was asked in court to show how it worked, his device just sat there. He couldn’t even prove it was a working phone, much less the first working phone. When asked for an answer, the man’s lawyer said, “It can speak, but it won’t.” [ Candice Millard, Destiny of a Republic, p. 68]
It can speak, but it won’t.
When I read this account, it made me laugh. I picture this guy standing with the prophets of Baal in their challenge from Elijah the prophet.
“Let two bulls be given to us. They are to choose one bull for themselves, cut it in pieces, and place it on the wood but not light the fire. I will prepare the other bull and place it on the wood but not light the fire. Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the Lord. The God who answers with fire, he is God” (1 Kings 18:23-24).
Throughout the morning and afternoon, Baal’s prophets did everything they could to get Baal to respond. Nothing. At this moment, our man steps up to Elijah and says:
It can speak, but it won’t.
In a nutshell, that is the essence of every religion out there, save one. I know my statement sounds arrogant and exclusive to some people, but everything I have read and studied about Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Mormonism, and other groups leads me to the conclusion that only one of them conforms to reality.
To that one person who dismisses it all with the idea that all religions are working toward the same thing only shows he knows little about Christianity or other religions. It’s OK to believe whatever you want so long as you are sincere in your beliefs. That idea won’t work with telephones—a faulty phone won’t work no matter how sincerely I believe it will—and it won’t work in spiritual matters. In Alexander Graham Bell’s day, not all phones were the same, and all belief systems are not the same.
What God has revealed about Himself in nature and in Scripture points to Him as the one true God, and the person and work of Jesus point to His divinity. He is God. Jesus could say with total confidence:
“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).
He can save, and He does.
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