A powerful locomotive would be of little worth if it were not for the narrow track upon which it runs. Disaster follows and havoc is wrought when the track gets broader. The secret of the whole affair is in the locomotive being as broad as the track, but no broader. The result is the same when the track is too narrow as it is when the track is too broad. Its only opportunity is in being neither too narrow nor too broad.
There is an insatiable lust for broadness in religion. That a person is bold to maintain some limits on how broad he is willing to be in religion is often frowned upon. There is a sense in which we should be as broad as the universe in our religious thought. Our love should be for all men, even for our enemies. Our doctrine, the gospel of Christ, is for all men and is to be preached to every creature (Mark 16:15). We must remember that in God’s sight all men are created equal and, “that God is no respecter of persons, but in every nation he that feareth him and worketh righteousness is accepted with him” (Acts 10:34-35).
But, at the same time there is an exclusive feature to the religion of Christ. He said, “I am the way the truth and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). This rules out everyone who rejects the Christ, be he Jew, Gentile, moralist, or immoralist. This means that no man who follows Buddha, Mohammed, Joseph Smith, or any other being, can come to God. Jesus’ way is narrow and excludes all others. “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve,” Jesus declared to Satan, and thus narrowed the objects of man’s devotion until it entirely excluded the devil.
Peter addressed the Sanhedrin with these narrow words concerning Christ: “And in none other is there salvation: for neither is there any other name under heaven, that is given among men, wherein we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). This statement excluded the Sanhedrin because it had rejected Christ and His name. But it was a virtue to be narrow.
Just how narrow was Christ with reference to institutions?. Well, He said, “Every plant which my heavenly Father planted not shall be rooted up. Let them alone: they are blind guides. And if the blind guide the blind, both shall fall into a pit” (Matt. 15:13-14). To this the apostles agree: “Now they are many members, but one body” (1 Cor. 12:20). Paul likewise says that the body is the church (Eph. 1:22-13). So we maintain that there is but one body to which God will add His blessings today, and that will be saved in eternity. That body is the church of the Lord (Eph. 5:23).
Another statement that may seem narrow to many is found in Ephesians 5:4. There, Paul declares that there is, “one Lord, one faith, one baptism.” Despite the fact that religionists in our land speak approvingly of so many different “faiths”, only one faith is right. This faith is completely revealed in the New Testament. Though we have a number of baptisms practiced today, Paul stoutly maintains that there is only one baptism, and assures us that it is a burial and a resurrection, and is to be followed by walking in the newness of life (Rom. 6:3-4). Bible baptism, narrowed down to the accurate view that the apostles gave of it, is by immersion only. And this narrow view is right.
In fact, Jesus advises, “Enter ye in by the narrow gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many are they that enter in thereby. For narrow is the gate, and straitened is the way, that leadeth unto life, and few are they that find it” (Matt. 7:13-14).
In Revelation 22:18-19, men are warned to neither broaden nor narrow the track. “I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto them, God shall add unto him the plagues which are written in this book: and if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the tree of life, and out of the holy city, which are written in this book.”
It is not uncharitable to be narrow in religion, else were the Christ and His disciples uncharitable. And one should never be more charitable than God. It is just as bad to be too broad religiously as it is to be too narrow. Nor will the narrow road that leads to life be any broader, nor the broad road that leads to destruction be any narrower, when men shall have long extolled the virtues of broad-mindedness and decried the vices of narrowness.