THE QUESTION: With all the billions of people in the world and the myriads of different religions on the landscape, how can you say that Christianity is the one and only true way to God?
“ It all comes down to pairing your personal inclinations with dogma while paring down the dozens of faiths covered in the book … "You have to pay attention to the initial attraction. But what about the lifestyle and values? Do they really match yours?“ The founders of Beliefnet, a Web site exploring spirituality, had a sense of this fluidity when launching the site in 1999, says Michael Kress, managing editor. The site created the Belief-O-Matic to have fun with all this interest. The 20-question quiz asks people about their core beliefs. At the end of the quiz, people get a ranking of religions that best match their beliefs . - Shopping for a new religion?, Louisville Courier Journal, Aug 31, 2008
“ The soul of religion is one, but it is encased in a multitude of forms.” - Gandhi “ I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.“ - Jesus Christ, John 14:6
<ul><li>Can someone be sincerely wrong? </li></ul><ul><li>The Logical Law of Identity remains intact regardless of sincerity </li></ul><ul><li>Certain faiths, no matter how sincere, are wrong (e.g. Nazism, KKK) </li></ul><ul><li>Sincerity not a sufficient cause for salvation (necessary cause only) </li></ul>Jesus’ View on being sincerely wrong in matters of belief: “ Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit." (Matthew 15:14) "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel around on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves." (Matthew 23:15)
<ul><li>Religious Pluralism says that any (and perhaps all) religions lead to God or salvation. Following any religious path enables believers to reach the religious goal. </li></ul><ul><li>Religious Exclusivism says that only true religion leads to God. Attaining the spiritual goal requires a believer to find and follow the one true faith, for other religious paths will not lead to the spiritual goal. </li></ul><ul><li>Religious Inclusivism says only one religion is genuine and true, but it says that people who follow many different religions can still be saved </li></ul><ul><li>Note that Exclusivism does not negate: </li></ul><ul><li>People having a right to adopt any religion, or no religion, if they wish </li></ul><ul><li>Religious variety </li></ul><ul><li>Various faiths having some true positions (e.g. Buddhists are right that suffering is universal; Muslims are right that there is one God; Hindus are right that the Ultimate is infinite; Jews are right that God spoke through the Hebrew prophets). </li></ul>
“ We believe that all religions are basically the same, at least the one that we read was. They all believe in love and goodness. They only differ on matters of creation sin heaven hell God and salvation .” - Excerpt of Creed , by Steve Turner <ul><li>All Religions answers three core questions differently: </li></ul><ul><li>What is the most basic metaphysical reality? </li></ul><ul><li>What is the fundamental human religious problem? </li></ul><ul><li>What is the solution to that problem? </li></ul>This being the case, all religions cannot be true…
Saying “Yes” to your spouse means saying “No” to all other people in the world (billions of them). Not coincidentally, God likens our relationship with Him as a marriage, with us being the bride and Him being the Bridegroom (Matt. 25; 2 Cor. 11:2; Rev. 19:7)
How well do you think the government would function in America if Democracy, Communism, along with a few other government systems were practiced all at the same time? For a coherent system of government to function and bear fruit, only one system can be implemented and run (one must dominate, with the others subordinate). Note that other, opposing political parties may exist (pluralism).
What would the end result be if Capitalism and Marxism were combined or if one group in a culture used one form of economic policy and another group attempted to practice a system that was 180 degrees from the first? For a coherent system of economic policy to function and bear fruit, only one system can be implemented and run. Note that other theories may exist in the marketplace (pluralism), but only one can dominate at a given time.
Each major religion has radically different concepts of God, sin, salvation, Heaven, and Hell. In that sense, they are all exclusive in nature. The law of non-contradiction says they all can’t be right. Just as a math problem has one correct answer, why think it’s not possible for their to be only one way to God?
<ul><li>Postmodernism is an epistemology that holds to the limitless uncertainty of words; meaning has no absolute point of reference </li></ul><ul><li>If meaning has no absolute point of reference, then how can anyone know anything? </li></ul><ul><li>In short, postmodernism affirms no truth… </li></ul><ul><li>… but postmodernism is then self-defeating because it absolutely affirms one truth: that there is no absolute truth. If that’s true, then absolute truth exists. If not, then the postmodernist should not speak as they are communicating no meaning. </li></ul>
“ Pluralism is a desirable policy in all realms of action and thought except those in which unity is required ... In the sphere of all matters subject to individual thought and decision, pluralism is desirable and tolerable only in those areas that are matters of taste rather than matters of truth … In history, mathematics, science, and philosophy there is room for competing and conflicting theories, hypotheses, doctrines, or propositions, only as long as no one of them is, at a given time, established as true . - Mortimer Adler, Truth in Religion (emphasis in original) “ The truth or falsity of entertained propositions is absolute and immutable. The correctness of the judgments we make about them is relative and mutable. “ – Ibid.
Something cannot be both “A” and “non-A” at the same time and in the same sense. “ God exists!” – Christian “ God does not exist!” – Atheist “ You’re both right!” – Unitarian Universalist (Pluralism) “ Let him who disbelieves be beaten and burned until he admits that to be beaten and burned is not the same thing as to not be beaten and burned.” – Avicenna
Salvation Life after Death Atheism <ul><li>Naturalistic/evolutionary </li></ul><ul><li>Self actualization and pleasure for self </li></ul><ul><li>No second chance or life </li></ul><ul><li>Personal extinction </li></ul>Pantheism <ul><li>Hinduism </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Way of knowledge </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Way of devotion </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Way of good works </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Buddhism </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Following the four noble truths and eightfold path: </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Right view, resolve, speech, action, livelihood, effort, mindfulness, concentration </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Many chances after this life </li></ul><ul><li>Final attained goal in Hinduism is end of reincarnation (literally means “wanderings”) wheel. Liberation is attaining “moksha”, the release of reincarnation and all maya. </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>For Buddhism - Rebirth, not reincarnation (soul/individuality does not continue on). Took Buddha 547 rebirths. </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Ultimate absorption into Brahman; extinction of individuality </li></ul><ul><li>Nirvana – “nothingness” or extinction </li></ul>
Salvation Life after Death Theism <ul><li>Revelatory </li></ul><ul><li>Judaism </li></ul><ul><li>No concept of saving grace </li></ul><ul><li>Not a focus of the religion </li></ul><ul><li>Judaism does not believe that mankind is inherently evil or sinful or in need of Divine Intervention in order to escape eternal damnation. In fact, Judaism does not even believe in eternal damnation </li></ul><ul><li>Islam </li></ul><ul><li>Arbitrary decision of Allah and deeds of the person </li></ul><ul><li>Christianity </li></ul><ul><li>Personal repentance and justification by faith in finished work of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:38, Rom. 8: 1, Eph. 2:8-9) </li></ul><ul><li>Individual soul continues on </li></ul><ul><li>Resurrection of the body </li></ul><ul><li>Judaism </li></ul><ul><li>Daniel 12:2 </li></ul><ul><li>Not a well developed concept </li></ul><ul><li>Islam </li></ul><ul><li>Eternal life with Allah or Hell (7 regions of terror; according to deeds) </li></ul><ul><li>Christianity </li></ul><ul><li>No second chance after death (Heb. 9:27) </li></ul><ul><li>Eternal life with God for the saved; eternal separation from God for the rebellious lost (Jn. 3:16; Rev. 20:15) </li></ul>
There is a single, infinite, personal God that created everything that is known. This God is a Trinity, a Unity in diversity, consisting of three distinct persons bound together by a loving relationship. Attributes of God are omnipotence, omniscience, omnibenevolent, and many more
Man was created in the image of God, but utilized his free will to chose disobedience to God over following God’s path. The end result is that every person alive is born separated from God and spiritually dead, with a propensity to sin and choose evil over good. Further, a person’s body is corrupted from the sin disease and is destined to perish. Man cannot save himself and is need of help.
God is the offended party and man is the offender. The solution was to have a savior come and represent both parties to pay the penalty for the committed sin. The savior must be God to represent God and be sinless. The savior must be man to represent fallen man, living under the law (Gal. 4:4-5). The second person of the Trinity, the Son, came via the incarnation and became the sacrifice to justify man before God, and then be raised from the dead to give life to those who were devoid of spiritual life.
"And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it is possible , let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.”" (Matthew 26:39) “ For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time.” (1 Timothy 2:5-6) “ I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, the Christ died needlessly.” (Galatians 2:21)
<ul><li>Epistemological – through knowledge. “If I just learn something, I’ll be better and can approach God.” </li></ul><ul><li>Pragmatic – through works. “If I just do something, I’ll be better and can approach God.” </li></ul><ul><li>Existential – through an experience. “If I just experience something, I’ll be better and can approach God.” </li></ul>
<ul><li>Christianity is grounded in the existence of a Person – the Lord Jesus Christ </li></ul><ul><li>Knowledge comes through words; “In the beginning was the Word … and the Word became flesh” (John 1:1,14) </li></ul><ul><li>What works does Christ command? "Therefore they said to Him, “What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?” Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.”" (John 6:28-29) </li></ul><ul><li>How do you have experiences? Through life. "“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life , and have it abundantly." (John 10:10) </li></ul>
Truth -> Reason -> God -> Revelation -> Jesus -> Individual
<ul><li>Culture is not a determinant of truth </li></ul><ul><li>Other truths are trans-cultural (mathematics, exact sciences, technology, absolute moral laws) </li></ul><ul><li>If you grew up as a racist in the U.S South, would that make racism a valid belief system? </li></ul><ul><li>There are many different political systems in existence. While you may have grown up under Communism, that would not mean you could not investigate other political systems and recognize the superiority and evidences of other governmental systems such as democracy </li></ul><ul><li>God is perfectly able to save those who seek Him no matter where they live </li></ul>
<ul><li>Truth is not determined by how many people believe it </li></ul><ul><li>All religions exclude on the basis of doctrinal beliefs </li></ul><ul><li>Is Buddhism wrong because it excludes millions of Christians? </li></ul><ul><li>Christianity excludes no one – the Bible says that whosoever will may come: "The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost." (Revelation 22:17) </li></ul>
<ul><li>Every religion believes it has the truth </li></ul><ul><li>Attitude is not a determiner of truth; a person with a sour attitude / personality can still be right </li></ul><ul><li>Some things should not be tolerated – murder, rape, child abuse, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Tolerance is actually an engineering term and it means how far a ‘system’ can be strained from what is true and right until it breaks </li></ul><ul><li>Tolerance is also a medical term – how much poison a person can ingest before it overcomes them </li></ul>
“ I’m always fearful when we in the Christian community move beyond the rightful claim that Jesus is decisive for us, to the presupposition that non-Christians … are outside God’s plan of salvation. That smacks of a kind of non-Jesus-like arrogance.” – Bishop C. Joseph Sprague, Methodist <ul><li>How does such a thing dovetail with the Great Commission (Matt. 28)? </li></ul><ul><li>If Jesus took this man’s advice, there would be no Methodist church and he wouldn’t be there making the above statement. </li></ul><ul><li>Lastly, he thinks others should adhere to his position of subjectivism – it is a truth claim he’s making </li></ul>
Saved Unsaved How God Draws the Line Exemplary/Special (e.g. Mother Teresa) Great (e.g. Washington) Good (e.g. Good neighbor) Average (e.g. Normal hard worker) Shady (e.g. Cheats on income taxes) Bad (e.g. Persistent Criminals) Evil (e.g. Hitler)
“ When I die, worms will devour my body and I will commit myself to the ‘Great Perhaps’”. - Thomas Hobbes “ These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.” (1 John 5:13) As G. K. Chesterton said, he will not criticize God for providing one way to Him anymore than he will complain to God about being able to marry only one wife. If God gave man one million ways to Him, man would ask for one million plus one. It is not ‘one way’ that is the issue; it is the requirements set by God for that one way.
"Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; in no way alarmed by your opponents —which is a sign of destruction for them, but of salvation for you, and that too, from God." (Philippians 1:27-28) <ul><li>Arrogance and intolerance don’t arise out of conviction but out of insecurity and fear. </li></ul><ul><li>Christians can engage alternate views, neither cowering in fear nor exploding in aggression. </li></ul>
Should I take antacid or chemotherapy for my stomach ache…? It depends on the truthful answer to the question of “What’s wrong with my stomach?” In the same way, getting the right answers to the three core religious questions (what is the base metaphysical reality, main human religious problem, and the solution to that problem) of life does matter !
" Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire." (Revelation 20:11-15) Because God is real, no matter what road you’re on, you will meet Him when you die, regardless of the road you’ve travelled. But what then…?
"Lord, there are so many today who are running away from the truth. Oh, that You would be pleased to speak by Your Spirit that Your Word may be known. Lord, hold us fast to the truth of Your Word, bind us to it. May we not be ashamed of the truth of Your Word but proclaim it boldly without compromise. May we not wish to be thought cultured, nor aim to keep in step with the times. May we be side by side with You, O bleeding Savior; and be content to be rejected, be willing to take up unpopular truth, and to hold fast despised teachings of Sacred Scripture to the end. Oh make us faithful unto death.“ - Charles Spurgeon, Dec 30, 1877