The Gospel for Everyone

It would be foolish to say that American Christians live in a vacuum, separated from the realities of the world. America, the melting pot of the world, where people come to settle and make their fortune is now a hugely religiously diverse country, maybe more than any other. As much as our country has been a melting pot of people and cultures, religions are not melting together. Each religion remains separate, holding to their own beliefs and practices, taking little notice of other religions unless there is conflict between them somehow, or they have a common enemy and join forces to fight a common enemy, yet still maintaining their diverse separateness.

This blog has lightly addressed religious pluralism before. Though there is no one definition accepted by all authorities of what religious pluralism is, I will address it from this perspective; that all, or most religions contain some element that is similar in some ways to Christianity and may appear to have come from the God of the Bible, in the Old Testament (Hebrew scriptures) addressed primarily as Yahweh, and the New Testament as God the Father, whether these religions recognize the God of Bible or not, or correctly. For instance, a religion may recognize love and mercy as a high calling and practice for its followers.  That is an important element in Christianity, an important part of Biblical faith.

I have begun reading one of my son’s college textbooks, Neighboring Faiths, A Christian Introduction to World Religions by Winfried Corduan (Intervarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL, 1998). One line in the introduction speaks my very heart. “The discussion in this book proceeds from an evangelical Christian perspective, which sees interreligious encounters as opportunities for sharing the gospel of redemption,” emphasis mine (page 15).

There may be certain things in other religions, non-Christian religions, and those things, such as love and mercy described above, certainly come from God, but, how they got there is the question. There is no religion as old as the worship of God. He created the world and the first humans worshipped him(Genesis 1&2), and other beliefs and religions didn’t come in until some point later, after sin entered the world (Gen. 3), and Adam and Eve’s children began to populate the earth with sin in their hearts.

Just because pluralistic religions possess certain Godly elements, does not make them true religions. A conscious faith is necessary for a person’s salvation (borrowing Corduan’s and Donald Nash’s words here).  Or as the apostles spoke “Salvation is found through him alone ; in all the world there is no one else whom God has given who can save us” @Acts4.12, TEV.*

Jesus, the stone the builders have rejected, the Jewish leaders, is the only one, the only way.  As Jesus said, “Jesus answered him, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life; no one goes to the Father except by me’” @John14.6, TEV.

All these other religions, even though they contain some elements that we find in Christianity, that are taught in the Bible, that are recognizable as being associated with God in some way, are not the way to God. They don’t have Jesus. Salvation is in Jesus for all the world, obviously meaning, every person, everywhere, regardless of gender, nationality, financial status, social status, or anything else. Jesus’ salvation is meant for them.

Since Jesus came to seek and save that which was lost (@Luke19.10) and all the world is lost (@Romans3:12&23), that salvation in Jesus which brings people to God is for everyone.

What we find as common ground, belief about abortion, helping others, peaceful living, justice, etc, are the things that through the Christian’s faith, Biblical understanding and truth make opportunities for Christian believers to share the gospel of redemption that is in Jesus Christ alone.

*Today’s English Version of the Bible (aka Good News for Modern Man)

bloggingthechurch

Advertisements

One Religion or Many

Religious pluralism has determined that God reveals himself through all religions and Christianity has the most thorough revelation of God. Religious pluralists believe that God can be found in all religions, Buddhism, Bai’ hai’, Islam, Hindu, etc. The revelation of God in one religion may be about peace and contentment as one exists in this world. It could be about love for mankind. It might be any number of values that resemble teachings and characteristics of God.

There may be discovery of some of these aspects about God’s way in other religions, but that does not mean that God provided a revelation about himself in that religion. There can be similarities. There are similarities among the species but that does not necessarily  make one specie a form of the other. Discovering some of these aspects in other religions form a common ground however by which the Christian can show them God for real.

God’s plan did not and still does not involve revelation through other religions. “”Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God” @Romans 10:17. “How shall they call upon him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?” @Romans 10:14

God’s revelation of himself to the world involves the preaching of his word. And his word is contained, not in a multitude of religious traditions, but in the Bible that Christians preach from. History has proven the Bible to be the final revelation of that God has given and the that it is totally true and reliable.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ, the way to God will be preached as much or more this weekend as we remember the anniversary of Jesus’ death and resurrection. It is the word, preached from the Bible which reveals God to mankind. That’s God’s choice. That is God’s way!

bloggingthechurch