Author: Joe Bates
Category: Truth and Pluralism, Evangelism Training, World Faiths
Judgment or explanation
There are many things that people judge and call it taking a stand. You will get no argument from me that there are times where we must take a firm stand. When there are views that are quite obviously opposed to what is intrinsically and Biblically correct such as slavery, physical abuse, genocide, rape, etc., then there must be a contingent to protect the innocent and weaker population. There is another perspective, however, which needs to be addressed and that is one of limited revelation.
Too often Christians will picket or make bold statements (such as burning the Qur’an) which are nothing but divisive. Is there a way of communicating some information through explanation and enlightenment rather than finger pointing and chastisement? My answer would be yes.
I have studied many different religions with the intent of understanding what they believe, why they believe it and how it compares to the Old and New Testaments of the Bible. I have listened to and participated in many debates about whether God created anyone with the only option being that of damnation and Hell. (This debate is founded upon a culture not having heard the Word of God and/or dying before the time of Jesus.) Discussions with pantheists and pluralists have continually begged the question of God taking on the different personas of many religions. Many of these religions mirror some of the traits of God as described in the Bible. I have had very lengthy discussions, some ongoing, about God being an example of an immoral God and setting a poor example. Many of these discussions, most by highly educated and very rational people, are very well formed with some form of merit from a superficial perspective. So where is the truthful common ground and how should we address it?
Virtually all of the highly effective missionaries that I communicate with are non-confrontational. In other words, they do NOT encounter a person with fingers out and a Bible prepped for attack. They instead communicate on a very human level, a greater understanding on the truths that people already KNOW to be true.
Rom 1:18-20 ”For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown [it] to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible [attributes] are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, [even] His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse,” It continues but I’ll stop there.
Jesus is for everyone:
Rom 1:16 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.”
Rom 2:26 Therefore, if an uncircumcised man keeps the righteous requirements of the law, will not his uncircumcision be counted as circumcision?
Rom 2:6-16 (I’ll only post part) “for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves [their] thoughts accusing or else excusing [them] in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel.”
Prov 24:12 “If you say, "Surely we did not know this," Does not He who weighs the hearts consider [it]? He who keeps your soul, does He [not] know [it]? And will He [not] render to [each] man according to his deeds?”
How about 1 Jn 3:7 “Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous.”
In summation, God the Father has presented Himself to all people. Jesus’ sacrifice was for all who would receive the payment of the debt. My philosophy of this is that other religions have a window of understanding of God. (Some, however, are cults and therefore completely errant. Satan is real and very good at his task.) You will notice a huge amount of similarity with Biblical truth and the ‘good’ facets of other religions. For example, you will notice that most serious Muslims love the book of John and appreciate Jesus as a great prophet. Muslims are essentially living under the OT regulations still and do not understand or believe that Jesus played the vital role that He did. Tao in Taoism describes the way and is often described as the ‘eternally nameless’. I think that Paul could give example of naming and explaining the ‘eternally nameless’. Buddhism teaches that we are to overcome the world (senses) and take our place as part of the universe. Aren’t we called to be one with Christ? Shinto is ‘the way’ in life and is characterized by studying nature and applying those tenants. See Prov 6:6 and doesn’t the entire Earth testify of God? Hell, Naraka, Angles, demons, gods, Preta, Asuras, Devas, Brahmas, Heaven, Bhuva Loka, Jannah, Tian, Nirvanna; all words with similar concepts. Please, realize that these terms and explanations are in no way complete and are in fact very rudimentary, but hopefully they give insight into a concept of how God has introduced himself to EVERY person.
I’m sure that you may have heard the parable of the three blind men who encounter an elephant. One touches the trunk; another touches the tail; the third touches the leg. Each believes that they have learned all that there is to know about elephants. Later, they describe their encounters to each other. The first says that the elephant is clearly like a snake. The second is no less convinced that the elephant is like a rope. The third man thinks the first two are out of their minds. The elephant is obviously like a tree. They become embroiled in a heated argument; shouting that only their experience could possibly describe the “real” elephant. (http://seemslikegod.org/archives/god-is-like-an-elephant)
Christianity is quite different from other views of God in the respect that it paints a far more complete picture than any other religion. It solves the problem, answers the questions and clarifies the enigmas left by an incomplete plan of God. Our struggle is not to destroy the ideas of God that different groups have, but rather to further explain where their concepts are unfulfilled. There is a very real presence which God impresses upon everyone and to attempt to make someone deny that tangible presence is a losing proposition.
I hope that I have not simplified this concept too much. My attempt is to be concise but clear. I would love some insight that you may have about this concept and would cherish any success stories.