Friday, February 03, 2006

Are all Religions Equally Valid?


Our Sunday School Class began a study last week that will explore other religions and how they relate to Christianity. We will use the book Christianity and World Religions by Adam Hamilton. I read the first chapter, and I have a lot of thoughts about the direction the book is going to take us. In order to keep the posts short, I will break it out as much as possible.

I do not agree with Hamilton on the issue of salvation. Hamilton breaks out 3 categories as possible scenarios for salvation.

  • The first he calls the Pluralist Perspective
  • . According to this, all religions are equally valid and all point to the Ultimate reality, which is God.
  • The second method is the Exclusivist Perspective
  • . This method says that the only way to heaven is through a relationship with Jesus Christ, so other religions that don’t believe in Christ are condemned to Hell. It sounds harsh, but this is what I believe the Bible clearly teaches, and trying to make a case otherwise does damage to the plain text meaning in the Bible.
  • Hamilton, however, argues for the Inclusivist Perspective
. He maintains that Jesus is indeed the only way to God, but for those of other religions, if they truly believe in something and are sincere, that God will credit it to them as faith. Hamilton makes the case that the Exclusivist Perspective:
does not mesh with the very spirit of the gospel, which tells of God’s love for a broken world. And it paints a picture of God that even a lost soul finds difficult to fathom – A God who punishes two-thirds of the world’s population because they were not born in a predominantly Christian culture.
This argument does not include the full gospel. In order to understand the gospel, you must first understand that we are born with a sin nature, and are therefore blocked from having any type of relationship with God. On our own, we are in serious trouble with God. Sin must be punished, and God cannot overlook it. Once this is understood, the rest of the gospel message becomes even more unbelievable and incredible. God loved us enough, even though we were enemies of God, to take our punishment for us. I believe that we spend much more time talking about God’s love and Mercy than about his hatred of sin. The obvious reason is that it makes us feel good. If we take a “feel good approach” to our interpretation of the Bible, I believe it does damage to the scripture. We cannot pick and choose what parts of the Bible we want to believe and throw out the rest.

4 Comments:

  1. Anonymous said...
    I am confused. Why do you arrogantly think that christians are the only ones going to heaven? Even if you think other religions can go to heaven, you think it is a 'back door approach.' This invalidates all other religions.
    John B said...
    Did someone cut "No one comes to the Father but by me" out of the Bible without me knowing it? The last time I looked it was still there.
    Brett said...
    Hamilton makes the case that there are two othere ways to interpret this verse. "No one will come before God and enter God's eternal realm without passing before Jesus, since Jesus and the Father are one." Or "While the merits of Jesus Christ's death are essential for all persons to enter heaven, it is up to God to apply those merits as God chooses." I don't agree with this, and I think it is just twisting the verse around to get it to say what you want it to say. But I want to be fair and at least present the argument.
    Betty Newman said...
    I agree with John B. The Bible is not a cafeteria line - you can't pick and choose. If you don't believe Genesis, how are you gonna believe John?

    Some have said, "Well, the Holy Spirit will reveal to us which to believe." To which I answer, "If He didn't do any better than that in putting the "Book" together, how can He reveal what's in it?"

    That being said, I have often pondered about other faiths, and especially when they are "sincere" faith... (I have a lot of friends who are in the art world.) And all I can come up with is, I'm glad that I don't have to "judge." The only person I have to answer for is me - and goodness knows, there's enough there to keep me busy! :-)

    Only by the grace of God...

    Betty

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