Jesus Was the Son of God But Not God

”We (Jehovah’s Witnesses) believe that Jesus was the son of God, but not God, and that He was the highest created being.”

Response: 

Bible Passages Relating to the Divinity of Christ

What do Jehovah’s Witnesses believe? Close scrutiny of their doctrinal position on such subjects as the deity of Christ, salvation, the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, and the atonement shows beyond a doubt that they do not hold to orthodox Christian positions on these subjects. Jehovah’s Witnesses believe Jesus is Michael the archangel, the highest created being. This contradicts many Scriptures which clearly declare Jesus to be God (John 1:1,14,8:58,10:30).

Jehovah’s Witnesses believe salvation is obtained by a combination of faith, good works, and obedience. This contradicts countless scriptures which declare salvation to be received by grace through faith (John 3:16;Ephesians 2:8-9;Titus 3:5). Jehovah’s Witnesses reject the Trinity, believing Jesus to be a created being and the Holy Spirit to essentially be the inanimate power of God. Jehovah’s Witnesses reject the concept of Christ’s substitutionary atonement and instead hold to a ransom theory, that Jesus’ death was a ransom payment for Adam’s sin.

Read more:
http://www.gotquestions.org/Jehovahs-Witnesses.html#ixzz3FaLTKHYn

The New Testament only refers to Jesus Christ as “the Son of God” in a few places.  However, it does testify to his divinity – that he is God in multiple passages:

Jesus as Son of God

Mark 1:11 – At Jesus baptism, a voice from heaven said: “You are My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.  Same for Matthew 3:17

Matthew 16:15-17 – Jesus asked His disciples “But who do you say that I am?”  And Simon Peter answered and said, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”  Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.”

Matthew 26:63-65 – After interaction with Jesus, the high priest tore his clothes, which is what the priests do when they hear blasphemy (someone claiming to be God):  “And the high priest answered Him and said to Him, “I adjure You by the living God that You tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God.’  And Jesus said to him, “It is as you said.  Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.’  Then the high priest tore his clothes, saying, “He has spoken blasphemy!  What further need do we have of witnesses?  Look, now you have heard His blasphemy!’

Jesus as God

Matthew 2:23 quotes Isaiah 7:14, referring to Jesus:  “Behold a virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and they shall call His name Immanuel, which is translated ‘God with us’.”

Matthew 3:3 quotes a prophecy in Isaiah 40:3, referring to John the Baptist and Jesus:  “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: prepare the way of the Lord.  Make His paths straight.”

Matthew 4:7:  Jesus is talking to Satan, who is trying to tempt Him:  “Jesus said to him, ‘It is written again, you shall not tempt the Lord your God.’”

Matthew 8:22:  Jesus talks about people calling Him Lord, and He not denying it:  “Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’  And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’”

John 10:30–33 – Jesus stated: “’I and My Father are one.’  Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him.  Jesus answered them, “Many good works I have shown you from My Father.  For which of these works do you stone Me?  The Jews answered them, ‘For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a man, make Yourself God.” 

John 18:4-8 – Jesus talking to the soldiers who came for Him –  “Jesus therefore, knowing all things that would come upon Him, went forward and said to them, ‘Whom are you seeking?’  They answered Him, ‘Jesus of Nazareth.’  Jesus said to them, ‘I am He.’ And Judas, who betrayed Him, also stood with them.  Then, when He said to them, ‘I am He’, they drew back and fell to the ground.” 

NOTE:  The word “He” was added to later translations.  The statement “I Am” was known by the Jews to be a direct claim to divinity, as indicated in Exodus 3: 13-14.

Islam, Judaism, and Christianity

Hello

Great to hear from both of you.  I apologize for the delay in responding; too many irons in the fire or not enough fire (probably the latter).  Very interesting article and video clip about Ms. Gabriel and ACT! for America.  I hadn’t heard of her or ACT! for America before.  I lived with Muslims (and Jews and Christians) in Missouri for several years, an experience I greatly enjoyed.  My Muslim roommates were wonderful guys, and one of them married a young Catholic woman in a joint Catholic – Muslim wedding. 

But my reading of the Koran is that they were liberal Muslims, while the radical Islamists are more in keeping with both the Koran and Muhammad, the latter of whom led multiple raids against (mostly Jewish) caravans for women, children, and booty.  Because the fundamentalist Muslims are in ascendancy across the Middle East and are beginning to control the political, military, and foreign policy apparatus of these nations (Egypt, Libya, etc.), the liberal Muslims are largely on the sidelines in this conflict in the Middle East (and perhaps here in the U.S.). 

I suspect that the moderate/liberal Muslims are either intimidated, or as some suggest, secretly believe that Islam will eventually take over the world, albeit through peaceful means. In many respects, they are also victims of the fundamentalist Muslims – those who seek to follow in Muhammad’s footsteps.

The book “Infidel”, by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a (formerly Muslim) woman born in Somalia, but raised in Kenya and Saudi Arabia confirms this perspective.  The harassment and murder threats against her for speaking out against Muslim violence against women in the Netherlands were very real.  They murdered a Dutch movie maker with whom she was co-producing a documentary film.  Events seem to prove this perspective.  The violent riots protesting a sorry little film that portrays Islam as a religion of violence just confirms that reality.  This is in direct contrast to Jesus, who instructed His followers to love their enemies, a commandment disobeyed in the Catholic crusades. 

While the Muslim dictators were not nice guys (Mubarak, Kaddafi, Saddam Hussein, et.al.), they did allow relative freedom of religion and even some women’s rights.  It is strange that our current administration would support the Arab Spring and the Muslim Brotherhood, which is at its core fundamentalist and therefore opposed to the West, to freedom of religion, and to women’s rights.  However, it is not as strange if one considers the possibility that our president is a Sunni Muslim (see “Saudi Plant” and “Is Obama a Muslim?” on YouTube). 

That may also help to explain the animosity between our current administration and Israel, President Obama promising to never invade a Muslim country, his bowing to the king of Saudi Arabia, his instructing NASA to publicize the scientific achievements of Islamic scientists, his describing Islamic contributions to the founding of our nation (really), and his recent U.N. speech in which he stated that the future belongs to those nations that honor the prophet Muhammad.

By the way, I would encourage you to question everything (including what I say) and follow the evidence with an open mind.  I have learned that there is merit in stepping back and trying to look at the big picture, seeking clues that show patterns and ultimately to conclusions. 

Watching the video clip of Ms. Gabriel, I found her most convincing.  What and how Islam is being taught in our schools is in direct contrast to how Christianity is being treated in our schools.  The “nice” version of Islam and jihad that is being taught in public schools contrasts with the reality of Islam and jihad experienced in much of the rest of the world.  A film called “Jihad in America” was made several years ago that documented that radical Islam is being fostered throughout mosques in America.

If we include the reality that there are hundreds of terrorist sleeper cells in America (http://shariafreeusa.com/iran-has-sleeper-cells-in-u-s-ready-to-attack/), the statement of Islamic terrorists to go after Saturday (the Jews) first, then Sunday (the Christians), several nuclear suitcase bombs in the U.S., Ahmadinejad’s belief that it is his job to create the global chaos necessary for the Mahdi to return (and recent statements that the Mahdi is about to return), Iran’s development of EMP capability, and his statement about nuclear explosions going off in America if Iran is attacked, there is ample reason to be concerned. 

I am not that familiar with the Tri-Faith campus you mentioned.  My sense is that while on the surface, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam share a lot in common because they are monotheistic; underneath that exterior is the reality that all three serve different God/gods.  Perhaps there are really four competing religions, each of which claim to be true – Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and monotheistic universalism.  But only Christianity passes the test of fulfilled prophecy.

In his recently released book “The Math of Christ”, Army retired Colonel Stephen M. Bauer calculated the odds that 40 Old Testament prophecies that have been fulfilled could have happened by chance to be one chance in 10 to the 136th power.  To gain some insight into this staggering number, if the earth was covered with silver dollars, one of which was red, then asked a blind guy named Fred to go pick out the red one, Fred’s chance of success would be one chance in 10 to the 17th power, a small number compared to one chance in 10 to the 136th power.

This is consistent with Jesus’ claim: Jesus said “I am the way, the truth, and the light; no one goes to the Father but through Me.”  I would add that only Christianity invites us to move from religion to relationship – a relationship with the sovereign, living God of the universe.  Our nation is facing dire times – an impending WWIII that will land on our soil, and an economic crash as the petrodollar fades away to name just two.  The Lord invites us to walk with Him through the coming fires, just as He walked with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego through the fire in Daniel 1.

More Evidence for Christianity

  • So Christianity reveals that the God of the Bible is personal – He is a spiritual being with a personality, and created us in His image.  He is not merely energy, or a force like gravity.
  • Because He is personal, and because He created us with the capacity for relationships, we can have a relationship with Him, which is amazing.
  • We could define “religion” as our searching for god, a set of beliefs about eternal matters, or even us creating god in our own image.  But Christianity is unique in that we can have a relationship with the sovereign, living God of the universe.
  • Jesus claimed to be God, as evidenced by the chief priest tearing his clothes after speaking with Jesus.  Tearing one’s clothes was the sign of the ultimate sin in Jewish law at that time – the sin of blasphemy, or claiming to be God.
  • Furthermore, Jesus stated: “I am the way, the truth, and the light; no one goes to the Father but through Me.”  He could have said that He was one of the ways, some of the truth, and part of the light, but He didn’t.
  • So His claim to exclusivity –  to be God – was either really true, or He was one of the greatest liars and frauds in history.
  • Although the Bible refers to God as “He”, this does not do justice to God and His nature.  In Genesis, God said: “Let us create man in Our image… So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him: male and female He created them.”  So both men and women were created in the image of God, and each is incomplete without the other.  Although the term “He” is used for God, this portrayal of God as masculine (alone) does not do justice to the wholeness of God.

I hope this note finds all is well with you and your families.

Love from Arkansas,

Is Islam a Religion of Peace?

In the U.S., all of those embracing Islam and thus the tenets of the Islamic faith are not enemies of the U.S. because in reality, a very small number of the millions of Muslim believers support a violent and extreme view of their faith.

Response:

I agree with you.  However, this is still significant.  Estimates vary widely, but if only 5 percent of those claiming the Muslim faith are radical, and there are 3 million Muslims in the U.S., that would mean there are 150,000 Muslims in this country that believe the only sure way to Paradise (where the 73 virgins are waiting for them) is to die in jihad – holy war against the infidels (that would be us).  150,000 is scary, since it took a relative handful (25-100 or so with their support network) to give us 9-11.

Regarding the vast majority of “good” Muslims who are peaceful, they are largely irrelevant in the big scheme of things, as were the majority of Germans during Nazi Germany.  Actually they are not irrelevant.  If there are so many, and they are so virtuous, where are the letters to the editor and the vocal, public opposition to the Muslim radicals?  Wouldn’t that carry more weight with their Muslim brothers than voices from non-Muslims?  By their silence, they condone the murder of thousands of Americans.  Those red stains on their hands are the blood of 9-11 victims.

It is interesting that Walid Shoebat, a former Muslim terrorist before he turned to Christ, says that you are either a Muslim or you are not.  If you follow the Koran, then you are a Muslim.  Not a moderate Muslim.

Let’s look at this from a spiritual perspective.  From the Koran, there are the believers and the non-believers, and there is war between them.  The moderates may not be enemies of the U.S., but they deny that Christ was the Son of the sovereign, living God who came to free us from our sins.

The U.S. supported the Shah of Iran, a cruel, maniacal and ruthless dictator who allowed U.S. petrochemical companies to own and take from the country 80% of the profits from Iran’s extensive oil resources. The Shah sold out his own countrymen and his death squads (secret police) murdered hundreds of thousands of his critics.  All the while the U.S. provided arms and military support to protect its very profitable arrangement with him and the U.S. oil companies.

However, my friend said that what provoked the Islamic population the most was the decadence and wickedness that U.S. business interests introduced to the country, mostly in Tehran.  Alcohol abuse and dependence soared along with the concurrent problems during those years.  As did male and female prostitution, pornography, and other sex-oriented businesses AND the concurrent problems of out-of-wedlock pregnancies, abortion and sexually transmitted diseases.  These problems were almost unknown before the influences of the western oil companies, and especially the USA.  A growing resentment towards the U.S. was ignored by both the Shah’s government and the U.S. State Dept. and business interests.  They figured the Shah and his “police” could handle it.

Response:

Very interesting.  I was not aware of the negative influence of the Western culture, particularly the U.S. on Moslem cultures.  We just finished listening to a book-on-tape called “The Road to Hell” by a retired CIA official who was in charge of the Bin Laden unit.  His description of Bin Laden described him as a man of integrity who told the world what his grievances were against the West, and what he would do if they were not addressed (provoke attacks in 13 nations).  They were not addressed, and he did as he promised.  Ironically, his integrity greatly exceeds that of Muhammad.

You get the picture.  Western interests–especially US. interests–corrupted the major city in a traditionally Islamic city.  The first Ayatollah came to power, as a throw-back to a rigid and extreme version of a religious system that was better than the wickedness that our culture offered.  My friend also explained the rather complicated and numerous different and sometimes violent (to each other) sects of Islamic influence that are both unique to certain regions and nations and in some cases spill over into different regions and countries.  Up to that point, I thought that Muslim people were pretty much located in a couple of ethnically Arab countries, those which opposed Israel going all the way back to Ishmael.  And well, I guess part of that was correct–the ethnic Arab part.

Response:

I understand why many Iranians would want to get rid of the Shah.  At the same time, many may not have understood what was in store with them when Khomeni came to power.  They went from one extreme to another.  Incidentally, I believe the conflict between different Muslim sects is prophesied in the Bible:  “The angel of the Lord said to Hagar, Sarah’s maid and the mother of Ishmael: ‘Behold, you are with child, and you shall bear a son.  You shall call his name Ishmael, because the Lord has heard your affliction.  He shall be a wild man; his hand shall be against every man, and every man’s hand against him.”  Genesis 16:11-12

Most of the violent Islamic attacks in the West have been perpetrated by extremists with political and ethnic ties that may very well be a greater influence than their religious beliefs.  The numbers of Islamic peoples worldwide are far more numerous outside of Arab nationalities, yet those perpetrating violence in the name of Allah are dominated numerically by those with Arabic heritage.  Islam isn’t the culprit in the terrorism we have experienced; social, political, military, and economic influences are far more powerful.

Response:

I agree that most of the violent Islamic attacks on the West have come from ethnically Arab countries.  In part that is because that is where we have concentrated our military interventions, primarily because that is where the OIL is.  We were invited by Saudi Arabia to come in and protect Saudi Arabia and liberate Kuwait from the tyrannical Saddam Hussein, a fellow Muslim state.  This outraged many Muslims.

  • But a more intriguing observation is that the very poorest Islamic states, such as Bangladesh have historically produced far fewer terrorists than the wealthiest (Saudi Arabia).  It appears that it is the nations that are experiencing rapid economic growth that experience subsequent increases in terrorist activity.
  • In his recent book “Secrets of the Koran”, Don Richardson contends that the Islamic extremists who have perpetuated the most violence in the West are the most literate about the Koran and its exhortation on how to live and how to interact with non-believers.  For example, Richard Reid, the attempted shoe bomber, had memorized huge amounts of the Koran.  This is common among the extremists.  These are the fundamentalists of Islam, who take the Koran literally, including its 109 war verses, exhorting violence against non-believers (Source:  Richardson above).  
  • This would be one strong factor that would lead us to believe it is Islam, as expressed in the Koran that is the driving force for this violence.
  • Another factor is that in Islam, the separation between social, political, and religious facets of our society largely do not exist.  Islam is a total system, in which all facets of life are dictated by the Koran and the religious mullahs of a nation.  Turkey is perhaps the only Muslim nation with a secular government, and even there, radical Muslim mullahs seek to take power.
  • I would add that in non-Arabic nations with significant Muslim populations, most of the attacks seem to be focused on those governments.

Apparently you and I are in agreement that poverty, limited educational and vocational opportunities and oppressive governing regimes seem to be rich environments for extremist cultivation.  But in the Arab world, the U.S. bears much responsibility for the hatred that has evolved in the past half-century.  

Response: 

I agree that on the surface, poverty, limited educational and vocational opportunities and oppressive governing regimes seem to be rich environments for extremist cultivation.  And I agree that the U.S. bears significant responsibility for the hatred that has evolved in the past half-century.  However, it is important to examine the root causes of poverty, limited educational and vocational opportunities, and oppressive governing regimes:

  • Why are millions of young Muslim boys and youth put in madrasses – Islamic religious schools – where radical Islam is taught, but math, science, and other basic subjects are not? 
  • How smart does the religious/political leadership of a nation have to be to understand that this is a formula for developing suicide bombers, not a work force capable of successfully competing in the world economy?  This doesn’t make sense to us, but it makes perfect sense to those seeking to establish a global Islamic empire by force.
  • The terrorists who gave their lives attacking the World Trade Center were obviously motivated by something other than economic considerations.  A considerable body of research indicates that terrorists are generally better-educated and financially better off than the vast majority of their fellow citizens.  Far from poverty being the root cause of violence of violence and stability – or terrorism, experience suggests that the process of economic modernization more often works to magnify the appeal of radical ideologies, as individuals compare their status with consumer lifestyles of New York, London, or Paris.
  • Why are nearly all Islamic states dictatorships, with a history of violating human rights of their own people?  Can they blame that on us?  Ayaan Hirsi Ali, author of the book “Infidel” describes this violence in her life experience of being raised in a Muslim family and culture in Somalia and Saudi Arabia.  She has received numerous death threats for raising these issues.

I had an English professor at Ouachita who was a Lebanese Christian.  He grew up in a Palestinian refugee camp and honestly asked a question I’d never even considered at the time.  “Why does the U.S. support a country (Israel) that is clearly non-Christian? Why would the U.S. openly support a country (Israel) that openly mistreated millions of Christians?”  And he made it clear that he was referring to “Christians” in the faith sense, not just in the political sense.

Response:

Our support of Israel would stem from multiple sources:

  • Christianity was grafted on to the tree of Judaism.  Jesus was a Jew, who was born in Israel, conducted His ministry there, called His disciples there, died there, rose again there, and will return there.  God chose the Jewish people as a vehicle through whom the Messiah would come, Who would bless all nations.  And Jesus is coming back – not to Mecca or New Jersey, but to Israel.  So many Christians have a strong connection to Judaism.
  • There are millions of Jews in the U.S. who have clout in the financial, economic, political, and media arenas that they exert on behalf of Israel.
  • Unlike the vast majority of its Islamic neighbors, Israel shares many basic values with the U.S., such as a belief in the importance of a democracy and basic human rights.

My concern is the assumption that Islam is the problem.  It appears to me that other influences have had a much greater poisonous effect upon Middle Eastern extremists.  Those extremists have some justification in their hatred of the West, unfortunately. And I suspect that the “Little and Big Satans” are a result of perhaps the same kind of religious bias that we have been promoting against millions of Muslims who haven’t even got a dog in this hunt.

Response: 

I agree that extremists have some justification for their hatred of the West, but to contend that other influences have had a much greater effect upon the extremists seems unwarranted.  We can discover some valuable clues by taking a look at Islam and Christianity, particularly their founders:

  • Muhammad led dozens of raids on Jewish and native caravans in Saudi Arabia, for spoil, plunder, and women.  If they died in the raid, they would go straight to Paradise, where 72 virgins would be waiting for them.  Life is good, but death is even better…
  • Muhammad killed many people who opposed his offensive raids, and attacking Jewish communities in Medina because they would not support him and his religion that worshipped Allah, the Moon God of Arabia.
  • Muhammad used his religion for his own lustful desires.  It is commonly known that, while Islam allows a man to have four wives, Muhammad had at least twice that number.  Furthermore, after his own son married a beautiful young woman, “Allah” told Muhammad that she was to become HIS wife.  So he took her away from his own son and added her to his harem.
  • Muhammad consummated the marriage to his youngest wife when she was only 9 years of age, the legal definition of a pedophile.
  • Muhammad embraced deception and institutionalized it within Islam.  The Arabic name for this deception is Taqiyya, and the president of Indonesia, the world’s most populous Islamic nation, invoked this very principle in a speech to a gathering of Islamic nations a few years ago.

In contrast, Jesus urged His followers to love their enemies, to marry one wife, to not even think about lusting after another, and to be honest in all matters.

It would appear to me historically that any religious system can be perverted into justification for violence.  Certainly, even Christianity has had its shameful periods of violence.  But even those times were more influenced by political, economic and power grabbing motivations.

Response:

I agree that any religious system can be perverted into justification for violence, but what if that religious system has embraced and even institutionalized violence within it?  We can gain further insight into Islam by looking at CURRENT practices in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and other fundamentalist Islamic nations:

  • If a woman is raped, she can be returned to her family (as spoiled goods), who are entitled to kill her to preserve the family honor.  Is this not barbaric, and an expression of male chauvinism to the ultimate extreme?
  • If a Muslim converts to another religion, his family is to kill him/her, also to protect the family “honor”.  An Egyptian scholar and professor of Islamic Culture at the University of Cairo, the largest university in Egypt recently converted to Christianity.  Because of his conversion, he had to flee Egypt because his father set out to kill him.
  • Female genital mutilation is common.

A mother in Gaza stated that the happiest day of her life was when her son blew himself up as a suicide bomber in Israel.  Is this not a culture of death?  Islam exhorts its followers to die for Islam, while Christ died for our sins on the cross.

One HUGE difference between Islam and Christianity is that violence is justified and institutionalized within Islam, while periods of violence within Christianity (the crusades, inquisition, etc.) typically represent behavior conducted by a worldly, legalistic, and/or fleshly “church” (usually the Roman Catholic Church) in direct disobedience to the message from the New Testament.  Thus the distinction between the remnant – the true, Spirit-led living body of Christ and the large, political/religious systems that use Christian terminology and claim authority from Christ for their own purposes is absolutely critical.  Jesus said that His kingdom is not of this world, yet the Roman Catholic Church is considered a political entity, and sends out ambassadors, owns hospitals, seminaries, universities, commercial property, and consorts with world leaders.

I am not particularly well-informed as to the specific potential for religious abuses in the Islamic faith and traditions.  What I do see in the potential for violence with the right combination of wealth, power and political influence (in that order) with nations who are predominantly Islamic is scary.  Saudi Arabia comes to mind– one of our “allies”.  Weren’t 17 of the 18, 9/11 suicide attackers from Saudi Arabia?  

Response:

I am sure that there are religious abuses of all religions.  But what if violence is embedded in the religion itself?  What other religion claims that the only sure way to paradise is to die in holy war against infidels?  What other religion is known for its schools for suicide bombers?

I agree with you about scary scenarios involving Islam.  And in an era of asymmetrical warfare (planes flown into skyscrapers, etc.), it doesn’t take as much money to cause great destruction.

Finally, I think that whenever we reduce human behavior to material terms, and consequently give primacy to materialist solutions, we overlook more significant causes of violent behavior.  Ultimately, this perspective is humanist and even Marxist.  Marx believed if we could create a society in which all human needs were met, people would become virtuous, and there would be no need for police (he said the police state would “wither away”).  And yet, the track record of Marxist nations is over 100 million people being killed in service of this humanist, utopian dream.

In contrast, Christianity recognizes that we are fallen, that we sin of our own volition, and that people can and do really bad things, regardless of their economic condition.  It is even worse when a political or religious system encourages this.  When a nation is built on Christian assumptions about human nature, which our nation was, it not only leads to greater economic prosperity, it leads to less violence as well.   

Yours is a good question.  What comes first in this dangerous spiral; the chicken or the egg?  

Response:

It all started in the garden, where sin entered into a perfect environment.  And that sin took place in an environment of perfect economic prosperity – all of their needs were met.  And yet they sinned.  You know the rest of the story.

Is There Really Only One Way to Heaven

Hello

Great to see you after Christmas.  I was excited to hear about your trip to India.  What a great adventure!  You have this sense of adventure, and the world and your whole lives are before you.  I love India and Indian food, perhaps because I have lived with Indians at different times in my life, and enjoy their friendship.  I see India as a land of many languages, diverse cultures, and exotic cuisine, as well as tragedies in many people’s lives. 

I appreciate your courage and willingness to try new things, to go places, and see things and meet new people.  My experience in visiting other countries has been exciting, and I don’t believe a person can visit another country and come back the same.  It helps me realize how things can be better here, as well as appreciate some aspects of our nation and culture that I took for granted.

I also appreciate your openness to learn about other religions and cultures, and to see the good in them.  I would like to share some perspectives for you to consider on your spiritual journey.  Each of us is on a grand spiritual/intellectual/life journey, a privilege no one else can or should try to undertake for us.  I see each of us experiencing different phases or chapters of this journey; mine have included Marxism and classical Greek humanism). 

You mentioned that there is truth in every religion.  I agree with you, just like there is (some) truth in what everyone says.  There was truth in what Hitler said, and Mao, and Stalin, and all the other bad guys that have lived in history.  I think that’s why they were successful – they wove truth into their deceptions that enabled them to sway the masses to their world views, their agendas.  But how do we discover what is true among the many statements of political and religious leaders? 

I find it useful to think of different religions in the world as different world views/conceptual systems, all competing for the attention of, resources from, and ultimately the soul of all persons.  A few observations:

  • Because they have competing claims, they all cannot be wholly true.  Christianity and Islam, for example, both claim to be the only way to heaven or paradise.  Both could be false; both cannot be true.
  • Ultimately, the question is what is true – really true, objectively, absolutely true – truth that does not depend on our awareness of it.  The notion that you have your truth, I have my truth, etc. – the claim that all truth is subjective, falls apart.  It claims to be absolutely, objectively true that all truth is subjective.  Statements that are self-contradictory need no refutation – they refute themselves, like the person who claims he does not exist. 
  • Related to notions of truth is the question of our nature.  Are we by nature good?  Bad?  Neutral?  The belief that man/woman is basically good, and that society can make real (social/moral) progress took a big hit when World War I came along, killing millions of people.  Then WWII came along, with one of the most advanced, educated, and scientific nations on the earth directly responsible for the murder of millions of Jews and other persons considered undesirable by the Nazis.  If we are basically good, how can we explain such pervasive in the world – due to ignorance?  Socialization?  Chance?  They are ultimately not satisfying.  The Christian presupposition that our nature gravitates toward sin is bolstered by the question – if all of your/my thoughts and feelings were projected up on a big screen for everyone to see, would we be comfortable with that?

Christianity is unique in other ways as well:

  • Fulfilled prophecy – Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection fulfilled dozens of prophecies, the odds of which happening by chance are truly astronomical.
  • The Bible itself, which was written over 2,000 years by over 40 authors on 3 continents from widely differing backgrounds.  The consistent theme, interwoven stories, and prophecies made and fulfilled testify of a single author – the Holy Spirit.  Even an individual or organization with unlimited resources would be unable to do such a feat over such a vast period of time.
  • Vast archaeological evidence that testifies to the historicity of the Old and New Testaments, rather than being merely an inspiring book authored by a charismatic religious or cult leader.  There have even been expeditions that have found Noah’s Ark, and brought back physical evidence of the ark’s existence.  Over one hundred cultures have stories in their histories about a world wide flood and a family that survived in a boat with animals.  What is the likelihood of this happening by chance?
  • Christianity offers the opportunity for a personal relationship with the sovereign, living God, unlike other religions.  For example, Allah is distant and even capricious, while Hinduism is ultimately pantheistic – god is all there is.  And “everything” is not personal; it just is.  The sovereign, living God of the universe created us in His image, with the capacity and yearning to know Him and walk in His ways.  The Word of God reveals that He knows us and every hair on our heads, that He created each of us with unique gifts and talents, that we have a purpose in our lives, and that we will never experience true joy and peace (that transcends circumstances) unless we discover and live to carry out that purpose.  It is a sad thing to see people who have never discovered their purpose or mission in their lives.
  • Furthermore, He states that this relationship – of knowing God, (not just knowing about God) as eternal ramifications:  “Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in your name, and done many wonders in your name?’  And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.”  Matthew 7:22-23.
  • There is a wise old saying “money is not everything, but you have to have money to realize this.”  Solomon, for whom there is no one comparable today, was the richest, wisest, most powerful person on earth when he lived.  He had everything a person could possibly want, including hundreds of wives.  And he said it was all vanity.  He came to recognize that life devoted to worldly pursuits is not ultimately satisfying.
  • I am reading a wonderful book called “Simplicity” by Mindy Caliguire.  She asks: “Are you living the life you were uniquely created for?  Body and soul contain thousands of possibilities out of which you can build many identities.  But only in one of these will you find your true self that has been hidden in Christ from all eternity.  Identity is never simply a creation.  It is always a discovery.  True identify is always a gift of God.”

There is another perspective that is worth considering, which I would call “My Own Religion”, or MOR.  It is really a synthesis of elements of other religions, a sort of designer religion.  Take the nation of a loving God, add the universalistic notion that everyone is going to heaven, subtract the concept of sin and judgment, add New Age reincarnation, a dash of Buddhism, and the Mormon notion that we can all achieve godhood, and tad a, we can design our own religion.  While this exercise of creating God in our own image may be very interesting, it fails to pass the basic question of whether it is true, and whether it reflects temporal and spiritual reality.

Is the “Collective Consciousness” Real?

“We need to open ourselves up the spirit of God’s word which lives inside us as a collective consciousness.” 

Response:

I really appreciate your sharing your writings with me.  They are obviously personal to you, and represent your thoughts and reflections over your life.  Sounds like you had an extraordinary experience with your severe illness.

Your writings are very intriguing to me, and raise fresh questions.  I see this communication with you more of a conversation of friends over coffee than a debate over issues.

“We need to open ourselves up the spirit of God’s word which lives inside us as a collective consciousness.”  

Reponse:

You imply that there is a spirit of God’s word, and that every person has this spirit within them.

As Jesus Christ is also known as The Word, you may be referring to the Holy Spirit.  But the Bible is clear that the Holy Spirit does not dwell in all people, but only Christians.  The Biblical perspective is that the triune God (God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit) is separate from and distinct from all of creation, including mankind.  Furthermore, when a person becomes a Christian, that person receives a new spirit which communes with the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit of the sovereign, living God comes to dwell within Christians.

But for non-Christians to become open to another spirit is dangerous, as the spirit world is inhabited by demons as well as angels.  People who have sought to tap into the spirit world have often discovered that something has come into them which is malicious. 

I suspect that the only collective consciousness known to all would be:

  • the universal realization that we are all creatures who are at some point destined to die, and
  • a desire to connect with the infinite – a hunger to know God, and an underlying realization that we were created distinct from animals, with the capacity to know the sovereign, living God of the universe.  (Blaise Pascal stated that each of us has “a God-shaped vacuum within us”.)

When we see we are caught up in an endless morass of conditioned patterns, one is presented with the opportunity for the avenue of intellect enlightened to show up in one’s life. 

Response:

Yes, particularly when we are young, operating from our conditioning, how we were raised, is most common.  And as we mature, our ability to use reason to learn about and discuss various world views and lifestyles availability to us.  However, a critical question is whether we are a Christian or not.  A non-Christian may be highly educated and informed, but do not have access to insights into the spiritual world available to Christians.

“But the natural man does not receive he things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”    I Corinthians 2:14

Is Mormonism a Christian Denomination?

“Mormonism is a Christian denomination and I am a Christian.”

Response:

I want you to know that I have a high regard for my Mormon friends and the Mormon Church for the strong family values it espouses, its work with the poor, its incredible music, its emphasis on physical preparation, and its financial acumen.  But I don’t believe that its theology is sound. 

I realize this sounds terribly arrogant and presumptuous, but I am concerned about where you will spend eternity.  I ran across a cardiologist named Maurice Rawlings, who has had many of his patients die.  (He is either a great doctor who gets the worst cases, or a lousy doctor…)  He is able to recusitate many of them, and has discovered that about half of them experienced light and joy in heaven and didn’t want to come back, while the other half experienced utter terror in hell, and didn’t want to die again.  All of which compels me to realize that these matters are not merely academic discussions, but have to do with the REALITY of death and ask what is on the other side. You can see more here:  http://www.freecdtracts.com/testimony/hellandback.htm.

The other reason I have become very interested in really knowing about the spiritual realm and life in that realm is that this country boy is getting older.  The closer I get to the finish line, the more interested I am in what’s next. 

I share this concern with you as a friend, and hope you will accept it in that light.  I also hope that if you believed I was headed in the wrong direction (which you well may believe), that you would bring it to my attention.  Our friendship does not depend on agreeing on everything, because it is based on respect for each other as persons.  I have friends who are liberal Jews, agnostics, and Hindus; some of whom I can discuss these matters with, and some of whom I cannot.  But I treasure their friendships.  Our paths have crossed, and I am much richer for it. 

You may know this, but I was raised as a Lutheran, then became a subjectivist, a humanist, a Marxist, and have attended various churches over time.  I have enjoyed the journey, experienced great discussions about the meaning of life (usually with an adult beverage), and tried on these various world views.  But as I get closer to the end of this life, I realize it is time for me to become serious about what happens next, and its implications for those who I care for.  And I care for you.  Although I am by no means an expert on Mormonism, I understand its basic tenets vary significantly from traditional biblical Christianity, and include:

  • God the Father had a father, and used to be a man on another planet.
  • God is married to his goddess wife (a mother god), and has spirit children.
  • Jesus and Satan are spirit brothers and were born as siblings in heaven.
  • A plan of salvation was needed for the people of earth so Jesus offered a plan to the Father and Satan offered a plan to the father but Jesus’ plan was accepted.
  • God had sexual relations with Mary to make the body of Jesus.
  • There are many gods, and after you become a good Mormon, you have the potential of becoming a god with your own planet, you and your wife giving birth to spirit babies that are then born on earth.
  • Jesus’ sacrifice was not able to cleanse us from all our sins.
  • If it had not been for Joseph Smith and the restoration, there would be no salvation (including exaltation to Godhood).
  • There is no salvation without accepting Joseph Smith as a prophet of God
  • The book of Mormon is more correct than the Bible.
  • One of the most fallacious doctrines originated by Satan is that man is saved alone by the grace of God; good works are necessary for salvation.

Source:  “What Does Mormonism Teach?” by Matt Slick – http://carm.org/teachings-of-mormonism

These are not minor differences of theology, but another gospel, which is condemned in _________ (quote the passage).

“My original reason for becoming a Mormon had to do with being granted full custody of two high-school age sons when their mother and I divorced and she moved to Guatemala.  They had been raised in that faith and I strongly believed that we needed a church family to survive.  Being a good father and husband, as far as we believe, will be the first questions asked when we return to be with our Heavenly Father.  If you can pass that test, and you two certainly can, then everything else should fall in place.

As you no doubt know, families are what we are all about to the extent that we believe that “families can be together forever!”  And I am banking on that to be true which is the reason we make such an effort to afford those privileges to those who have died before having an opportunity to accept Christ as their Savior.  But not for a second am I not grateful to be counted among your friends and those for whom you pray.”

Response:

The Bible is clear that entrance to heaven relies on a person repenting of their sins and accepting Christ as their savior.  The qualities of “being a good father and husband” are insufficient for salvation.  With regard to families in heaven, Jesus addressed this very issue in Mark 12:25, when He stated:  “For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.”

“I don’t think I am any kind of exception, but I have always appreciated anyone who believed in an Almighty Beingwhile privately distrusting those who only believed in themselves.  My best friend since the 10th grade, as you may recall, is a Society of Mary Catholic Priest.  In fact, I probably have more Catholic friends than any others; stands to reason since there are a billion of them out there!  And my favorite movie is “Shoes of the Fisherman.”  We even sent our daughter to Catholic School in the eighth grade; great experience for her. 

My sister, a Disciples of Christ member, is about to marry her Baptist dentist.  My sister-in-law is a Methodist and we always enjoy the exceptional singing when we attend her church.  Interestingly enough, it was in a Sunday school class in her church that we first met my wife’s present boss, Morehead State University’s president, who was teaching that class.  I’ll never forget after that first lesson some 25 years ago, he looked over at me and without warning asked, “Ok, how giving us the Mormon point of view of this lesson!”  You can bet that for years afterwards I was prepared for that question.”

Response:

I too appreciate those who believe in the Lord.  Do you remember _______, who was the C.D. Specialist in Columbia?  I will never forget the time I drove up from Arkansas to attend a conference in Columbia, and arrived the evening before the event.  I went out to a Red Lobster, and ran into him, who was eating dinner by himself.  He looked terrible – like death warmed over.  Turns out, his wife had died a month earlier, and both he and she were atheists.  As far as he was concerned, she ceased to exist, like a mosquito that was swatted.  I haven’t heard, but he looked like he was about to follow her.

I, too, have had different religious experiences, which I have relished.  In addition to attending a variety of churches, I have lived with (male) Moslems, Jews, Buddhists, Catholics, and Hindus.  These have been wonderful folks, which I enjoyed getting to know.  But the questions I am faced with (particularly now, as our daughter is returning from India), are:

  • Are they all true? 
  • Is that even possible? 
  • How do we know what is true? 

I hope to interact with our daughter about these questions soon.  As you probably know, Hinduism is called “the embrace that smothers” because it claims to embrace all other religions.  Hence it is attractive to many.

Is Love Really All There Is

“Although I was raised as a Christian, I have explored other spiritualities and believe that the Universe, God, the All That Is, whatever name we attribute to a greater creative power, conspires to help us succeed, if we know how to tap into that power within ourselves.”  

Response:

Very interesting.  You have described a world view that is becoming increasingly popular in our nation.  In contrast, the Biblical Christian perspective would see the sovereign, living God and creator of the universe as a spiritual being distinct from the universe, His creation.  The God of the Bible is not only holy, just, and merciful; He is also personal – having a personality – as opposed to the universe, which is impersonal.  Biblical Christianity would say that within ourselves, we only have human power.  We have a body, heart, emotions, mind, and spirit, with the latter having the ability to connect with spiritual powers – good or evil.  Christians can become filled with the Holy Spirit, and I know of many miracles that have taken place as the Lord has worked through His people, just as Jesus promised.  Furthermore, individuals can become possessed by demons, sometimes attaining supernatural strength.  But they are in service to their master, the great deceiver named Satan.

Unlike New Age beliefs about tapping into power within ourselves (the higher power), the Christian perspective is that Christians are sinners saved by Christ, and that the power of the Holy Spirit can flow through us.  But it is His power, and not our own.

“My own beliefs and faith are rooted in the commonality and community between all spiritual beliefs – the core belief that Love is all there is.”  

Response:

While this notion is appealing, it overlooks the fact that “Love” is interpreted defined through the lens of each religion.  For example, I understand that devout Hindus believe that to help a poor person interferes with his/her karma, so it shouldn’t be done.  The poor person is living out the consequences of his past life, so he has to go through this in order to be born into a better station in his next life.

Love for a Muslim would entail converting non-believers to Islam, which requires their repudiation of all other religions.  While Christians also seek to win non-believers to Christ, we are also admonished to love all people, including our enemies.

How different religions see life after death is a clue that the “commonality of all spiritual beliefs” is more theory than real:

  • Devout Muslims believe that if they die in jihad, they go to Paradise, with access to 73 virgins (I don’t think Muslim women fare so well). 
  • Devout Mormons believe if they call out their wife’s name when they die, they get their own planet, where they can procreate spirit babies that are then born on earth as persons.
  • Devout Hindus, if they are good enough, eventually escape the Wheel of Samsara (reincarnation) and become one with all that is, like a drop of water falling into the ocean. 
  • Devout Christians believe they go to heaven, where they dwell in eternity in the presence of other saints and the Lord. 

By the way, a cardiologist named Maurice Rawlings received a lot of patients in bad shape over the years.  Many of them died under his care, and he was able to revive many of them with modern medical means.  He discovered that about half of them did not want to come back to life, as they were having a very pleasant experience which some described as being in heaven.  The other half came back screaming that they did not want to die again as they were experiencing hell.  This would not be the case if there was a “commonality of all spiritual beliefs” and “Love is all there is”.

”As the Dalai Lama said “Loving kindness is my religion”, I too believe. But this also entails, for me, embracing the duality of our nature and understanding that you can’t have light without darkness, beauty without ugliness – all very subjective, human-based concepts anyway.”

Response:

Biblical Christianity would define duality of our nature from two perspectives.  First would be the distinction between the physical world we inhabit vs. the spiritual world, which is just as real, but largely invisible to us.  Christians are citizens of heaven and ambassadors for Christ into this world.

The second duality would be for life in the flesh vs. life in the Spirit.  The fruit of life in the flesh is selfishness, deceit, violence, etc., while the fruit of life in the Spirit would be love, peace, joy, concern for others, etc.  An example of this would be when the early Romans threw their unwanted babies on the trash heap, they were rescued by Christians, who knew they were created in the image of God.

We are all subjects/persons (as opposed to objects), so from one perspective, we encounter the world subjectively.  On the other hand, historic Christianity is based on the premise that the world as we know it exists objectively, and is not an illusion.  Its existence does not depend on our awareness of it.  (If the bear craps in the woods, it is real, even if no one else knows about it). 

There is substantive evidence supporting the Biblical world view.  One example is the fact that the Bible was written by 40 authors from many stations in life, on 3 continents, in 3 languages, over 1,500 years, and yet has a single theme that runs through it, testifying to a supernatural author.  The fulfillment of over 40 Old Testament prophecies is another.

“Transcending duality is really the objective of Buddhism – to reach the point of the great emptiness, which isn’t an easy concept to grasp, but once in awhile, in my meditations, I get a glimpse.”

Response:  

It sounds like “transcending duality” is to deny/transcend one’s physical reality and to dwell in the spiritual realm.  But rather than encountering the sovereign, living God of the universe as a Christian would, the Buddhist, in his/her highest state, seeks to find and experience nothing.  Perhaps it is similar to a drop of rain falling into the ocean; it loses its identity as a drop and becomes part of the ocean.

The image of emptiness which comes to mind is that of the survivors of the Nazi death camps in WWII – poor souls who stagger out from behind barbed wire, their bones sticking out from starvation, with a gaunt look on their faces.  Have these people achieved emptiness?  Can emptiness be forced on us, or do we have to achieve it by ourselves?

Finally, the Biblical perspective is that the spirit realm is inhabited by angels and demons.  Seeking to enter the spiritual realm without the protection of the Holy Spirit may even be dangerous, as it opens a person up to demonic influence and possession.

“If we accept that the world’s dramas are an illusion – a huge stage play – and we all have a starring role, it becomes easier for me to feel equanimous when things seem to be spinning out of control. That’s my spirituality in a nutshell.”

Response:

Yes, and if we accept that the moon was made of cheese, we would never starve if we could just bring a chunk of it back to earth.  While it is an intriguing intellectual exercise, it poses some real questions:

  • Then food would also be an illusion; so how would you account for hunger if life is just an illusion?
  • What would your loved ones feel or think of you if they knew we perceived them as just an illusion? 
  • If life is illusory, then moral constraints would also be illusory, would they not?  So anything goes, including mayhem and murder.

We had dinner with some friends recently, and the husband stated that life was an illusion.  His wife seemed a little startled, so she pinched him – hard, and asked if that was real.  He stated that it was.

Finally, when things seem to be spinning out of control in our lives, we can call on the Lord, who promises to be with us through thick and thin.

George Washington’s Secret to Success

Your February 22 editorial spoke of George Washington: “What was the secret of his success?  How did he found a nation, this self-made man, this self-taught general, this self-abnegating statesman?  …he did it by his concern for ‘civility and reputation, which tamed and smoothed his natural endowments, and brought his ideals into daily life’.  He did it through an unbroken series of successful gestures.”

Response:  The editorial omits a crucial fact: that Washington was a strong Christian, known for his avid prayer life.  Washington stated: “You do well to wish to learn our arts and ways of life, and above all, the religion of Jesus Christ. These will make you a greater and happier people than you are.

While we are zealously performing the duties of good citizens and soldiers, we certainly ought not to be inattentive to the higher duties of religion. To the distinguished character of Patriot, it should be our highest glory to add the more distinguished character of Christian.

I now make it my earnest prayer that God would… most graciously be pleased to dispose us all to do justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that charity, humility, and pacific temper of the mind which were the characteristics of the Divine Author of our blessed religion.”

That whirring sound you have been hearing is George Washington, turning over in his grave upon learning that his success was attributed to his own virtue without the hand of almighty providence, the real secret of his success.  One of his successful gestures was to always tell the truth.

Everyone is Going to Heaven

 
“After all, everyone is going to heaven.”

Response:

Great to see you recently.  When you were here, I mentioned my Egyptian roommate Said, who married a young lady who was a Catholic.  Said was a wonderful friend, and we had a great time together.  Here is a little more to that conversation.  I mentioned that their wedding ceremony was conducted by a Catholic priest and Muslim Iman.  

What they shared was religious liberalism – the notion that different people come out of different religious traditions, but that all worship the same God, and that we all go to heaven.  Not only does religious liberalism (which is different from political liberalism) deny the fundamental beliefs of each of the religions it “embraces”, but it uses a Christian view of heaven, when other religions have widely differing perspectives on what happens when we die.
 
In contrast to this perspective (that Christianity is merely a tradition), Jesus stated “I am the way, the truth, and the light; no one comes to the Father except through Me,”  John 14:6.  This claim to exclusivity is a stumbling block to many people in this modern era, because it denies the validity of other religions and philosophies.  It would be inappropriate to say Jesus was a great teacher but a little misguided.  Either Jesus was a blatant liar and fraud, or he was telling the truth.  If Jesus was fake, we should be all against him.  If He is real, we should be all for Him.  

In contrast to other religions, which are attempts to reach God (or create god in their own image), only Christianity offers a relationship with the sovereign, living God of the universe.  It is only in this relationship can we truly be free; free of the constraints of religious (and secular) traditions, free of sin (when we repent), and free to be all that we were created to be.  And our Lord wants to be with us:  “I am with you always, even to the very ends of the earth.” 
 
By the way, I don’t expect to you to agree with me.  I don’t think a person can come to their own belief system until they critique how they were raised, and consider alternative belief systems.  (Much to the consternation of my family, I was a Marxist for a time).  I also don’t think a person is truly educated until they can discuss an issue from at least two different perspectives.  Each of us is on a personal journey – a great adventure, and we can learn from each other, as we learn from other people along the way.  I do ask that you listen to me, and consider what I share with you, as I listen and consider what you share with me.
 
Best regards,

 

Does God Reveal Himself Through All Religions

“God reveals Himself through all religions.”

Response:

* If God reveals Himself through all religions:

  • He would not have condemned the pagan religions in the Old Testament.
  • He would not have condemned the religion of the Pharisees and Sadducees (Talmudic Judaism) in the New Testament.
  • He would not have claimed exclusivity:  “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’”  John 14:6

The sovereign, living God of the universe reveals Himself through nature, the created world, through His Word, and through His Holy Spirit today as it works in the hearts of Christians.  He reveals that He is a God of love, of holiness, of justice, and of mercy.  He invites us to a close walk with Him on earth and for eternity, but we must accept His invitation, and not be drawn away to other pursuits and other gods.

* Christ distinguished between believers and non-believers:

  • Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, ‘First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.”’  Matthew 13:30
  • “He who is not with Me is against Me…” Matthew 12:30a
  • “Only those who enter the narrow gate shall be saved: And He went through the cities and villages, teaching, and journeying toward Jerusalem. Then one said to Him, “Lord, are there few who are saved?”  And He said to them, Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able.

When once the Master of the house has risen up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open for us,’ and He will answer and say to you, ‘I do not know you, where you are from,’ then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets.’ But He will say, ‘I tell you I do not know you, where you are from. Depart from Me, all you workers of iniquity.’” Luke 13:22-28

* All religions have different requirements, and their adherents do not end up in the same place:

  • Christians believe we must accept Christ as Lord and Savior, then we go to heaven.
  • Muslims believe they go to Paradise, with each man having 73 virgins; the only guaranteed way to reach heaven is by dying in Jihad.
  • Mormon men believe if they are good Mormons (good works), they get their own planet, where they and their wife/wives procreate endlessly, creating spirit-babies that are then born on earth.
  • Buddhists believe they enter Nirvana, or nothingness, by becoming empty of self.
  • Hindus believe that if they are good, after a few reincarnations, they will escape reincarnation and become one with the Atman (the all), like a drop of water that falls in to the ocean.
  • Secular humanists (declared to be a religion by the U.S. Supreme Court) believe when you die, it is all over – you cease to exist, like a bug that gets squashed (no requirements, but no hope).
  • Because several of these directly contradict each other, these do not appear to be different manifestations of the same God, but descriptions of different gods.

* What is the evidence for Christianity above other religions?

In the book “The Math of Christ”, author Stephen M. Bauer calculates the likelihood that 40 Old Testament prophecies that were fulfilled by Christ would have happened by chance.  The odds that they happened by chance were one chance in 1 x 10 to the 136th power.  To gain some perspective on that number, if you covered the whole earth – land and sea, with silver dollars, one of which was red, and asked a blind guy name George to go out and pick out the red one, the chances of George being successful are one chance in 1 x 10 to the 17th power.

* What difference does it make?

“I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ.  But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.  As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.”          Galatians 1:6-9