We Are Not to Judge Other Religions – a Window Into the One World Religion

“We are not to judge other religions; we just know that Jesus Christ died for us.  Besides, what about all those people who have never heard of Jesus?”

Response: Thank you for the stimulating conversation on our recent road trip.  I wanted to pursue the issue we discussed about Christians judging other religions. 

The Bible is clear that there were other religions in place at the time of the Old and New Testaments, and they were judged and condemned by prophets in the Old Testament and Christ and His apostles in the New Testament. 

  • Moses directly confronted the spiritual leaders of Egypt, who espoused another religion.  He could have said: “Perhaps you worship God in other ways, so who am I to judge?”  No, he rejected their religion and their gods, and each of the plagues brought upon the Egyptians demonstrated that their gods were impotent against the God of Israel. 
  • There are many other examples of Old Testament prophets rejecting pagan gods and their practices such as sacrificing their children by passing them through the fire.  (In similar fashion, since 1973, our nation has sacrificed over 50 million unborn babies to the gods of convenience, lifestyle, and reputation.)
  • The famous scene where Elijah challenged the priests of Baal to a contest to see whose god would prevail in burning the sacrifice of a bull is another example.
  • The New Testament is also full of examples of Christ and His disciples rejecting other religions.  Christ clearly taught that the (Talmudic) Judaism taught by the Pharisees and Sadducees was insufficient to go to heaven.  He told Nicodemus, a Pharisee, that he must be born again to go to heaven. 
  • When Paul spoke to the Greek philosophers in Athens, he noted that they had statues to many gods, then expounded on their “unknown god”, making the case that their unknown god was really the God of the Bible.

There is no reason to believe that this rejection of other religions does not apply to today as well.  Jesus stated:  “I am the way, the truth, and the light; no one goes to the Father but through Me.” John 14:6  This claim to exclusivity is either true or false; there is no middle ground.  He was either who He said He was – the Son of the sovereign, living God and is the only way to heaven, or he was a false teacher and charlatan.  His statement speaks directly to  other religions today as well as then.

The Great Commission, the command of Christ to go therefore and make disciples of all nations is nonsensical if other religions are of equal value to Christianity.  Furthermore, there is compelling evidence that we are approaching the end times – a time of a one-world economy, one-world government, and one-world religion.  The notion that all religions are pathways to God provides a perfect rationale for the one-world religion, which is fundamentally anti-Christ. 

“Besides, what about all those people who have never heard of Jesus?”

Response: Regarding the eternal destination of those who have never heard the Gospel of Christ, I see two possible explanations:

  1. General revelation, the notion that God reveals Himself and His nature through the created world, is taught in both the Old Testament and the New Testament:

“The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork.
Day unto day utters speech, And night unto night reveals knowledge.”
Psalm 19:1-2

“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—His eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”  Romans 1:20   

This passage teaches that God’s eternal power and divine nature are “clearly seen” and “understood” from what has been made, and that there is no excuse for denying these facts. With these Scriptures in mind, perhaps a working definition of general revelation would be “the revelation of God to all people, at all times, and in all places that proves that God exists and that He is intelligent, powerful, and transcendent.” (quote from Wikipedia)

  • The second response is that God is merciful, and ultimately we throw ourselves upon His mercy in this life and the next.  This is certainly true for babies (born and unborn), and may apply in other cases as well.

Finally, looking at these issues from an overall perspective, what difference does it make?  One’s eternal destiny is a very serious thing, because eternity is a long, long time and the consequences are beyond description.  I have learned that the Lord also takes it very seriously. His Word not only articulates a coherent world view and theology that is exclusive, it provides a strong admonition against those who teach other views: 

“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

Life is short.  God is great, and He invites us to walk with Him every day.

Best regards,

The Sanctity of Science and its Limitations

“Science should be the final arbiter on all these issues.”

Response: I appreciate your respect for science, as it has yielded tremendous insight and progress for all of us.  And yet, if we look deeper into science, we can discover what it can and cannot do.

Key Point #1:  Science is driven by paradigms – world views that explain the world. 

One of my favorite books is “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions” by MIT Professor Thomas Kuhn, written over 50 years ago.  Kuhn made a compelling case for paradigms – a world view or way of looking at things.  So political philosophies, religions, etc. are all paradigms.  Kuhn contended that we don’t see the world as it is, but as we are – through our lens, which focuses on some information (that which reinforces our paradigm), and ignores information that does not.  For example, an environmentalist, a business person, a labor organizer, and an engineer would all see a manufacturing plant in totally different ways, through their respective paradigms. 

Kuhn attacks the notion that scientific knowledge accumulates like money in a bank account, and makes a compelling case that scientists (and everyone else) see the world through a lens, a paradigm.  As time goes on, facts will emerge that don’t fit our paradigm.  We can just ignore these anomalies, but true scientists would hold on to them, and if at some point the pile of anomalies overwhelms the current paradigm, the scientist would examine all of the evidence, and change paradigms to a paradigm that more effectively explains reality.

At one point in our history, scientists believed that the earth was flat.  This flat earth paradigm was commonly held until more and more evidence accumulated that the earth was in fact round.  So the paradigm shifted.  At another point in our history, doctors believed that bleeding a person through leeches or cuts was a valid medical treatment.  In all likelihood, this “best practice medical procedure” contributed to the death of our first president, George Washington.  Over time, researchers discovered that this practice was harmful, and the paradigm shifted.

Key Point #2:  What gets funded gets studied – the influence of vested interests and funding on establishing paradigms.

These paradigms (and their funding sources) directly impact the assumptions, methodologies, and conclusions of scientific studies.  Furthermore, what is published in scientific journals is what scientists investigate.  So a scientific study, funded by a multi-national pharmaceutical firm shows that some new drug reduces the chances of getting cancer.  But the study does not reveal that a natural plant remedy has the same effect.

Our federal government has made tremendous funding available for studies of global warming.  If you as a scientist believe that global warming is not caused by our current industrial era, you will not receive any funding for your research, and you may end up teaching high school science classes, or perhaps delivering pizza.

Key Point #3:  Resistance to changing paradigms in science can emerge because of religious reasons. 

The predominant paradigm in science today is the theory of evolution – the belief that our world started with nothing, or something that exploded and eventually became more and more complex, yielding the world as we see it today, with plants, animals, and people.  There are more than 10,000 scientists in our nation that embrace creation science, and there is substantive evidence that exposes the fallacies of evolution.  And yet there is tremendous resistance to creation science because it implies there is a God.  To those who reject God, they will hold to evolution, or the notion that life came here from another planet.

At the same time, an Intelligent Design movement has emerged within the community of evolutionary scientists who have concluded that the complexity of nature could not have happened by chance, thus denying the validity of Darwinian evolution and contending that nature reveals design by some intelligence.

Key Point #4:  If something looks crazy to you, it is because you don’t grasp the underlying paradigm.

A common reaction to unusual behavior is to describe it as crazy:  “Oh, he is just crazy!”  But what it really means is that you don’t understand the underlying paradigm that is driving that behavior.  This can be very helpful, and it starts with the assumption (usually true) that there is an underlying paradigm, and it requires an inquisitiveness to discover what that paradigm is.  Ask “Within what paradigm would this make perfect sense?”

For example, President Obama recently gave a speech before the United Nations and stated that the future belongs to those nations that respect the prophet (Mohammad).  Your question for the day is this – within what paradigm would this make perfect sense?

Key Point #5:  Ultimately, science cannot tell us what we should do.

Although science has obvious limitations, it does shed light on many facets of our lives, and has opened up many new opportunities for our nation and the world.  There is one more limitation that is often overlooked, that science cannot tell us what we should do.  Science only tells us what is; it cannot tell us what should be.  That is our province as thinking, feeling, spiritual human beings.

  • Science and technology can show us how to build an atomic bomb; it does not tell us if we should build them or if we should use them.
  • Science and technology can show us how to do extraordinary medical procedures, some of which are extremely expensive.  Science does not tell us if they should be used, and for whom – the very wealthy?  Those with political connections?  Only those under 50 years of age?  First come, first serve?
  • Science and technology can prolong life via machines for a very long time, but it cannot tell us if we should do so.
  • Science and technology can now splice human genes into animals and vice versa; it does not tell us if we should.
  • Science and technology can record and scan all voice, text, fax, and e-mail communication across the world; it does not tell us if we should, and for what purpose.
  • Science and technology now has the means to implant a chip into our forearm that is a smart chip, able to be used as a credit card for buying and selling.  But it does not tell us if we should.

Key Point #6:  Science operates solely in the natural world, so it has no capability or authority in the supernatural world.

The Christian perspective is that we live in two overlapping worlds – the physical, material world, and the spiritual world.  When Jesus appeared on the scene two thousand years ago, He announced that the Kingdom of Heaven is here.  Empirical science is based on the ability to observe, to measure, and to manipulate things in the natural world.  Similar to trying to measure temperature with a ruler, science is incapable of understanding or studying the supernatural world.  Atheistic scientists may contend that there is no god, but they are on thin ice because nothing within science can prove that their assertion is true.

The Bible is a record of the sovereign, living God creating and intervening from the spiritual realm into the material universe over time.  It is a special revelation of truth as revealed to us from God.  Many early scientists believed that science was merely a new way to learn about the world as God created it.

Religion vs. Science


The Bible is about religion, but science is a separate category.” (Quote from an editorial)

Response: Rather than viewing Christianity and science as two separate realms that have nothing to do with each other, or even compete, it is more useful to see how Christianity and science are different, but complement one another.  Christianity claims that the sovereign, living God of the universe created the heavens and earth, and many of the earliest scientists saw science as a way to learn more about God’s creation.  The following questions help us see how Christianity and science intersect, and how godless evolution is in conflict with both:

Occam’s Razor, a problem-solving principle devised by William of Ockham (c. 1287–1347) states that among competing hypotheses, the one with the fewest assumptions (i.e. the most direct and simplest) should be selected. Other, more complicated solutions may ultimately prove correct, but—in the absence of certainty—the fewer assumptions that are made, the better.

Using Occam’s Razor as a guideline (check all that apply)

1) If a frog turns into a prince, is it:

___a) Magic

___b) Science (you just have to wait a long time – evolution in action)

___c) Other:____________________________________

2) The Bible, written by 40 authors with widely differing occupations from 3 continents over 1,500 years, tells an integrated story that is woven together in a progressive story of human life, with God’s involvement over the centuries, including dozens of prophecies that are fulfilled.  This unity is:

___a) by chance – the books just happen to have a common theme and story, and the prophecies just happened to have been fulfilled,

___b) the Roman Catholic Church commissioned all of this work to be done, and pulled it together, 

___c) there was a common author (the Holy Spirit), who inspired and guided the writing of the books of the Bible,

 ___d) other:___________________________________

3) Over 130 cultures have stories / myths in their history that they are descendants of a family who was saved in a boat from a world-wide flood.  This is best explained by:

___a) chance – it just happened that way.  Their cultures also probably have stories about dogs as well.

___b) as evolution is based on the premise that every change must be advantageous to the organism for it to be adopted, there is a survival advantage to all cultures that developed the flood story versus those that didn’t.

___c) Noah really did build an ark, the Bible story is true, and these stories/myths are exactly what we would expect.

___d) other:_____________________________________

4) If we were hiking through the Black Hills and came upon Mount Rushmore, we would logically conclude that:

___a) it happened by chance – just a fluke of nature and erosion over time,

___b) it is a sign of design and intelligence; that one or more persons created it,

___c) some creature from outer space created it,

___d) other:_____________________________________

5) The human brain is more complex than the largest supercomputer ever developed.  It came from:

___a) A long time ago, there was this thing that exploded, and some of the stuff that exploded joined together (all by itself) into order – tremendous order.  Then it came alive (also all by itself), and eventually became a human being with a brain.  Of course this took a long time.  This is called “science”, and just goes to show what can happen if you wait long enough.

___b) Intelligence; design reflects intelligence, and tremendous design reflects tremendous intelligence.  We were created by the sovereign, living God who was there, and tells us about it in the Bible, which He inspired. (Which would explain why an Intelligent Design movement is emerging, led by former evolutionary scientists.)

___c) We came from outer space (which raises another question – when we were in outer space, where did we come from?)

___d) Other:_____________________________________

6) The assumption that the origin of the universe and life as we know it is from material causes:

___a) is scientific – we can prove that natural causes were the forces that led to the universe, and that there was no super-natural cause involved.

___b) is a philosophical presupposition that cannot be proven scientifically because the origins of the universe and life were not observed by human beings and cannot be replicated.

___c) is false.  The origin of the universe and life can only be truly known by observation, and only God was there to observe it.  He then revealed this in the Bible.

___d) is fundamental to Marx’s theory of scientific materialism (which has led to the deaths of hundreds of millions of people)

___e) other:______________________________________

7) Jesus was:

___a) a great teacher, and perhaps even a prophet, but not the Son of God.

___b) either who He said He was – the Son of God and part of the eternal triune God, or a false teacher and imposter, who claimed to be someone who He was not,

___c) who He said He was – the son of the sovereign, living God (which is why Simon Greenleaf, the nation’s greatest legal scholar on rules of evidence, ultimately converted from Judaism to Christianity, compelled by the evidence before him.)

___d) other:_____________________________________

8) Life or existence beyond the grave is:

___a) clearly beyond the reach of science,

___b) not beyond the reach of science if we could just figure out how someone could observe it and come back and tell about it,

___c) beginning to give us clues.  Dr. Maurice Rawlings was a non-Christian cardiologist who lost many patients.  As his medical skills improved, he was able to bring many of them back from the dead.  About half of them did not want to come back, as they were experiencing great bliss.  The other half were absolutely terrified that they were die again and once experience what they described as hell.

___c) other:_____________________________________

Best regards,

Pretty Cool to Design Your Own Religion

“My religion is a religion of love and my god is a god of love”.

Response: You seem to describe a “designer religion” – the notion that each of us can fashion our own god or gods to suit our wishes and desires.  We thus create god in our own image.  Here are some clues about choosing (or designing) our own gods:

  • Did your god create the heavens and earth, or did it all just happen by itself? 

Some religions, like Hinduism, are based on evolution.  And yet there are 10,000 scientists in this country who see evolution as an unproven theory, with stronger evidence for creation than evolution.  An example is the fossil record, within which the missing links are still missing.  (By the way, both creation scientists and evolutions embrace micro-evolution, such as changes in moths or birds.  It is on macro-evolution – the notion that a whale can evolve to a bear – where they disagree.)  There is even an emerging Intelligent Design movement of scientists who have abandoned evolution because the evidence of intelligence in design is too compelling to ignore.

  • Where do you want to end up after this life on earth?  

Every religion has a distinctly different ending for life.  So you might consider the following:

  • “Good” Moslem men go to paradise with 73 virgins and “bad” Moslem men go to hell;
  • Hindus believe that the end their life on earth leads to being reincarnated as a person, animal, or perhaps a mosquito, and (hopefully) eventually escaping reincarnation to become one with the All;
  • Mormons – get their own planet if they are good Mormons;
  • Atheists – turn into a pile of ashes and are buried or blown away by the wind;
  • Christians – go to heaven to be with the Lord; those who reject Christ and His offer of eternal life spend eternity in Hades; and    
  • Universalism – everyone gets to go to heaven, whether they want to or not.

NOTE:  These different perspectives raise these provocative questions:  

  • Are they all true?   (Is it even possible for all of them to be true?)
  • On what basis do you assume that we get to select the ending we want (paradise with virgins, have our own planet, one with the all, go to heaven to be with the Lord, etc.)? 
  • Are there clues as to which of these is most likely to be the truth?
  • Have you considered the evidence for Christianity: 
  • The Bible:  Written by 40 authors with widely differing occupations from 3 continents over 1,500 years, the Bible tells an integrated story that is woven together in a progressive story of human life, with God’s involvement over the centuries.  This unity is evidence of a common author (the Holy Spirit), who inspired and guided the writing of the books of the Bible, in contrast to other religions.
  • Fulfilled prophecy – Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection fulfilled dozens of prophecies, the odds of which happening by chance are truly astronomical.
  • The Flood – Over 130 cultures have stories / myths in their history that they are descendants of a family who was saved in a boat from a world-wide flood.  This is best explained by the story of Noah – that he really did build an ark, the Bible story is true, and these stories/myths are exactly what we would expect.  This is in contrast to evolution, which claims that a fish can turn into a bear if we just wait long enough.
  • 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. 
  • Evidence Consistent With Rules of Evidence – From a legal perspective, what does the evidence tell us?  Simon Greenleaf was the nation’s greatest legal scholar on rules of evidence, with his work known as the standard for rules of evidence, even by the U.S. Supreme Court.  A person of Jewish descent, Greenleaf was challenged by his students to examine the evidence for whether or not Jesus Christ was indeed the savior of mankind, or a great imposter.  He accepted the challenge, and after much study, became a Christian, compelled by the evidence before him.
  • Coming Back From the Dead – Evidence comes from many different sources.  Dr. Maurice Rawlings was a non-Christian cardiologist who lost many patients.  As his medical skills improved, he was able to bring many of them back from the dead.  About half of them did not want to come back, as they were experiencing great bliss.  About half of them were absolutely terrified that they were to die again and once experience hell.

A Personal Relationship with the Sovereign, Living God of the Universe

Christianity is unique in that it offers the opportunity for a personal relationship with the sovereign, living God, unlike other religions.  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 each of us, that He created each of us with unique gifts and talents, and that we have a purpose in our lives.  Furthermore, we will never experience true joy and peace (that transcends circumstances) unless we discover and live to carry out that purpose.  Have you discovered your purpose or mission in your life?

The central question for designer religions:  Anyone can develop a philosophy or religion – a conceptual framework for life and what happens after we die. 

  • But what is the source of their knowledge? 
  • Did they receive some revelation from the sovereign, living God about life and death (the only true authority about life and death), or did they just make it up? 
  • If you take a little from this religion and a little from that religion, to create a new (synthetic) religion, is it valid? 
  • Does your explanation for your eternal destiny explain what will really happen when you die?  The stakes are very high, as eternity is a very long time. 

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 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.

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

Are You in Love? 13 Signs That Say Yes

Are you in love with another person? Here are some signs that say yes:

  1. When you think about the future, your partner is in it.

When you make plans both in the near and distant future, you automatically factor your partner into them.

2. When you are away from them, you miss them immediately.

Every moment with them means so much more than the times you are without them. When you’re not together, you miss them all the time.

3. You have great chemistry.

You can’t be in love if you don’t have good chemistry both mentally and physically. The spark should always be alive.

4. You love spending time with them.

You could spend all of your time with your partner and never get sick of being around them.

5. You have stopped caring about past relationships.

People you dated in the past no longer matter – you don’t stay in touch with them or check up on them on social media.

6. Other priorities are no longer as important as they used to be.

Things that used to be important to you are now easily put on the back burner because the priorities you have with your partner are so much more important.

7. Every little thing reminds you of them.

Little details you see while walking down the street or doing daily activities make you think about your partner.

8. You find their little quirks and flaws to be adorable.

The things they don’t like about themselves are the traits that you love about them. You think their quirks are sweet.

9. You feel comfortable talking to them about anything.

You know you can tell your partner anything without being judged. You feel comfortable being open about your thoughts and feelings.

10. Even when you get mad at them, you always forgive them.

You may argue, but that will never stop you from making up and being together. Love can be passionate both in good and bad ways.

11. You find yourself always bringing them up in conversation.

You can’t help but bring up their name when talking about something with another person. They are such a big part of your life that it’s too easy to do.

12. You feel like they make you a better person.

Being with your partner improves who you are as a person every single day. You feel better about yourself.

13. The thought of living without them is unimaginable.

Life without the one you love is unfathomable. You want them around, always and forever.

Now review these same signs about your relationship with the Lord, the sovereign, living God of the universe.  Jesus said we are to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” Matthew 22:37  Do you love the Lord with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength? Are you in love with the Lord? He loves you, and invites you to spend eternity with Him – here and in heaven.

Adapted from:  http://www.msn.com/en-us/lifestyle/love-sex/are-you-in-love-13-signs-that-say-yes/ss-AAhpfVi?li=BBnb7Kz&ocid=SL5MDHP#image=13