Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Where to Err? Religion

(Read the Introduction if you haven't already done so.)

I saved religion for last, since (at least theists hold that) it is the most critical. You say the wrong thing in business, you lose your job. You say the wrong thing on politics, you lose your office. You say the wrong thing in religion, you lose your eternal life.

Especially since, taking the perspective of a Protestant, all of the non-Christian religions are downright liars. If you believe that John 14:6 is absolute truth...

John 14:6 (New International Version)
New International Version (NIV)
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

...then any way to God other than Jesus is by definition heretical.

But what would the effects be if all of the "wrong" religions were suppressed?

First off, it wouldn't work from a human perspective. If you go around and ban Religion X, it is going to immediately become attractive to a certain segment of the population. Trust me, the best way to ensure Muslim domination of a country would be to ban Islam in the country; this would ensure an increase in membership. Same would hold if you were to ban Buddhism, Scientology, Christianity, or whatever.

Second off, it wouldn't work from a Godly perspective. We humans can run around and ban whatever we want, but God has other ideas. Gamaliel explained this:

Acts 5:34-39 (New International Version)
New International Version (NIV)
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

34But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, who was honored by all the people, stood up in the Sanhedrin and ordered that the men be put outside for a little while. 35Then he addressed them: "Men of Israel, consider carefully what you intend to do to these men. 36Some time ago Theudas appeared, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men rallied to him. He was killed, all his followers were dispersed, and it all came to nothing. 37After him, Judas the Galilean appeared in the days of the census and led a band of people in revolt. He too was killed, and all his followers were scattered. 38Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. 39But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God."

Ah, you say, but you're a Christian and you therefore naturally support the idea of God supporting Christians. But He wouldn't support non-Christians, would he? Well, actually, He would:

Judges 2:11-15 (New International Version)
New International Version (NIV)
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

11 Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD and served the Baals. 12 They forsook the LORD, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of Egypt. They followed and worshiped various gods of the peoples around them. They provoked the LORD to anger 13 because they forsook him and served Baal and the Ashtoreths. 14 In his anger against Israel the LORD handed them over to raiders who plundered them. He sold them to their enemies all around, whom they were no longer able to resist. 15 Whenever Israel went out to fight, the hand of the LORD was against them to defeat them, just as he had sworn to them. They were in great distress.

And there are plenty of other examples of God using the non-Godly for His own purposes.

Back to my points. Third off, the Body of Christ itself could be destroyed if its opponents were silenced. I don't have the source in front of me, but I believe that it was Halley's Bible Handbook that stated that the worst tragedy in the history of the Christian Church was when Emperor Constantine made Christianity the official state religion. This led to excesses in the Church itself and a pride that ironically removed the Church from dependence on God, so that it instead depended upon itself.

So I've come to the conclusion that we Christians should not be shutting up the Mormons and the Jews and the Muslims and the Scientologists or whoever when they claim that they can save themselves, or that someone other than Jesus Christ can save them. To do so would be counterproductive.

The truth will win out soon enough.

Religion - err on the side of MORE information

P.S. No, I didn't talk about trade secrets here. I'm not a Gnostic.


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