Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

The blind men and the elephant: an argument for religious pluralism?

From Please Convince Me, a post by Aaron outlining 7 problems with the blind man and the elephant story.

Here’s the set up:

Maybe you’ve heard the parable of the six blind men and the elephant. In this parable, six blind men feel a different part of an elephant and come to different conclusions regarding what the elephant is actually like.

One blind man grabs the tusk and says, “An elephant is like a spear!” Another feels the trunk and concludes, “An elephant is like a snake!” The blind man hugging the leg thinks, “An elephant is like a tree!” The one holding the tail claims, “An elephant is like a rope!” Another feeling the ear believes, “An elephant is like a fan!” The last blind man leaning on the elephant’s side exclaims, “An elephant is like a wall!”

This parable is often used to illustrate a view known as religious pluralism. Like the blind men, no religion hasthe truth. Rather, all religions are true in that they accurately describe their personal experience and the spiritual reality they encounter, given various historical and cultural backgrounds.

There are various types of religious pluralism, but one way to define it is as follows: “the view that all religious roads – certainly all major or ethical ones – lead to God or to ultimate reality and salvation.”1 This idea is commonly reflected in such statements as “All religions basically teach the same thing” or “All roads lead to the top of the mountain.”

The elephant parable, while attractive to many, suffers from a number of problems.

And here’s one problem:

Problem #4: The parable commits the self-excepting fallacy.

The religious pluralist who tells this parable claims everyone is blind, except the religious pluralist himself! In other words, there is an objective perspective presented here. However, if all religious views are essentially blind, this would include the religious view of religious pluralism. But the religious pluralist conveniently exempts himself, having somehow escaped the spiritual blindness which has enveloped all other religious views and has come to see the truth of religious pluralism! In so doing, the religious pluralist claims to have the only objective perspective:

In fact, he wouldn’t know that the blind men were wrong unless he had an objective perspective of what was right! So if the person telling the parable can have an objective perspective, why can’t the blind men? They could – if the blind men suddenly could see, they too would realize that they were originally mistaken. That’s really an elephant in front of them and not a wall, fan, or rope. We too can see the truth in religion. Unfortunately, many of us who deny there’s truth in religion are not actually blind but only willfully blind. We may not want to admit that there’s truth in religion because that truth will convict us. But if we open our eyes and stop hiding behind the self-defeating nonsense that truth cannot be known, then we’ll be able to see the truth as well.5

5 Norman L. Geisler and Frank Turek, I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist (Wheaton: Crossway, 2004), 49.

Read the whole thing!

UPDATE: Greg West of The Poached Egg tweets an announcement of his post on the same topic.

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Lay Christians less likely than pastors to hold to exclusive salvation

J Warner Wallace of Please Convince Me tweeted this alarming news on Friday.

Excerpt:

Nearly eight in 10 Protestant pastors strongly disagree that eternal life can be obtained through religions other than Christianity in a new survey.

The survey, conducted by LifeWay Research, of 1,000 Protestant pastors asked respondents for their reaction to the statement, “If a person is sincerely seeking God, he/she can obtain eternal life through religions other than Christianity.” A full 77 percent of pastors strongly disagreed while 7 percent somewhat disagreed. Another 7 percent somewhat agreed, 5 percent strongly agreed and 3 percent were not sure.

[...]Pastors’ beliefs regarding the exclusivity of Christianity differ from those of their parishioners, according to a new study conducted for the upcoming book “Transformational Discipleship” by Eric Geiger, Michael Kelly and Philip Nation. When presented with the same statement, just 48 percent of adults who attend a Protestant church once a month or more disagreed strongly and 9 percent disagreed somewhat. A total of 26 percent agreed, including 13 percent who agreed strongly and 13 percent who agreed somewhat. Sixteen percent indicated that they neither agreed nor disagreed.

“One fact is clear: pastors are less universalistic than their church members,” Stetzer said. “A few heads nodding or an occasional ‘Amen’ does not indicate everyone believes Christianity is the only way. Church leaders will never know where their congregation stands unless they ask.”

According to the survey of pastors, those in large cities are more likely to believe that other religions lead to eternal life than their counterparts in other settings. Eleven percent of pastors in large cities strongly agreed. In comparison, 4 percent of pastors in small cities, 4 percent in the suburbs and 3 percent in rural areas feel the same.

Pastors identifying themselves as evangelical are less universalistic than those self-identifying as mainline. Compared with mainline pastors, evangelicals are:

  • Less likely to strongly agree that other religions can lead to eternal life (evangelical pastors, 2 percent; mainline pastors, 11 percent).
  • More likely to strongly disagree (85 percent to 57 percent).

I’ve written about how people who do not think that Christianity is true are more likely to think that religion is really about happy feelings, community and being a good person, especially when confronted by nice people doing nice things in other religions. The further a person gets from truth and apologetics, the more likely their theology is going to degrade into people-pleasing. That’s why apologetics is so important.

It’s much easier to say to a person “you are not saved” when you know enough to ask them “did the universe have a beginning?” and “was Jesus crucified?”. When they answer no to both questions, you take the religion question out of the realm of community, happiness and good deeds, and put it in the realm of truth. It is much easier to see why God would separate away from someone who doesn’t care enough about HIM (not other people, but HIM) that they would spend the time to study cosmology and history, etc. in order to form true beliefs.

As an evangelical Christian, it’s easy for me to believe that non-Christians will not be saved. I ask them questions, I find that they have beliefs that are obviously false. Then, when I propose that they do some studying, they tell me they won’t because religion is about being happy and being liked by your family and friends. When you understand salvation as being about truth, it’s very easy to understand why refusing to study religion to see what is and isn’t true isn’t just another flavor of ice cream – it’s sinful. It’s rebelling against God. It’s telling God “I don’t value you enough to know if you are really there and what you are really like”. And God isn’t obligated to spend eternity with people who don’t want him and who don’t want to know him.

People like Rob Bell and Brian Maclaren and Dan Barker start their drift away from orthodoxy by caring more about the people around them than the Person above them. A relationship with God is not the same as happy feelings and popularity. A relationship with God is work and being unpopular. That’s everywhere in the Bible, too. Followers of Judaism and Christianity are always taking the heat for sticking up for God. Nobody likes them except God. They perform for an audience of One, and they don’t care whether anyone approves or not. We need to get that back in the church. We need to get apologetics back in the church. Nobody feels guilty about telling someone who thinks that eating chocolate will prevent cavities. That’s what evangelism is – you tell the truth, graciously. If people get offended, that’s no reason to change your message.

I wrote a post before showing how to falsify a religion using science or history. We need to be comfortable doing that.

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Is Barack Obama a Christian? Does he believe in Christianity?

Well there are at least two ways to look at this question. One way is to look at what Obama does, and see if it matches up with what Christians are supposed to do, and what they have done. Another way is to look at what Obama says, and see if it matches up with what the Bible says, and what the early Church believed.

What are Christians supposed to do?

There are a lot of places I could look to see whether or not Obama’s actions are the actions of a Christian, but I will just choose one: abortion. If you want to know what Christians believe about abortion, you need to go back to the very earliest followers of Jesus. At that time, the Roman authorities believed not only in abortion but also infanticide. The earliest Christians opposed not only infanticide, but also abortion.

Let’s see:

Extrabiblical Jewish Literature

The noncanonical Jewish wisdom literature further clarifies first-century Judaism’s view of abortion. For example, the Sentences of Pseudo-Phocylides 184–186 (c. 50 B.C.–A.D. 50) says that “a woman should not destroy the unborn in her belly, nor after its birth throw it before the dogs and vultures as a prey.” Included among those who do evil in the apocalyptic Sibylline Oracles were women who “aborted what they carried in the womb” (2.281–282). Similarly, the apocryphal book 1 Enoch (2nd or 1st century B.C.) declares that an evil angel taught humans how to “smash the embryo in the womb” (69.12). Finally, the first-century Jewish historian Josephus wrote that “the law orders all the offspring to be brought up, and forbids women either to cause abortion or to make away with the fetus” (Against Apion 2.202).

Contrast these injunctions with the barbarism of Roman culture. Cicero (106–43 B.C.) records that according to the Twelve Tables of Roman Law, “deformed infants shall be killed” (De Legibus 3.8). Plutarch (c. a.d. 46–120) spoke of those who he said “offered up their own children, and those who had no children would buy little ones from poor people and cut their throats as if they were so many lambs or young birds; meanwhile the mother stood by without a tear or moan” (Moralia 2.171D).

Early Christian Literature

Against the bleak backdrop of Roman culture, the Hebrew “sanctity of human life” ethic provided the moral framework for early Christian condemnation of abortion and infanticide. For instance, the Didache 2.2 (c. A.D. 85–110) commands, “thou shalt not murder a child by abortion nor kill them when born.” Another noncanonical early Christian text, the Letter of Barnabas 19.5 (c. A.D. 130), said: “You shall not abort a child nor, again, commit infanticide.” There are numerous other examples of Christian condemnation of both infanticide and abortion. In fact, some biblical scholars have argued that the silence of the NT on abortion per se is due to the fact that it was simply assumed to be beyond the pale of early Christian practice. Nevertheless, Luke (a physician) points to fetal personhood when he observes that the unborn John the Baptist “leaped for joy” in his mother’s womb when Elizabeth came into the presence of Mary, who was pregnant with Jesus at the time (Luke 1:44).

More than merely condemning abortion and infanticide, however, early Christians provided alternatives by rescuing and adopting children who were abandoned. For instance, Callistus (d. c. A.D. 223) provided refuge to abandoned children by placing them in Christian homes, and Benignus of Dijon (3rd century) offered nourishment and protection to abandoned children, including some with disabilities caused by unsuccessful abortions.

What does Obama believe? Not only is Barack Obama the most pro-abortion President ever, but he also has voted for infanticide several times and he opposed the ban on partial birth abortions.

Excerpt:

BAIPA [The Born Alive Infant Protection Act] (both the federal and Illinois state versions) on the other hand, was introduced to insure that babies who survive attempted abortions are provided the same medical care and sustenance as any other infant born alive. BAIPA was introduced after evidence was presented that babies born alive after unsuccessful abortions were simply discarded in utility closets without food, care, or medical treatment until they died.

As both Andy and I pointed out last night (and numerous times before), state senator Obama fought against the Illinois version of BAIPA that was identical in all material respects to the federal version. During the 2008 presidential campaign, Obama claimed that he voted against the Illinois BAIPA because it failed to contain a “neutrality clause” making it clear that the bill did not affect the right to an abortion. This is false. Documents obtained by National Right to Life show that the Illinois BAIPA did, in fact, contain a neutrality clause identical to the federal version.

As noted yesterday, not one U.S. senator voted against  BAIPA. Even NARAL didn’t oppose it. At the time of the vote, CNN reported that NARAL’s spokesman said the following:

We, in fact, did not oppose the bill. There is a clear legal difference between a fetus in utero versus a child that’s born. And when a child is born, they deserve every protection that the country can provide. (Emphasis added).

The logical import of Obama’s vote against BAIPA is that he disagrees, i.e., once a baby has been targeted for abortion it thereafter has no inherent right to the food, comfort, and medical care provided to other babies born alive. Indeed, during Illinois state senate deliberations on BAIPA, Obama stated that one of his objections was that the bill was “designed to burden the original decision of the woman and the physician to induce labor and perform an abortion.” Apparently, once the decision to abort has been made, a child is doomed even if born alive.

It seems to me that Obama’s actions don’t line up with what Christians have always believed. But he would make a great Roman. But let’s keep going – maybe he’s good on theology, apologetics and the Bible.

What are Christians supposed to say?

In order to be a Christian, you must accept that all people everywhere are in rebellion against God, and that Jesus is God stepping into history, and that there is no reconciliation with God apart from an explicit belief in Jesus’ deity, and the significance of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Namely, that his death was a payment for each person’s rebellion against God. Christians also believe that a person must accept that those who do not know Jesus and believe in what he did will not go to Heaven, but will be separated from God for eternity in a place called Hell.

Let’s look at what the Bible says.

Acts 4:8-12:

8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people!

9 If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a man who was lame and are being asked how he was healed,

10 then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed.

11Jesus is

   “‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.’

 12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

John 14:1-6:(Jesus speaking)

1 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.

2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?

3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.

4You know the way to the place where I am going.”

 5Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”

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

Philippians 2:5-11:

5Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:

6Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,

7but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.

8And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross!

9Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name,

10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Romans 10:1-4:

1 Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved.

2 For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge.

3 Since they did not know the righteousness of God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness.

4 Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.

And in Romans 10:9, “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” I could go on, but that should be enough. Christians do not think that these teachings are mere opinions – we think they are facts. We think they are true and binding and knowable.

To be believe in Jesus means to believe that he is who he says he is – God stepping in history, giving his own life up in order to take the punishment that each person deserves who rebels against God. And we all rebel against God, according to the Bible.

Now let’s take a look at what Obama says. Pay attention to whether he thinks that what he is saying are his own opinions or whether they are facts.

Excerpt:

Falsani: 
What do you believe?

OBAMA: 
[...]I believe that there are many paths to the same place, and that is a belief that there is a higher power, a belief that we are connected as a people. That there are values that transcend race or culture, that move us forward, and there’s an obligation for all of us individually as well as collectively to take responsibility to make those values lived.

And:

Falsani: Do you believe in heaven?

OBAMA:
 Do I believe in the harps and clouds and wings?

Falsani: A place spiritually you go to after you die?

OBAMA:
 What I believe in is that if I live my life as well as I can, that I will be rewarded. I don’t presume to have knowledge of what happens after I die. But I feel very strongly that whether the reward is in the here and now or in the hereafter, the aligning myself to my faith and my values is a good thing.

When I tuck in my daughters at night and I feel like I’ve been a good father to them, and I see in them that I am transferring values that I got from my mother and that they’re kind people and that they’re honest people, and they’re curious people, that’s a little piece of heaven.

Falsani: What is sin?

OBAMA:
 Being out of alignment with my values.

Falsani: What happens if you have sin in your life?

OBAMA:
 I think it’s the same thing as the question about heaven. In the same way that if I’m true to myself and my faith that that is its own reward, when I’m not true to it, it’s its own punishment.

And:

OBAMA:
 [...]This is something that I’m sure I’d have serious debates with my fellow Christians about. I think that the difficult thing about any religion, including Christianity, is that at some level there is a call to evangelize and proselytize. There’s the belief, certainly in some quarters, that people haven’t embraced Jesus Christ as their personal savior that they’re going to hell.

Falsani: You don’t believe that?

OBAMA:
 I find it hard to believe that my God would consign four-fifths of the world to hell.

Again, not only did Jesus mention Hell constantly, but the earliest Christians believed in a literal, eternal Hell. Obama doesn’t get to override Jesus, the Bible and the early church and substitute his own religion, and his own standard of sin and salvation. What I find annoying is that he apparently cannot reconcile God’s goodness with the existence of Hell. That’s like Apologetics 101. You would have to know nothing at all about Christianity to say what he said. You would have had to avoided reading anything that answers any questions about Christianity – because that question is easy.

To me what Obama expressed there in his answers was religious pluralism, radical subjectivism, postmodern relativism, and universalism. In no way shape or form are those beliefs consistent with what the Bible teaches. Not even close – this is not even disputable. To be a Christian, you have to believe that there are objective truths about God, independent of different people’s opinions. And that these truths are knowable, through reason, science, history and revelation in the Bible. Only atheists think that religion is non-cognitive subjective wish-fulfillment meant to make people feel good and have community, etc. If you think religion is like picking a flavor of ice cream instead of picking a prescription drug for an illness, then you’re not a Christian. Period.

So in both cases, when you look at what Obama says and what Obama does, it’s very clear that he is not a Christian by any stretch of the imagination. There is a lot more to being a Christian than just calling yourself one. You have to act the way that Christians are supposed to act – the way they always acted since the beginning of Christianity. And you have to believe the basic things that Christians are supposed to believe. Things that are clearly taught in multiple books of the new Testament and things that were believed by the earliest followers of Jesus, right up to the present day. If I had to guess what Obama really believes, I would speculate that he inclines toward atheism, or agnosticism at best.

UPDATE: Barack Obama denies that Jesus is the unique son of God at the 2012 Easter Prayer Breakfast.

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Are religious claims about the real world or just untestable assertions?

Dr. Walter L. Bradley

This lecture is based on the book “Truth in Religion” by famous philosopher Mortimer J. Adler. At the time of writing the book, he was not a Christian, but there is still a lot of value in the book for Christians who are trying to understand what religion is about. In one sense, the material on this lecture should be the first thing that Christians learn about Christianity before they ever open the Bible. And I mean before even knowing about the existence of the Bible. The most important question when it comes to religion is this: “IS RELIGION CONCERNED WITH TELLING THE TRUTH ABOUT REALITY”? That is the first question to answer.

About the speaker

Dr. Walter L. Bradley (C.V. here) is the Distinguished Professor of Engineering at Baylor.

Here’s a bio from his faculty page at Baylor University:

Walter Bradley (B.S., Ph.D. University of Texas at Austin) is Distinguished Professor of Engineering at Baylor. He comes to Baylor from Texas A&M University where he helped develop a nationally recognized program in polymeric composite materials. At Texas A&M, he served as director of the Polymer Technology Center for 10 years and as Department Head of Mechanical Engineering, a department of 67 professors that was ranked as high as 12th nationally during his tenure. Bradley has authored over 150 refereed research publications including book chapters, articles in archival journals such as the Journal of Material Science, Journal of Reinforced Plastics and Composites, Mechanics of Time-Dependent Materials, Journal of Composites Technology and Research, Composite Science and Technology, Journal of Metals, Polymer Engineering and Science, and Journal of Materials Science, and refereed conference proceedings.

Dr. Bradley has secured over $5.0 million in research funding from NSF grants (15 yrs.), AFOSR (10 years), NASA grants (10 years), and DOE (3 years). He has also received research grants or contracts from many Fortune 500 companies, including Alcoa, Dow Chemical, DuPont, 3M, Shell, Exxon, Boeing, and Phillips.

He co-authored The Mystery of Life Origin: Reassessing Current Theories and has written 10 book chapters dealing with various faith science issues, a topic on which he speaks widely.

He has received 5 research awards at Texas A&M University and 1 national research award. He has also received two teaching awards. He is an Elected Fellow of the American Society for Materials and the American Scientific Affiliation (ASA), the largest organization of Christians in Science and Technology in the world. He is President elect of the ASA and will serve his term in 2008.

You can read more about his recent research on how to use coconuts to make car parts in this article from Science Daily.

The MP3 file is here. (31 minutes + Q&A)

Topics:

  • what is pluralism?
  • what is multiculturalism?
  • what is relativism?
  • some propositions are true culturally – just for certain groups in certain times (cultures)
  • some proposition are true trans-culturally – true independently of what anyone wants or feels
  • Mathematical truth is trans-cultural – it is true regardless of cultural fashions
  • Scientific truth is trans-cultural – it is true regardless of cultural fashions
  • Some truths are not like this – cooking traditions, clothing traditions and greeting traditions
  • These kinds of truths are NOT trans-cultural, they vary by culture
  • The question is – is religion true like math and science, or true depending on the culture
  • Some people think that your religion depends on where you were born or what your family believes
  • Religions make conflicting claims about the way the world really is, so they can’t all be true
  • And these conflicts are at the core of the religions – who God is, how can we be related to him, etc.
  • So if religions convey trans-cultural truth, then either one is true or none are true
  • If they are not trying to convey trans-cultural truth, then they are not like math and science
  • Let’s assume that religion is the same as trans-cultural truth
  • How can we know which religion is true? 1) the laws of logic, 2) empirical testing against reality
  • Logical consistency is needed to make the first cut – self-contradictory claims cannot be true
  • To be true trans-culturally, a proposition must at least NOT break the law of non-contradiction
  • According to Mortimer Adler’s book, only Christianity, Judaism and Islam are not self-contradictory
  • All the others can be excluded on the basis of overt internal contradictions on fundamental questions
  • The others that are self-contradictory can be true culturally, but not trans-culturally
  • The way to proceed forward is to test the three non-contradictory religions against science and history
  • One of these three may be true, or they could all be false
  • We can test the three by evaluating their conflicting truth claims about the historical Jesus
  • Famous skeptics have undertaken studies to undermine the historical Jesus presented in the Bible
  • Lew Wallace, Simon Greenleaf and Frank Morrison assessed the evidence as atheists and became Christians
  • There is a lot of opposition in culture to the idea that one religion might be true
  • But if you take the claims of Jesus at face value, he claims to be the unique revelation of God to mankind
  • Either he was telling the truth about that, or he was lying, or he was crazy
  • So which is it?

Why don’t religious people ask if their religion is true?

Truth claims are necessarily divisive. If God wants people to know him as he is, and I tell them a lie that they can invent their own view of him, then that is sinning against God. And the only reason I would lie about that is because I can’t be bothered studying these things and taking the heat for standing up for God’s real personality and goals for his creatures to his creatures. Nowhere in Bible does it say that our goal is to tell people that they can believe anything they want about God and he really doesn’t care since he just wants us to be nice to each other and be happy and have fun and believe whatever we want about him whether it’s true or not.

People who think that all religions are true are doing it for three reasons: 1) they don’t want to study and be bound to one view through study, 2) they want to use religion to be comforted, but to leave it when it makes demands, 3) they want other people to like them so they want to say that all views of God are true. But this pluralism is not a view that is consistent with the plain meaning of the Bible – the people who embrace the idea that all religions are true based on personal preferences or cultures reject the plain meaning of the gospel, which makes exclusive claims. It is NOT TRUE that you can believe whatever you want as long as you are sincere – sincerity doesn’t mean that you can’t be mistaken. Not wanting to know whether Christianity is true is really just another way of saying that you don’t think God’s existence and character matters that much to you. Is that a good relationship? Is that the right way to be God’s friend?

I think that God’s existence and character can be assessed and known based on logic and evidence. I think that God exists independently of whether I want him to or not, and I think that his character and desires are not the same as my character and desires. And I don’t really care what my neighbors think of my disagreeing with them, my goal is not to keep silent and to just get along with them and be happier in my community. God’s first commandment to us is not to love our neighbor – that’s number two. Number one is to love him. And how can we love him, if we don’t want to know him. And how can we love him, if we don’t tell people the truth about him, (when asked to, and within the context of a respectful relationship, as in 1 Pet 3:15).

1 Cor 15:13-19:

13If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised.

14And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.

15More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised.

16For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either.

17And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.

18Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost.

19If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.

You can read papers from Dr. Bradley here.

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Do all religions lead to God? A lecture by Mike Licona

Mike Licona is one of my favorite Christian apologists. I’ve met him, and he is very very down to Earth and direct.

Here’s a lecture where he defends the view that having accurate views about Jesus is very important in order to be rightly related to God: (45 minutes)

Summary:

  • even in the ancient world, Christians were persecuted for their exclusivity
  • some people feel that exclusivity is unfair, but feelings don’t determine truth
  • there are three views of salvation: universalism, inclusivism, and exclusivism
  • does the Bible teach universalism?
  • Paul writes that sincerity is not enough to be saved (see verse below)
  • Paul writes that an accurate view of God is required to be saved
  • Paul writes that those who reject Christ will not be saved
  • John also writes that those who reject Jesus will not be saved
  • Jesus says that you have to have true beliefs about him to be saved
  • Jesus says that the way to salvation is narrow and few find it
  • there is broad agreement across the New Testament for exclusivism
  • the earliest Christians held to exclusive salvation
  • the probability, historically, that Jesus made exclusive claims, is high
  • what about those who have never heard the gospel?
  • what about babies and the mentally handicapped?
  • what about those who are sincere but don’t believe?
  • what about the obligation to be tolerant?

If there is one good verse to take away from this lecture, it’s Romans 10:1-4:

1 Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved.

2 For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge.

3 Since they did not know the righteousness of God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness.

4 Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.

Sincerity doesn’t count. What counts is knowledge.

Another thing I really, really liked the part at 33 minutes where he tells the story about the desert and discussion group he participates in with his wife and some non-Christian couples. If there is one reason for me to get married, it’s that my wife and I could discuss interest things with people we have over,  and that would be fun.

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