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IF THE GOSPEL REALLY IS TRUE . . . We Have a MISSION! (Part 3)

Karl Barth said that people come to church out of the expectancy that they could find the answer to the question ‘IS IT TRUE? IS IT REALLY TRUE?” He was talking about the gospel. And that’s what these posts are about.

If the gospel of Jesus Christ is really TRUE, then certain conclusions follow. We’ve looked at the conclusion that, if the gospel is true, we have a message for the world which is both good news and bad news. We are Christ’s aroma (2 Corinthians 2) — and some will think we are a fragrance and some an odor!

Let’s notice a second conclusion and that is —

IF THE GOSPEL IS TRUE, THEN . . .

We have every reason to challenge other worldviews and religions as to their response to the gospel.

We are not suggesting any form of persecution or marginalization of other belief systems. We are simply stating that truth is greater than error. And the errors of human religions must be compassionately but clearly engaged so that the good news about Jesus can be heard.

This is why we have MISSIONS.  We believe that people are genuinely lost and that they cannot save themselves by their own religious efforts. No one is good enough or spiritual enough to earn forgiveness from the Triune God. If we could save ourselves, then why the Cross? The Apostle Paul puts it this way:  4 “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Cor. 10)

One of my fondest memories of teaching theology in seminary for almost twenty years was the class I created called “Eternal Destinies.” I invited (with the approval of my seminary dean) leaders from such cults as Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, Ba’hai, Judaism, Buddhism, Christian Science and one or two others to present a brief lecture to my class about their worldview.

You need to know that we treated our guests with dignity, but the students brought me great pride as they asked precise, insightful questions of the guests. Some of their questions were: “How do you know your spiritual authority is right?” “What view do you take on the historical Jesus?” “Will anyone ever be lost eternally?”

We need not fear other religions or worldviews. We will need to do our homework and we will need to treat others with kindness. Satan is the great deceiver and it takes work to separate truth from error.

Today’s Challenge: Do you have any friends who belong to a religion other than Christianity? Are you treating them with kindness? Do you see your mission as asking them significant questions which just might get them thinking about the true gospel?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on June 16, 2021 in gospel

 

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Some Thoughts on the Book “What’s the Least I Can Believe and Still Be a Christian?” (Post #8) JEWS WON’T MAKE IT TO HEAVEN!

We are continuing our review of the book by the United Methodist minister Martin Thielen entitled What’s the Least I Can Believe and Still Be a Christian? His next chapter is entitled “Jews Won’t Make It to Heaven” and he subtitles this chapter “The ultimate destiny of non-Christians is in God’s hands, and God can be trusted to do what is right.” [By the way, this expression “God can be expected to do what is right” is used by Thielen several times in his book. One suspects this is his go-to conviction when he faces some uncomfortable dogmatic statements of Scripture]

Thielen surveys three views of other religions: (1) “All religions are the same” [which they aren’t, of course], (2) “Other religions are false” [a view he strongly rejects], and (3) “Other religions are to be respected” [which he advocates].

MY RESPONSE:  Thielen rejects the view that only Christianity is true, that Christ is the only way, and that other religions are false and lead people away from God. He even quotes the liberal Jesus Seminar leader Marcus Borg who says that a text like “There is salvation in no one else” (Acts 4:12) is to be understood as poetic and devotional.  Borg writes: “To say, ‘Jesus is the only way’ is also the language of devotion.  It is the language of gratitude and love. It is like language used by lovers, as when we say to our beloved, ‘You’re the most beautiful person in the world.’ Literally? Most beautiful? Really? Such language is the poetry of devotion and the hyperbole of the heart. Poetry can express the truth of the heart, but it is not doctrine. . . . [He concludes,] We can sing our love songs to Jesus with wild abandon without needing to demean other religions.” (from Borg’s The Heart of Christianity: Rediscovering a Life of Faith, pp. 221-222).

This quote by Borg did not surprise me. He’s the one who said in a seminar at the University of South Carolina in 1998: “The notion that God’s only son came to this planet to offer his life as a sacrifice for the sins of the world, and that God could not forgive us without that having happened, and that we are saved by believing this story is simply incredible.  Taken metaphorically, this story can be very powerful.  But taken literally, it is a profound obstacle to accepting the Christian message.” He has also written: “I think the resurrection of Jesus really happened, but I have no idea if it involves anything happening to his corpse, and, therefore, I have no idea whether it involves an empty tomb, and for me, that doesn’t matter because the central meaning of the Easter experience or the resurrection of Jesus is that His followers continue to experience Him as a living reality, a living presence after His death. So I would have no problem whatsoever with archaeologists finding the corpse of Jesus. For me that would not be a discrediting of the Christian faith or the Christian tradition.”

There is a massive difference between respecting other religions and denying the exclusivity of the Christian gospel.  Fascinating that Thielen made no mention of Jesus’ statement “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me!” (Jn. 14:6). Perhaps he has a low view of the gospel of John (as do the “Jesus Seminar” scholars like Markus Borg).

Why bother with evangelism and missions if there is salvation in other religions other than biblical Christianity? Thielen has sadly abandoned the gospel in this chapter. Enough said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on February 15, 2019 in religions

 

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