In the “Most Disturbing News I've Heard All Week” department, the Pew Forum's U.S. Religion survey tells us that 57% of Evangelicals, 83% of Mainline, and 79% of Catholic churchgoers believe that “many religions can lead to eternal life”. This is astounding to me. This means that 7 out of 10 people sitting in church on any given Sunday believe that Jesus came to earth, was “despised and rejected”, and was tortured and executed in the most horrific way possible so that we could have just another way to get to Heaven! Boy, God must have been pretty disappointed when He found out that He didn't have to go through all that – He could have just showed us one of the other ways! “How 'bout the 5 fold path or the 12 steps or 7 rungs, God? You wouldn't have had to sacrifice anything!”
Christians(?) in growing number are rejecting the basic teachings of Jesus (“I am the way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6) and of the Apostles (“Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12) for a quick trip to Oprah's Spiritual Salad Bar. Is it because we've had it hammered into our head by every self help guru and talk show host that being exclusive is WRONG? Are we getting tired of being called Victorian and narrow-minded?
I guess what most Christians don't realize is that exclusivity is the very nature of truth. If I held up a white pen, I could say one thing about the color of the pen that would be true – it's white. I could say a whole rainbow of things about the color of the pen – it's blue, it's green, it's magenta – that would be lies. Because Christianity is unique among all the other “faiths” in that it teaches that there is absolutely no way that a person can gain eternal life unless God grants it to him freely, that should be our first clue that it's the real thing. Even the great jazz saxophone player, John Coltrane, after studying Christianity and Islam, realized that “they can't both be right”. No, John, they can't. But apparently many people think that they can.
Pluralism (that's the big word for believing in more than one way) even defies logic. Think about it; if all religions lead to eternal life then there must be some least common denominator - something that every religion believes or does that allows us to have eternal life. Most people think that if the good stuff outweighs the bad stuff... but sorry. Not according to the Bible. Besides, can any religion agree on what the “good stuff” is? Truth is, Pluralism is a lie because there is no common denominator.
The good news is that even though Christianity is exclusive in its belief, it's inclusive in its invitation – with one stipulation: you have to WANT it. You have to want it bad enough to let the risen Jesus adopt you and begin to change you. There was no other way to deal with the seriousness of our sin except through His bloody sacrifice. But, like Jesus said, “...narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (Matt 7:14)
But many will be stuck at the salad bar.
Jul 14, 2008
Amen. While God is love, he is also Mercy and forgiveness. We need to ask him for forgiveness and accept that bloody sacrifice as our saviour and live according to his desires.
In a small group devotional I am leading, we are using Andy Stanley's defining moments DVD video series and he is saying the same thing. In a dialogue with Nicodemus, he is telling him we must be born agin and it be both physical and spritiual. His statements to Nicodemus were being religious (he was a Jewish leader) was NOT good enough to get to heaven. We are not saying we did a bunch of the right stuff and that outweighs the bad stuff. He is saying we must accept Christ and have the spirit in our lives.
Hopefully if people go to the Salad bar, they are paying attention and are looking for the truth and accept Jesus's sacrifice!