Today's post will be a little different. I'm going to lay out three different and distinct theological worldviews concerning how other religions are viewed.
Now, the reason for this is two fold---first, so that we know that there are other different views and second so that we can defend our position from a strong biblical platform.
I think that it is extremely important for followers of Christ to think through these three different positions by using the word of God as the standard to measure all and every idea or concept. For the follower of Christ it is not which position makes the most sense or which potion is the most equitable and fair, no, for the believer it is having our minds informed by God's infallible inerrant Word.
After a brief description of each of the following views, I'll give my reasons why the first two are not Biblical and why the third view is the only view that the believer can hold.
Are you ready? here we go with the first view:
According to the pluralist view all religions are equally valid paths to the Ultimate Reality ( a term that is considered synonymous with God). Pluralists would tell you that all religious people around the world really are saying the same thing just in different forms of expression; they would say that all the world religions point to the same truth.
This view is the predominate view in our culture. The pluralist view is certainly characteristic of our postmodern culture were open mindedness and being non-judgmental are to be coveted above all else.
Another characteristic of those who hold this position would be the refrain, " your truth is true for you, and my truth is true for me."
My Comments:The problem with the pluralists' position is that it violates the clear teaching of the Scriptures. Here's the part were we can't let human emotion and human reasoning color our view. Sure it makes sense, a loving God surely would welcome all who are trying to do their best, and certainly a loving God would not be mad at those who are doing their best just because they don't cross all their T's and dot all their I's.
But God's ways are not our ways, his thoughts are not our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8). It goes against all our humanness to put our thoughts off to the side and allow God's voice to speak through the Scriptures into our lives and inform and shape our world view.
We are to Cast down arguments, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ (2 Cor. 10:5). The issue here is the truth of the Bible, for if the Bible is truly God's word then it must have supremacy in our lives. We as followers of Christ do not stop using logic and reasoning, but we submit our logic and reasoning to the authoritative word of God.
Jesus said that he is the way, the truth and the life and that no man can come to the father except through Him (John 14:6).
The Apostle Paul said, there is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name (Jesus) under heaven by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12).
For the follower of Christ it comes to having a complete and deep knowledge of the teachings of the Bible: concerning mans' helpless estate, Christs atoning work on the cross, and the understanding of salvation, etc.
The Inclusivist Perspective
The inclusivist view holds that God is at work among all people everywhere even where there is no Christian witness. The inclusivist Christian believes that Jesus Christ is the definitive revelation of God: God's Word made flesh. Therefore all other religious claims must be measured in the light of Jesus. Jesus is the most complete picture of God. His life, death, and resurrection are the good news for all people.
Here now is the fly in the ointment. The inclusivist also believes that God is actively involved in the lives of non-Christians, too. They would tell us that God has not written off those who do not understand the gospel. They believe that God in His love and mercy works through their religious systems and sees their acts of righteousness and worship.
Adam Hamilton, in his book, Christianity and World Religions says, "even if those of other faiths have yet to understand or accept God's definitive Word to them. God accepts the intent of their hearts---that they are reaching and yearning---and God credits this to them as faith."
The inclusivist view is held by a large segment of those in our main line denominational churches, and sad to say many hold to this view even in our evangelical churches.
The error of this view again is theological---it lacks a proper understanding of the total depravity of man. This view also assumes that the gospel can be changed and made to accommodate other religious views.
The Scriptures make it clear that before we are converted or regenerated we are in darkness, and natural enemies of God, and are spiritually dead (Col. 1:21; Eph. 2:1). When God looks at the heart of an unconverted man He does not see good intentions---no, he sees a heart that is in rebellion and alienation.
This view has splashes of pelagianism all over it---pelagainism was a teaching of a forth century monk that taught man was not created with original sin, but that man is basically good, but just makes the wrong decisions and needs some guidance.
Pelagianism was condemned as a heresy at the Council of Carthage in 418 A.D. These condemnations were summarily ratified at the Council of Ephesus (A.D. 431).
The Inclusivist ViewThe third world view to other religions is the inclusivist view which holds that all who don't know Jesus as their Savior are condemned. The inclusivist would hold that God is sovereign and He shows mercy to those whom He will show mercy (Rom.9:15).
In addition, the inclusivist would hold to a theological position that no man is seeking after God (Rom. 3:11), and that all men are like sheep who have gone astray (Isaiah 53:6). Because of the Bible's teaching of man, God, and salvation the inclusivist is persuaded in his mind to exclaim, " Salvation is of the Lord" (Jonah 2:9).
We are not free to formulate our own ideas about how man can be made "right with God," or how man is to worship God. We are not free to modify the gospel to accommodate our human logic and human reasoning's.
We are not free to alter the gospel message to make it more palatable to a society that finds the cross of Christ offensive. We are not free to make God in our own image and likeness. The follower of Christ is constrained to believe what the Bible says about man, God, and salvation.
My fellow believer, go to the God of the Scriptures, and ask that He sanctify all your abilities, all your hermeneutical principles, and all your logical and intellectual prowess for His glory and honor.