It constantly amazes me how Interfaith Councils can claim Christian members yet remain so ignorant concerning Christianity. The bottom line in matters of religious tolerance is that Jesus Christ did not give Christians the option to be tolerant or accepting of other faiths. In John 14:6, Jesus clearly states that He is the only path available to reach Heaven. If Jesus is the only path to Heaven, then the other faiths must be selling falsehood. It stands to reason that opposition to the truths of Christianity must have initiated any faith that offers an alternate route to Heaven.
Undoubtedly, most liberal theologians would explain the Bible away as mere poetry, a figure of speech not to be taken literally. Or, the liberal theologian may state that the literal interpretation is only one interpretation available to the modern Christian and all beliefs, Christianity or otherwise, are equally truthful and acceptable. The liberal theologian will then go on to state, most sanctimoniously, that everyone knows that the Bible we have now has been changed countless times over the centuries and could not possible have remained the literal word of God. The majority of liberal arguments seem to be simple assumptions based upon current societal standards withholding any logic whatsoever.
Most liberal theologians and preachers want to paint a picture of a God that is accepting of everything and wants the world to only love one another. It seems as if the flower children of the sixties have grown up and are now interested in twisting the God of the Bible to fit their idealized version of a universally loving God. But, these liberal theologians are making a grievous, yet common, error.
One cannot simply pick and choose verses, commands, or ideas from the Bible and expect it to retain its original authority and composure. Liberal theologians, and especially the work of interfaith groups, are interested in making a buffet line of all religions, interspersing them across a celestial table and mixing the components they deem to be most beneficial. However, when religion is reduced by a supermarket mentality, each individual religion involved is warped by the buffet line approach into only a semblance of its former self.
For example, if one decides that God is love and that, as such, God would never restrict Heaven only to those who believe in Jesus, as that definition of salvation would be conditional and thus not complete love, then that person has fundamentally changed the complete vision of the Christian God. In fact, that person would not be worshipping the God of the Bible. That person would be worshipping a god of his or her own creation.
The question that surfaces is why would anyone want to treat a religion as a buffet line? The act of parceling a religion renders that religionís truth useless. Every religion fundamentally believes that it possesses the ultimate truth. That is the major draw of all religions. Religion is designed to provide answers to the intangible questions basic to all of human existence. But when all religion is reduced to mere poetry or figurative commentary, all religion is then redundant. If religion is just the dreams of man and not a revelation from a Supreme Being, then religion holds no authority. I could state that I believe that when we die we are magically transported to a different dimension where we are all chickens and my theory would be just as valid as any other theory.
The majority of religions do claim supernatural knowledge from an entity or entities. Therefore, to reduce, omit or add any knowledge to a religion would change that religion, warping that religionís fundamental truth from itís intended revelation.
Compartmentalizing a religion by naming it poetry or simple figurative language undercuts the authority of that religion. If the Bible were simply poetry, there would be no reason for anyone to believe its truths. Its guidelines could not restrict or shape me. Its promises would irrelevant. And its ultimate message of truth would be rendered impractical. If the Bible is simply poetry, it answers none of the intangible questions. In fact, it would provide only sham answers, theories that would not assist anyoneís pursuit of the eternal in any way. Labeling the Bible, the Torah, or any other holy book as mere poetry is an insult to that religion. It denotes that man was ultimately responsible for the production of the book and not an eternal being.
The basis of all interfaith groups and the majority of the liberal theologians lie in relativism. Their claim is that all truth is relative or personable, and no truth holds any more authority over any other truth. Obviously, if this were true, we would not need any religions. Relativism is an illogical assumption. If my truth is no truer than anyone elseís, why should I believe any truth? If no religion has a handle on absolute truth, then all religions are reduced to conjecture at best and deliberate lies at worse. By promoting relativism, liberal theologians are actually promoting the idea that all religions are false. Under relativism, all religions are equally worthless.
Consider Christianityís claim that eternal life is found only through faith in the personage of Jesus Christ. This claim cannot be partly true. If it is partly true, it is wholly false. For even a partial lie at the most crucial part would destroy the religionís fundamental truths. If it is wholly false, then it is based on a deliberate lie. However, if Christianityís claim is true, then all other religions must be false. There can be no partiality involved.
Christianityís exclusivity to itself is not localized only on that religion. Islam and Judaism also claim exclusivity. Most religions claim absolute truth exclusive to that religion. How is relative truth possible in the face of such absolution? To reduce any religionís exclusivity to truth would be to reduce its authority.
Relativism is essentially flawed. By claiming that no religion has absolute truth, all religions that claim absolute truth are rendered false by relativism. As well, if all religions have an equal grasp of truth, then why would the cult that followed Charles Manson, or the Branch Davidians, or the cult out in California that killed themselves because they believed that there was a spaceship in the back of a comet posses any less truth than a religion that is based on love and understanding? We simply cannot say that sacrificing a child to honor the sun god is any less righteous than praying and singing before an altar. If all truth is the same, then the law is redundant as the murderer was simply pursuing his own ideal of holiness. If all religions are grasping at straws, then no religion is worth pursuing.
The Bible, if it is true, claims to be a personal revelation from a personal God. The only correct interpretation of such a holy book would be an interpretation that was without bias or outside influence. Therefore, the Bible can only be interpreted by comparing its immediate truth to its general truth. If we attempt to interpret a passage only by our knowledge, we stain the interpretation with any preconceived bias or good intention we may have.
If the Bible is a direct word from God, we simply cannot interpret the Bible according to our own personal experiences as the God that created the earth is infinitely more complex that what any one person would be allowed to see or experience. The personís bias could tarnish the experience and the resulting interpretation. However, if we interpret the Bible only by itself we receive an untarnished, unbiased interpretation based solely on the material presented by the Creator.
As to the belief that the Bible has been modified through the centuries, I have two questions. Why would a God that is all-powerful leave His revelationís incorruptibility up to man, whom He knows is corruptible? And, why would a God that is powerful enough to create an entire universe and the earth, not have enough power to sustain His revelationís incorruptibility? It is simply inconceivable to believe that a God that wishes to reveal Himself to man would allow that revelation to be warped or changed by man. It is also unfathomable to believe that God could not sustain His revelation against all attempts to pervert it. The revelation would remain true despite attempts to produce forgeries or attempts to undermine the originalís validity.
If Christianity has exclusivity to absolute truth, then it has a social responsibility to denounce other religions as false. By confronting the fallibility of the false religions, the Christian is meeting a dual purpose. This confrontation educates those who may be duped by the false religion and it publicly denounces the falseness of that religion. If the Bible is the word of God, then Christians really have no other choice but to denounce all other religions as false. To do otherwise would be to contradict the legitimacy of the Bible. If Christianity is true, denouncing Islam or any other religion would be a benefit to any that do not currently believe in Christianity, as it would point them from falsehood to truth.
Graham and Fallwell, by pointing out the apparent falsehoods they see associated with Islam, are not promoting hate. Instead, they say the things they do because they believe that the Bible is the absolute word of God. They believe that Jesus Christ is the only way to Heaven. They speak against Islam because of their convictions, because they are one hundred percent certain that Christianity holds absolute truth. Islam is no different. In fact, if Islam holds absolute truth, as they claim, then all other religions must be false, by reason of elimination. Many Muslims are willing to die, and do die daily, rather than admit that any other religion could be true. The same could be stated of Christians.
Fence sitters of religion cannot receive the benefit of the grass on one side or the dirt on the other. They can claim to share both, but they will truly have neither. Neither Christianity nor Islam presents its followers an option to share other beliefs. In fact, a person who claims to be a Christian yet does not follow the commands of Christ or refuses Christís deity, which Christ clearly claimed, is not really a Christian. A Christian is a proponent that follows the teachings of Jesus Christ. Someone who picks the commands they wish to follow, or characterizes Christ in their own terms instead of His, is not following Jesus, but following their own definition of Christianity. They would be following a religion of their own devise, not Biblical Christianity.
Biblical Christianity commands complete allegiance. In fact, those who do not have complete faith and trust in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior will not see Heaven. To admit any other truth would be to deny the authority of the Bible. And, if the Bible holds no authority, then it has no grace to offer and is useless as a religion and a revelation. It is simply all or nothing for Christians. If we only accept half of the Bible as inspired, then whoís to say that we picked the right half? Like any other absolute, Christianity comes as a complete package. Any alteration will result in a different product, and a different truth.
Liberalism, with its buffet-line approach to religion, does not, in fact, promote unity within all religions. True unity cannot be reached between conflicting absolutes. Its end result is simply a removal of the authority of all religions, rendering all religions simply one myth after another. When you water down religions in order to unify them, you are doing a major disservice to all religions. You end up sacrificing the religionís truths on the altar of unification.
True Christians realize that unity between religions is neither possible nor desirable. For the Christian that truly believes in the truths contained in the Bible, liberalism is a slap in the face of Jesus Christ. Liberalism, because it does not accept the full teachings of the Bible, essentially undercuts the authority of the Bible, God, and Jesus. The only choice for someone who wants to name the name of Christ is to fully accept the teachings of Jesus, which includes the revelations contained in both the New and Old Testaments.
Unity can only be claimed by fence sitters. Those who lack faith enough to choose a truth in which to stand for can only claim it. Christianity allows none to straddle a fence.
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The only unity God requires is between His true sons and daughters. True believers can't be in unity with deception and the world.
And I agree, there is no fence. You either belong to Christ or you belong to Satan...there is no middle ground of tolerance.