Archives For Other Religions

Dr. Ravi Zacharias and Abdu Murray are coming to Michigan this week for “Ask Anything” events, sponsored by Cru.  These events are free; you will want to attend and bring as many friends as you can.

Episode 33 of the “Behind the Curtain” Ministry Podcast features an interview by Noah Filipiak with Dr. Ravi Zacharias.  Ravi discusses the types of questions about faith and truth that people are asking in today’s society, from pluralism to atheism to relativism to Islam and so much more.  Hearing Ravi’s perspective will make you realize how much is at stake, not just for you and your friends as individuals, but for Western and global society altogether.  Following the interview with Dr. Zacharias, Noah sits down with Brian Langford, Cru’s Campus Director at Michigan State University.  Noah and Brian discuss the faith climate on today’s college campuses and why the “Ask Anything” event with Ravi and Abdu is something people will not want to miss.

You can listen to Noah Filipiak’s “Behind the Curtain” Podcast interview with Ravi Zacharias on the Podbean Player below or you can subscribe to all “Behind the Curtain” Ministry Podcast episodes on iTunes. Continue Reading…

There are two groups who think all religions are the same: the informed and the uninformed.

The informed have done a general study of the main religions and have concluded that they share the same central tenants or that God is too big to put in a box so he/she/it must be larger than any one religion.

The uninformed are those who don’t really bother to think about these things, but assume all religions are alike the same way one who lives in the desert assumes all fish are alike.  And they sleep just fine at night under this illusion.

There are motivations, some genuine and some not, to all of the above, but at the end of the day and with so much on the line, it’s can’t be overstated that all religions are not the same.  While generally I don’t like to use the word “religion” to describe what I have found in Jesus (the term “relationship” is much more appropriate and helpful), I’ll stick with it for the sake of this discussion.  Here are some brief and immensely weighty reasons why all religions are not the same:

  • Have you done wrong against God?  Do you need to be forgiven and can you earn that forgiveness?  These are huge questions that have actual answers.  There is no way the answer to these questions can be “all answers are the same.”  You either have or haven’t done wrong against God and He either is or isn’t going to forgive you.  In addition, you will either be able to earn this forgiveness, or not, and if not, you’d better hope there’s a way for it to be bestowed upon you.  The only religion where you are forgiven through what God did for you rather than what you can do for God is found in Jesus.  Period.  Jesus says you can’t measure up to God’s holy standard, so he did it for you.  Other religions say you must measure up to God’s holy standard (good luck).  These are not the same.
  • Jesus either rose from the dead or he didn’t.  If he did, his religion is true.  If he didn’t, all the religions that say he didn’t (which is all of them) could potentially be true.  The same goes with his claim to be God.  He’s either God or he isn’t God, these two things are not the same.  Don’t you find it ironic that no other religion says that Jesus rose from the dead or that he is God?  Of course they don’t!  If they did, they’d admit that Jesus is where true religion is found.

There are many more things that could be added to this list, but it’s been kept short intentionally.  Please think hard about the above two bullet points.  It’s okay if you don’t believe them, though if they turn out to be true you will sorely regret it.  And goodness, why would you risk that?  What are is the payout of that gamble if you end up being right?  But at least make a decision.  Don’t take the cop-out that all religions are the same.  They can’t be.

And as C.S. Lewis so eloquently said in Mere Christianity, do not call Jesus a “good teacher” or a “prophet” as most world religions do:

If your kid’s math teacher was excellent at teaching algebra but also taught that they were God on earth, would you call this person a good teacher?  Only if their claim was true!  Otherwise you’d have them locked them.  You can’t call Jesus a good teacher but reject his claim to be God.

Don’t deprive yourself of intellectual vigor by claiming that all religions are the same, but much more importantly, don’t deprive yourself of your eternity!  There’s way too much on the line not to look into these claims.

 

There are lots of parts in the Bible I don’t like.  And I’m not talking about sins I’d like to commit that the Bible tells me not to, that’s a different conversation.  I’m talking parts of the Bible that make me cringe.  Parts that don’t make sense to my 21st century American mind.  Parts that feel like they don’t fit with my idea of who God is supposed to be.

Most of us, if we’re honest, feel the same way about various parts of the Bible.  Here’s the number one thing we cannot do:  We cannot dismiss or alter parts of the Bible we don’t like simply because we don’t like them.

We can’t do this because the Bible is where we find out who Jesus is and how to be saved.  If we start selecting the parts we like and don’t like, where is the credibility of any of it?

Before jumping into my personal most-cringe-worthy Bible texts, two very important things to remember: Continue Reading…

I did an interview last year with an Iranian Christian friend of mine who lives in Lansing.  My friend converted from Islam when living in Iran and thus had to become a refugee to escape those trying to kill him, namely his father.  You can read the interview here:  After Death Threats from Muslims in Lansing, Post Deleted, Reposted Anonymously.  In the article I mention my friend’s pastor from Iran, the man who led him to Christ and who was now serving a prison sentence for being a Christian pastor, Pastor Farshid Fathi.  Pastor Fathi’s arrest and imprisonment is the event that led my friend to flee Iran on the week of his own wedding as a refugee.

For those who read that interview, I wanted to share the great news that according to BosNewsLife, Pastor Farshid Fathi was released from prison this week!  You can read the details of his release in the BosNewsLife article here. 

Praise God!  Be in prayer for Pastor Fathi and his family.  And continue to pray for American citizen Pastor Saeed who is still being illegally imprisoned in Iran.

 

I was chatting with the free sample guy at Meijer the other day, getting some godsend cups of red velvet cake that enabled my 2-year-old and 4-year-old to make it through the rest of the grocery run.  After we got done asking each other about our kids and discussing the miraculous power of red velvet cake to brighten a child’s mood, I said my goodbye and he replied, “Happy Holidays.”

“Merry Christmas,” I smiled.  Not in a corrective or defensive way, just in a natural, I like Christmas, love Jesus, and would rather be personal than vague way.

The man’s eyes glanced left, then right.  “Merry Christmas,” he said.  It honestly felt like some 1st century Church encounter where to reveal your faith in Jesus meant you could be killed by the Roman government.

I’m not allowed to say ‘Merry Christmas…’, I was trained not to, I might even get fired!  But this guy seems safe…I don’t think he’s an undercover agent…here goes nothing… “Merry Christmas.”

How did things get this way?

I’m not being nostalgic.

Nor am I saying everyone must be forced to say “Merry Christmas,” whether they believe in Jesus or not.

jesus merry christmas I’m saying if someone believes in Jesus (or they just like Christmas), they should be able to say “Merry Christmas” without people being offended by it.  Saying “Merry Christmas” is not forcing Jesus down someone’s throat or telling them they must celebrate Christmas rather than Kwanzaa or Hanukkah or nothing, it is simply saying I celebrate Christmas, it makes me merry, and I wish you this same merriness.  December 25th is Christmas to me so I’m going to wish you a merry December 25th whatever you might be doing on that day, as it is a day when I will be merry, and I’d like you to be too.  Merry Christmas.” 

Someone who is happy about Hanukkah should not say “Happy Holidays,” they should say “Happy Hanukkah!” for the same reason.  December is Hanukkah season to them, they should be able to wish their happiness onto others freely.

This is part of what’s great about being human.  We get to wish our happiness and merriment onto others.

The taboo of saying “Merry Christmas” is another fruit of pluralism and political correctness in action.  Pluralism wants you to believe in everything, which is the near equivalent of believing in nothing.  Or, if you are audacious enough to believe something, don’t you dare tell anyone about it.  No one will be mature enough to handle what you believe, so keep your mouth shut.  We can’t dare believe in different things and openly discuss them.

Don’t you see how un-American this is?  (As well as un-educational?)  This is in fact the opposite of freedom of speech.  Freedom of speech (and freedom of religion for that matter) says we believe we are a mature enough society that a person can actually believe something (e.g. the sky is blue) and be able to say it out loud.  A difference in opinion or viewpoint should not be censored, it should be expected and on a societal level, welcomed.

Saying “Happy Holidays” is the same as saying “Happy Nothing.”  And that is not happy, it is actually quite sad.

So Merry Christmas.  Christmas rocks.  Jesus rocks.  Jesus’s love and grace rock.  It makes me merry.  If you don’t like that about my life, what’s your problem?  I’m not shoving anything down your throat, I’m simply celebrating life.  When did we become a country where we can no longer celebrate and no other wish good things and good feelings upon other people?

And yes I know, all Meijer really cares about is selling red velvet cakes.  And if their free sample guy tells me “Merry Christmas” I might not buy that cake and I might go shop at Kroger instead.  That too is quite sad.

Let’s not be sad this December, let’s be merry.

If you don’t believe in anything, that’s fine.  But please let me believe in something.  I promise you we can co-exist together (do you see what I did there?).

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.