Archives For Universalism

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 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.

all roads lead to godWhat does the Bible say about other religions?

“All Roads Lead to God” isn’t as nice or humble as it sounds

Saying that “all roads lead to God” sounds nice.

Saying that “all roads lead to God” sounds humble.

You see it this way, I see it that way.

All the roads on this mountain lead to the same place.

Saying “all roads lead to God” makes God into a small and weak God that is unable to reveal himself in a personal way.  So right off the bat, all roads no longer lead to God, all roads lead to a small, weak God unable to tell people who he is in a way they’ll get it.  If you believe in a large, almighty God who is able to reveal himself to the people he created, sorry you’re out of luck, there’s no road on this mountain for you.

Saying “all roads lead to God” turns God into a jerk.  If he’s not too small and weak to reveal himself to us in a personal way, then he’s too big of a jerk to do so.  He’s disinterested and enjoys watching us fumble around in the dark in isolation.  If you believe God would desire to love us personally, telling us about himself and letting us know him deeper and deeper in intimacy, as well as be loved personally by us in relationship, then again sorry you’re out of luck, there’s no road on this mountain for you.

You’d never tell your college professor that all answers on the final exam lead to the right answer, yet you do this with destination of your eternal life!

Personally, I’d much rather go to bat and swing and miss then never even step up to the plate.

Saying “all roads lead to God” insults every single person in history who has taken a stand for what they do believe.  Why in the heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeck would Jesus have came to earth from heaven and die on the cross for our sins, if all roads already led to God?  Why would people have died to preserve the Bible if all roads already led to God?  Why would people have chosen God knowing their family would disown them, if all roads already led to God?

The idea that it’s bad to be exclusive is extremely barbaric.  Pluralism is pretty much equivalent with anarchy.  “Do whatever you want, it all leads to God.”  No thank you.  I want a God who is exclusively against rape, exclusively against child sacrifice, exclusively against sex slavery, exclusively against oppression, and exclusively against a whole bunch of others things, especially the deceptive selfishness that riddles my heart.  You can keep your barbaric inclusivism that would allow for all these things.

“All roads lead to God” is not nice.  It’s a cop-out to be your own god.  It’s a cop-out to get to do what you want with no accountability to anyone.  It’s a public admission that you believe you are the supreme authority on all things.  “All roads lead to God” is not humble.  An admission that I am God is the most arrogant statement a person can ever make, bar none.

The only thing true about “all roads lead to God” is that it is not many roads; it is one singular, wide, very easy to follow road that leads to a very specific, very particular, very exclusive god: you.

If you want to worship that god, you are allowed to do that.  But please stop equating that god as the same thing as my God and then acting like the rest of us need to follow that equation.

“Oh I’d never say you need to do that or need to do anything, that’s the beauty of pluralism!”

You just did it again.

Please re-read this article and then once and for all, stop saying that your god is the same as my God.

ben carson andre carson islam

Congressman André Carson (left), Presidential Candidate Dr. Ben Carson (right)

I was listening to an interview with U.S. Representative André Carson on NPR yesterday.  Carson is one of only two Muslims in Congress and was being asked about the violence that is connected with the Muslim faith.

Congressman Carson was giving the standard moderate Muslim response that the texts in the Qur’an that command violence are taken out of context and don’t apply anymore.  I blogged extensively on this a few months ago, showing without a doubt that the Qur’an and Muhammad commanded murder and violence and that no contextual timetable was set for these commands.

What you have is a case of Muslims, like Congressman Carson, who simply do not believe the Qur’an and/or do not follow it.  Then you have Muslims, like ISIS and others, who do believe it and who are following it.  (For the record, moderate Muslims are great people!  They just don’t believe in Islam’s holy book or it’s founder’s commands.)

The media has made this sound so offensive, so bigoted, so prejudiced.  Continue Reading…